YouTube, which is the second largest search engine in the world, is a crowded place. 300 hours of new videos being uploaded to the site every minute (according to YouTube in 2014). The bad news is, getting lost in that gigantic sea of videos is easier for your YouTube video than you think, which is why YouTube SEO is so important – and often a much underrated field.
The good news is, rising above and getting seen may not be that difficult either. Here are five simple things you can do to boost your search rank and get seen more:
1. Optimize video title for attention and keywords
The title of your video must be optimized to serve one critical function – attract attention. It should be attractive enough to compel visitors to hit that play button and watch. At the same time, it should be utilitarian enough to accurately convey what your video is exactly about. The correct mix of keywords and buzzwords can help you achieve this dual feat.
Videos with titles that are either too long or too short are more likely to be ignored. Viewers may not understand enough about the content or nature of your video from a short title and they may lose interest (if at all they bother reading) from a long title. So what is the right size? Something around 120 characters.
Remember to include industry keywords relevant to the video. And add some buzzwords to attract attention. You can use the auto-complete feature of YouTube and Google to see what are the words and terms searched most frequently. Use whatever you find relevant, in your video as well.
2. Follow best-practices for video descriptions
Since search bots can’t actually watch the video, they rely on the description you provide for indexing and ranking. A well-written description gets you a better rank. Best practices of creating video descriptions include:
Create fresh content for the description. Don’t just CTRL C and CTRL V description from other videos or webpages. If the description gets deemed duplicate, it will hurt your search ranks.
Aim for 200 words at least. There’s no upper limit – you can go on to write 400, 500 or 1000-words blog posts and articles if you please. Including transcripts is one way of meaningfully extending the word count of your video descriptions.
Include target keyword(s) within the first-three lines of the description and then, anywhere in the body where it flows naturally. A good idea is to keep keyword density between one and three percent. Thus, for a 500-word description, you want to use the target keyword between five and 15 times for better ranking.
Don’t forget to target long tail keywords. Use synonyms and related search terms throughout the description to rank for the long tails.
Add a link to your website. Getting views for YouTube videos is essentially a part of the larger picture – driving traffic to your website or landing page for lead generation. Adding links on YouTube also create backlinks for your website, increasing its search value in the eyes of Google. Since viewers can only see around three lines of description in the default view (before clicking “Show More”), it is advisable to add links in the beginning of the description.
3. Create extensive playlists
Playlists help you in two ways – (a) they keep users engaged with your channel by offering related video choices, and (b) they add another tier of signals to tell search bots what your video is exactly about. By organizing related videos into keyword-rich playlists you can unlock both benefits for your YouTube videos.
4. Take your video social
You can use social networks and online communities to gain more views, and to demonstrate authority (thereby further improving rank) as well. Traffic from sites such as LinkedIn, Quora, Google+ Groups and other niche communities are considered high-quality and it gains you extra points. In addition, sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram are considered prominent for gauging your ‘popularity’ with users, which again improves rank.
An easy way to leverage social media is to sync the accounts to your YouTube channel. Every time you post a video, it gets automatically shared on synced channels as well. Encourage people to engage with it via Likes, Shares, Comments, Retweets and more for improved results.