YouTube SEO: A Guide To Better Ranking Videos

YouTube is the world’s 2nd biggest search engine, so it’s no surprise when creating our videos we need to optimize it to get the best results.

Just like with Google, we want to give our videos the best chance to show up for search queries, and for that we need to do some basic YouTube SEO.

YouTube SEO with regards to the “technical” upload can be broken down into 4 main parts: Title, Description, Tags, and Narration

After that we need to work on the “engagement” aspect of YouTube SEO too.

So lets go over each now so you can add them to your YouTube videos and start driving views to your content.

First let’s go over the technical optimizations with regards to uploading your video.

Include Target Keyword In The Title Tag

Just like with Google, it’s important that we have our target keyword in the title of our video. So lets say for example we want our video to rank for “YouTube SEO”. When uploading our video to YouTube, we would include “YouTube SEO” somewhere in our title like below:

YouTube SEO

I’ve seen some studies that say using the target keyword in the beginning of the title yields better results, but I think more important is that you just use the keyword somewhere in the title like our example above “YouTube SEO Strategies For Success”.

Include Target Keyword In The Description

Next it’s important that you include your target keyword in the description area of the video, and I also recommend that you include it in the first or second sentence.

Also it’s important that when filling out the description, the first one or two sentences needs to describe what the video is about. Don’t introduce your company or promote your social media accounts etc, the first couple of sentences MUST let the searcher know what they are getting!

This is important because CTR (Click Thru Rate) is also a factor when it comes to YouTube SEO, and having a clear description of what the video is about will get more people to click on it. See the example below:

So you see that in YouTube videos the description (How to build a shed, easy to understand…) is going to be limited to the first couple of sentences. So if we don’t let the searcher know what their going to get by clicking on our video, they are just going to scroll by and leave us with a poor CTR.

Add Your Target Keyword In The Tags

After you fill out your title and description, it’s important to scroll down and add our target keyword and similar keywords as tags (scroll down and click “show more” to see the section).

Say Your Target Keyword In The Video Narration

It’s important that you also say your target keyword in the video itself. So in this example, I would make a note to say “YouTube SEO” a few times in the video. Now don’t constantly say the keyword over and over in a unnatural manner, just make sure you say it a few times during the video and you’ll be good to go.

These days YouTube uses verbal translations to get an idea of what your video is about, so it’s important again that you say your target keyword in your YouTube videos.

Increasing Engagement On Our YouTube Videos

So user engagement is also an important ranking signal when it comes to YouTube SEO, so we need to do our best to increase these metrics. So lets go over them below:

Audience Retention

Another thing we need to focus on when it comes to YouTube SEO is audience retention. This basically is how long someone watches our YouTube videos for.

For example did the person stop watching after 15 seconds or did they watch the entire video? The former signals to YouTube that it’s likely our video isn’t very good, while the latter indicates the user was likely satisfied with the content (or they wouldn’t watch till the end).

So how do we increase YouTube Audience Retention?

Summarize Content In The First 15 Seconds

Don’t go off on some tangent or blab on about your company, let the user know exactly what they are getting in the first 15 seconds so they don’t click away.

Dive Right Into The Content

Again as soon as you’ve summarized what they are getting, just dive right in. Don’t beat around the bush, just start delivering content!

Utilize Open Loops

An “open loop” is basically just letting them know there’s more cool stuff coming later. So for example if you have a video on the “Top 5 places to travel in Europe”, maybe on the 2nd recommendation you can say something like “If you liked this recommendation, you’re going to be blown away by our top choice!”.

Open loops especially works well with longer videos as sometimes those can drag on and get boring, so we need to let people know they need to stick around for the good stuff.

Incorporate Video Editing

Obviously videos that are edited well will outperform those that aren’t. However that doesn’t mean you need to be a professional filmmaker to succeed on YouTube, you just need to learn the basics. Just lookup some basic video editing tutorials on YouTube and incorporate some of it into your own videos.

Encourage Users To Comment

An important ranking signal to YouTube is whether or not people comment on your videos, and the easiest way to get more comments on your videos is to ask for them! Yes I’m being serious.

For example if you created a tutorial on something, at the end of the video you can say “Hey what did you think? Leave a comment below” or “Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments!” Just simply asking for people to comment can increase user engagement drastically.

I also personally like using a “pinned comment” at the top of the comment section which gets the ball rolling. In the example below we see someone using a pinned comment to start a conversation with his followers:

Ask Users To Subscribe

To grow your YouTube channel it’s also a great idea to ask people to subscribe, and when people subscribe to your channel after watching a video, that’s a good indicator to YouTube that this video needs to be ranked higher!

So there you have it some basics to get you started with YouTube SEO. Follow the above steps and you’ll notice your YouTube video rankings improving and your views and subscriber count moving in the right direction as well!

Richard Yoshimura

Entrepreneur. SEO Consultant. Marketing Enthusiast. I'm here to help you build better websites that make you more money.

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