YouTube Video SEO Optimization 101: Learn the basics of SEO Video

13 December, 2017  

Everybody wants to be on YouTube and be watched by millions of people – especially brands! Yet, when it comes to actually working towards that goal, it’s surprising how little most people know about SEO being applied to videos.

YouTube Video Seo Optimization

Believing that creating a video and posting on YouTube will be enough is innocent to say the least. You have to know some of the basics of YouTube Video SEO optimization if you truly want to be among the most popular brands on the video platform!

SEO can sound intimidating with all the technical adjustments and the lingo surrounding it. But we don’t have to go that deep for you to learn some things that will actually help your YouTube rankings. Just by learning some YouTube video SEO tips, you’ll see some dramatic improvements in your video marketing. Here are some of the most important ones!

ebook: How to rank N1 on Youtube

But first – why focus only on YouTube?

We could say that you should focus your efforts on YouTube based on one thing alone – its popularity. We wouldn’t be wrong if we did. But saying that doesn’t provide further insight as to why most video marketers are working solely on YouTube. Perhaps some figures can give some necessary context.

According to YouTube itself, the video platform holds more than 1 billion active users that watch over 4 billion videos per day. Those shocking numbers are an explanation in and by themselves. Focusing on YouTube means you’ll be working where practically all audiences are. YouTube is the de-facto option to watching videos for most people.

But that’s not all. YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world, right after Google. So, chances are that people looking for certain answers will end up looking for them on YouTube. In other words, ranking on YouTube is striving to get the attention of an ever increasing audience that’s demanding answers and solutions to their problems. You can’t ignore one of the biggest channels where they are searching for them. It’s that simple.

Check this one we made specially for our Youtube channel:


All YouTube Video SEO Optimization begins with a plan

In marketing, all successful processes start with a plan – and video SEO isn’t an exception. A roadmap can make your goals (and the path that leads to them) as clear as possible. It can also define the actions you’ll have to take to get your video to give you the results you’re looking for.

As with any good plan, the first thing you’ll have to do is determine what you want out of your videos. Of course, you’ll want them to be watched but there’s got to be something else besides that. For instance, you might be interested in ranking with a certain video to associate your brand with a certain set of keywords. Or because you want to promote your services, establish yourself as an authority or get people to act on a specific CTA.

You won’t know for sure which one of those applies to you until you sit down and think about it. Create a first draft, go back to it and refine it, and review it once more just to be sure. After you’re done with that (and you’re comfortable enough with what you’ve achieved), it’s time to go through the 3 basic stages of all video SEO processes: creating a high quality video, adjusting the SEO parameters, and distributing the optimized video. Let’s see them in detail.

Ranking on YouTube begins earlier than you think

If I were to ask you when should you worry about ranking your videos on YouTube, you’d probably say “when I’m about to upload them.” Though that seems to be the most logical answer, it’s also the wrong one. See, believing that SEO is only about tweaking content to be more appealing for search engines is a focus that misses the bigger picture.

What’s the bigger picture here? Your video SEO begins way earlier, when you’re developing your marketing videos. Pretty much the same way in which you do research before writing a blog article to define keywords, topics and the approach, you have to start thinking about SEO even before writing the script.

Those things (keywords, topics and the approach) also apply here. But there’s also one extra thing that many people don’t take into account when considering SEO for their videos – the quality. In the age where content is king, the notion of high quality or valuable information isn’t new. Yet, when it comes to video, many people seem to have missed the memo.

If you are to engage with your target audience amidst the strong competition available on YouTube today, you have no choice but to go all in and make the highest quality video possible. People are now “trained” in watching videos (55% of people use their online time to watch videos every day) so you won’t impress them with a generic-looking video.

Youtube SEO video

And you’ll need to impress them if you want to rank on YouTube. How many people view your videos has a direct impact on your rankings. Fail to captivate your audience’s attention, and you’ll never get to the top spot. You only have a brief moment to catch their eyes, so you better go out firing on all cylinders.

How can you be sure you’re working on a high quality video? Though it seems pretty subjective, we’ve found there are certain indicators of quality, such as:

  • Elegant and fluid animation or great recording quality (whether you’re working with animated or real live action videos)
  • An enthralling storyline that follows the traditional narrative structure of beginning, middle and end
  • Strong characters that resemble your audience and feel “real”
  • Top-notch audio work, from music to voice over

Combine those elements, and your video will surely be interesting and worth watching. In other words, you’ll have achieved the high quality you were looking for and people will be more prone to watch it in its entirety, like it and share it with their friends – all great things for your SEO.

Video marketing guide for 2020

Make sure the SEO parameters are in order when uploading

After you’ve created your masterpiece, it’s time to upload it and show it everyone. This is the moment to work on all the things you think about when you hear someone talk about SEO. It’s time to refine the keywords, titles, descriptions, tags and even the thumbnails.

Here’s a short list of the basic stuff you have to go through:

  • Title: Arguably the most important aspect of the video SEO parameters. Coming up with the right title takes practice and perfect execution. That’s because you need to be clear about what your audience will find in the video while also sparking their curiosity. Combining your keywords with a certain flair to achieve that can take some time to master, but if you do it right your video will quickly see a significant boost in views and in its rankings.
  • Description: The work you have to do here goes somewhere along the lines of what you do in the title, though you have more freedom given you have more room to say what you want. Make sure you include the couple of keywords that matter the most here and don’t shy away from including call to actions and links that can capitalize on the traffic. Speaking of which…
  • Call to actions: You really should include links and direct invitations in your description. You have to be clear about what you want your audience to do after the video is done. Don’t limit yourself to the description, though. Use cards and annotations to drive people to related videos, landing pages or any other place of interest.
  • Thumbnails: You didn’t see this one coming, right? Well, believe it or not, thumbnails can have a certain impact on how many people watch your video. Have you ever been on YouTube when a thumbnail caught your eye in such a way that you HAD to watch the video? That’s the effect you’re after. Don’t leave your thumbnail to be defined by chance. Pick a high quality image that represents your video and that can intrigue anyone that comes across. Colorful frames with people in them have proven to be the most successful (at least in our experience) but feel free to try new things.

Covering these 4 things will lay the foundations for your video to start ranking. After that, you’ll be one phase away from the coveted number 1 spot for your keywords.

Distribution can make or break a video’s success

One of your main goals surely is for your video to be watched by as many people as possible. That’s great but you know how to not make that happen? Uploading it on YouTube, adjusting the SEO parameters and hoping for the best afterwards. You have to be aggressive with your distribution if you want to see results!

Apart from the view count, YouTube takes into account how many times your video is shared and embedded. All that can be helped with some effort on your part. Thus, you should upload your videos and then you should do this:

  • Start a YouTube Ad Campaign: unless you’re an established channel for a renowned brand or have tons of subscribers, getting people to watch your new video can be very hard. The best way to beat that initial obstacle is to put some money in an Ad Campaign. Provided that you adjust it to target the right audience, these campaigns can give you an initial boost in views that, hopefully, will result in more people coming to watch it.

explainer video distribution

It’s very important to notice that paying is great for that initial moment when you want people to know about your new video. However, you shouldn’t pay for long. If the video is good enough, it should build its audience organically over time, improving its YouTube rankings over time.

  • Try to get the video featured on reputable blogs and websites: collaborations and guest blogging is essential for a robust video marketing strategy. YouTube watches very closely the sites that use your video to determine if your content is worth pushing higher up in the rankings. Get shared thousands of times or be featured on a website with enough authority in your industry, and you’ll see how your rankings begin to improve dramatically. Do  research to detect potential collaborations or openings for guest blogging – they are key to building your rankings organically.
  • Use your video whenever you can: And I truly mean that. It’s not enough to share it once on your Facebook page. Share it frequently without over doing it to reach new people. Link it on related articles in your blog. Embed it on a prominent page in your site. Build a landing page around it. The more you use it, the bigger the chances are that your audience will bump into it and end up watching it. Remember that view count as well as links pointing to the video are important for video SEO.

In short

You now  have the basics of YouTube Video SEO Optimization with which you’ll be able to rank your videos higher than ever before. Remember, though, that these are just the most basic things about the whole deal. Given the fierce competition, you’ll have to go beyond this, especially if you’re in a particularly competitive industry or if you want to go after very competitive keywords.

Additionally, remember that YouTube rankings are evolving all the time, so you’ll have to evolve with them. What works today might not do the trick 6 months from now, so be sure to keep up with the latest trends and adjust your videos whenever it’s needed.

Or, you know, you can go with the most comfortable option and hire a video marketing company to take care of all of this for you. If you pick the right one, you’ll have all the work cut out for you and you’ll only have to worry about the bigger picture. Think about it and contact us when you’ve made up your mind!

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