13 YouTube Optimization Tips For Improving Your Channel’s SEO
YouTube is the largest video content platform in the world. Many don’t realize that YouTube is also considered a social media channel and a search engine.
As such, it’s a vital component of any content marketing strategy. However, simply posting content to your YouTube channel isn’t going to guarantee success. SEO is just as important on YouTube as it is on Google, not surprisingly, considering that Google owns YouTube.
With that in mind, optimizing your YouTube channel for SEO is essential to attracting a larger audience — and higher qualified leads.
What Factors Influence YouTube Video Rankings?
YouTube has a vested interest in keeping users on its platform for as long as possible. This desire is to ensure that as many viewers see ads bought on their channel as possible. The more views and engagement a given video receives, the more easily it can be monetized, leading to heavier promotion within YouTube’s system.
In contrast, videos with little engagement will not receive such a push. Essentially, the YouTube algorithm will give content with more engagement higher rankings, which, in turn, results in even more engagement.
That said, the algorithm promotes video content in two ways:
- Recommends Videos – The algorithm uses the individual search history, watch history, and user actions to make specific, personally-tailored recommendations.
- Ranks Videos Based on SEO – The algorithm uses various engagement-based metrics to rank videos in the YouTube SERP system while also matching specific keywords within video tags, titles, and descriptions with high-ranking keywords that are popular among user searches.
Here are four of the most important metrics used by the YouTube algorithm to rank videos:
1. Subscriber Numbers
Although individual views are essential, subscriber numbers are even more so. The number of subscribers a channel has provides a good indication of how popular the channel is.
YouTube can assume that if a user subscribes to a channel, they like the channel’s content in general and want to see new video content when it’s published.
Subscription numbers also make it easier to predict views of future content, which is helpful to advertisers.
2. Watch Time
A single view doesn’t necessarily mean the video was watched to completion. You might assume that a video with 10,000 views must be of high quality, but if most viewers stopped watching after 20 seconds, you could assume the opposite. To address this possibility, YouTube tracks the watch time of its content. The longer the average watch time is, the better.
3. User Engagement
How users interact with video content is factored into YouTube’s ranking system as well. Engagement metrics that contribute to video rankings include likes, dislikes, new subscriptions, comments, and shares. It’s worth noting that engagement is considered even more valuable than the number of views a video obtains.
4. Length of Videos
Previously, YouTubers would make shorter videos because it was easier to obtain a higher average watch time. Not to mention, shorter content is easier to produce.
As a result, shorter videos artificially inflated the average watch duration and video percentage viewed metrics. YouTube addressed this by giving more weight to longer-form video content.
After all, a ten-minute-long video has to be suitable for a user to watch the whole thing. Viewing a 30-second video all the way through doesn’t indicate the same level of quality.
1. Create High-Quality Video Content
The ultimate goal of creating video content for YouTube is to attract more leads and to nurture those leads into customers. You’re not going to be able to achieve this if your content isn’t good. With that in mind, the following are critical to ensuring that your videos are of high quality:
Know Your Audience
If you don’t understand who your audience is, who are you creating video content for? Use your buyer personas to develop relevant, informative, and helpful content for your target audience. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how many views you’re getting or how well you’re ranking.
Even if a video attracts thousands of viewers, those viewers will be worthless to you if they have zero interest in your brand. On top of that, your videos’ style (the way you edit them, the tone of voice you use, etc.) should be dictated by who your audience is.
For instance, you wouldn’t use informal slang popular among teens in a video that’s attempting to inform a high-level IT executive.
Upload Professional Quality Videos
While you can undoubtedly create decent quality videos on your phone that are in HD, the overall quality of your video’s production will reflect on your brand.
As such, you should consider filming video content using actual professional camera equipment and lighting. Additionally, one of the biggest mistakes YouTube channels make is to focus all their attention on the visuals and forgetting about the audio.
You can get away with not having the most fantastic video quality — but you can’t get away with questionable audio quality. Either way, it’s worth investing in professional-quality video content to ensure that your business comes off as a professional organization.
Focus on Long-Form Video Content
As previously mentioned, long-form video content will have a better chance of ranking well than short-form video content. That’s not to say that shorter videos don’t have their place. Short videos can help to drive clicks, which is still essential.
However, in addition to improving your SEO, longer videos help you increase your brand authority, drive engagement, and generate more leads.
Engage Viewers Within First 15 Seconds
People, in general, have short attention spans, especially when it comes to consuming content online. Because of this, your videos need to capture your audience’s attention within the first 15 seconds.
If they fail to engage viewers within this timeframe, your videos will likely experience a high bounce rate. If they succeed, viewers will be more likely to watch the entire video, thereby heightening your overall watch time.
While YouTube’s system offers default transcription, they are rarely accurate. Use a professional service to add your transcription and subtitles in different languages to open up and expand your videos’ reach.
By doing so, you will allow more users to view and enjoy your content, potentially leading to more subscribers and higher rankings. Not to mention that search engines can crawl your subtitles for keywords. They can’t crawl your audio.
2. Map Out Your Content Before Getting Started
Always plan your content strategy ahead of time. Doing so will help ensure that your content is relevant and of high quality. When it comes to mapping out your content, there are two approaches:
- Determine your content, then add the keywords that are related to it.
- Identify relevant keywords first.
Both of these approaches are valid. Usually, if you create your content first, the keywords should come naturally. However, there is a risk that you might try to add unrelated keywords to that content in an attempt to boost rankings. By identifying solid keywords that perform well first, you can create content based on those keywords.
As a result, your keywords will be relevant to your content. Additionally, doing your keyword research first can help generate content ideas you didn’t have before.
3. Use The Right Keywords
Keywords are essential to your rankings. However, using the wrong keywords will attract the wrong audience, leading to fewer qualified leads and less engagement. To ensure that you use effective keywords, you need to do keyword research. Once you’ve identified the relevant keywords, you need to use them to optimize your video content in the following ways correctly:
Channel Name and Description
Keywords provide both search engines and users with context. As such, you need to use keywords in your channel name and channel description that summarize what your channel is about. If done correctly, YouTube’s algorithm should use your channel name and description as factors for ranking your channel and content.
Descriptions are meant to provide viewers with a summary of the video content. However, they are also used by search engines to determine the context of the video. With that in mind, use the opportunity to add relevant keywords and links to your description, both of which can help bolster your video’s SEO.
Your video’s title should include your primary keyword; however, this should come naturally if the title is relevant to your content. You should also make sure that the title properly informs viewers (and search engines) about the video’s content and uses language that incites curiosity and interest. The less effort you put into your titles, the less likely viewers will click on your video’s link.
The “about” section of your YouTube channel should include certain key elements highlighting your channel’s purpose. Additionally, the “about” section should consist of links to your other social media platforms and to your main website, as well as a short introduction to your business, who you are, and your mission statement.
Speak Keywords in Your Videos
Make sure that whoever is speaking in your videos uses the relevant keywords. Spoken keywords will be transcribed, thereby helping to improve your ranking.
4. Build an Effective YouTube Homepage
Your YouTube homepage is not unlike your website’s homepage. The purpose of both is to build your brand identity and your brand reputation from the get-go. There are several components that your YouTube homepage should have to achieve this.
The following are some of the critical elements that all YouTube homepages should include:
- Custom YouTube Channel Banner – Your channel should use a well-designed, catchy, and original graphic representing your brand.
- An About Tab – As previously mentioned, including information about your business and channel is crucial to informing audiences about who you are.
- Additional Channels – Provide links to your other channels, thereby giving users more options as to how they can engage with your brand. Such links can include:
- Discord or real-time chat channels
- Additional social channel business pages
- Website links
- Your Logo – A strong brand identity depends on consistency across all channels. Include your brand logo on your YouTube homepage to retain this consistency.
- Contact Information – Provide your phone number and email address so that users can contact you in person.
5. Create a YouTube Channel Trailer
A YouTube channel trailer is meant to provide viewers with information about what type of content they can expect. It entices them to watch your videos in the same way that a movie trailer attracts people to watch the movie. Besides previewing your channel, the trailer should also showcase the style that viewers can expect from your videos.
6. Organize YouTube Videos Into Playlists
Playlists allow you to organize your videos by category. Doing so makes it easier for viewers to find more of your content that’s relevant to them.
For example, suppose you have ten video tutorials on how to build a home. In that case, a viewer who watches one can simply watch the rest of them without having to navigate various menus in search of more home-building tutorials on your channel. The added benefit is that it keeps more viewers engaged and on your channel for longer.
7. Add Relevant Tags To Every Video You Upload
Add relevant tags to every video that you upload. Tags help YouTube to rank your videos more effectively. Your tags should include your primary and secondary keywords and align with your video’s main topic.
8. Use Video Cards
Video cards are the replacements for YouTube annotations. They are interactive elements that show up on your video’s screen to link to other related content. YouTube cards help generate traffic by motivating users to keep watching your videos instead of leaving your channel. Think of these as calls-to-action. The following are a few tips on using video cards:
- Use the audience retention metric to determine where users stop watching your videos. Cards can be used to keep viewers engaged so that they keep watching your video.
- Have your video’s speaker provide verbal cues to encourage viewers to click on the cards that appear on the screen.
- Use cards that link to a high-performing video. Doing so will help drive more traffic to your channel at the end of your newly uploaded video.
9. Add Links to Your Channel and Your Videos
To continue engaging and nurturing your viewers, add links to both your channel and your video content. It would help if you used both internal and external links. For example, internal links can direct viewers to your YouTube homepage, to a playlist, or other relevant videos.
External links can drive viewers to your website. Links can be inserted into descriptions, comments, and even embedded into the videos themselves.
10. Encourage Engagement
The comment sections on YouTube are there for a reason: use them to engage with viewers and encourage discussions. Read through your comments and respond to them (in a positive, non-confrontational manner, of course).
Your comment section is a great way to obtain feedback and find ideas for new content. The more engaged viewers are, the more likely they are to continue watching other videos and subscribing to your channel.
11. Build Backlinks
Backlinks are an essential part of SEO. Not only can they help drive more viewers to your content, but they indicate to Google that your videos are an authoritative source (if they are coming from high-ranking sources themselves). To build backlinks, you need to create awareness.
Share your videos on your website and on all of your other social channels to help spread awareness and increase the chances of building backlinks. You can also share your videos with influencers.
12. Promote Your Videos
The strategy of promoting your videos isn’t much different than that of building backlinks. The goal is to increase awareness of your videos. Whenever a new video is published on YouTube, you should promote it. You can’t expect people to watch it if they don’t know it exists, after all.
Promote your video content by posting it to your blog, linking to it from your social channels, and even sending a link to your email subscriber list.
13. Optimizing Your Vanity URL
Every channel has a unique URL automatically assigned by YouTube. The default URL is generally nonsensical, such as youtube.com/391D-ERO0. Such a URL is not very easy to remember.
Fortunately, you can create a vanity URL for your channel using a unique identifier, such as youtube.com/yourbusinessname. By optimizing your vanity URL, you’ll strengthen your brand identity.
However, only certain users qualify for a vanity URL. To be eligible for a custom URL, your channel needs to meet the following criteria:
- You must have 100 or more subscribers.
- Your channel must be at least 30 days old.
- You must have an uploaded photo as a channel icon.
- You must have channel art uploaded to your channel.
How To Obtain a Vanity URL
If you qualify, then obtaining a custom URL for your channel is not difficult. Go to the Advanced Settings on your account, and then go to the Channel Settings. If you’re eligible, a link that reads “You’re eligible for a custom URL” will show up.
Once you click on it, a “Get a custom URL” box will show up. YouTube will provide you with the custom URL you have been approved for. You won’t be able to change this part of the URL; however, you can add your own numbers or letters to the end of the new vanity URL.
Keep in mind that once the vanity URL has been approved, you can’t change it. You can find more detailed step-by-step instructions on the YouTube Help page.
YouTube’s Search Engine Is Powerful: Optimize Your YouTube Channel Today For Greater Success
The primary goal of setting up a YouTube channel is to generate brand awareness and attract new leads. Doing so requires that you properly optimize your YouTube channel and the videos you post for SEO.
By following these best practices to optimize your YouTube content, you’ll have a better chance of increasing viewer engagement, boosting views, and growing your subscriber numbers, all of which will help improve your rankings. As a result, your videos will be more heavily promoted by YouTube, resulting in even better numbers and more tremendous success.