YouTube SEO Best Practices
In the past 15 years, one company has earned the title of being the second largest search engine, second most visited site, second most visited social media platform, and the only platform to have more than 1 billion hours of content consumed per day–YouTube.
While most people think of YouTube as cat videos and fail clips, the platform is much more than that. It is a platform where businesses can build interactive, highly specific, and profitable communities.
Every YouTube channel started at the same point–with no viewers and no subscribers. Very often, the difference between channels with millions of subscribers and those that never take boils down to their YouTube SEO.
Unfortunately, there are millions of channels that, despite their quality content, struggle to gain a following. The oversaturated environment of current-day YouTube makes it very difficult (but not impossible) for new channels to attract an audience.
Here we will be unpacking the YouTube SEO best practices below to increase your channel’s exposure and turn your videos into customer acquisition-machines.
- Content Schedule
- Keyword research and implementation
- Attractive thumbnails
- Audience retention
- Video collaboration
- Embedded CTA’s
Overall Channel Success: Think Big Picture
Before you start creating any videos, you need to know what the overall goal of your channel really is. Here’s why…
In order to get more views, it really comes down to subscribers. So, you want to create content that informs your potential clients, but that will also inspire new subscribers. People should be watching your videos and thinking, “Wow, that content was really good and I want to come back for more later.”
Therefore, when you create your videos, you need to include information that really matters in the long run and for your big picture themes of your channel. Don’t be shy about reminding viewers that you will be creating more videos and that you don’t want them to miss out!
However, making promises like that puts your back against the wall to actually follow through. If you’re hoping to be successful with Youtube, you have to have the consistency to produce regular content (more on that in the section below).
This isn’t the kind of platform where you can just dabble. But, if you do stay consistent, creating quality Youtube content is a lot like pushing a huge rock to the top of a hill. The front end is heavy lifting, but once you hit a critical tipping point, things pick up momentum very fast. So, stay the course!
Lastly, when considering the overall success of your channel (not just specific videos), you need to focus on improving engagement signals across the board. According to Brian Dean from Backlinko, comments are the top indicator of success among all of the engagement signals on Youtube.
Creating a Content Schedule and Sticking to it
Let’s talk a little more about the importance of consistency for the overall success of your channel.
The first thing to do when trying to start or grow an existing YouTube channel is to create a content schedule or editorial calendar. In fact, we recommend using a master editorial calendar for all of your content planning, including SEO web pages, blogs, videos, social media posts, newsletters, email blasts, and more!
A content schedule will keep you on task and hopefully circumvent the problem of inconsistent uploads.
You may be asking yourself, “Why does it matter how often I upload?”
The answer to that question comes from several different places. First, uploading consistently will encourage your viewers to return to your channel week after week. If you upload on Thursday afternoons for months on end, you will likely attract loyal viewers who rely on your videos as part of their routine.
Contrast that schedule with someone who uploads every day for two weeks and then takes six months off. Which channel do you think will earn loyal viewers?
It’s very similar to going to the gym. We all know that working out every day for 30 minutes per day is much better than spending five hours at the gym, but only going three times per month.
Uploading consistently will also allow you to gradually build a library of content you can direct your viewers to after they finish a video. For example, if you made one video about the best approaches to treating an injury and then make videos that go in-depth about each treatment method, your viewers are likely to continue watching. Having a sizable and current library of videos will go a long way in increasing your channel’s binge-worthiness.
Shooting, editing, and posting videos is no small task–a library of videos is the result of thousands of hours of work. Trying to produce a video per week without budgeting enough time to do so will only ever result in unnecessary stress and inevitable burnout.
However, with a content schedule, you can tailor every aspect of your production to fit in your week. Knowing when and what to work on will relieve the stress and fatigue that comes with prolonged periods of unorganized YouTube uploads and benefit you in the long run.
We also recommend maximizing your time investment by organizing your calendar with a batch system in mind. In other words, plan to write, shoot, and edit a bunch of content at once and then break that footage down into multiple videos to be published over time. This will give you a lot to work with without having to reinvent the wheel every time you need to put a new video up.
- Develop an editorial calendar that allows you to create video content proactively versus reactively
- Be consistent with your content publishing schedule in order to establish subscriber loyalty
- Develop a batch strategy that allows you to work efficiently upfront, but allows you to ultimately produce more videos in the long run
Researching and Implementing Keywords in Your Videos
If you have ever tried to optimize a website, you are familiar with keywords. However, keywords are not limited to websites, but can also be used in YouTube SEO when trying to rank videos and grow your channel.
Many of the techniques used to rank websites are also used to rank videos, with the three main steps being:
- Generate a list of keyword ideas
- Select the best keyword
- Embed your keyword
Keywords are words or phrases that people often search. Therefore, content that includes keywords being searched is more likely to rank than content that does not include them.
Luckily, YouTube makes it incredibly simple to find potential keywords for your videos. First, identify the topic that your video is about. For this example, we will use a video about a broken ankle. After typing “broken ankle” into the YouTube search bar, we can see a list of all the top searches that actual people look for. If you were a PT clinic, perhaps you would make a video incorporating the keyword “broken ankle physical therapy.”
Now that you have found a list of potential keywords, you need to identify the keyword that you are most likely to rank for. To do that, type in your keyword in Google with “:YouTube.” at the end of the phrase. That will show you the number of videos that YouTube has on your topic.
There are 2.6 million results on YouTube for “broken ankle physical therapy” in the example below. Logically, choose the keyword with the lowest number of search results so that you have less competition and are therefore more likely to rank.
Having identified the best keyword for your video, it is now time to incorporate that keyword into your video. To do so, you should include your title in four places:
- Video Title
- Video Description
- Video Tags
- Video Itself (say your keyword throughout the video)
If you include your keyword in these four places, then YouTube’s search engine will be able to detect the given phrase and possibly rank your video in searches that incorporate the keyword.
Following these three keyword steps will put your videos ahead of much of the competition and move your channel one step closer to being the customer-acquisition machine you desire.
Making Click-Worthy Thumbnail Images
Keywords are a vital part of ranking with YouTube SEO, but thumbnail images are what garner clicks. A solid ranking with a boring thumbnail will do you almost no good as thumbnails are the first impression people have of your videos.
YouTube thumbnails are similar to a kid in a candy store. Imagine a young child strolling into a cavernous candy store with more options than the kid could count. However, 95% of the candy is dull and dark, whereas the other 5% are bright, appetizing colors. Which candy do you think the child will be drawn to?
The same principle is true with YouTube viewers of all ages. There are limitless video options to choose from and the challenge is differentiating yourself from the crowd. How do you become the candy everyone wants to try?
Here are three simple ways to make better thumbnails:
- Incorporate attention-grabbing shapes
- Use bright colors
- Incorporate your logo
Although bright colors and eye-catching thumbnails are attractive, do not lose sight of your video. If your video is about how libraries sort their books, don’t make your thumbnail look like the cover to a Rambo or Mad Max film. Misrepresenting your video’s content in your thumbnail (clickbaiting) is an easy way to earn dislikes, lower your audience retention, and have an adverse effect on your YouTube SEO.
Audience retention (how long your audience watches your videos) is a factor in audience engagement. Therefore, the more watch time, the more likely YouTube is to recommend your content to others because new viewers have a high likelihood of enjoying your video.
An easy way to keep your audience engaged is by starting your videos with an interesting hook. Perhaps this hook leads into the story you will tell in the video or is so surprising that people cannot help but continue watching.
The hook may be one of the most important parts of your video as a study by Hubspot found that only about 30% of viewers watch past the 45 second mark in videos across YouTube.
The short time frame you have to keep your viewers watching means that you should keep your title sequence or introduction to a maximum of 5 seconds. Do not take 60 seconds to greet your viewers and introduce yourself. By then, more than 70% of your viewers have already moved on.
After hooking your audience, the real battle begins. You still have the majority of your video for people to watch and engage with. To keep people interested, tell some form of a story in your videos. Stories have been and will be told by humanity; there remains no better way to involve people than telling a story.
From beginning to end, frame your video as if you are taking the viewer on a journey. Even if you are making a video about an ankle injury, frame it from the perspective of an athlete who gets injured, makes a recovery, and goes on to win his next game.
Every video can be a story–you just have to find a way to tell it as such.
Collaborating with Other Channels
Collaborations are videos that two or more channels make with each other and are one of the most effective ways to expand your YouTube audience.
When a channel collaborates with another channel, the guest channel is exposed to the viewers of the host channel. Therefore, any time you collaborate with a new channel, you are potentially exposed to thousands of new viewers.
However, not all collaborations are created equally. Often, the best collaborations are between channels that share similar audiences but produce different content. If you collaborate with a channel that makes the same content as you, why would their subscribers watch your channel if you are only going to repeat what they have already seen? However, if your content is different enough but still appealing to their audience, you have a high likelihood of peaking the interest of some of their subscribers.
Another factor to consider is the size of the channel you collaborate with. Typically, you want to collaborate with channels that are the same size or slightly larger than yourself so that the resulting exposure is worth your time. With that said, if you find a smaller channel that you believe in, don’t immediately discount them. If you feel that a small channel might be the next big thing, collaborate with them and it may just pay off in the future.
Finding the right channels to collaborate with will allow you to benefit from the time and effort other YouTubers have invested by exposing your content to viewers that would otherwise take months or years to attract.
Embedding CTA’s in Your Videos
If your end goal is to acquire customers through your YouTube channel, you need to include a clear and simple call to action.
Without CTA’s, your viewers will not know where to turn next–making it all too easy for them to steer towards a different channel. However, if you incorporate clear, simple, and consistent CTA’s in your videos, your customers will know precisely where to direct their attention.
You can imbed CTA’s in two places: the video conclusion and the video description. At the end of each video, direct the viewer to click somewhere that will take them to another video, a sponsor’s page, or your website. Also, include those same links in the video description; if people do not finish a video, they often scroll past the description to get to other videos.
If managed properly, YouTube can be an excellent source of revenue. However, top YouTube channels must nail every aspect of YouTube’s algorithms, including:
- Watch time
- Channel strength
- Upload frequency
- Off-platform promotion
Sound like a tall order?
Here at Farotech, we have subject matter experts who can elevate your YouTube SEO to the next level. Whether you want more views, subscribers, email subscribers, or website visitors, Farotech can help you get there. Click here to get in contact and have your YouTube channel evaluated.