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What is YouTube SEO?

By Valerie DiCarlo on Jun 8, 2017

YouTube is huge in search. That is pretty evident based solely on how many people search YouTube for not only what’s trending, but entertainment.

But how do you use this medium called YouTube to help your business? A good first step is to create and optimize your business’s YouTube Channel.

This blog will walk you through the ins and outs by giving you a definition of YouTube SEO, identifying the factors that contribute to YouTube SEO and providing tips for optimizing your YouTube presence (so that you can increase your traffic, conversion, brand awareness and ultimately increase your bottom line). 

Ready? Let’s get to it!

First thing’s first: a definition of YouTube SEO.

YouTube SEO: Strategies and techniques used to increase the relevance and search engine ranking of YouTube videos.

Sounds simple, right?

Now to number two: factors that contribute to YouTube SEO.

Here’s the basic reason optimizing YouTube videos is different from optimizing written content: search engines (cough, Google) can’t crawl video content like they can crawl written content. They have to look at information other than the video itself to determine the content (think subject matter) and relevance of a particular video. 

So what are some of these factors, if they’re not the video itself?

Within Your YouTube Channel Video Manager:

  • How you name the video. Rather than naming the video 00546video.mp4, use relevant words (or keywords) to name the video, e.g. youtube-seo.mp4
  • The surrounding text content (e.g. the video title, a relevant, optimized description (longer is better), a relevant website hyperlink (be sure to include the http:// or https:// part of the URL, and relevant (optimized) tags.
  • User engagement (How viewers interact with the video. Hint: This is a biggie.) Some user engagement measurements include:
    • User clicks from search results pages
    • Retention (How much of a video do people watch?)
    • Comments 
    • Thumbs up/thumbs down
    • Shares
    • Favorites
    • Subscribes

And the third thing you’ve really been waiting for: tips to optimize your business’s YouTube channel and videos

  • Use your words. (Especially your keywords.)
  • Think about Google Search. YouTube is owned by Google and is a large search engine, in and of itself, but YouTube videos appear in Google Universal search results. Just google “baby panda” and you’ll see what I mean. Certain searches, including instructional guides, directions, how-to’s, and cute baby animals, often have video results when you Google them. So optimize your video titles to generate video results when searched for on Google.
  • Create optimized playlists. While the act of creating a playlist might not immediately increase your SEO, if people subscribe to your playlist, they’re more likely to watch more of your videos. And more views (especially views all the way through) means stronger SEO. Optimizing those playlists can contribute to the content surrounding the videos on your YouTube channel, which makes for stronger overall YouTube SEO.
  • Make quality, engaging videos. Videos don’t have to be expensive, but they need to be informative and engaging. There are different approaches to how long you should make videos depending on your online marketing objective. Engagement is a key factor for YouTube SEO – so typically, length matters (for online marketing). Statistically, viewers will abandon a video during play if too long. 75% of viewers will watch to the end if the video is 1-2 minutes VERSUS less than 60% if the video is 4-5 minutes long. So, keep your videos shorter. Keep in mind, users who are expecting a longer video (e.g. a TED Talk, a musical performance, etc.) will have that mindset going in and make the time. But a user on Facebook will not sit thru a video length much longer than 1-minute.
  • Don’t forget the call to action. For whatever reason, implementing a CTA on your videos is often overlooked. Again, depending on your YouTube online marketing strategy, some calls to action could be to LIKE or SHARE the video, subscribe to your YouTube channel, or to add annotations and cards with specific actionables (e.g. clickable links).  Calls to action will help you increase your video engagement, which helps your YouTube SEO.

YouTube Videos on Your Website:

If embedding your YouTube videos on your website, I’d be remiss if I did not mention that not only your YouTube Channel and videos need to be optimized, but the site page that houses the embedded video requires all elements of best practice on-page optimization.

e.g.

  • Optimized URL structure
  • Optimized H1 headline
  • Optimized H2 sub-headline(s) (if applicable)
  • Optimized content copy (a written transcript or summary of video content)
  • Optimized SEO meta data

Okay, you’ve got this! I hope this gives you some basics into SEO for YouTube and starts you and your marketing team brainstorming on a YouTube online marketing strategy for your business! Just don’t get distracted watching trending videos, SNL skits or baby panda videos in the process… :)