Although YouTube is the second largest search engine, it still remains an untapped source of generating substantial traffic. Also, with a staggering rate of 5 Billion videos streamed per day and 300 hours uploaded every minute, YouTube has topped the charts when it comes to video marketing as well.
And adding to this, the fact that Google includes YouTube videos in its search results, it would be fair to say that optimizing your video content can boost your online visibility drastically.
Note: Looking for a video? Here’s my Webinar on Tips & Tricks to Video SEO, where I discussed 14 hacks to increase your YouTube video rankings.
In this post, I’ll discuss the top 5 optimization tips that can help you rank your video on the first page of Google.
But before we dive into them, let’s discuss the primary YouTube Ranking Factors.
YouTube Ranking Factors
YouTube ranking factors are similar to Google search ranking factors. So, if you’ve done your SEO homework, you’d find optimizing YouTube videos for better rankings easy.
Here are the 4 factors that affect your video rankings:
- Keywords in Meta tags: This includes your video title, description, and tags. YouTube uses these elements to determine how relevant your video is to a specific search.
- Video Quality: High Definition (HD) videos are ranked higher on YouTube. Did you notice the family resemblance here? Both YouTube and Google reward you for ensuring a high-quality experience for the users.
- Closed Caption: YouTube can crawl your video content too if you create closed captions. Hence, they can be instrumental to your rankings.
- User Engagement: This includes the number of views, likes, comments, social shares, inbound links, subscribers, video retention rate, and average watch time. As YouTube wants to show quality content to its users, it ranks high-engagement videos higher.
Now that you are aware of the ranking factors, let’s see how you can optimize your videos to rank better.
5 YouTube SEO tips from my strategy toolbox
1. Keyword Hunting and Optimization
Similar to traditional SEO, keyword research marks the beginning of YouTube Video Optimization. You should aim to rank your video not only on YouTube but on Google’s Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) as well.
Start your keyword research by creating 2 buckets of search queries:
- Search queries that don’t generate video results on Google SERPs but have a decent search volume – by optimizing for these keywords, you can rank your videos on Google easily. And also drive a substantial amount of targeted traffic to your YouTube videos and website.
- Search queries that generate high search volume on Google SERPs – optimizing for this bucket will be more competitive because some videos might be ranking on the SERPs for these keywords already. But once you’ve optimized for these keywords and begin to rank for them, you’ll notice a sudden spike in your traffic.
Get keyword ideas:
You can get a lot of good keyword suggestions by using these three methods:
- YouTube Autocomplete search feature:
Start typing your primary keywords, and YouTube’s search box will start displaying a dropdown list with additional keywords automatically. These are listed based on the searches performed by users.
- Google Autocomplete search feature:
Similarly, you can use Google to extend your keyword list.
- Get more insights with a Rank Tracker:
Now, compile the keywords that you’ve gathered from YouTube and Google in one excel sheet. Then, upload them on RankWatch via .csv file and discover more suggestions and gain insights into your competitor’s keywords.
The results will show you the search trend and the search volume of each keyword.
Also, there’s LHF (Low Hanging Fruits) that list the keywords for which you have higher rankings but aren’t tracking them.
Make sure your keywords have a search volume of at least 350 searches per month. Targeting these keywords can generate a decent amount of quality organic traffic towards your video and ultimately, your website.
But how to optimize your video with these keywords?
How to optimize your video with keywords?
File Name: Instead of naming your video file randomly, place the relevant keywords organically. For example, I used the following file name for my webinar video: Tips, tricks, and hacks for Video SEO – Webinar. Here, Video SEO is the keyword.
Video Title: Make sure that the title of your video begins with a primary keyword.
For instance, I wanted to include 4 keywords phrases in my title:
- Video SEO
- Boost YouTube traffic
- Tips to Boost YouTube traffic
- Tips to do Video SEO
After bouncing up a few ideas and copies, I came up with the following:
Description: Make sure to include the relevant keywords within the first 160 characters (as the message is truncated beyond that).
Tags: Tags are again a way of communicating the content of your video to YouTube, and these are only visible in the Page Source. Include your primary targeted keywords here.
2. Effective hacks for better performance
Upload high-quality videos
HD enhances the user’s experience; therefore, YouTube prefers ranking HD quality videos higher. You can also try 4K, Virtual Reality (VR) and 360 Upload options. Since these have double the horizontal pixel count, they provide a better viewing experience.
Optimize your Thumbnail Image
Your thumbnail image creates the first impression of your video and can increase your click-through rates by 15%.
Therefore, it is crucial to invest a couple of minutes in creating an attractive thumbnail image which conveys what your video is about effectively.
Here are four ways to choose an appropriate image for the thumbnail:
- Download an image from a creative commons image websites (like Pixabay).
- Take a screenshot from your paused video.
- Take an image using a DSLR camera.
Once you have your image, head over to Canva and create a customized poster with the following dimensions 1280×720 pixels, this will ensure that you get a high-quality image which can fit the 2MB upload size limit of YouTube.
Also, the thumbnail image comes out so small on YouTube, so you really need to sharpen it:
- Increase the saturation by 30%
- Increase the contrast by 30%
- Reduce the blur
- Decrease the brightness
- Use a few words to describe the topic
- Increase the text size to improve the readability
All these tiny hacks will make your image stand out. Have a look at the thumbnail I used for the webinar:
3. Links and Call-to-actions
- Links in your description
85% of the customers are likely to purchase a product after watching its video, so you should always include related links in the description. It can either point to your homepage or any other pages of your website.
The second most vital link to include in the description is your call to action “Subscribe here” link. Lastly, you can include links of your social media channels as well.
Did you notice the timings that I have added for each chapter?
These are links that will direct you to a specific portion of the video. They are especially useful for long videos when you want to keep the viewer engagement. Also, by doing so, you’ll make it easier for the viewer to head straight to the essential portions of the video.
Moreover, they are effortless to create – you just need to write the timing, and YouTube will automatically hyperlink it.
Another way to link in your video is through annotations.
- Links in annotations
Annotations are those clickable buttons that pop up within a video.
They prompt the users to interact with your video content and thus, help you achieve your goals.
Make sure you add the appropriate time frame (start and end time of annotation) while adding annotations to your videos. Otherwise, it can annoy the viewer.
You can incorporate the following call to actions in your videos through your annotations:
- Subscribe link – It redirects the users to the page where they can subscribe to receive notifications on any updates to your YouTube channel.
- Website link – this is available to YouTube partners only.
- Links to other related videos – Keep your viewers engaged with your YouTube channel by directing them to your other videos.
- Link to your YouTube channel – Your YouTube channel houses all your videos. What could be better than a link that can direct users to where they could explore more about your brand.
- Link to your YouTube playlist – When viewers click on these type of annotations, a playlist is triggered, allowing them to watch more videos uploaded on your channel.
- Link to a specific section of your current video – This can be especially helpful if your video is long. These annotations give users the flexibility to jump to and fro between any section of the video.
- Link to your Google+ page/profile – Users will be redirected to your Google+ page/profile by clicking on this annotation. But before doing this, you need to make sure that your YouTube and Google+ accounts are connected.
4. Use Playlists
Playlists allow you to categorize all the videos in your channel based on relevancy so that they play out in a sequence. This helps keep viewers on your channel.
Here are a few tips to help you build an optimized playlist for your video content:
- Group same category videos in a single playlist – By doing this, you can increase the traffic driven to your videos. People are more likely to watch another video on the same topic right after they have finished viewing your first video.
- Include relevant keywords in the title of your playlist – YouTube algorithm picks up keywords in your meta data to determine which videos to rank.
- Use similar tags in all your videos – If you do that, YouTube will assume that all your videos are related to each other and will line them up in the suggested video box automatically.
5. Promote your video
In the end, all you need to do is promote your videos as much as you can. Post it on your social media platforms, blogs and forums, and emails as well.
Apart from that, you can create content around the video and embed it in the posts for your blog and guest posts, too.
Traffic driven from through these mediums will be high-quality and can increase the total number of views received by your website. This boosts the popularity of your video on YouTube and eventually, its rankings.
Irrespective of your strategy, the key to ranking is creating excellent video content that adds value and engages the user.
Create a well-optimized video content calendar, use the tricks as mentioned above and establish a prominent YouTube presence.
Do you have some other hacks for ranking YouTube videos? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.