8 YouTube Video SEO Tips To Optimize Your Content, Playlists & Channel

A suc­cess­ful opti­miza­tion strat­e­gy will help your brand reap the full ben­e­fit of YouTube. These eight YouTube SEO tips will help peo­ple find your videos.

Greg Jarboe By Greg Jarboe from SEO-PR. Join the discussion » 2 comments

YouTube is the world’s sec­ond-largest search engine, but 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. So how can you ensure that when peo­ple are look­ing for infor­ma­tion about a prod­uct or some­thing you know lots about, they’ll be able to find you? A suc­cess­ful opti­miza­tion strat­e­gy will help your brand get the full ben­e­fit of YouTube’s algo­rithms, which are dif­fer­ent from Google’s algo­rithms.

Anoth­er one of the sev­en ways to improve your video mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy is to opti­mize your con­tent, playlists, and chan­nel to ensure that your audi­ence dis­cov­ers them.

The eight YouTube video SEO tips below come with an advi­so­ry: best if used before the next algo­rithm update.

For exam­ple, YouTube offi­cial­ly replaced “view count” with “watch time” as a rank­ing fac­tor in Octo­ber 2012. On the oth­er hand, “rel­e­vance” has remained a rank­ing fac­tor since the ear­ly days (i.e. before Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 bil­lion in Octo­ber 2006).

So, rec­og­niz­ing that some rank­ing fac­tors will change, while oth­ers will remain the same, here are eight video SEO tips that work as of this writ­ing.

1. Conduct Keyword Research

Google Trends has added YouTube search data going back to 2008. That means you can con­duct key­word research to find key­words that work in YouTube as well as Google.

For exam­ple, web search inter­est in “Chevy” and “Chevro­let” are rough­ly the same this month. But, if you com­pare the YouTube search inter­est for these two terms, you’ll see that “Chevy” is sig­nif­i­cant­ly high­er than “Chevro­let.”

2. Optimize Your Content’s Metadata

YouTube uses meta­da­ta – your video’s title, descrip­tion, and tags – to index your video cor­rect­ly. To max­i­mize your pres­ence in search and sug­gest­ed videos, make sure your meta­da­ta is well-opti­mized.

  • Your title can be up to 100 char­ac­ters long.
  • Your descrip­tion can include up to 5,000 char­ac­ters.
  • Your tags can be up to 120 char­ac­ters.

Use every one of these lim­its for each of your videos.

3. Create Custom Thumbnails For Your Videos

If your account is ver­i­fied and in good stand­ing, you may have the abil­i­ty to upload cus­tom thumb­nails for your video uploads. Your cus­tom thumb­nail image should be as large as pos­si­ble, since the image will also be used as the pre­view image in the embed­ded play­er.

4. Optimize Your Video’s Watch Time

Cre­ate a com­pelling open­ing to your videos and then use edit­ing to main­tain and build inter­est through­out the video.

Build your sub­scriber base: sub­scribers are your most loy­al fans and will be noti­fied of new videos and playlists to watch. Involve your audi­ence in your videos, encour­age com­ments, and inter­act with your view­ers.

5. Use Annotations On Your Videos

Anno­ta­tions are click­able over­lays that you can add to your YouTube videos. Anno­ta­tions are a great way to encour­age your view­ers to engage with your video and take mean­ing­ful actions as a result.

The key is cre­at­ing an anno­ta­tions expe­ri­ence that is con­ver­sa­tion­al and inter­ac­tive.

6. Use Captions On Your Videos

Pro­vid­ing cap­tions not only make your work acces­si­ble to a wider audi­ence, it also acts as addi­tion­al meta­da­ta which helps your video show up in more places on the site. If your video is cap­tioned for mul­ti­ple lan­guages, it will also be search­able in those lan­guages.

7. Create And Optimize Playlists

Playlists allow you to col­lect, orga­nize and pub­lish mul­ti­ple videos togeth­er. They increase watch time and cre­ate anoth­er asset that will appear in search results and in Sug­gest­ed Videos.

You can cre­ate playlists using your own videos, oth­er videos, or a com­bi­na­tion of both.

8. Optimize Your Channel Name, Icon, Description

Sev­er­al cus­tomiz­able chan­nel fea­tures help ensure that you’re mak­ing your brand more dis­cov­er­able across YouTube.

Pick a short, mem­o­rable chan­nel name. This will appear wide­ly across YouTube, so make sure it’s the best rep­re­sen­ta­tion of your brand.

Upload a square, high-res­o­lu­tion image to be your channel’s icon across YouTube. The image will appear along­side all your videos on the watch page. (In most cas­es, you can use your brand’s logo.)

The first few words of your chan­nel descrip­tion appear most fre­quent­ly across the site, so high­light your most impor­tant brand­ing upfront.

Final Thoughts

How do I know that these video SEO tips work today?

In Feb­ru­ary 2010, I taught a YouTube mar­ket­ing work­shop at Voyage.tv, home of the world’s best trav­el videos. Voyage.tv’s chan­nel on YouTube had been cre­at­ed on May 18, 2009, but had only 1,510 video views before the work­shop. Today, Voyage.tv’s chan­nel has close to 6.3 mil­lion views. In oth­er words, learn­ing and imple­ment­ing these impor­tant tips helped Voyage.tv go from an aver­age of 168 views a month to an aver­age of 119,067 views a month.

But you can expect two or three of these tips to be out-of-date a year from now. That would be con­sis­tent with the nor­mal rate of change for the YouTube and video envi­ron­ment. So, use them as soon as pos­si­ble.

Greg Jarboe

Written by Greg Jarboe

President, SEO-PR

Greg Jarboe is President and co-founder of SEO-PR, an award-winning content marketing agency that was founded in 2003. He’s the author of YouTube and Video Marketing and also a contributor to The Art of SEO, Strategic Digital Marketing, Complete B2B Online Marketing, and Enchantment. He’s profiled in the book Online Marketing Heroes, a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and writes for Tubular Insights and The SEM Post. He’s an executive education instructor at the Rutgers Business School and the Video and Content Marketing faculty chair at Simplilearn.

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