YouTube SEO: How to Create High-Ranking Videos
Being online and building a powerful brand means getting the most important aspects of marketing right. It means knowing where your ideal customers are, what matters to them, and how to best position your products and services. And for savvy marketers, YouTube is a boon. It’s the largest online video platform available today, and people use it to search for content on almost any topic you can imagine.
But simply recording and publishing videos on YouTube won’t work. You’ve got to rise above the competition by using smart tactics designed to generate results.
YouTube SEO is one of them.
It will help you get in front of people with interests aligned with your brand, products, and services. In this blog post, I’ll show you how to use YouTube SEO to optimize your videos to generate results.
But first, here’s a little more detail on why YouTube SEO will help your brand.
Why YouTube SEO is Essential For Your Success
Most people understand that YouTube is huge, but not everyone gets just how important it is. Here are four powerful reasons why you should pay attention to YouTube SEO:
Two Billion Users Turn to YouTube
YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world. Two billion users access the video platform each month searching for niche content. This means a large audience looking for video content from your specific niche.
People Love Video
Video is booming and research by Google shows that 70% of millennials on YouTube look to the platform to learn about how to do something new or to learn more about interests. Millennials are also 2.7 times as likely to prefer learning by watching a YouTube video instead of reading a book.
Google Shares Optimized YouTube Videos
Videos that appear in search results are highly valuable. Google is now serving up videos for more than 20% of all search queries on search engine results pages on desktop and mobile devices. By using YouTube SEO you could position your brand the best possible way, giving a content chance of ranking in Google search engine results, and the opportunity to position your brand, products, and services in front of buyers.
How YouTube SEO works
According to YouTube, it’s all about keyword relevance. Videos must include the relevant keywords for YouTube to identify your video as relevant to user search queries.
But, as we’ve learned, ranking is greatly influenced by several factors, chief among those is engagement. Engagement includes watch-time, audience retention, likes, shares, and comments.
In short, generating more engagement per video on YouTube increases the probability of them ranking high in search results.
How to Rank Videos on YouTube
The idea of ranking videos on YouTube may sound a little intimidating but it isn’t out of your reach. Sure, you’ll have to try a few new things to generate results, but if you put in the work, you’ll learn more about how to get your content recognized by YouTube and your target audience. In fact, using the same tactics and strategies, we’ve been able to rank for many of our industry keywords both on YouTube and Google search.
Here are four steps for ranking your videos using YouTube SEO.
1. Conduct Keyword Research
Today, there’s a growing list of tools you can use to find the best keywords for your videos. While they don’t all perform the same functions, each offers keen insights on interest and how competitive a specific system is.
Here’s a list of five tools you can use to identify the best keywords for your videos.
Google Trends helps identify the interest level for a specific term over time. Interest is graded according to a percentage from zero to a hundred. The higher the percentage the more interest users have on a specific topic.
YouTube autosuggest, like Google’s search bar auto suggest feature, provides you with a list of terms users have entered when trying to find video content. As you’d imagine, having an idea of what people are looking for is a smart way to optimize your videos. The great news? Like Google Trends, this feature is free of charge.
TubeBuddy is fast becoming the tool YouTube video content creators turn to. It helps you find video searches, web searches, and video topics around a specific term. It also provides an overall score which indicates the search volume for your term, the amount of competition, as well as the optimization strength of competitive videos using your term.
Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer
Ahrefs offers a YouTube keyword tool. It allows you to upload bulk lists of keywords. Once uploaded, it will provide search volumes and the number of clicks each term receives. Ahrefs also provides a global perspective on how many searches your term receives in various countries.
Google Search Results
Lastly, Google Search Results is an easy way to establish how well competitor videos rank in Google. As mentioned, Google has begun to serve up more videos in the carousel at the top of the page. Once you’ve identified competitor videos you can review their videos, on-page SEO and other elements to establish how to create more engaging and optimized content.
In general, I’ve seen that Google tends to use video results for these types of keywords:
- How-to keywords (“how to tie a tie”)
- Reviews (“AirPod Pro review”)
- Tutorials (“YouTube video SEO”)
- Anything fitness or sports-related (“Yoga for back-pain”)
- Funny videos (“Cat compilation”)
2. Create an Engaging Video
Once you have your keywords, identify how you’ll develop your topic and turn it into video content.
Plan Your Video
The most effective YouTube videos are structured. To create perfect YouTube videos fast ensure that you include all salient points, and do so in a well-polished video, here are tips and how to plan your video:
1. Create a storyboard. Storyboards are a frame-by-frame breakdown of exactly what happens in your video. They account for various angle shots and how long each frame lasts.
2. Create a script. Scripts help you structure your message. The help you deliver clean and clear ideas, making it easy for viewers to follow along. They also save you from unnecessary retakes as you try to improvise on camera.
Scripts also come in handy later on as you creativity descriptions and transcriptions. They include all the nuggets you’ll share with viewers, saving you the hassle of rewriting a new description altogether. You can simply edit your script and include certain optimization elements.
Optimize for Longer Watch-time
Video watch-time is likely one of the most weighted engagement metrics when it comes to YouTube SEO. Video watch-time is also influenced by the 50/50 rule. The 50/50 rule helps determine whether a video’s watch-time can be deemed healthy. This is established if at least 50% of the viewers watch 50% of a video.
And while most YouTuber understand this, they often struggle to find ways to boost their video watch-time, and ultimately channel watch-time. Here are two ways we found work effectively.
Include Pattern Interrupts
Pattern interrupts have their background in neuro linguistic programming. A pattern interrupts is a break in concentration caused by the introduction of a new idea. The nature of the mind is such that it must pursue the new idea to understand it, thereby interrupting the previous line of thought.
By introducing patent interrupts in your videos, you’ll be able to hold the viewer’s attention for longer, helping you meet the 50/50 rule requirement, and boosting your video watch time.
Pattern interrupts don’t always need to be introduced in the form of completely new ideas. They can be as subtle as the introduction of graphics to elaborate on a point, or the changing the position of the subject in a video or the camera angle.
While subtle, Nick uses the transition from a close-up to an extreme close-up shot as a pattern interrupt. The change helps retain viewer attention.
Entertain and Tell Stories
Focus on creating videos that follow a storyline. Psychology proves that people appreciate stories and storytelling, and by providing your audience with a coherent and easy-to-follow story, you’ll be up to retain their attention for longer periods.
What does a coherent story look like?
It starts with a hook where you draw your audience in. Introduce a problem or challenge and create context for it. Context can be explaining why the challenge or problem matters to your audience and the consequences of not finding a solution to the problem. Next, deliver value. Share valuable information on how to do away with any potential risk, solve the problem, or overcome the challenge.
3. Use On-page Optimization
On-page optimizations for YouTube SEO will likely be a little easier to achieve than creating your video. Here’s a step-by-step approach to ensuring your videos have the best chance at ranking high in search results.
Optimize Your Video Title
Like Google, YouTube is interested in providing its users with the best possible experience. YouTube relies on its bots to identify keywords within titles. The more optimized title, the easier it is for YouTube bots to read and rank your video. To make your video title easy to read, focus on keeping it under 60 characters long.
Create Smart Descriptions
Include your keywords in your description to help YouTube’s bots identify your videos as relevant. While you may experience the urge to include a keyword several times, limited to 3% to 4%. Research by Briggsby shows that this level of density works well to rank videos on YouTube.
Using your keyword sparingly shows YouTube that you’re not keyword-stuffing. It also makes your video description seem more natural and targeted at human beings, showing that you are providing the best possible user experience.
Also, include timestamping in your description. Timestamping helps Google identify specific segments of your video that it can show in Google search engine page results.
YouTube tags are not the most powerful SEO factor, but they do influence rankings when used correctly and incorrectly. When you use too many YouTube’s algorithm struggles to identify the relevance of your video to a search query.
To optimize your tags, follow the TAB formula. It stands for Target, Alternative and Broad. Introduced by Brian Dean, it’s a smart and simple way of ensuring that your videos appeal to the broadest audience but also appear to be as specific and relevant as possible to leverage YouTube’s algorithm.
Here’s how it works:
- Identify your target keyword and use this as your first tag. (Example” “Cold pressed coffee”)
- Next, search for two-to-three alternate keywords that are related to your target keyword. (Examples: “cold coffee” and “iced coffee”)
- Lastly, find one broad keyword that’s related to your niche. The broad tag is used to provide YouTube with context for what your video is related to. (Example: “Coffee”)
Design Attractive Video Thumbnail
While not a direct ranking factor, the more clicks your thumbnail attracts, the better chance your videos have of ranking higher in search results. And this applies to videos you create to make money from through live streaming or with ads.
You see, thumbnails are the entry point for all video content, they must be attractive enough to make viewers click on them instantly.
If you’ve struggled to get clicks on yours, here are tips on how to design eye-catching thumbnails.
Use Large and Identifiable Imagery
Use images that are easy to understand when shown in YouTube’s recommended videos section. If the image is small, it’s often hard to make out. If it can’t be seen clearly, there’s a good chance people won’t click on it.
Limit Text Usage
If you’re using text, limit it. The fewer characters, the easier it is to comprehend. Also, less text is easy-to-read on mobile screens.
Make it Interesting
When creating text for your thumbnail, make it support your title. But don’t give away too much about what happens in your video. The idea is to generate just the right amount of curiosity around your video.
Thumbnails with faces generally attract more clicks. If relevant to your thumbnail, include one. And if you do include a face on your thumbnail, include one with emotion to help your thumbnail stand out.
Use More Color
YouTube’s primary colors are red and black. Using brighter and more vibrant your colors will make your thumbnail stand out.
Add a Unique Branding Marks
Branding marks help returning viewers easily spot your content. And if more viewers click on more of your videos, there’s a good chance that will drive up engagement content, giving YouTube all the right signals to rank your videos higher in search results. To make your videos recognizable, include one or two branding marks.
According to Verizon, 69% of people watch videos with the sound off. And that’s a big number. If you’re creating videos without captions, you’re losing out on the boost in video watch-time from more people watching more of your videos for longer.
YouTube has a built-in feature that creates captions once a video is uploaded. But most often, the captions aren’t perfect (You screen = Uscreen). Rev’s closed captioning service allows you to easily caption your videos and get more SEO value from your existing video content.
4. Promote Your New Videos
Start driving traffic to your videos to get YouTube’s algorithm to start working in your favor. To do this, you can use various channels. Try social media platforms, forums (Quora and Reddit), create an outreach strategy and send emails to your subscribers, and reach out to partner brands to help share your content. Here are a few more ideas on how you can best promote your video:
YouTube SEO is a smart way to get your brand and content in front of a large captive audience. The good news is that anyone can put the work in and apply these tactics to rank higher on YouTube. While some of these tactics may be slightly more challenging than others, with a little bit of elbow grease and creativity, you can use them to generate results.
Author: Amir Shahzeidi — Amir is the digital marketing manager at Uscreen, an all-in-one video monetization and OTT platform provider that empowers video entrepreneurs and creators to monetize their content and build thriving businesses around their videos.