How to optimize your YouTube videos for search: expert advice

Are you a YouTuber? Are you confused about how to get started when it comes to SEO on your channel?

Seeing as how YouTube is the second largest search engine, applying SEO best practices to your channel is critical to your success.

If you want to drive more views and comments, you need to optimize your videos for search. 

Because when it comes to YouTube, unlike Facebook, videos are watched intentionally.

There isn’t a newsfeed on YouTube like there is on Facebook. When you go to YouTube, unlike Facebook, videos don’t just start automatically playing as you scroll around on the channel.

THAT is exactly why it’s more important to optimize your YouTube videos for search than your videos on any other channel.

Learning from the experts:

YouTube is a powerful platform. It’s not enough to think of it as a search engine; it’s a social network and distribution platform.

Roberto Blake and Steve Dotto, two well-known video experts, shared a number of SEO-related tips during their respective presentations for Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Success Summit.

Seeing as how I’m on my own journey to grow on YouTube, I figured I’d share what I’ve learned thus far in my experience and from the experts.

Below are the elements of your video that you’ll need to focus on in order to optimize your videos for search: 

  • Thumbnails: Probably the most important element of your video, your thumbnail is going to be the largest driver of clicks to your video. You want to make branded, custom thumbnails for all of your videos. Use your fonts and colors in order to build your brand look. Thumbnails should be clean, and bright colors seem to work best. The branding on your thumbnails should be professional and consistent. If you look at my channel, you’ll see that I use the same shade of green for every thumbnail.
  • Tags: You’ve gotta add relevant tags to your video if you want to show up in search. When people search for specific keywords on YouTube, you want your content to start to shop up. When it comes to tags, it’s not enough to just add the keywords that are related to the content. You also want to add branded keywords, such as your channel name and business name.
  • Titles: Your title should definitely include your most important keyword. The title should be descriptive for the value that the video will provide viewers. Use best practices for blogging when thinking of your titles. Titles that incorporate “how to” and “how much” always work well. In fact, 70% of people using YouTube use it to learn how to do something.
  • Description: This is where you explain what your video is about. Tease the value for viewers and share relevant and appropriate links. Your description should be detailed and validate that the title of the video is important. I recommend having a “canned” footer in your description that links people to your website and other social media channels to make it easy for them to continue the conversation with you.
  • Playlists: You want to add all of your videos to playlists because YouTube likes you more when you get people to hang out on YouTube. When promoting your video, rather than sending people to the individual video itself (something I am super guilty of doing at the current moment,) you want to send them to the PLAYLIST that the video is on. This way, the viewer is more likely to keep watching your videos. When it comes to SEO, watch time matters more than retention.
  • Consistency: Algorithms, and humans, favor people that are consistent. If you want to grow your viewership on YouTube, you’ve gotta post videos consistently. Whether it’s every day (very difficult to maintain,) or weekly, you want to try to show up at the same time and day each week so that your audience can come to expect you. Think of your channel like a TV show that they’re eager to tune in to. Consistency in publishing AND in flow will pay off for you. Consistency in publishing creates credibility. Consistency in flow creates loyalty. When your viewers know what to expect in terms of how you introduce yourself and take your viewers through the content, your channel becomes a more familiar place to them. We like familiarity because it’s comfortable. We become loyal to the places and people that make us feel comfortable.
  • Promotion: Don’t forget to actively promote your videos. Use email marketing and other social media channels to drive traffic to YouTube. If you show YouTube that you’re someone that can drive traffic from another social network to their channel, they’re going to LOVE you for it. That love is going to translate into better SEO.

Keep in mind that when it comes to YouTube, there is no such thing as overnight success.

You need to take the steps each time to optimize your YouTube videos.

Of the seven steps above, I’d recommend focusing first on your thumbnails and titles.

By creating beautifully branded thumbnails and descriptive titles, you’ll start to increase your credibility on the channel. This will help you optimize your YouTube videos for search.

Growing viewership and loyalty on the channel requires dedication, consistency, and patience.

By taking the recommended steps above, you’ll be better able to optimize your YouTube videos and grow a community on the channel!

Do you have any favorite YouTubers? Do you have any tips for how to optimize your YouTube videos?

Share them with me in the comments below!  

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