YouTube SEO: 7 ways to optimise your YouTube videos for SERP’s (and how to do it)

Everybody knows that people would rather watch a video than read a big long blog post. I know, I should have done this as a video too – maybe one day. In fact, 59% of executives say they would rather watch a video than read text. That’s a lot of people. But YouTube SEO can have countless benefits; increased watch time, broad brand awareness, consideration tactics as well as sales and leads. So it’s important for it to play a part in your Digital Marketing Strategy.

Many people forget that you can combine your SEO and Video strategy to help supercharge your marketing in a pretty straightforward and simple way. Doing this will not only improve your audience retention and video watch time, but also get your customers attention, and help you further down the line with things like video or display remarketing. So it’s a no brainer to include YouTube SEO in your marketing mix.

Search engines like YouTube and Google search use the same fundamentals to guide search engine optimisation for websites and other content. The focus is on providing the user with the very best experience possible, and search results have now been combined with Google search engine ranking pages to simplify how people search. So it’s easier for someone to find your content through suggested videos and SERPs end up on your YouTube than ever before.

In this blog, I’m going talk you through exactly how you can drive traffic to your YouTube channel using some simple SEO tactics.

7 YouTube SEO tips

1. Pick your target keyword wisely, and use it in the title of your video.

Search engine ranking pages (SERPs) are getting more competitive every month. New competitors, new products, new services – everyone is fighting for the top spots. So finding ways to diversify yourself and your offering is really important. Do your keyword research, and unless you can compete with really competitive terms, pick a keyword in your video that can get you volume, but are less competitive. So you need to do your keyword research like you would with any standard piece of content creation.

Understanding the search intent of your audience is the first step. We know that the most common types of Search Intent include informational, commercial, navigational and transactional. So matching what your video is about with the intent of your customer is going to be really important for getting your content visible in SERPs. In the example below, we know that people are probably looking for reviews to compare products and find something best suited their needs. So the titles below are going to get the search volume.

Secondly, make sure, you understand WHY you want to create a YouTube video and who the primary audience is. For instance, if you are looking to showcase a product review, then use the product name in the title and description. It sounds really simple on the scale of things, but there are so many channels who miss this step and their videos show up really low down in SERPs and YouTube results.

Below is an example of how competitive the term ‘dell computer review’ is. This term is something that someone may be searching for when they are considering a product. This content is pulling through from YouTube, show up in suggested videos and also from other websites and blogs around the web.

2. Make sure the video file is uploaded with the keyword in it.

Super simple – but YouTube may use this as one of the ranking factors when it comes to showing your content in SERPs. If the file name you are uploading has the target keyword in, you will have a much better chance of being ranked – and a much better chance of gaining more search volume.

When uploading a new video, you can see the filename. YouTube uses this to make sure the video is relevant – so ensure your file name is updated before you upload it!

3. Optimise your description

One of the most important ranking factors for youtube SEO is making sure you have a solid, optimised video description. Whenever you change or update any Youtube Metadata, which includes descriptions, subtitles and closer captions, thumbnails – YouTube will reevaluate the video performance. This can be good or bad… so it’s important you get it right the first time!

Youtube recommends that you put your most important keywords in the first couple of sentences of your description – and that your description should be no longer than 200 words. Broadly speaking – make your description useful. If it doesn’t help a user – delete it.

You can see below, that the keyword I have typed into Google is in bold in the descriptions of the videos that have shown up. This is Youtubes way of telling me the search results are relevant from the descriptions.

Youtube has some great resources on the Youtube Creator Studio which is a resource that is always updated with current information. It has a handy list that guides you through the steps to a successful description:

  • Give an overview of your video using natural language – not just a stream of keywords.
  • Put the most important keywords towards the beginning of your description.
  • Identify 1–2 main words that describe your video and feature them prominently in both your description and title.
  • Use Google Trends and Google Ads Keyword Planner to identify popular keywords and their synonyms. Including these terms can help you to maximise traffic from search.
  • Avoid irrelevant words in your description because it creates a poor viewing experience and may violate our policies.

4. Use hashtags to drive youtube search results

Across social media, Hashtags (#) are now used to help users find content that answers their questions across a range of platforms. You can use related hashtags (#) in descriptions to help viewers find your video when they search for a specific hashtag.

Tags specifically help drive search as they make key trends more visible. You can really simple add a hashtag to the description, and once uploaded they will be shown above the title of the video and then become hyperlinked.

It’s also important to remember where you include hashtags here. If you add in a hashtag in the title, hashtags from descriptions won’t get displayed above the video title!

5. Select a video category

If users are searching for a particular piece of content with advanced options, they can select the search to show videos from selected categories. When uploading your any piece of content, it’s important you contextualise your video with categories. You can help optimise your videos for SEO, and your YouTube content will have a better chance of getting found by a user.

YouTube has a variety of category options to pick from, which vary from People/blogs to technology. So you should be able to find a category that suits your uploads.

The main categories for YouTube content is as follows and can be uploaded on the main upload window:

6. Customise your thumbnail image

Thumbnails can really help or hinder your YouTube videos. It’s the first thing that grabs peoples attention when they look at search results, and a strong thumbnail can lead to a higher watch time, which can have a big influence on YouTube ranking factors. So it’s important to create something that grabs peoples attention and stands out from the crowd – so your videos get noticed.

For example, these thumbnails are just taken from the video itself and are probably not the most relevant for grabbing the users attention.

Creating a custom thumbnail is the best way to see results. A lot of businesses focus on making their videos thumbnail from a shot of their YouTube video. But that doesn’t help with YouTube SEO. It doesn’t entice people to watch your videos.  Creating a custom thumbnail to show people what your video is about and how it will benefit them is the real key to success.

A great example of a customised thumbnail:

7. Add subtitles and closed captions

Using subtitles and closed captions are the final tip for success on YouTube search. One of the biggest YouTube ranking factors, subtitles can act as a literal script for your videos – so it can get picked up by broad search engines too. The script can be read like text, and can be picked up the same way a blog would – so subtitles and closed captions is a must for YouTube SEO.

A subtitle or closed caption file contains the text of what is said in the video. It also contains time codes for when each line of text should be displayed. Some files also include position and style info, which is especially useful for deaf or hard-of-hearing viewers. See what file formats YouTube supports below.

What are subtitles?

Video subtitles are designed to communicate a videos dialogue for viewers who can’t understand the video language/sound.

What are closed captions?

Video subtitles are intended for videos and end users who can’t understand the language being spoken but closed captions are designed for viewers who can’t hear the audio. This then gets translated into text.

Both subtitles and closed caption files contain text of what is said in the video, like a transcript. The file  will also contain time codes for when each bit of text should be displayed through the video, so it can match up with speech or another visual element. See what file formats YouTube supports here.

On the video upload screen, you can select your file and video language. There are alot of really good guides out there for how to create an SRT file for your video. Here is one I use often!

Optimise your videos

If you are looking to step up your videos and YouTube video SEO game, then optimising your videos for YouTube using these tips is guaranteed to improve your video watch time.

Do your research, as you would with any other piece of content – and focus on creating evergreen content that you can build upon to strengthen your video content portfolio. The more helpful content your offer you users, the more search volume you will get to your business and YouTube channel!

If you’d like a free no obligation chat with me to talk through your ideas for videos, you can get in touch here.

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