YouTube SEO Overview
Videos are essentially invisible to search engines, therefore it is essential to support them with effective metadata.
The overarching theme of this post is to illustrate the importance of robust, descriptive metadata associated with videos. Going through this list of tasks for each video you post will ensure search engine crawlers are able to properly identify and classify the video. This in turn drives traffic and makes it easier for users to find relevant videos. The content of this post is primarily targeted to YouTube videos and music, but many of the topics apply to other video sites as well (Vimeo, Vine, Twitch).
It’s worth noting that even with older content, YouTube will re-classify videos when changes to the metadata have been detected. In other words, updating old content will increase the likelihood of that content being viewed, regardless of age.
Critical YouTube Search Optimization Tasks
1) Keyword Research
To build effective metadata to describe your videos, it is key to have a deep understanding of the organization being promoted and their goals. Organizational research informs content and decisions made in keyword choices, titles, and descriptions. At a minimum, you should be able to answer these questions:
- What keywords or terms do they rank for? What do they want to rank for?
- What domains are they considered thought-leaders or experts in? What are their target domains?
- What organizations and entities link back to them? Can we answer the above questions about keywords and domain authority for those entities as well?
- What trends are present in the industry and/or domain that we can capitalize on?
2) YouTube Analytics
You should get an idea of user demographics to better understand the audience you’re catering to and view how the videos are performing to get a baseline measurement. These data points should be consistently revisited to produce quantitative measurements on performance improvement.
3) Video Title
All video titles should be descriptive and take advantage of the keyword and industry research. The primary goals of the video title is to succinctly describe the video content while keeping in mind that the title will populate YouTube’s autocomplete feature in the search box. Give careful consideration to what users will be searching for when they’re looking for your video, and reference your keyword research.
4) Video Tags
- Specific tags: Single, precise words to describe the video. These tags are typically names of the organization, url, conference, niche industries (Ex: SalesForce.com).
- Compound tags: Multi-word, precise descriptors of the videos. These are often names of people in the video, more descriptive event titles (Ex: Consumer Electronics Show 2017).
- Generic tags: Typically short or single word generic descriptors of the video. These tend to be industry names and other broad labels of the content (automotive, interview, new technology, etc).
5) Video Description
For each video, produce a unique description based on the keyword research, while keeping the most relevant descriptors in the first 2-3 lines. These descriptions should typically include a link back the organization’s website or other relevant content.
6) Custom URL
If eligible, it is valuable to apply and claim a custom URL for the YouTube channel (Ex: youtube.com/yourcustomname).
A written transcription of the video allows for closed caption functionality, and also provides search engines with a method for processing the video content. This is especially important when the spoken subject matter of the video has a high frequency of key terms (refer back to your keyword research).
8) Link Building
When relevant, reach out to the individuals and organizations that were present or mentioned in your video and request a backlink. Getting links to your video from related websites, blogs, other YouTube channels, and social networks can increase video ranking and drive additional traffic. This is most relevant for videos of keynotes, interviews, presentations, and product reviews where the subject of the video will benefit from the traffic as well.
Adding comments to the video is another opportunity to make a shout-out to related channels or accounts, and is a great opportunity for expanding the potential audience and reach of the video.
That’s all! Keep in mind that this is only a broad overview, and that marketing with YouTube can be tricky for a variety of reasons in any of the categories we’ve listed above. If you’re interested in reading more, check out our page detailing the process of YouTube SEO