YouTube has established itself as the premier website for sharing video content. It has 1.8 billion users per month, which is just shy of Facebook, the world’s biggest social media platform, which has over 2 billion. Not only is it the king of video content, but it’s also a powerful search engine for videos. And when you function as one, you’ll have your own SEO best practices to rank high.
Just like Google, YouTube has its own search engine results page (SERP), which is where you’ll find the top performing videos based on your search keywords. While they may be similar, YouTube is a little different from Google’s SEO that we know and practice.
But before you learn about a few advanced tricks on how to be SEO savvy on YouTube, you must first know how to improve your content. The goal of your videos is to help you gain popularity across the video-sharing site. To do that, you should get video views and subscribers to your channel.
Using keywords in your video title, description, and tags is standard procedure. Remember to do your keyword research so you can optimize around the keywords that you’ll end up using for your YouTube video content. Don’t forget to add a transcript of your videos, too. This makes it easier for both YouTube and Google to find your videos on searches.
Now that you’ve got that down pat, it’s time to go to work at your home office or flexible workspace with these five advanced hacks for SEO to boost your video content:
1. Frontload your keywords
Use your target keywords in your title when optimizing your videos. But in case you didn’t know, YouTube puts more weight on titles that have the keywords placed at the beginning of the title.
Let’s say you want to rank your video for buying a bass guitar and you used the title “5 Useful Tips in Buying a Bass Guitar.” There’s nothing wrong with this title, but you can make it more SEO friendly if you front-load it with the keywords and come up instead with “Buying a Bass Guitar: 5 Useful Tips.”
2. Amplify engagement signals
Engagement is a huge factor when it comes to ranking videos on YouTube so all those shares, likes, comments, and subscribers will push a video up the charts more than those that lack engagement. These metrics tell YouTube that people are drawn to your video and are loving its content. And out of all these engagement signals, comments have a direct connection to ranking more than the others.
One of the best ways to encourage viewers to comment is to leave a more specific call to action at the end of your video. So, instead of asking them to like and share your video or subscribe if they’re not followers yet, you should give your audience something more specific to comment on.
Using our first example, you can ask your viewers which tip in buying a bass they found the most helpful. Because you asked a direct question, it’s much easier for them to leave a comment, thus boosting engagement on your video.
3. Use the TAB formula for video tags (target, alternative, and broad)
Video tags aren’t as important as they used to be. However, they still make a difference if you do it right. Keep in mind that your video tags are designed to help YouTube understand your video’s content, which means you don’t need a lot of them to get the job done. In fact, too many tags may do more harm than good by confusing both YouTube and Google, which won’t help with your ranking at all.
What you need to do is approach this using specific tags through the TAB formula, which stands for the target, alternative, and broad. First, make sure that your initial tag is your target keyword. Just like with your video title, YouTube puts more weight on tags that appear early on, so your first video tag is important.
Next, create two to three tags that are alternative versions of your target keywords. You can find them when you type in your target keywords on YouTube’s search bar and see what the site suggests.
Lastly, include one or two broad terms in your last set of tags. These tags should be able to describe your video’s overall topic or what industry it’s in. The goal of these broad tags is to help YouTube give more context on your video.
4. Create longer videos and write longer video descriptions
It’s a fact that longer videos tend to outrank shorter ones, with the average length of those appearing on the first page of YouTube search results clocking in at 14 minutes, 50 seconds. YouTube now focuses on videos that increase the amount of time that the viewer will spend watching them on the site. So, to hit the sweet spot, try to make your videos between eight and 15 minutes long.
To give your video that extra ranking kick, long descriptions are better than short ones since it helps YouTube understand what your video is all about. To help you rank with competitive keywords, the recommended length is between 100 to 200 words.
Pro tip: You can outline the content of your video without giving everything away. Keep in mind that you can write lengthy descriptions but still leave your viewers wanting to watch the video.
5. Appear as a suggested video
YouTube’s ranking is more than just appearing in the search results. In fact, you can get as many hits as the popular videos (if not more) by getting your video to appear as a suggested video.
A suggested video is when your video gets to show up next to another on the sidebar. So, if you can get yours to appear next to a popular one, you can steal some of their views. The best way to show up as a suggested video is to copy the tags used by these popular videos that have a massive number of views.
When YouTube recognizes that your tags are similar to those of the popular video, it will automatically understand that your video is about the same topic. This will give you the honor of being a suggested video in the process.
To determine the tags of the popular videos, you’ll need to look at the source code of the page. If you’re using Google Chrome, just right click on the page and click ‘View Page Source.’ Here, you’ll find what you’re looking for at the keyword section of the page. You can also use tools such as TubeBuddy or VidIQ for easier tag lookup.
You can now use a few of the tags and include them in yours, but make sure you copy them word for word. And if your video is of high quality and somehow related to the popular video, YouTube will start to rank you as a suggested video.
Since YouTube is the number one site in the world when it comes to video sharing, having a presence there is crucial if your content is focused on the platform. Creating high-quality video content is just the first step. Making them visible to your target audience is the next challenge you need to overcome.
But now that you’ve learned a few advanced tricks, your videos are ready to rank higher on YouTube’s search engine results pages. You’ll be gaining those views, comments, and subscribers in no time if you manage to pull these hacks off perfectly.