YouTube SEO: A Brief Guide to Optimizing Videos For Search

YouTube SEO in 2019: A Brief Guide to Optimizing Videos For Search

If Google is king, YouTube SEO is queen. The royal family is entwined; in other terms, Google owns YouTube.

If you’re looking for a safe path to get to the queen’s ears and favors (high rankings), you must first know how she thinks (study YouTube’s algorithm). Second, you need to know how to properly talk to her in order to gain her sympathy (optimization).

If you succeed, she will make you an important person, and you’ll be able to spread your message (video) across the entire kingdom (Google and YouTube search results).

You see, when you gain the favors of the queen, you’re often going to impress the king, generating double benefits that’ll surely help you attain your end purpose (sales, reputation, history).

Now, let’s get back to the real world… and cover several tips & tricks on how to take your YouTube SEO to the next level. Study and apply!

A Beginners Guide to YouTube SEO

*Quick note: If you need to take another step back, check out SEO Best Practices: 5 Tactics To Increase Organic Traffic, and 24 Proven SEO Growth Strategies [Beginner’s Guide]

Start with Keyword Research

Start by brainstorming. Create a list of 30 potential keywords, then add each in Google’s search box.

youtube keyword search

When you type in a keyword, you’ll get a lot of other suggestions, which you can count as extremely relevant. If Google’s algorithm displays them, it means they’re truly popular and that you should consider noting them down and pursuing them further.

Generally, Google prioritizes videos that contain the following structures and keywords:

  • Funny video material – pranks, fails, cute animal videos
  • How-to keywords – “how to be successful” “how to code in Java”
  • Product reviews – “iPhone 7 review”
  • Educational content (tutorials) – “Indexing Your Site in 5 Steps”
  • Fitness-related videos –bodyweight training, cardio strategies, etc.

You should definitely keep these factors into consideration because Google, like most AI applications, has specific guidelines and “habits”. This type of videos will frequently become top results because their solutions are relevant for search engine users.

If you post videos that Google has never shown any interest into (hasn’t ranked any similar types), you can say “bye-bye” to organic search engine traffic. The YouTube search engine will become the main traffic source, which is good but not best.

How do you find these type of keywords?

Go to Google and search for your keyword.

youtube on google search results

Play around with keywords until you find a proper and relevant “video keyword”. Once you’ve found it, use Google Keyword Planner to analyze and identify the amount of traffic that the keyword receives every month.

I’d suggest you only try to rank videos that have over 1000 average monthly searches. This number is not too small and not too big. It is the “medium” difficulty of ranking YouTube videos on Google!

Of course, this was just one simplistic yet effective way of generating keywords. If you want to take your keyword research process to the next level, well, then learn more about keyword research!

Either way, it is critically important to understand that keyword research (both for traditional search engines – Google, Yahoo, Bing – and video engines – YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion – so neglecting it would be a serious lack of judgment when it comes to any type of SEO, especially YouTube SEO.

Insert the Keyword in the Video’s Title Naturally

Okay, this one is obvious. Your keyword must be present in the title; it must be naturally included; it must be part of a short and relevant message; it should be no longer than 60 characters (just to ensure that it gets fully featured in the search results); it should be powerful and attractive to your target audience (only to them, not to you or anyone else).

Craft Killer Copy for Each Description

According to Backlinko’s studies, there’s no evident correlation between optimized video description and the ranking of that specific keyword. Nevertheless, the same Brian Dean (the founder of Backlinko) strongly suggests YouTube marketers to create quality video descriptions for one important reason:

If the video description is qualitative (and respects Google’s content guidelines which aim for relevancy and value), then your video will be frequently recommended in the “Suggested Videos” section. That is indeed a huge amount of traffic that can be leveraged.

If you neglect your descriptions entirely, you will be actually disadvantaged, as YouTube is taking clues from everything you insert in the video details.

If you can’t write properly, you could hire a cheap academic writer (yes, they work for pennies and deliver amazing quality). Here are a few sources I often “consult” when I’m in no mood for writing quality YouTube descriptions:

Rename Your Video File Using Your Chosen Keyword

Simple and proven advice: rather than naming your video file “wowthisvideorocksLOL.mp4”, use your main keyword instead. If you publish a video review of an iPhone X, name it “iPhone-x-review”.

Why do that?

First of all, YouTube isn’t that smart (yet) to instantly watch your video, figure out what value it adds, and rank it immediately. No, it first gets its clues from the file name you provided. It is the first clue that you’re giving away.

The faster YouTube “gets the picture”, it’ll start working in your way, meaning that its algorithm will already know what to be looking for when classifying the relevancy of your video in the nearest future.

If that’s too complicated, simply rename your files and trust this tip – it’s not just me giving it, but all professional YouTube and SEO marketers.

Tags and Category are Essential – ApplyThem Properly

Tags are basically descriptive keywords that help YouTube understand your video even better. Call it another layer of understanding. Here’s some advice concerning tags:

  • Don’t use too few, don’t use too many. Keep it relevant.
  • Be extremely selective with what you choose to represent
  • Apply both specific tags (video related) and general tags (niche related)
  • Your main keyword should be a tag
  • Whenever you want to display a sentence tag, leverage the quotation marks e.g.“iPhone X”

To choose the video’s category, go to “Advanced Settings” in your channels’ dashboard and select the most relevant category for your video. After you do that, your YouTube video may get featured in relevant playlists or become a “Next Suggested Video” result.

Make the Thumbnail Truly Attractive

A lot of YouTube and Google users click on a search result because of the thumbnail/post image it features. Both on YouTube and Google, music video mixes with “hot girls backgrounds” gain much more exposure. Why? Because they get clicked more, they have higher engagement, and that is mostly happening because they attract attention.

My best advice would be to use only high-quality images that are relevant to your blog’s topic. Use a visual that completes the title and says another 1000 words through just a simple representation. Use Canva to create your own images and study the best YouTube channels to see how they leverage thumbnails.

YouTube SEO Takeaways

  • Start with keyword research
  • Leverage core target keyword(s) in the video title
  • Leverage core target keyword in the video file name (use hyphens “-“, not underscores “_”)
  • Ensure description copy is strong
  • Use relevant video tags and categories
  • Use an eyecatching (but appropriate) video thumbnail
  • Consider an SEO audit

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