20+ Tactics for SEO Promotion on YouTube
In 2018, HubSpot stated that 45% of marketers invested more in videos than in other types of media content. According to Animoto, YouTube took Facebook’s title of the most influential platform for users in 2019. Later, they stated that 70% of marketers said that over the past year they began to produce many more videos in 2020 than in the past.
Now YouTube uses more than 1 billion users per month and they own 14% of all Internet traffic around the world. If you haven’t already done SEO promotion on YouTube so far, it’s time to get started.
What Is YouTube SEO?
If you ask any user what YouTube is, they will say that Youtube is a platform where you can watch other people’s videos and upload your own. If you dig even deeper, you will find that it is not only an engine for viewing/downloading videos but also a search engine. The YouTube search engine is the second largest on the internet, second to Google.
And since YouTube has its own search engine, it comes with its own SEO techniques and algorithms by which the platform chooses videos for the SERPs top results.
Therefore, YouTube SEO is the optimization of videos, playlists, and channels in order to get a high rating.
How YouTube SEO Works
Increasing the ranking of videos on YouTube is the goal of SEO on the platform. However, this is a very general answer. Here is a detailed list of what you need to do to advance on this platform.
Algorithms and factors that influence site ranking
- The number of comments under the video: The site sees this figure as an indicator of engagement, so the more comments there are, the better.
- The duration of the video: According to Backlinko, the average duration of publications on the first page is 14 minutes 50 seconds. Eric Meyerson, then Head of Content Creation and YouTube Partner in Marketing, confirmed on a blog in 2012 that this factor affects YouTube search rankings.
Since 2015, Google also began to take into account the duration factor in the search for videos.
- Number of Shares under the publication: Unlike Google, who does not take this factor into account, YouTube raises the rating of a video if it is shared, according to one of their SEO analysts John Muller.
- Number of Likes under the video: Similar to the comments, likes on a video show audience engagement.
- The number of new subscriptions after watching the video: This factor tells YouTube that the publication is useful and that viewers want to know more from the same channel.
- The presence of a keyword in the title: Keywords indicate that the title accurately conveys the content topic.
- HD video quality. 68.2% of the publications that appear on the first page of a YouTube search were shot in HD.
In this list, the number of subscribers is not a contributing factor. We did not miss it by accident. Unlike Google, which checks the credibility of the entire site before showing one of its pages at the top, YouTube does not take into account the popularity of the entire channel in its algorithms and makes it possible to bring a high-quality video to the top results even if the video is from a small channel.
From the list of algorithms and factors, we gathered some commonly asked questions and some YouTube SEO tips that may be able to help you out.
How Do I Optimize SEO on YouTube?
To start, the content should be of high quality, interesting, comprehensible, and involving. The following ideas are good ways to create quality content.
- Interviews: Some channels specialize in this format but you can also post interviews alongside your other videos. It can also be useful if your company representatives sometimes give interviews to other channels to increase brand awareness.
- Reviews: Through this format, it is easy to talk about the benefits of goods and services that your brand offers.
- Explanations: The most common YouTube queries start with “how to …”. Users search for content that can explain what they don’t understand themselves. Videos tend to be a more understandable format than text.
Below are YouTube SEO best practices regarding content.
# 1 Express emotions
This is the most general of the tips, so no YouTube SEO tools, no YouTube video SEO strategy, and no templates or techniques are involved. However, sincerity, originality, humor, and empathy are essential.
If you’re shooting content, rely on the host. If you draw/animate, make a cool visual. In any case, remember that users select videos over text because they are simpler and more fun. Do not deprive the format of its features by the monotonous reading of blogs and simple listings of data.
# 2 Remind about Subscription
As we wrote above, a subscription will not only expand your audience but will also increase the rating of videos in the list. For this to happen, you need to remind the viewer to subscribe. This can be done at the beginning or end of the video so the user is not interrupted in the middle of viewing the content. This method is simple but effective. Hoping blindly that the viewer will take the initiative and subscribe is a bad strategy.
# 3 Interact with the user in the video and encourage comments
Writing a comment is more complicated than subscribing because the user needs to decide they want to comment and figure out what to write. Therefore, the strategy of asking to leave a comment will not work. Instead, you need to give an idea and motivation for comment. For example:
- Make a contest.
- Ask for an opinion at the very end of the video.
- Ask to share something you love/hate.
- Mention that you are open to questions in the comments (and really answer them, if any).
# 4 Make high-quality video
If you have a decent budget, hire a specialist with a good camera, a lead, or a motion designer. If your budget is modest, there are many other ways to give your Youtube channel enough attention. Here are some tips to improve the quality of a video even when it is shot on your phone:
- Use a tripod. Software image stabilization is a good thing, and the initial statics will be more reliable.
- Add an adequate background. The best background option is plain fabric or a wall. It’s easy to add animation or illustrations to plan backgrounds.
- Use a good light. You can also shoot in bright daylight, this will give a natural white balance. For the video quality to be acceptable, you have to depend on the weather and time of day. It is better to combine daylight with artificial sources, halogen, or LED.
- Speak into the microphone. Any camera or phone has a built-in sound recording but even the simplest lavalier will make this better.
# 5 Make a video longer than 4 minutes
Although the average length of popular videos is 14 minutes, this length is not suitable for all topics. It is better to make the content shorter and more interesting.
Making the video at least 4 minutes long is a good option. This is the average length of videos that YouTube defines as short ones. If there is very little information, combine it with another topic. On the contrary, divide the video into several parts if there is a lot of information.
Find the optimal video length for your channel and make new releases similar. If you cannot average the value, select different categories. For example:
- For an interview – 30-40 minutes.
- For reviews – 15-20 minutes.
- Short news and press releases – 4-6 minutes.
# 6 Encourage users to watch other videos on the channel
To expand your audience and attract new subscribers, these tips will help:
- Leave the cliffhangers at the end. This is a technique used to break off at the most interesting place. The user is intrigued and wants to look further. At the same time, the intrigue should not concern the main topic – if you do not answer the question that is the main topic of the video, the viewer will not benefit and will leave thinking that the secret will probably not be revealed in the next issue either.
- Make several parts of videos. This way, subscribers can watch the videos as episodes of the series. They must also be published on the same day of the week.
- Link to other videos on the channel. It can be both those that you plan to release (“this is what we will talk about next week”), and old publications (“by the way, we already made a video on this topic, the link is here” – and add a tooltip). There is also an opportunity to add recommended videos at the end of videos.
This includes SEO keyword work along with less obvious work such as subtitles and video files.
# 7 Pick the Right Keywords
YouTube video SEO begins with keyword selection. Criteria for them:
- Relevance: Keywords need to be relevant to the topic.
- Focus on the target audience: If your brand is highly specialized, focus on the type of people that go for your specialization. For example, if you sell Fuji cameras, it is better to take the keyword “buy a Fuji camera” than just “buy a camera”.
- Demand: For these key searches, real users search for content on YouTube.
# 8 Use YouTube to search for keywords and video topics
The easiest way to find keywords is to use a quick search on YouTube. Start typing the question and see what similar searches the platform offers you.
In addition, YouTube offers the Traffic Source in the analytics section (YouTube search report), which shows which keywords people entered to find your content. The platform does not release official YouTube SEO services for searching keywords, but it is a good tool from Google.
To work with the service for YouTube SEO, select YouTube Search in the filters after entering the topic of interest. The tool will show the popularity of the topic on the chart, the spread of interest in the topic by city and state, and related keywords. Read more in How to use Google Trends for SEO.
Ahrefs YouTube Keyword Tool also works well. It has one main task – to pick up ideas of keywords on the topic.
Other services such as YouTube Ranker, use similar algorithms and have similar functions. Choose your own preferences, interface, and authority of the brand in your preferred tool.
# 9 Focus on competitors’ keywords
If you are new, it’s especially useful to see what content is already being posted in your niche. However, navigating does not mean completely copying topics. Analyze the most interesting topics. For example, make a search on YouTube and Google to see how many results the systems will offer you. It may be a better idea to choose a topic that has fewer results. With less competition, there is a greater chance of reaching the top. You can find more on the topic in the article SEO Competitive Analysis.
# 10 Optimized Title
The title is the only text that the users see in the search results and it can tell them something about the video before they click on it.
Two main header requirements are:
- The main keyword should be added to it. The main keyword is the most relevant and understandable.
- It should briefly explain the benefits of the video. The title should make the user thinks “yes, that’s exactly what I was looking for.”
The title length is limited to 60 characters. It is better to use a minimum of 5 words.
# 11 Start video description with main keyword
Putting the main keyword at the top of the description is YouTube’s official advice. If you can’t make the keyword first, try to enter it at least in the first sentence.
The maximum amount of text in the description of a YouTube video is 1000 characters. It’s not necessary to use all of them. Your subscribers came to watch, not read. In addition, the platform displays only the first few lines under the video, approximately 100 characters. To see more, users must click on the description. Therefore, important points and links should be indicated at the beginning.
# 12 Use tags and LSI
YouTube recommends adding tags to the description. At the same time, there is no strict connection between the number of tags and the video rating. The platform understands video content without the help of metadata, but they can still help it determine whether the publication is useful and whether it is worth adding it to the top.
Tags can overlap with keywords, or they can be synonyms: LSI keywords. The optimal number of tags is 10-12 words.
# 13 Upload subtitles
YouTube is localized in 61 countries and 61 languages. Translating content into each of them is not necessary, but the least you can do is upload the subtitles in English and duplicate the audio track with text.
Initially, the idea of embedding subtitles arose so that people with hearing impairments could also get acquainted with the content. However, this feature is actually useful for a wide range of viewers. This gives them the ability to watch the video without sound when needed. This also helps those who either don’t know the audio language well or have bad oral comprehension.
YouTube has a function for creating automatic subtitles, but it does not work perfectly. It’s better to upload your own in the SRT format.
# 14 Rename the original video file before uploading to YouTube
YouTube cannot watch the downloaded video and therefore relies on keywords to check whether the content matches the theme. It does this during the first file upload. Therefore, rename the file with a keyword and make separators between the individual words before this process begins.
For example, if your main keyword is “essay writing tips”, the file will be called “essay writing tips.mov” or “essay-writing-tips.mov.” This way, it will be easier for YouTube to understand the name.
Video is audio-visual content. The visual part is read in the first place, even before the publication is opened and downloaded. Therefore, it can be used to attract attention and improve usability.
# 15 Add Cards and End Screens
Cards are graphic elements that you can customize so they appear when you play your video to promote your brand. You can add up to five cards of the following types in a single publication:
- Switch to another channel.
- Donate funds to charities.
- Fund the author of the video.
- Follow the link to a third-party resource.
- Conduct polls.
- Include new content on YouTube (another video or playlist).
Here’s the official YouTube Creators Academy video on how to use Cards.
End Screens are similar to Cards but they can only be placed at the beginning or end of a video. There are only four purposes:
- Switching to another channel
- Including other content on YouTube
- Going to a website
End Screens are also bigger than Cards and can get more attention. For example, at the very end of the video, write Subscribe to the best SEO YouTube channel and leave a link with a large logo of your brand.
# 16 Make catchy icons (main screens) for video
In addition to the built-in graphic elements of YouTube, you can put your own inserts into the content. It isn’t possible to click on them but visually they will interest the audience.
This is especially true for the main screens. Main screens are seen by the users when they click play. They are automatically generated after loading. YouTube selects one frame from the video but you can replace them with your image, a logo, or theme name.
For example, the video is called “How to rate a video on YouTube,” you can do this in a graphic editor and paste it into the content. You can also highlight other catchy phrases or interesting points from the video. After all, 90% of the videos in the top have custom main screens, according to YouTube statistics.
SEO is about links. And YouTube SEO is no exception. Links help distribute content and increase brand awareness. Here are four tricks that you can use.
# 17 Leave links to your channel and to individual videos
You can leave links through cards in the content itself. It’s important to promote both the channel and specific releases because Google is paying attention to this even though YouTube does not take into account the popularity of the author of the video.
# 18 Share videos on other social networks and forums
YouTube itself encourages the sharing of content in other social networks, so it has separate buttons for this.
In addition to the social networks that the platform offers, you can share videos on other platforms as well. For each platform, you can write your own involving lead.
# 19 Add video to the internal content of the site
In the video, you can leave a link to the brand’s website. You can also leave a link to the video on the website. You want users to enter organically. It’s a good idea to write text content on your blog at the same time as the YouTube release so that the two formats complement each other.
# 20 Use email newsletter
An email newsletter is one of the most effective marketing methods because you can quickly notify your target audience about brand news. For example, you can add a link to a channel with the announcement of an update or a specific video on an important topic.
The platform has built-in features for commercial accounts. Here’s what you can do with them.
# 21 Analyze the number of times users spend watching videos
This setting is shown in the watch time subsection of the YouTube embedded analytics. It was added in 2012 and then was taken into account to assess the video. There are no specific tricks to increase the number of times users spend watching episodes. The general advice is to make quality content. Then subscribers will come back and watch publications again.
# 22 Analyze audience engagement and retention reports
In these sections of YouTube analytics, the parameters that can be checked under the publication (likes, dislikes, views) are shown. This is all conveniently displayed on graphs and in spreadsheets. Engagement reports are built across the channel and for specific videos.
The two main YouTube tools that improve usability are Playlists and Content Categorization.
# 23 Make playlists
Playlists are collections of publications united by a single theme. For example, if you are doing a video in several parts, you can put them together in a playlist. You could also create a tutorial where each step has its own video.
In the context of SEO, one playlist also combines common or similar keywords. In terms of YouTube functionality, such collections can be opened in a separate window and viewed in order.
# 24 Categorize video
When you select a video category, you explicitly indicate which topic it belongs to, making it is easier for the user to find it. The option is available in the advanced settings section. Once you define a category, a publication can be added to the playlist with other videos of the same category. This will also increase its rating and popularity.
There are two main ways to promote YouTube videos: advertising on the platform itself and third-party resources.
# 25 Interact with other channels
The interaction may be paid advertising, barter, or another type of partnership. This does not affect the result of the promotion. However, the niche of the channel selected for cooperation is very important. Ideally, a partner should complement your brand, but this does not mean that it should be your competitor.
If the channel you interact with offers exactly the same product or service as you do, there is a risk that your subscribers will start watching that channel more often than yours. Therefore, pay attention to similar niches:
- If you are engaged in clothing, interact with the brand of its repair or dry cleaning.
- If you are talking about preparing video content, offer collaboration to the channel where they review video cameras.
# 26 Offer to embed your videos in the content on third-party resources
Embedding a video has two goals:
- The increase in the number of views: To achieve this goal, YouTube content is organically included in other resources such as blog posts.
- Audience increase: Even if people do not watch the entire video or subscribe, many can remember your brand as its author.
Moz recommends embedding releases in pages where there are different types of media. They have more conversions because the reader has a choice of how to study the information. They can read the text, see pictures, or turn on the video. It’s also recommended that you embed only one video per page, otherwise too many different keywords will be concentrated in one place.