Industry Insights, Video Marketing

4 video SEO tips to improve your rankings on YouTube

By Kristin Savage | Apr 18, 2019


When was the last time you watched videos on YouTube? Chances are, not so long ago.

YouTube is incredibly popular. In fact, it has 1.5 billion logged-in visitors per month, which makes it one of the most popular websites in the world. This number is probably much higher, too, since many visitors browse the site while logged out from their Google account.
And these users spend over one hour watching videos, which makes YouTube a legitimate competitor for television. In fact, more videos are uploaded online in one month than television produces in several decades.

That makes YouTube not only the world’s largest search engine for videos, but also the second largest search engine (after Google).Yes, you heard that right. Millions of people search for videos on a daily basis (YouTube processes 3 billion searches a month!), and this type of content has become a major traffic driver.

Since Google is the owner of YouTube, video content posted on the site gets ranked well; this makes marketers wonder: how does video help SEO?

In this article, we’re going to find out the best practices of video optimization that can help you to rank higher on YouTube (and maybe on Google as well).

1. Create Videos that Your Audience Will Want to See

While this sounds obvious, many businesses tend to create videos just for the sake of publishing content. Well, this is a bad idea because we know pretty well that Google loves it when content producers share videos that online audiences enjoy.

That’s why a customer-centric approach is essential to achieve the best results. The most popular video out always has value for its target audience, be it entertainment or useful tips.
The more value your videos have for your audience, the higher the chances of getting them watched by more people. This means:

Create a story-centered video.

There’s enough junk on YouTube, so don’t be just another “salesy” person who pushes their products and videos. Instead, focus on the value that you’re providing to customers by having a story to guide the creation of your video. For example, the video below focuses on an experiment (a guy buys $2000-worth of Apple products and makes a transition to using iOS for 30 days even though he never owned an Apple device before). It’s clearly a bit difficult to make a rapid transition like this, and his experience with the products is the story of the video.

Keep the interests of your audience in mind.

You should have a clear idea of how your viewers will benefit from watching your video before you start filming. For example, this video aims to inspire viewers with amazing summer grilling dishes.To ensure that they have a good understanding of the dishes, the author includes multiple videos of each.

The author also does a great job of explaining everything in simple terms, which is exactly what a person with little to no experience needs. Many content creators translate their videos if the native language of their target audience isn’t English, so if you have the same goals, review translation tools at sites like Pick Writers to make a good choice.

The bottom line here is that Google will like your video (remember, Google owns YouTube) only if the users like it. Just like with any content type, Google recommends to “give visitors the information they’re looking for,” so make sure you do that.

2. Insert Keywords in Title and Description

Keywords are critical for SEO, and they can help you to drive traffic to your video. That’s why we’re going to make a little experiment and research the best keywords so you know how to make a good choice.

Let’s suppose you want to create a video about cooking a burger. Start with the head phrase “how to cook a burger” by typing it in the search bar on YouTube and see what kinds of results the site gives us.

Already, YouTube generated a number of long-tail keywords (these are more specific than head keywords) that have less competition, therefore, give you more chances of ranking higher. More details mean that you can include some unique information about your video, e.g. “how to cook a burger medium rare.”

This is an example of simple keyword research that you can do yourself in minutes; also remember about Google Keyword Planner and other research tools to define keywords in your title (the description text should also contain these keywords).

Expert tip: many people search for videos in question format, e.g. “how to…” so by creating a title that begins with these words, you can improve its SEO.

3. An Engaging Thumbnail is a Must

With thousands of videos uploaded to YouTube every day, it goes without saying that you need to use every video SEO optimization trick out there to get ahead. One of them is to make a thumbnail image as enticing as possible.

The reason for this is obvious: the thumbnail image is the first thing that viewers see when they search for videos like yours, so you have to get it right.

The most important thing is to make it as relevant as possible to the title.

For example, let’s search for “how to dribble a basketball for kids.” Take a look at the results below: the first image from the top is not really relevant because it shows a teen dribbling a basketball. The same for the third image from the top: it’s irrelevant because it has a grown-up on the thumbnail. Obviously, we’ll click on the second and the fourth option from the top (by the way, they have more views, too).

4. Have a Transcript

The transcript, or a full textual version of a video, could be a useful addition to SEO video marketing because it provides more opportunities to include keywords. As a result, Google will have one more chance to index your video.

Wrapping Up

SEO optimization for video is a real thing, and many content creators are already paying attention to the practices described above to make sure that search engines have the details they need to rank their creations. Follow these tips to help Google and YouTube discover your videos and increase the effectiveness of your video content marketing.

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Kristin Savage

Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin is gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors.

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