Written by: Peter Minkoff
There is no doubt that YouTube is the most popular online video platform, drawing in hundreds of millions of users each day. But what we often fail to consider is the fact that it’s also one of the largest search engines in the world, second only to its owner, Google. With that in mind, it seems only logical that the best way to reach success on YouTube is by developing a good search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that will allow your videos to rise to the top. Here are some simple yet efficient tips you can utilize to improve your YouTube rankings:
Choose the right keywords
Just like any other search engine, rankings on YouTube also depend heavily on keywords. That is why your main focus should be on finding the right phrases for your videos. Consider the words that describe your niche and the contents of your videos, as well as the phrases your audiences might be typing when attempting to find videos like yours. It’s recommended to go for more specific and targeted long-tail keywords to increase your chances of success, such as “best real estate in London” instead of just “real estate”. Don’t forget to include your chosen keyword in the file name of your video (e.g. “best-real-estate-in-london”) so YouTube can recognize the topic of your video.
Utilize helpful SEO tools
Finding the right keywords that will bring success is always a challenging task, especially on this platform. If you need some help throughout this process, it’s important to know that you can also complete a YouTube keyword search with specialized software. The right tool can perform a detailed search on the keywords that are most relevant to your specific niche, and provide you with additional details regarding search volumes and the success of different keywords. As a result, you will be able to find good keywords more easily, focus on the ones that are more likely to be searched for, implement them in your content, and reach higher success on YouTube.
Optimize titles and descriptions
Once you’ve managed to find the right keywords, you will need to implement them in your content. Include your keywords in the title and the description of your videos, and utilize relevant phrases as tags as well. Aim to place them naturally within the text and try to keep them near the beginning, as titles and meta descriptions don’t truncate all the characters they fit. Avoid overstuffing your text with keywords, as you might get penalized by search engines due to the spammy nature of that practice. If you plan on sharing your videos on different platforms other than YouTube, slightly vary your keywords to avoid competing against yourself.
Video Annotations are a great function that adds interactive commentary to YouTube videos. Using this tool, you can add titles, notes, and speech bubbles, or simply pause your videos at the right times. Not only are annotations quite useful and practical for viewers, but they could help your YouTube channel as well. They can be linked to your channel, your playlists, or your other videos, thus encouraging users to keep viewing your content and improve overall engagement. Even though it’s often overlooked, this is a great feature that can help to further improve your rankings on YouTube. Just use them wisely and keep them subtle.
Use engaging thumbnails
Although they may seem less significant, thumbnails can actually make a significant difference in click-through rates. It’s recommended to use high-contrast and high-quality images with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Closeups of the face work quite well for many categories, but accurate visual representations of your specific niche might be best, as they could take your rankings in relevant results even further. While you do have the option to choose screenshots from the uploaded video on the platform itself, it’s better to create a more engaging image and upload it separately. Keep in mind that specific imagery, like the YouTube logo, is automatically filtered out.
Include closed captions
YouTube can transcribe videos automatically and provide corresponding captions, but that process isn’t entirely accurate and may lead to incomprehensible subtitles. If this happens to your videos, Google might mark your content as spam and potentially penalize you. To avoid this situation and enhance your SEO efforts, consider adding accurate closed captions to your videos through SRT files. Try to say your chosen keywords a few times in your videos as well. Search engines tend to crawl text, and when relevant keywords are included in your captions, Google will be able to rank your content accordingly.
These simple tips are a great starting point for improving your rankings on YouTube. Over time, aim to track your analytics, see what works best for your channel, and leverage that information for reaching higher levels of success on this platform.