YouTube is the world's second-largest search engine after Google; optimizing your videos for it can produce rich rewards when done right.
Although Google lists videos in its search results, search engine optimization for YouTube takes a customized approach and a unique set of skills.
Here are 15 hacks to help you rank your videos high on Google and YouTube search results:
1. Find the Right Keywords
Like Google search, the best way to get started with YouTube SEO is to find the right keywords. It is a crucial step in your bid to attract the right traffic to your channel. As YouTube videos also appear on Google search pages, you can target keywords for both.
Keyword research is crucial because it allows you to match your content with user queries and helps the audience understand the video's context and scope. It also enables you to find the exact phrases that generate traffic and separate them from other search terms.
You can use these two approaches to find the right keywords for your channel or video:
- Generate a list of keyword ideas: Look for keywords using YouTube's Search Suggestā feature for the first bunch of YouTube SEO keyword ideas.
- Target low competition keywords: If you have recently created a YouTube channel and have few subscribers, you should focus on low competition keywords. Pursuing competitive keywords at this stage can often be counter-productive. To gain insight into your competition, click on the About Resultā section on their channel. It usually contains keywords that aren't very competitive. Google Keyword Planner can be immensely helpful, especially in finding keywords around your particular niche.
2. Optimize the Video Title
Your job as a creator is not over after uploading the video. Even if your videos offer users value, they will not rank unless you optimize them.
Include the correct information and relevant keywords in your video title to attract the desired audiences. Use easy-to-remember, attention-grabbing titles and fill them with popular keywords. A video's title is crucial for search engine ranking and visitor traffic as it's the first thing that users and search engines look at.
The title shouldn't be misleading; it should be relevant to the search query and the video content. Keep it jargon-free and straightforward. Make sure it is brief and helps the users find answers to their questions.
3. Optimize Tags
It is an integral part of a robust SEO strategy; however, different tags play various roles. Therefore, you must optimize your tags for better SEO results.
Each page on YouTube must have a unique meta description. You need to include relevant keywords to attract traffic but be careful not to over-use them, as it can prompt the search engine to divert traffic away from your videos.
For inspiration and insights, you can study the tags your competitors use by downloading YouTube Tags, a Chrome extension.Ā Here is a screenshot from the tool, in which you can see the tags used in a video.
To increase your YT video's visibility and boost organic rankings, you should work on writing effective YouTube tags.
4. Have a Comment Section
YouTube algorithms rank videos that have lots of views and active audience engagement higher than others. To boost comment-based engagement for your videos:
- Keep them interactive
- Ask a question at the end to trigger a conversation
- Encourage viewers to comment
5. Encourage Viewers to Subscribe
Channel subscription is a crucial factor that drives viewer engagement. Ask your visitors to subscribe to your channel in your opening statement or towards the video's end. The more subscribers you have, the more traffic you will receive whenever you upload a video.
6. Make an Attractive Thumbnail
You may call it the Instagram effect, but visual graphics and images go a long way in enhancing your visibility on any social media site,Ā including YouTube. A unique and exciting thumbnail can quickly grab viewers' attention. Meanwhile, lousy typography, improper messaging, and poor graphics can instantly turn off visitors. Therefore, avoid creating irrelevant thumbnails that are misaligned with your video's theme and content. Resist the temptation of petty clickbait tactics.
7. Use Closed Captioning
Closed captions boost your video's SEO as search engines can read closed captions. They index them and consider them in search results. In contrast, search engines can't read open captions, so open captions don't offer any SEO value. YouTube does not support automatic captioning. Therefore, you can either edit the auto-generated captions or choose to create your own.
8. Build Links to Your Channel
Your YouTube SEO should promote your videos and your channel. Link-building can help your SEO in multiple ways. It drives referral traffic and increases your website's authority. There is no magic formula to explain how Google's algorithms work as they are complex and constantly evolving. But Google gives considerable weightage to backlinks when ranking a site for different keywords.
Link building is a popular SEO tactic because links send a signal to search engines that your site deserves attention, offers value, and is worthy of citation. Therefore, you'll find that most top-ranking sites have numerous backlinks. Building links can be difficult and tedious, but with more outreach, you can engineer better links.
Reach out to users who share your interests, and introduce them to your content. You can find potential subscribers on social media and third-party blogs. When your video content offers value to the viewers, they are more likely to subscribe to your channel.
9. Share on Social Media
You should not ignore the power of social media when framing your YouTube SEO strategy. With billions of active users worldwide, social media platforms have emerged as potent marketing tools. There are 3.5 billion daily active social media users worldwide, which makes up around 45% of the world population. According to an Emarketer report in 2019, around 90% of millennials, 78% of Gen X, and 48% of baby boomers use social media. So, sharing on social media is the best way to promote your content. You can promote your YouTube content to audiences from different generations using major social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
10. Embed Your YouTube Videos
Embedding your video is an effective way of directing attention to your YouTube videos, especially when you feature your content on news pages, blogs and e-commerce websites. Here's how you can embed your YouTube videos and playlists:
- Open the YouTube video you want to embed
- On the bottom right, click on Share
- Click on Embed
- Copy the HTML code from the pop-up box
- Paste the code into your blog or website HTML.
11. Increase Your Video Watch Time
Video watch-time is an essential metric from an SEO perspective. Analytics like watch-time and audience retention report reports provide valuable insights into how audiences are consuming your content. Use them to identify red flags early and adapt for better results.
12. Develop Playlists
Most YouTube viewers often visit playlists for similar content by the same creator. If you follow digital marketing influencers like Rand Fishkin, Larry Kim, and Neil Patel and want to know the latest trends in paid advertising, the playlists on their channels are a great place to start. For example, in Moz's channel, you'll find many playlists such as Technical Tips, Daily SEO Fix, and SEO Strategy. They hook the viewers' attention, make navigation more manageable, and open them to newer content. Playlists also substantially shorten the search time.
13. Find the Optimal Length for Your Videos
It is difficult to determine the perfect video length, but the average duration of a popular video on YouTube is 4 minutes and 20 seconds. However, a video's size will depend on the type of content you are showcasing.
14. Upload a Transcript
A video transcript boosts your content's SEO value because it includes keywords that may lead viewers to your video. It also increases the video visibility and viewer focus.
15. Improve Your Content
Although SEO can help with your content's search engine rankings, your focus should be on giving your customers high-quality content through your videos. Here we give you a low-down on the three critical elements of quality content and a few tips on how to create it:
- Quality: Learn to write well and make it visually appealing, so the readers or viewers wait for your content, be it text or videos.
- Uniqueness: Make sure the content you create has a fresh, singular voice. So, even if it's curated, it should stand out. You can also offer more context and explore a different angle to make it unique.
- Authority: Adopt a journalist's approach to add credibility to a story. Cite verifiable sources to support your points.
Get Ready to Boost the YouTube SEO
YouTube SEO helps you increase your videos' rankings, watch-time, and views. It also attracts new subscribers to your channel. Therefore, you must invest substantial time, effort, and resources on it using the tips and techniques discussed here.