The SEO of YouTube

The SEO of YouTube

As you may have learned in the Gen Zbook, YouTube is killin’ it with spend-happy youths, broke MIllennials, aloof Gen Xers, and even the Baby Boomers. And while we all know that video marketing is an essential part of your content strategy, it still hasn’t made its way into everyone’s content marketing efforts.

YouTube can seem vast and scary and weird, but it’s actually a wonderful marketing tool IF you know how to play your proverbial cards right–which is what we’re talking about today.


There’s Something About YouTube

YouTube, YouTube, YouTube. No longer a collection of entitled youth hawking scammy products (well, not totally anyway). YouTube has become the first social media platform to unseat Facebook as the most popular social media platform. It’s a place where makers make, creators create, and watchers watch.

People are much more likely to consume video content than other forms of content due to how accessible videos are and how little effort it takes to watch them. If you’re creating video content, then there’s also a pretty good chance that you’re hosting a lot of it on YouTube. What a lot of people may not realize is that YouTube is also the second most visited site on earth right behind Google. This means there’s a huge potential audience out there for your video content–but you have to know how to draw them in. How do you do that? By optimizing your videos for SEO.

How to Optimize Your YouTube Videos

People forget that YouTube isn’t just a video platform, it’s also a search engine. Because of this, you need to optimize your videos for SEO (search engine optimization). The following are a few tips for doing so:

  1. Optimizing your title – Create a concise title for your videos that explains to viewers exactly what to expect. Use some creativity to help generate interest. It should also include the use of strong keywords that are relevant to the video. Do your research to determine what other videos use the same keywords to get an idea of what your competition is doing.
  2. Add a good description – Don’t dismiss the importance of the description. It’s your chance to use your keywords, add links to your website or to other videos, add information about your company, and to provide a call-to-action.
  3. Add a call-to-action – Besides having a call-to-action in your description, you should also include one at the end of your video. This call-to-action should prompt viewers to subscribe with a single click. Make sure that you tell your viewers exactly why they should subscribe as well.
  4. Add tags – Tag your video using keywords and phrases. An easy way to discover keywords and phrases that you can tag on your videos is by mining the videos of your competitors using the free vidIQ Chrome extension that allows you to view YouTube video tags.
  5. Provide a video transcript – The transcript of your video is factored into YouTube’s rankings algorithm. Although there is an automated transcription process available, it’s not always accurate and will generally result in errors being included. Consider using a transcription service or proofread and correct the automated transcript.
  6. Choose a good thumbnail – The thumbnail is what viewers will see on their search results page. Viewers will be attracted to interesting thumbnails, which means they’re likely to scroll by videos with uninteresting thumbnails. You can customize your thumbnails by choosing an image (that can be a frame from your video but doesn’t have to be) and adding text to it. Just make sure it’s not all text and that it’s not cluttered.


A Quick Note on YouTube Keywords


I’d be remiss in reviewing YouTube SEO tips without delving just a bit deeper into the art of keyword research. The good news? You don’t need a fancy-schmancy spy tool or SEO Guru certification–you just need YouTube and a little moxie.
YouTube, bless its little heart, makes it pretty easy to discover keywords and related keyword phrases. Just do 1 thing: type in a keyword and…

A list of YouTube keywords

Voila! Besides “puppies crying” being SHOCKINGLY close to the top of the list, YouTube has provided you with keyword phrases you can use to help not only optimize content but help you figure out what type of subject matters you can and should cover.
Let’s say you’re a business interested in creating a product focused on sustainability. Simply type in “sustainable living:”

YouTube will auto populate a list of related keywords

And now you have at least 7 workable ideas for content to create around your main keyword phrases:

  1. Sustainable living homes
  2. Sustainable living ideas
  3. Sustainable living in the city
  4. Sustainable living off the grid
  5. Sustainable living college
  6. Sustainable living for beginners
  7. Sustainable living tips

By doing a little research you can see what types of descriptions and links the most popular content around these phrases use so you can R&D (rip-off and duplicate!):

An example of a YouTube video description

For sustainable living tips, the most popular video by views is the video pictures above by the Edgy Veg. If you click SHOW MORE a veritable cascade of content comes pouring down including links to products, recipes, and cookbooks and a smart use of keywords like “eco-friendly lifestyle,” “green tips and tricks,” “ eco-friendly life changes,” “ eco friendly,” “environmental issues,” “GO GREEN NOW!, “Reusable,” etc. Plus her links are mostly to Amazon or other high-authority domains that give her content an additional boost!

And guess who owns YouTube? Give up? Google. Yeah. THOSE dudes. So, obviously, this type of keyword research can help you in other areas of your content marketing strategy as well.

Additional YouTube SEO Tips

One thing to realize is that it’s not just about getting views for your videos, it’s about building your subscriber base. To do this, you need to regularly publish high-quality video content. Make your video content easy to explore by putting together playlists as well. Last, but not least, make sure your video content is properly optimized when you upload it or else it won’t get any traction.

YouTube is a video platform, a social channel, and a search engine all rolled up into one. If you’re creating video content for YouTube, then it’s important that you take advantage of the site’s enormous audience by optimizing your videos for SEO.



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