YouTube has come a long way from just being your go-to source of funny videos of people wiping out or attempting the ill-fated cinnamon challenge. The video hosting platform has grown up to become the world’s second-largest search engine with over one billion unique visitors per month looking for anything from product tutorials to explainer videos. That’s a force that SEO agencies or anyone looking to increase their search engine rankings can’t ignore- especially when you also consider how well online video converts.
You already know how important video is to your digital content marketing strategy, but have you taken the time to make sure your videos are easy to find online? By optimizing your YouTube videos for SEO, you can increase your sales, grow your audience, and increase your backlinks. Here’s how to optimize YouTube videos in three easy steps:
1. Optimize Your Title.
Your video title and description should be optimized to rank for the keywords that you’re targeting, much like the title of a page. The video’s title should be attention-grabbing to increase your click-through rates, and make sure to keep important keywords near the front of the title. Also, just like with page titles, YouTube titles should be 65 characters or less.
2. Optimize Your Description.
The description should also be relevant to the video and optimized for the keyword you’re targeting. But remember, optimization doesn’t mean keyword stuffing; instead, use the keywords naturally to enhance the description’s value.
Start with a 2-4 sentence description of the video. That’s about how much will show up above the fold of the description on your video’s YouTube page (that is, above the “Show More” tab). If you want to add more, that’s great- but these first 100-200 words should get the point across to your viewers and include a call to action with a link to your website to improve click-through rates.
One great way to optimize your video description is by including a transcript of your video’s script. But wait! YouTube has a transcript tab right there! They transcribe my video for me! Well, yeah, they do- but try reading it the transcript they generate for you and see how closely it relates to what you actually said. Chances are, they “misheard” quite a few words, and it’s quite possible that your transcript doesn’t make sense. Take matters into your own hands and include your version of your script in the description of the video under the fold- it’ll be clearer, more thorough, and it’ll help capture a lot of your keywords.
Backlinko also has a great suggestion for optimizing YouTube video descriptions for SEO: treat the description like a mini blog post. Google can’t physical watch or hear your video content, so to compensate, they use your video’s title and description text to learn what your video is about and match it with appropriate searchers. A thorough description increases the chances that Google will “understand” what your video is.
Finally, at the end of your description, include links to your website and social media profiles so your viewers know where else to find you.
3. Optimize Your Tags.
Includes at least 5-10 relevant keywords as tags for your video. Using tags will associate your video with other similarly tagged videos, which will allow your video to be shown as a “related video.” This will help you generate more views from people who were originally watching other videos.
Potential tags can include your target keywords as well as what genre of video it is (tutorial? how to? explainer video?). To help get an idea of what people are searching for, you can use Google’s Keyword planner as well as typing queries into YouTube’s search bar.
Hosting your video on YouTube gives you a huge audience, and you need to take advantage of that exposure. By following a few simple YouTube SEO tips, you can increase your audience, your bottom line, and your backlinks. Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll even be as famous as this guy.
Want to learn more about how to make your own explainer video? Check out our FREE ebook!
Kristen Geil is a former Content Writer & Blogger at Digital Third Coast, a search engine marketing agency in Chicago with content marketing services. Connect with Kristen on LinkedIn and Google+. Connect with Digital Third Coast on Google+.