Are you aware of that? YouTube is not only the widest reach video platform in the world, but also the second largest search engine after Google. In today’s basic article, we will introduce you to the most important ranking factors and give tips on how to optimize your videos and your YouTube channel in a search engine-friendly manner.
In short: It’s about YouTube SEO. YouTube is an Eldorado for everyone: Not only for those who want entertainment or want to acquire new knowledge through a tutorial video.
YouTube has more than 1.9 billion monthly active users and over 180 million hours of new videos every day. The users are very active on the video platform and are specifically looking for certain video content.
There is an interesting and informative content for almost every topic – of course also on niche topics. These are often well staffed and optimized content is required in order to get the desired pole position in the ranking.
In order to achieve this, there should be a certain basic knowledge of the SEO criteria used by YouTube.
YouTube SEO: basics and basic knowledge
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for YouTube can be compared to an ordinary search engine optimization. Algorithms and parameters determine the visibility and ranking of the uploaded videos.
However, there are also SEO factors that are not YouTube-specific, but are fundamental to every video. Video SEO summarizes all properties for a basic video optimization, which are not only decisive for the video platform of the Google subsidiary, but also for website appearances, for example.
In general, the SEO factors can be broken down into three categories: video, channel and engagement.
YouTube SEO: Video optimization
Even if you implement all optimization tips, a poorly produced video with manageable quality will not attract attention or reach. Therefore, value high-quality video content that suits your needs group.
As with a website, the first impression decides whether the user will find exactly what he expected. Therefore, the video should make it clear in the first seconds that this is about professionalism and added value.
So at the beginning mention what topic (as the title already conveys) it is actually about. So you keep the interest of the user high.
Also at the beginning of the video, you should underline your knowledge and experience on the topic in question. This can be evidence in the form of successes achieved or figures achieved. Modesty is rather inappropriate at this point.
The title of the video is of course the most elementary ranking factor. It supports both the YouTube search engine and the searcher to capture the content and subject of the video. Choose a title from 60 to 70 characters.
In this way, the title is shown completely (i.e. not cut off in the overview). Your main keyword should appear at the very beginning of the title, if possible, your company or your brand if necessary at the end.
Be as precise as possible when formulating the video title to arouse the curiosity of the users. Clickbait titles tend to appeal to many users at first, but then permanently lose them.
A possible title is composed as follows: Keyword – description including secondary keyword or synonym – information – company name.
With 4,000 characters in the video description, there is enough space to provide users and the YouTube algorithm with further informative clues.
In the “Above the fold” field, however, you have to be brief: 100 to 120 characters must suffice. The relevant keywords should appear here, since this area also appears in the Google search hits.
Another tip: A list of the content including jump marks to the named point in the video can also be attractive for your users. This is especially true for longer videos.
At the end of the description, it makes sense to link your other social media channels. You can also submit a subtly worded call-to-action here, with a request to share the video, comment on it or subscribe to your YouTube channel.
These keywords support the YouTube algorithm to search your video content. However, these tags are not visible and are only stored in the source code. But these are important because YouTube recommends further videos based on them.
You should select up to 15 keyword tags and use the main and important secondary keywords – both in the singular and in the plural. You should include certain keywords that match your YouTube channel. Generic and specific words should not be missing either. You should also add tags that make up your company.
Tools to help you identify the right keywords for YouTube are
- Google Suggest
- YouTube Suggest
- Google Keyword Planner
- Google Trends
- Answer the public
This factor can also be decisive for the success of your video. Because these subtitles are not only intended for the deaf, but also essential for search engines in order to be able to classify the content of your video more precisely.
Even if YouTube creates the subtitle itself, you should text it yourself due to its susceptibility to errors.
Length of the video
On this point, too, YouTube is relatively covered. But videos with a length of ten to 16 minutes appear to be played preferentially by the video platform. The platform rates short videos with a maximum of two minutes rather poorly.
But it is also true: Videos between four and six minutes generally reach most visitors.
The preview image decides whether the user clicks on your video in the video search results. So you shouldn’t frivolously lose the first visual impression.
It is important to adjust the thumbnail in YouTube’s own Creator Studio. It is best to use an image with 540 by 360 pixels and in high-resolution 16: 9 format. You should create an individual thumbnail for each video.
Video File Name
The file name is not important for the audience of your video, but even more so for YouTube SEO. Please be very precise when formulating the file name and include the most important keyword there.
As with file names for images, you should separate the individual words with a hyphen. This helps the YouTube algorithm to read your content better.
YouTube SEO: Channel Optimization
As in any other social network, the presentation or design of a YouTube channel is important to address users professionally.
Your channel name should be chosen as clearly as possible. Channel description, imprint and the integration of other social media profiles in the social bar are also included.
Many creative ideas can be implemented when designing an attractive header graphic. A channel trailer is particularly suitable for publishers, which presents the company or the overarching topic in an eye-catching manner.
Playlists are a great way to structure your lavish video content meaningfully for viewers. You should also include relevant keywords here.
YouTube SEO: engagement optimization
User signals are extremely important for the best possible ranking on YouTube. These decide whether your video is relevant.
This includes the number of subscribers and video views as well as the watch time (playback time). This time tells you what percentage of your video your users actually watched. If your audience stays on your channel longer, recognizes the YouTube and evaluates it accordingly.
The relationship between likes and dislikes, the number of comments, shares and embedding of your video on websites also determine the ranking.
As you probably notice, you can only indirectly influence the engagement of your subscribers and visitors. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t miss encouraging users to share, like and comment on your video at the end of your video and in the description.
Concrete questions initiate a dialogue and show genuine interest in the opinion of your users. If you get constructive feedback here, you shouldn’t leave these comments unanswered, but respond appropriately.
You also have the option to include cards in your video that link to other videos on your channel. The playlists already mentioned can also help to increase watch time.
4 tips for better YouTube SEO
1. Measure your success with YouTube Analytics
This tool gives you information and data on the number of views, ratings and comments as well as the average watch time. YouTube Analytics also spits out information on user demographics and the devices used. External tools will also help you determine the ranking of your video for a specific keyword.
2. Adjust your videos continuously
Based on this determinable data, new recommendations for your video creation can be derived almost permanently. For example, if your users’ engagement is too low, you should review your requests to share or comment. If your videos are embedded frequently, you could make them more prominent on your website than before.
3. Regularly produce videos for your needs groups
Continuity and persistence generally pay off on digital platforms – hence also on YouTube. This way you not only stay in the memory of your users, but also of the algorithm.
In addition to the more technical ranking factors, engagement is of particular importance. Because every good video requires targeted marketing with a detailed plan.
4. Look left and right
A look at your competition or at successful channels that cover a completely different topic, but still cover a similar category, can help you.
Always ask yourself specific questions:
- What is evergreen content?
- Does this work for my competitors?
- How do other users structure their channel?
- Which keywords are crucial?
- Which video formats are well received?
- What is the tone within a (channel) community?
- Do I live up to him?
Conclusion on YouTube SEO
As with many other content formats, when it comes to the production and marketing of videos via YouTube, you have to constantly question your own actions and look at them from the user’s perspective. Therefore, be self-critical, check your achievements and continue to work on improving user engagement.