YouTube SEO: How to Optimize Videos for YouTube Search in 2019

YouTube SEO: How to Optimize Videos for YouTube Search in 2019

Optimize your video description. Optimize your video description. YouTube's official Creator Academy suggests using tags to let viewers know what your video is about. It's helpful, the guide writes, "to think about what is working well for each category" you're considering by answering questions like: Who are the top creators within the category? In order to add subtitles or closed captions to your video, you'll have to upload a supported text transcript or timed subtitles file. You can add up to five cards to a single video, and there are six types: Channel cards that direct viewers to another channel. Video or playlist cards, which link to other YouTube content of this kind. YouTube SEO Tools Ahrefs Keyword Explorer Canva HubSpot Content Strategy VidIQ Vision TubeBuddy Cyfe Ahrefs is a comprehensive SEO platform that allows you to monitor a website's ranking, estimate the organic traffic you'd get from each keyword, and research keywords for which you might want to create new content. Ahrefs Keywords Explorer gives you a keyword's monthly search volume, how many clicks received by videos ranking for that keyword, related keywords, and more. While the keywords you discover in HubSpot reflect their popularity in a standard Google search, many of these topics will also produce videos on Google's search engine results pages.

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youtube-seo

As recently as a decade ago, inbound marketing was a brand new idea. Marketers were learning that they couldn’t just publish a high volume of content — it also had to be high-quality and optimized in ways that made it as discoverable as possible through search engines.

That content was once largely limited to the written word. Today, that’s no longer the case.

Today, a comprehensive content strategy includes written work like blogs and ebooks, as well as media like podcasts, visual assets, and videos.

That last part — video — continues to be on the rise. According to the 2018 State of Inbound report, 45% of marketers are investing more in YouTube over the course of this year — more than any other marketing channel available to them.

And with the rise of other content formats comes the need to optimize them for search. One increasingly important place to do that is on YouTube, a video distribution website used by the masses — HubSpot included.

But how does YouTube SEO work? What are the steps you need to take to optimize your YouTube channel for search? We’ve outlined some major tips and tools below.

YouTube SEO Tips

  1. Rename your video file using a target keyword.
  2. Insert your keyword naturally in the video title.
  3. Optimize your video description.
  4. Tag your video with popular keywords that relate to your topic.
  5. Categorize your video.
  6. Upload a custom thumbnail image for your video’s result link.
  7. Use an SRT file to add subtitles & closed captions.
  8. Add Cards and End Screens to increase your YouTube channel’s viewership.

1. Rename your video file using a target keyword.

Just like you would when optimizing written content, you’ll use an SEO tool to first identify keywords you’d like your video to focus on (you can browse popular YouTube SEO tools below these tips, or just click that link earlier in this sentence).

With a keyword identified, the first place you should put it is your video file — before you even upload it to YouTube. Why? YouTube can’t actually “watch” your video to see how relevant it is to your target keyword, and as you’ll learn in the tips below, there are only so many places you can safely insert this keyword on your video’s viewing page once it’s published. But, YouTube can read your video’s file name and all the code that comes with it when it’s uploaded.

With that in mind, replace the “business_ad_003FINAL.mov” file name (don’t be embarrassed … we’ve all been there during post-production) with your desired keyword. If your keyword is “house painting tips,” for example, your video’s file name should be “house-painting-tips” followed by your preferred video file type (MOV, MP4, and WMV are some of the most common that are compatible with YouTube).

2. Insert your keyword naturally in the video title.

When we search for videos, one of the first things that our eyes are drawn to is the title. That’s often what determines whether or not the viewer will click to watch your video, so the title should not only be compelling, but also clear and concise.

Although your keyword plays a big part in your video title, it also helps if the title closely matches what the viewer is searching for. Research conducted by Backlinko found that videos with an exact keyword match in the title have only a slight advantage over those that don’t. Here’s a linear representation of those findings:

exact-match-title.png

So, while “using your target keyword in your title may help you rank for that term,” report author Brian Dean explains, “the relationship between keyword-rich video titles and rankings” isn’t always a strong one. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to optimize your title for this keyword so long as it fits naturally into a title that tells viewers exactly what they’re about to see.

Lastly, make sure to keep your title fairly short — HubSpot campaigns manager Alicia Collins recommends limiting it to 60 characters to help keep it from getting cut off in results pages.

3. Optimize your video description.

First things first: According to Google, the official character limit for YouTube video descriptions is 1,000 characters. And while it’s okay to use all of that space, remember that your viewer most likely came here to watch a video, not to read an essay.

If you do choose to write a longer description, keep in mind that YouTube only displays the first two or three lines of text — that amounts to about 100 characters. After that point, viewers have to click “show more” to see the full description. That’s why we suggest front-loading the description with the most important information, like CTAs or crucial links.

As for optimizing the video itself, it doesn’t hurt to add a transcript of the video, especially for those who have to watch it without volume. That said, Backlinko’s research also found no correlation between descriptions that were optimized for a certain keyword and the rankings for that term.

keyword-in-description.png

Dean is careful not to encourage ditching an optimized description altogether, though. “An optimized description helps you show up in the suggested videos sidebar,” he writes, “which is a significant source of views for most channels.”

4. Tag your video with popular keywords that relate to your topic.

YouTube’s official Creator Academy suggests using tags to let viewers know what your video is about. But you’re not just informing your viewers — you’re also informing YouTube itself. Dean explains that the platform uses tags “to understand the content and context of your video.”

That way, YouTube figures out how to associate your video with similar videos, which can broaden your content’s reach. But choose your tags wisely. Don’t use an irrelevant tag because you think it’ll get you more views — in fact, Google might penalize you for that. And similar to your description, lead with the most important keywords, including a good mix of those that are common and more long-tail (as in, those that answer a question like “how do I?”).

5. Categorize your video.

Once you upload a video, you can categorize it under “Advanced settings.” Choosing a category is another way to group your video with similar content on YouTube so it winds up in different playlists and gains exposure to more viewers who identify with your audience.

It might not be as…

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