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If you have been scratching your head at the idea of youtube SEO, then you have come to the right place.
They don’t call me the “SEO Queen” for nothing.
My SEO process has gotten most of my videos to rank at least top 10 in Youtube search in about 24 hours.
It is actually my favorite part of being a youtuber.
But trust me when I tell you, there are a lot of YouTubers that still do not know anything about SEO on youtube.
That is because most people still see Youtube as an online video/social media platform. When in reality, it is a monster search engine.
If you are looking to get some views on your content without even having a big channel, then youtube SEO is going to be your best friend.
Not to mention it could guarantee some more views in the future if you make evergreen content.
So in this article, I am going to give you everything that you need to know about Youtube SEO and how to optimize your content for search.
What is Youtube SEO?
Youtube SEO is the process of optimizing your youtube videos for youtube’s search engine.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and each platform has its own process for optimization. However, I will say that as someone who has worked and done SEO for several platforms, Youtube is by far the easiest.
Just like regular SEO, the youtube process involves finding good keywords and using them correctly in your content.
Besides these 5 things, there are also a few other things that you can do that will also help your channel grow.
We will get into all of these in a minute.
Why is Youtube SEO Important?
Whether you are aware of it or not, youtube SEO is going to be your long-term friend if you are a smaller creator on youtube.
Youtube SEO is important because it is one of the easiest ways for your new video to start getting some initial views.
From this, the algorithm can start to learn who your audience is and what they are looking for. If the algorithm sees that people are clicking on your videos, they will want to push it out to others.
Then you will get a higher chance of getting your videos on people’s home feeds.
This is actually one of the quickest ways to start getting hundreds or thousands of views to your videos if you do not already have a large following.
The best part is, you can rank on youtube within a few hours or even minutes if you really optimize your content.
Meaning you won’t have to wait 6-8 months like you would with regular Google SEO. But at the same time, you can also rank your videos on Google’s search engines as well.
Meaning more eyes and eventually more views on your content.
How to Find the Best Keywords for Youtube?
Before we get into how to optimize your videos, there is one key factor that you MUST have:
Keywords are basically the search terms that people are entering into the search engine. They tell you what people are looking for so that you will know what content to make.
There is no way that you can do SEO without them. There are both short-form keywords and longtail keywords.
The best way to find keywords for your youtube videos is by using SEO tools and by using YouTube’s search engine itself.
If you want to see a step-by-step process of how to find keywords, you can watch these videos or keep reading because I will go through all of the tools in a second.
Keyword Volume and Competition
When looking for keywords you want to stick to two things:
- High volume
- Low competition
This is the key to finding good keywords for your content. You want high-volume keywords because they have a lot of people searching for them.
You also want low-competition keywords because that is how you will be able to rank easier.
Shorter keywords like “SEO” are usually harder to rank for because there is more competition.
However, longtail keywords are essentially phrases and are a lot easier to rank for in search. So a keyword like “how to rank in youtube search” is considered longtail and easier to rank for.
So keep this in mind when you are doing your research.
If you use an SEO tool like Tubebuddy, it will be a little easier since you will also get a score that will show you how well that keyword will do for you.
How to Optimize Your Videos For Youtube SEO?
When you are doing your keyword research, I highly recommend that you make a list or a spreadsheet with all of the keywords inside.
That way, you will always have them ready when you need to use them.
Once you have those setup, you can now get into optimizing your contact for youtube’s search engine.
1-Optimizing Youtube Video Titles
The first place that you need to place keywords is in the video title. This is going to be extremely important as it holds the most weight when it comes to your youtube SEO.
Youtube titles have a limit of 100 characters.
With that being said, for the purpose of SEO, you want to keep your title to 60-70 characters.
You also have to make sure that you keep your keywords as close to the beginning of the title as you can.
For example, if your keyword is “get more subscribers” then instead of:
Do this if you want to get more subscribers!
A better option for you would be:
How to get more subscribers (TRY THIS!)
Both titles would probably work in getting people to click on the video. However, if you have a smaller channel, then the second title is more likely to help you rank in search.
Once you have an audience that is already established, then things like this will become less and less important.
2-How to Optimize Your Video Description
The next place that you are going to need to focus on is your video description.
This box is infamously known to be the place where people leave their links and information.
But did you know it plays a key role in your youtube SEO process?
You get 1,000 characters that you can use in your description box to say whatever you want. But if you want to rank higher in SEO, then this is going to be your goldmine for using keywords.
Remember that spreadsheet you made? This is where you are going to use those keywords.
This is also where you are going to be able to place those hashtags that you see appear on youtube videos.
Try to have no more than 5 hashtags because it is only the first 3 that are going to show up anyways.
And make sure the keyword that you are trying to target is the first one to show up.
How to Write a Video Description That is Optimized for Youtube SEO
Every video should have about 2-5 sentences explaining what the video is about at the very top of the description box.
In those sentences, you should have several different keywords describing what your video is. And your main keyword should be in the first sentence.
So if we use the same keyword from the last section, you could have a description like this:
Do you want to get more subscribers? This video will show you how to rank higher in youtube search so that you can get more views on your youtube videos. And getting more views means getting more subscribers! You will grow your channel in no time to keep watching!
I bolded all the keywords I used in the description.
The key is to make everything sound very natural and easy to understand.
DO NOT keyword stuff and just list a bunch of keywords.
This will be a red flag for the algorithm.
3-Optimizing Your Video Script
Most people do not realize this but youtube is becoming smarter and smarter by the minute.
If you notice, the youtube Closed Captions are becoming increasingly better. So much so that fewer creators are even doing subtitles unless it is in another language.
But in order for the CC to be that good, the algorithm must be paying very close attention to what the creators are saying.
Which is also why it is very important that you are saying these keywords at the beginning of your videos but also sprinkling them throughout the video.
If you think the algorithm isn’t listening, think again.
So whether you decide to script your youtube videos or not, make sure that you are using your keywords when you are talking.
4-Youtube Video Tags
Now they say that tags are no longer as important as they were before.
It turns out, youtubers were abusing the system and adding tags that had a lot of volume but that had nothing to do with their content.
Making their videos rank for things that had nothing to do with their channel.
So in order to put a stop to this, Youtube says that they have shifted the priority from tags to other things. Making them less significant in the SEO process.
However, from my own findings, I have literally been able to gain more views overnight by switching my tags using Tubebuddy.
You can watch the full process of how I do that in this video below.
So I always say, don’t skip the tags and add them anyways. Because they won’t hurt your channel in any way but they may actually help.
5-Youtube Chapters and Timestamps
Last but not least, you have Youtube chapters and timestamps.
This is something that came into the youtube ecosystem in late 2021 after a huge youtube update stating that chapters and timestamps could now rank in search.
What does that mean?
This means that those timestamps that you enter into your description box can now show up as their own search results on youtube.
Not only that, but they can also show up on Google’s search page.
So needless to say, you are going to want to add your keywords in those timestamps as well.
I know for a fact that there are still a lot of youtubers who do not even do timestamps on their videos. But if you want to be able to get the best shot to rank in search, you shouldn’t be skipping these.
So write your timestamps with the keywords that you gathered in your spreadsheet from earlier.
I will say that this is one of the reasons why scripting your videos could be more helpful for you. It will make laying out the chapters and video sections a lot easier.
5 Extra Tips To Help Your Channel
Now that we have the 5 main SEO sections out of the way, there are some extra tips that can also help your content show up in search.
Some of them are things that you can change yourself whereas others have to be built over time.
So let’s get into them.
1-Youtube Channel Authority
The number one thing that people forget about when it comes to youtube SEO is your channel authority.
If you are familiar with Google SEO then think of this as your domain authority.
It’s like your social status but on youtube.
The idea is simple: The longer you have been active on youtube, the more likely you are to have a more dominant channel.
Meaning your content will probably get pushed out more and rank easier in search results.
One thing that is good about doing youtube SEO is that if you optimize your content correctly, you can outrank channels that have a higher domain authority than you do.
As you can see below, I have done it myself:
Obviously, there are extreme exceptions to the rule on both ends but this is the general idea.
With that being said, channel authority is something that can only be built over time. There is no way for you to have any direct effect on it.
So what you need to focus on is being consistent on the platform long enough for the algorithm to start trusting you more. Then eventually, every video that you upload will be put in front of the right people.
2-Optimizing Your Playlists With SEO
Most YouTubers do not realize that playlists can play a very important role when it comes to your channel.
The more people click on your videos to watch them, the more session time your channel gets. This shows the algorithm that people are not only watching, but staying on your channel to watch more of your videos.
So why not clump similar video topics together so that people will be able to watch more of your videos in one sitting?
This is where playlists come in.
But another thing you probably didn’t know is that playlists also show up in search results. So you want to not only put the keywords in the playlist title, but you also want to put keywords into the playlist description to help them rank.
Click-Through-Rate (or CTR for short) is one of those things that keep YouTubers up at night.
This shows you a percentage of how often people see your video vs how often they click on it.
Youtube has stated that the average CTR is anywhere from 2%-10%.
Anything on the higher end is pretty amazing and they say that the higher the CTR, the better.
Most YouTubers will probably tell you that their CTR is around 3%-5% which is pretty normal.
However, just because you have a CTR of 20% doesn’t always mean that youtube will push out your content.
I learned that from experience:
There are only two things that affect why someone would choose to click on your video:
- The thumbnail
- The title
So not only is it important to make sure that you write titles that have keywords and are enticing. But you also need to make thumbnails that will add value to that title and make people want to click.
Pro Tip: Don’t just copy the title of your video onto your thumbnail. Add just a few words and images that will make it more interesting for the viewer and add more value. See the example below
The reason why having a good CTR is important is that youtube needs to see that people want to watch your video.
This is the only reason why they would want to push it out to more people.
The more your content can keep people engaged on the platform, the better.
4-Video Watch Retention
Watch Retention is also one of the analytical components that are said to be important for the algorithm.
It shows the amount of time that people are staying on your video before they click off.
Are they watching the whole way through? Or simply a few seconds in and then clicking off?
The longer a viewer stays on your channel, the more likely it is that the algorithm will choose to push that video out.
That is because you are keeping people on the youtube platform.
But if people are clicking off only after a few seconds, this shows the algorithm that people are not interested in what you have to say.
As far as finding out how to increase your watch retention, that is something that only you can do. Sure there are a lot of tips and tricks out there to help.
However, each video and channel is different meaning you should be looking at your own analytics and figuring out what is working and what isn’t.
Look at where your audience is clicking off and why that may be. Did you make a transition that people didn’t like? Or maybe something happened with your audio?
If you see that a video is doing very well in regards to watch retention, look at why that is and try to copy that in your other videos.
Every online platform wants to keep people on it as long as they can. So if your content can help the platform do that, then that is the content that they are going to want to push out.
Last, and maybe even least, we have metadata.
Who would have thought that youtube had metadata?
Well, it does.
Metadata on youtube is talking mainly about the names of the files that you upload. That means the actual video file name and the thumbnail file name.
To be honest, they do not have the biggest effect on your SEO but you definitely want to make sure that you have them anyways.
So instead of just letting your file names look like this:
Rewrite your file name and add the keyword that you are trying to target instead. It could look something like this:
The same goes for your video files as well.
Best Tools For Youtube SEO
As I mentioned earlier in the article, there are actually a few tools that you can use that will make your SEO journey a lot easier.
There are not too many SEO tools that are youtube-specific and certified for the platform. However, since it is a search engine, a lot of bigger SEO platforms are starting to integrate more Youtube SEO.
So let’s go through the top 4 tools.
I am going to start with Tubebuddy because it is the one that I have used the most and is a personal favorite.
This Youtube Certified tool is downloadable as a free browser extension and integrated into your youtube channel. With the free plan, you can search up to 25 keywords per day.
That is more than enough to start filling your spreadsheet.
I even have a great Tubebuddy hack that I have discovered while using the tool.
One of the reasons I love it the most is because of its youtube keyword research tool. It is very easy to use and gives you a score that will show you how good the keyword is.
The greener, the better.
If you have an upgraded version, you can even get these scores weighted to your specific channel and content. That way, you can know if it will do well for your channel.
The free version is great, but upgrades are pretty amazing considering it’s only $4 a month for smaller channels.
However, you want to try it out for a few days or a month, you can click here to get a 30-day free trial.
It also is downloadable as an extension onto your browser and integrates seamlessly with your youtube page.
When it comes to analytical performance data, there really is non better than VidIQ which is why I use it as well alongside Tubebuddy.
They have do have a keyword research tool that will give you a score between 0-100 based on how good the keyword is.
The real start with this tool however is their Daily Ideas function. This function gives you free keywords and video ideas for your content based on your current channel’s statistics.
Basically, it is tailored to the content you make.
They give you 3 ideas every day which means you could get 90 video ideas a month for free.
It’s a great tool to have in your youtube arsenal.
You may be scratching your head and wondering why I am saying to use a Google SEO tool.
Well one: it’s completely free to use Google’s Keyword Planner.
Two: Youtube videos rank on Google a lot easier than other forms of content.
Let me break it down for you.
Google now owns youtube and ever since they took over, youtube has been functioning more and more like Google’s search engine.
So with that in mind, why not just go directly to the source and look at what keywords are ranking on Google. Not only will it help you rank on youtube, but you can get even more eyes on your content by ranking on Google.
The keyword planner will show you how often people are searching for the keywords and how competitive they are.
They do not have a score, but if you use my SEO tips from earlier, then you won’t need it. You can simply filter out the keywords that are the most searched and have the lowest competition.
If you want a full tutorial on how you can get access to the tool you can watch my video or read my step-by-step guide.
You probably didn’t know that using youtube itself is a great way to find what is trending on youtube and what keywords people are looking for.
The youtube search bar is quickly going to become your best friend.
All you have to do is start typing your keywords and youtube will give you the suggestions that people are looking for the most.
The most searched ones show up on top and then go down in descending order of volume.
It is a really simple process that will also help you get some good keywords and video ideas.
However, since they do not show how competitive the keywords are, you should probably take those ideas and put them into an SEO tool to make sure that they are not too competitive for you.
Being a youtuber is amazing.
However, nothing is more frustrating than putting your heart and soul into your content only to wake up and see that it got 0 views.
I know that pain and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
If you do not already have an established platform online, it can be difficult to get started.
So to start getting some eyes on your content, youtube SEO is going to be a great asset for you.
Not only can it get you views in the short term, but it will increasingly help your channel to gain authority in the long run as well.
Take it from someone who had 0 subscribers and no online platform, to begin with. If it wasn’t for SEO, then I would not be where I am today.
Hopefully, all of the tools that I have given you will help you start your SEO journey on the right foot as well.