Optimising your YouTube Content
Most people know how valuable optimized video content can be - the media reports of viral clips, challenges, pranks and Creator’s annual earnings are testament to the rise of YouTube’s worldwide influence.
YouTube has grown exponentially over the past decade and the current statistics reflect this;
- YouTube has more than one billion users worldwide.
- Every month, six billion hours of video content is watched on YouTube.
- Every minute, three hundred hours of new content is uploaded to YouTube.
- The world’s second largest search engine, YouTube is the 3rd most visited site worldwide - after Google and Facebook.
In almost every sector, YouTube is being used across the world to increase market engagement, reach new people, spread knowledge, entertain and display creativity. The rise of YouTube and video content in general has opened the world to a new era of marketing, sharing and community engagement which can be used by anybody to ensure that a message is conveyed effectively.
The popularity of YouTube does bring with it an immense amount of competition – with over 500 million active channels uploading content, it may seem overwhelming to even consider penetrating the platform and growing a community.
The good news is that, with careful planning and attention to the inner workings of both YouTube and Google – your videos can draw large view counts and become a valuable marketing tool.
Understanding YouTube’s Ranking Algorithms
Whilst not as complicated as Google’s search result algorithms, YouTube employs a series of processes which determine how videos are ranked within the search results seen by site users. Full details of these algorithms are never released in full, to prevent uploaders cheating the system, but the top factors in achieving high positions within search results are;
- The information included in the title.
- The average length of time people spent viewing the video.
- Keyword rich video descriptions.
- The tags associated with the video.
- The number of new subscriptions as a direct result of watching the video.
- The amount and quality of the comments left on the video.
- The balance of likes and dislikes the video receives.
The key to any successful campaign – whether marketing, spreading a message or entertaining the masses – is planning ahead. Ensuring that you fully understand the process you are about to undertake is a vital step. As you begin to understand how SEO affects YouTube videos and can improve rankings and increase views, it may be wise to create a written plan as you go. This will become less necessary as the process becomes more natural to you, but there are still key points to note down throughout the process.
Before jumping into the recording, editing and uploading of your video, it is important to understand exactly what will be needed throughout the video sharing process, the three most important considerations are;
The foundation of any successful SEO campaign is the keyword research – understanding which relevant words and phrases should be included in your video title and description is vital.
To begin with, it is important to focus on both Google and YouTube rankings, as, whilst it may be effective to rank highly on YouTube alone, many views are funneled through Google results.
Google does not show videos in search results for every search made; only those which are likely to require a video as a result. Searches with a visual answer or explanation will result in videos suggestions, whereas more factual or text-based answers will not. For example, the search ‘slow motion balloon pop’ will return the following result;
[insert picture here]
Whilst a search for ‘slow motion recording’ returns authoritative websites containing information about different cameras, techniques and equipment;
[insert picture 2]
Keywords resulting in video suggestions within Google search results are ‘actionable’, these include;
- Reviews – “iPhone 7 review”
- How-to – “How to apply eyeliner”
- Animals and children – “Baby laughing”
- Sports and fitness – “Yoga poses”
Once you are certain that your video is eligible to be shown in Google search results, it’s time to make it relevant to your niche. Using Google Keyword Planner, research all relevant long and short-tail keywords which can be used to describe your content.
Your selected keywords should be searched more than 300 times per month, you can find this information here; https://adwords.google.com/ko/KeywordPlanner/Home?__u=4740655867&__c=7905608107&authuser=0. It is important to ensure that the keywords you choose to apply to your content have been searched significantly through Google – this may seem like a waste if you are focusing solely on YouTube search rankings – but it is recommended because any video search carried out on Google, is likely to be searched more frequently on YouTube – and Google Keyword Planner is a free method of researching this. Secondly, it is advisable to aim for high rankings on both Google and YouTube – as it increases views and reaching more potential viewers is never a bad thing.
It may seem obvious that the content within your video will affect the ranking of your video – but as the content itself is not monitored by the search engine components of YouTube, this is the place to get creative – as you can still increase your rankings through the content.
As the search engines – both YouTube and Google – do not ‘watch’ the video for keywords or phrases used, the content is the place to really focus on your audience – make the video with them in mind and create engaging content which makes them want to see more from you.
One of the key things taken into account when ranking your video in search results is your retention level – YouTube monitors how much of your video is being watched – so if people lose interest after 5 seconds, your video will underperform and rank lower as the algorithms will show that it is not quality content.
[insert subscribe picture]
The final factor to consider is that videos resulting in subscriptions, likes and comments are more likely to receive higher rankings in search results. So make sure to include a call to action within your content. There’s no shame in requesting that people subscribe, like and comment on your video, if you ask politely or make it part of your community engagement, e.g. “Let me know what your opinion on this is, in the comments.”
The uploading process contains many of the key factors in the SEO process, so this is where your video will really shine – as long as the following four factors are optimized correctly;
[insert image uploading]
For channels with regular viewers and a committed user base, no matter how small -a schedule will help - regular uploads - when expected - get the viewer into a routine of checking for new videos – but you only see results if they’re there! Make sure that any schedule you set out is realistic and that you are able to keep up with the demands of recording, editing and optimizing each video on time, without rushing.
For newer channels, it is best to start as you mean to go on. Plan your upload schedule in advance– many established channels use a three- per-week routine, but this can be altered to suit your own availability and your audience’s needs. Make new viewers aware of the schedule – include it in your channels’ bio, video descriptions and at the end of each video if necessary.
Market research will tell you how often, and at what time of day you should be uploading your content. More people watch YouTube on mobile devices than watch cable TV in the US – so, viewing times may vary from typical lunch breaks, to early evening – find out when your audience is online and cater to them – although, through subscriptions – timing is not as vital on YouTube as it is on text-based social media sites where new posts are quickly overtaken.
As discussed previously, the title of your video should contain the main keyword for your subject, as well as an actionable, Google-friendly keyword or phrase and should be about five words long – shorter titles have limited room for keywords and longer titles tend to put viewers off.
The length of the title is important, as different views will show different lengths of it;
- YouTube search results show 55 characters
- Google results show 60 characters
- Facebook posts show up to 70 characters, but those with titles of 40 or less have been shown to perform better.
It is important to keep these lengths in mind when determining your title, as missing key information will lose potential viewers and negatively affect your overall ranking.
The main keyword for your niche should be as close to the beginning of the title as possible – this is the same as regular on-site SEO and rings true universally.
With all of this in mind, an example of a good video title is;
“Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for YouTube Videos”.
The final decision to make regarding your video title is whether to include the channel name at the end, many channels do this to make videos easier to find when users search only the channel name, but it is mainly stylistic, as searching a specific channel name will return the correct channel regardless.
Your video description is where most of the SEO magic will take place – use your prior keyword research to draft your video description and make sure to read it through thoroughly and check the keyword density before publishing.
If you are including a link to your website in the description, ensure that it is close to the top of the text, this means that viewers will see the link without expanding the description box and will increase the likelihood of click-throughs.
The main keyword – or phrase – should be included in the description within the first 25 words, this enables both the algorithms and viewers to identify the phrase. Overall, you should aim to include the target keyword or phrases 3-4 times throughout the description, as well as some related words and phrases which may produce results for long-tail keywords – but try not to worry about this too much when starting.
Your video description needs to be at least 250 words long – that may seem excessive and true, most viewers will not read that much text – but the description is not for viewers at this point, it is to increase search engine rankings. The video content should take care of audience engagement.
Tags are not majorly important for SEO purposes, but they do help to return your video in search results and match your video to relevant videos, allowing yours to show up in the sidebar.
Tags should be relevant to your content and niche, aimed at your audience and not focused on SEO. Tailor these tags to include your video in popular groups as well as more select subjects.
Looking beyond a single video..
Further to the content, tags, title and description of your video, how it is treated and the surrounding components will also affect the rankings achieved. These include your channel, social media and monitoring the video’s progress.
Looking after your channel
Well-maintained channels are likely to attract higher view and subscriber counts – maintaining a channel can include regularly updating the biography, image and description to keep viewers entertained and intrigued, as well as ensuring that your channel is easy to navigate and organized.
Sorting your videos into categories makes them easier to find for subscribers – as well as giving you the opportunity to create playlist titles which include your target keywords – which will also be shown in search results.
Keeping on top of the target keywords for your niche and periodically updating your video descriptions channel biography and playlist titles is a key factor in maintaining the high rankings you have earned thus far. Make sure to keep your channel organized and regularly check the associated texts for potential improvements.
How videos gain rankings & popularity
323 days (465,120 minutes) of YouTube content is watched on Facebook every minute. That’s an average of over 460 thousand potential viewers online at any one moment. The importance of sharing your video content through additional channels is obvious to most marketers and bloggers.
Using social media, blog posts and article backlinks grows your audience and viewer base, which, in turn, increases the video’s search engine rankings and gains more viewers.
The video content life cycle;
Things to avoid
As with any venture into a new field, there are certain pitfalls and misdirects to look out for and avoid at all costs. The four biggest issues facing video content creators are;
It is easy to assume that your content will become instantly popular or ‘go viral’ overnight, but the reality is that the insanely popular YouTube content is in the minority, and most videos will take a few days, weeks or even months to become popular. Those creators looking to build a community will find that it does not happen in the space of a single day, you audience needs to become accustomed to your brand, tone and schedule, so do not give up if the results you want are not immediately apparent.
YouTube knows when your views are fake and will remove them, sanctioning your video in the process – paid-for views are not worth the negative effect they will have on your video’s search engine rankings – working hard toward real results and having patience is the best method for success when it comes to SEO tactics.
Uploading lots and lots of content may seem like a great idea, but it has been proven that audiences can have too much of a good thing – many people will simply stop watching a channel if the content becomes too much or too frequent to keep up with. As mentioned before, it is best to set a regular schedule, with realistic time between videos for quality production – and give your audience a steady stream of content, rather than an avalanche.
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