With research showing videos are driving more and more engagement, it’s important you dial in your YouTube Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to help viewers find your video. YouTube is the number two search engine after Google, so the potential is there to gain the views and engagement you’re looking for.

Determine Your YouTube Keyword

Determining your YouTube keyword is step 1 of the SEO process. The easiest way to get an idea of relative keywords is the YouTube search bar. Enter the terms your audience may enter to find your video. The most searched terms will display below the search bar. To drill down to more specific or niche content, use Google Ads keyword planner or keyword tool for YouTube.

youtube search terms showing keywords

When choosing your keyword be specific. make sure it represents exactly what the viewer will get out of watching the video. You can can broaden the search possibilities later using tags and video discretion. If your video is about wedding cake, you should look for a keyword like baking a chocolate four-tier wedding cake” instead of How to bake a cake”. Selecting a generic keyword like how to bake a cake (because it is popular) will push you down in the rankings because lack of specificity.

Your Keyword Should Be The Video File Name

Once you’ve selected a keyword that best describes the topic of your video, add it to the name of your video file before uploading it to YouTube. There’s no hard evidence this helps, but with constant changes algorithms, it can’t hurt. So changing your video file name from “A153001.mp4” to “How-to-bake-wedding-cake” certainly won’t hurt (assuming your video is about baking a wedding cake).

Video name and filename match

Add The keyword To Your YouTube Video Title

The title is how people will first engage with your video, well also the thumbnail, more on that later. It is however, the most important part of SEO for search engines. Keep the title as short as possible, but make sure the keyword flows well and it is truly descriptive regarding the content of the video.

Video Description

Descriptions are important for the viewer, to gain insight into the the content of the video. However, lately they seems to be carrying less and less weight when it comes to SEO. This is believed to be because people lie about the content. YouTube’s algorithm is getting better at finding out what videos are about by user interaction and search terms.

Be sure to include the most important information in the first few sentences, as the remainder will likely not show up until the viewer selects “view more”. Details help, describe the content, expand on why they need it and ask them for interaction.

Tag Your Video

Tagging helps YouTube associate your video with similarly tagged videos. The keyword is the place to start. Then use important keywords or specific topics covered in the video. Top ranking videos usually have 5 – 8 keywords, so you don’t have to go crazy. it helps to see what similar videos are doing with their tags and how they apply to your video. Tags are not openly displayed on YouTube, so pick ones that best suit your content.

Youtube tag location

Video Thumbnail

The video thumbnail let’s a viewer see a select still frame from the video and is meant to grab their attention. This is their first impression and often times can directly relate to how they react and if they click on the video to watch it. The more people that click to view, the higher your video is ranked. So with this in mind let’s take a look at how creating a custom thumbnail can help.

youtube thumbnails stand out

YouTube allows three auto generated thumbnails from your video. This is obviously the easy route, but the selected frame may not be interesting enough. Create your own from the video, grab an interesting frame that a viewer may find interesting enough to click. You can add text as needed, just make sure it can be easily read on mobile devices. Create a 16:9 image with the resolution of 1920 by 1080 or 1280 by 720 pixels.

YouTube Playlists

YouTube playlists are a set of videos that play automatically and sequentially. When one video ends, the next video starts playing unprompted. A YouTube channel can have multiple playlists. when creating a playlist, the videos should be similar topics or a set of videos the viewer would want to see consecutively.

Almost There

Your SEO is set and your video is public on YouTube. Now the ranking and popularity lies in the hands of the viewers. The number of views your video gets plays a large part in how and when it is suggested to other viewers. But it isn’t only views, duration of views plays a big part. So it is important your video content is produced well and engaging. You want people to click, view and stay to watch your video. if they click out too soon (usually less than 5 seconds) your video can drop in the rankings.

If user Like your video or subscribe after viewing it. Your video will also climb the ranks. It is truly based on how your audience interacts with your video. With this in mind, do not make videos for the views, make them to help your customers better understand your business, service or product.

Get Going!

OK – So you have a ton of info to get your YouTube video SEO on track and to help viewers find your videos. But that is only step 1. You’ll need to properly promote it as well. Check out our article on promoting your marketing video. Also feel free to reach out for help with your YouTube SEO.

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