With 2.3 billion monthly active users worldwide, YouTube is nothing less than the second largest search engine after Google. And since YouTube has been under the control of Google already 15 years ago, the two platforms are now a behemoth of the web and internet search.
To have a good experience on the platform, users need to be able to easily find videos that interest them. Therefore, YouTube has created an algorithm capable of ranking the best content for each search.
For this reason, YouTube channels today have a challenge to grow. In order to get better visibility, they have to adopt optimization strategies so that their videos appear in a good position in search engines.
This is where YouTube SEO comes in. And keep in mind that the video platform is owned by Google. So YouTube adopts the same search intelligence as the famous search engine, and has the same goal: to offer the best search experience to the user.
From here, we’ll look at 9 ways to optimize your SEO action on YouTube, so you can quickly improve the SEO of your YouTube videos and grow your channel.
1- Do some research to choose the right keywords
Keywords are essential in YouTube SEO, just as they are for Google. Thanks to these keywords, the platform identifies the subject of the video, indexes the content and associates it with users’ searches.
To do this, they must be added to certain fields (title, tags and description, for example) when the video file is uploaded, so that YouTube can collect this information and use it.
Therefore, you need to know which keywords are the most appropriate for your videos and at the same time have the potential to attract maximum visitors to your channel.
You can use a basic YouTube tool, to start with, like the automatic search bar.
Another step in keyword research is to perform a comparative analysis. To do this, scrutinize the authoritative channels in your niche. If they have a good audience and many views, they are probably adopting good SEO practices for YouTube and know how to use the right keywords. Next, review and consider the terms they use in their most popular videos.
2- Choose keywords with good reach potential
With the tips we saw above, you already have a good list of keywords. So how do you choose the best ones for your videos?
Logically, you should think that you just have to choose the most used words in search engines. And it’s true, the most popular terms tend to attract more people. However, they will probably put you in competition with big brands and influencers that will be hard to compete with.
The best choice, especially if you have a small business, is probably to use keywords that are labeled “long tail.”
They may not draw very impressive traffic, but they have the advantage of not having much competition. In addition, they often represent searches that correspond to the bottom of the conversion funnel.
Good long tail keywords are usually longer – three words or more – and represent a more specific search.
Regardless, keep in mind that it’s critical to select keywords related to video content.
3- Find a good title for your video
After having done a good keyword research, you already have a good selection of terms. But what are you going to do with them?
One of the fields where your keywords must appear is the title. This is one of the most important factors for YouTube to index and rank your content. And, in order for each video to appear in a good position, the title needs to be as close as possible to the user’s search terms.
We also find that longer titles tend to perform worse. Aim for a maximum of 45/50 characters.
4- Write smart descriptions
The description is another important field that must be filled in when uploading the video. This text should provide information about the subject of the video in the most descriptive and clear way possible.
While the title should be concise, the description can be longer and more detailed. You can use up to 5000 characters.
The description is essential for SEO for two reasons. It can encourage the user to view the video, as the initial part of the description appears in the search results. In addition, the description also helps the platform’s algorithm identify the video content.
In your description text, you can include calls to action (CTA), to convince users to subscribe to your channel or to download content from your website, preferably with shortened links.
5- Change the file name
You may not know it, but the YouTube SEO process starts even before you upload your video. Because basically, you have to include the main keyword related to the content of your YouTube video in the file name.
So, instead of uploading your video with a name full of codes and numbers (e.g., VID_94800805.mp4), which is incomprehensible to YouTube, use a name that makes sense and contains your main keyword (e.g., “best-practices-SEO-Youtube.mp4”).
This way, the platform can identify the subject of the video directly in the file name.
6- Create transcripts and subtitles for your videos
YouTube’s algorithm is not able to read images and videos, but only text and code. Therefore, you can create transcripts and add subtitles so that it understands what your content is about.
Transcription is the process of turning the video content into text. You can do this manually or use the YouTube tool that makes it easy.
By adding time stamps to the transcript, you can also turn it into subtitles.
With your subtitles, users will be able to follow the video on YouTube even if they can’t turn on the audio, which is also great for people with hearing loss.
7- Make longer videos
Studies have shown that there is a relationship between ranking and video length:
Videos under 2 minutes tend to rank poorly
The average length of videos that occupy the top 5 positions is 11 min.
It is therefore worthwhile to make longer videos, which are around 10 minutes. This is the length that currently meets the expectations of most Internet users looking for more complete and in-depth content.
That said, the relevance and quality of your video’s content will always be more important than its length.
8- Try to boost your CTR
The CTR (Click-Through Rate) represents the rate of clicks on your video among the available search results.
In the eyes of YouTube, having a high click-through rate means that your video is relevant to the keyword searched by the user. That’s why CTR is also an important ranking factor.
Obviously, you can’t directly influence this rate. But what you can do is increase the chances that users will click on your video.
How can you do this? First, your title should include the main keyword. Then the beginning of your description should be compelling, with a perfect choice of words. Finally, the thumbnail of your video should be attractive and provide additional information to the above mentioned elements.
With all this, the probability of the user clicking on your video should increase.
9- Stimulate audience engagement
So far, we’ve talked about everything that has to do with “on-page” SEO, i.e. everything that is within the reach of the publisher himself.
On the other hand, off-page SEO includes factors that are not directly under your control.
On the video platform, off-page SEO refers to audience engagement.
So always encourage your audience to interact with your video in some way, as this matters a lot to the algorithm. How? By asking your audience to “like” your video (the famous blue thumb), leave comments, share the video, and of course subscribe.