Mastering the art of YouTube SEO is a must if you want your videos to be successful on the platform. But, if you’re starting, it cannot be easy to understand what the algorithm likes.
13 YouTube SEO Tips for Beginners
With 2.6 billion monthly active users, YouTube is one of the leading social media video marketing platforms today. It is home to more than 51 million YouTube channels, up 36% since 2021. With such a saturated market, it can take time to attempt to take a slice of that pie. But it is possible.
Armed with the right tools and knowledge, you can get your videos noticed and build a strong brand on the platform. Learn how to rank YouTube videos with these tips.
1. Use Your Target Keyword in Your Video File Name
When it comes to SEO for YouTube, almost everything rests on the target keyword. Like optimizing content, you must research the keywords you want to rank for.
Once you have a keyword, it is essential to use it in your video’s file name. While the file name isn’t something viewers will see (unlike the video title), it is something YouTube sees. YouTube can read the file name of your video and all the code attached. As such, something like “finalvideo.mov” won’t do you any good.
2. Let Your Video Title Reflect Your Keyword
The title of your video should tell viewers what it’s about. But, at the same time, it should be optimized with your keyword and grab attention. After all, it’s one of the first things users see.
When giving your video a title, though, don’t stuff it with keywords. And it doesn’t even have to match the keyword exactly. Instead, write your title in a way that naturally incorporates the keyword without sounding too much like an Amazon product title. And, remember, shorter titles work better than longer ones. Keep it at 60 characters to avoid getting cut off on the page.
3. Create Valuable Content That Increase Watch Time
You can optimize everything from your video title to your video description, but none of that will matter if your content is rubbish. To succeed with video SEO, you must put in the time and effort to create high-quality content with engaging introductions. Only then will you increase watch time.
But what is watch time anyway? Simply put, it is the total time people spend watching your videos. YouTube’s algorithm places great significance on watch time. If you have a high watch time, you have a higher chance of YouTube ranking. YouTube tends to promote videos it knows people watch all the way through.
4. Encourage Viewers to Like and Comment
We’ve all seen it — almost every YouTube video encourages viewers to like and subscribe. But why do content creators do this? Because the YouTube algorithm prefers to recommend videos with high engagement, and likes and comments are proof of that.
5. Optimize Your Video Description
Video descriptions are great because they allow you to explain your video and channel more in-depth. But, it is essential not to abuse it. While the character limit is said to be 1,000 characters, you don’t have to use all of that to optimize your video.
When it comes to YouTube description SEO, remember that only the first two or three lines of text will be shown to the viewer. After that, viewers must actively click “show more” to read the whole thing. It is important to get your message across within 100 characters, focus on calls to action, and provide critical links.
6. Use Tags With Popular Keywords
Another way to use SEO on YouTube is to tag your videos with keywords. Keyword tagging lets you inform viewers (and YouTube) about the video. It allows YouTube to associate your video with similar ones on the platform. Your video can appear in the related videos section when a viewer is watching a video with your exact keywords.
Be careful not to overcrowd the tags, though. Make sure only to use tags that are relevant to your video. Don’t use all the tags or unrelated tags, and Google might even give you a penalty for that.
7. Use Categories
Categories work similarly to tags in that they inform viewers and YouTube about the content of your video. Categorizing your video will help it appear in different playlists, widening your reach. You can add a category for your video under “Advanced settings.”
8. Use a Custom Thumbnail Image
People are visual creatures — it’s part of the reason why YouTube is so successful. Thus, it makes sense to take advantage of that by uploading a custom thumbnail for your video. A custom thumbnail lets you control the first thing viewers see when watching your video.
By using the right thumbnail, you can encourage clicks and views. And content creators tend to have more success using custom thumbnails than those thumbnails YouTube generates for you. When creating your custom thumbnail, remember to keep it at 1280×720 pixels with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Save it as a .jpg, .png, .gif, or .bmp file with a size of 2MB or less.
9. Add Captions or Subtitles
When it comes to YouTube SEO, closed captions and subtitles can significantly help. These things can highlight target keywords and make your videos rank higher on the search page. Of course, this does take some work, and you will need to upload an SRT file or directly enter the transcript text.
10. Take Advantage of Hashtags
YouTube has joined the hashtag train, allowing creators to add hashtags to their videos similar to the content on Instagram and LinkedIn. These hashtags appear above the video title, so users can click on them and find videos with the same hashtag. Use hashtags that reflect your keywords and brand to take advantage of SEO on YouTube.
11. Info Cards and End Screens
Cards are preformatted notifications that appear on your videos. You can see them at the top corner of the video, marked by a circular icon with an “i” in the middle. They will appear as bars, notifying the viewer to take action. You can add up to five cards per video.
End Screens appear at the end of the video and work similarly to Cards. They encourage viewers to take action by watching another video (which is clickable), subscribing to your channel, etc.
12. Promote Your Videos on Social Media
While it is possible to build a following and rank on YouTube purely using the channel alone, you can get there faster if you do some cross-platform promotion. If you already have a sizable follower base on other social media platforms, announce your new YouTube channel and promote every new video you have. This will increase the number of views, likes, and comments, which can directly impact your ranking.
13. Monitor Analytics and Adjust
Finally, as with any type of digital marketing campaign, YouTube SEO requires constant monitoring. You can check your video analytics regularly to track engagement and watch time. Doing this will allow you to identify what’s working and not. Then, you can adjust your strategy and find a rhythm that gets you results.
A Worthwhile Endeavor
Getting started with YouTube SEO can be time-consuming and taxing. But, there is a learning curve. Once you have the basics, it will be easy to learn everything else. Plus, it will be worth it after you have built a large subscriber base, successfully promoted your brand, and capitalized on your content.
Tanner Grey provides web design and digital marketing services to businesses. Call us today at 844.500.1339 or contact us online to start your journey!
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