Ever wonder why that amazing Infinity War video review you put together never made it past page 5 in YouTube’s search results? How about that clever animated explainer video you had made for your company that almost no one has seen?
Your videos are funny, witty, entertaining, useful, well edited and produced… everything is there to ensure a flawless end product, and yet… what could you possibly be doing wrong?
Well, a bitter reality of content online that not everybody likes to discuss is that, on the internet, quality does not necessarily equal reach.
Don’t get me wrong; quality is non-negotiable. Otherwise, every piece of subpar content you put online will actively discourage people from interacting with your brand or your product.
However, quality alone won’t get your content where you want it to be.
Once you are done with the creative and production process of making that amazing video, there remains the entirely different challenge of using every tool at your disposal to ensure that piece of content gets seen from as many eyes as possible. Enter SEO.
Now, search engine optimization (SEO) is a rather broad discipline that combines many avenues aimed toward one goal: Get more people to find and interact with your content.
Rather than attempt a long winded, academical overview of the things you can do to start improving your content’s SEO, I’ve opted for a more practical approach, and will share with you five tips to help you boost your videos’ SEO on YouTube.
1. Create Titles That Work
Titles are the perfect starting point for this list, as they are one of the most crucial metadata elements you can optimize for your video to directly impact its searchability.
Good titles can vary a great deal and still be considered great. Your niche, branding strategy, and the audience you are going after are all critical things to consider and cater to when you are putting a title together. However, alongside those, there are three important, more “mechanical” attributes you should also strive to have in there:
- Try and include your main keyword as part of the title.
- Use effective copywriting to catch potential viewers’ attention.
- Reflect the actual content of your video as accurately as possible.
As long as those three goals are met, you can be confident you have an optimized title that’ll work, not only to position you better through the right keywords but also one that will speak to people’s interest.
2. Take Advantage of the Description’s Potential
Right up there with titles, YouTube video descriptions are another of the most important, highly optimizable sections of your videos. They are also the one that tends to go most underused.
Most people make the mistake of limiting their videos’ description to just describing its content. And while that is all well and good – a brief summary of the main idea of your video in the description can help it out – limiting the content to just that is letting huge potential go to waste.
Just as with titles, good descriptions vary, but are consistent on a handful of characteristics you should try to include in yours:
- A summary of your video’s content (One that also includes your main keywords)
- Links to some of your other videos that relate to the topic or might be of relevance to anyone watching this one.
- A short profile that includes your social media accounts and other sites.
Keywords, once more, serve to inform YT’s algorithms and make sure to include your videos on relevant searches while linking to your other content. This serves the purpose of cross-pollinating viewership from well-performing videos to others that might not be as prominently displayed. Lastly, including a short profile has the viewer interacting longer with your content and brand.
3. Thumbnails are Paramount
Closing the trinity of elements that will ultimately decide whether someone watches your video or not, thumbnails are probably the most underrated.
Even before someone reads your title, or sees the preview for your video, it is the thumbnail that will catch their attention when they scroll down their feed or glance at suggested videos. Think of it as your video’s presentation card, and just like in life, you very rarely get to make a second first impression.
Custom thumbnails are a must, as videos with carefully planned and designed thumbnails tend to outperform those that don’t have them. As for the specific qualities, variations once more depend on the niche, but as general advice thumbnails that include a close-up of a person’s face, convey strong emotions, and relate closely with the content of the video in some manner usually impact a video’s performance positively.
4. Captions Make a Big Difference
Something that not many people are even aware of, closed captions on your video can make a big difference in your YouTube SEO efforts.
A recent study made by Discovery Digital Network concluded that Google indexes closed captions uploaded with your videos, making CC directly relevant when it comes to their positioning in the SERPs. Furthermore, having closed captions on your content expands its accessibility to a broader audience, and opens the possibility of them being watched in more places and devices.
Between the greater accessibility and added benefit of having your primary keywords directly tied to your video content in text formats, the extra effort of captioning your content is well worth it, and a definitive stop on your way to optimizing them.
5. Use a Call to Action
At first glance, CTAs might not seem like something that falls strictly under the purview of SEO. I’ll try to change your mind.
YouTube algorithms give priority to content that generates user interaction. The longer someone remains watching your content, hits like, subscribes to your channel, and comments on a video, the more weight and relevance the algorithm starts to assign to it.
The more relevance a video has, the more it will start to pop-up on YouTube’s “Suggested Videos” and “Browse” sections, which comprise of a significant portion of the views optimized content gets.
Now, this might come as a surprise to you, but one of the most reliable ways to have people doing these things on your videos and enjoy the increased exposure is to simply ask them to by including CTAs in your videos.
There are plenty of ways to accomplish this, and I’m sure that if you take a look at the best content creators of your niche you’ll get a good idea of the best way to go about it, but in general CTAs are best used right before ending a video, or shortly after the beginning.
Just asking your audience to like and subscribe after a good video, or posing interesting questions and asking for viewers’ opinions on a topic are all good and effective ways to accomplish your goal.
There are a lot of other, more intricate, YouTube SEO strategies you can use to start improving your videos performance. Yet, these five tips give you a reliable, effective, and easy to implement starting point that will have your content achieving better results.
Once you finish your next amazing video, run it by these tips and measure their performance compared to similar ones before these changes, and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.