Thought that SEO was limited to Google’s search engine only? Think again. With YouTube now the second-largest search engine in the world, we suggest you start thinking about the popular video content platform as another means to reach potential customers far and wide.
From service providers to marketing agencies and eCommerce retailers, there is a place for video content in most digital marketing strategies that will allow your business or brand to leverage YouTube’s SEO powers.
If you’re not sure where to begin optimising your video content for YouTube, read on. The Edge Marketing team is one of Australia’s leading digital marketing agencies, and we specialise in SEO, PPC, and organic marketing campaigns. With some of our best in-house team working on YouTube SEO optimisation each week, we’ve come to know the ins and outs of getting the best out of your content and all about creating videos that help boost your business online.
The 101s of YouTube SEO Strategy
Like any good SEO campaign, including your YouTube channel as part of your cohesive digital marketing strategy can help increase our brand’s authority status online about key topics and focus areas.
We know—news to you! This was once our team when we started mastering SEO strategies and realised that YouTube’s search engine capabilities could support our online strategy too. Our best recommendation is to start considering your brand’s YouTube channel like its own stand-alone website—a micro-platform that acts as an extension of your existing brand and connects with more potential customers online.
How so? Well, considering that YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine platform in the world, it stands to reason that potential leads and customers would use the platform to find answers to their problems and look for educational and how-to content about topics that interest them. Using your channel as a standalone “micro-website”, you can anchor your brand as an authority in targeted areas as a go-to platform for solving these problems or providing the content users are looking for.
- Content Naming:
From your video file name to video title, these quick copy snapshots are similar to Meta Titles and H1s (Heading 1) on a traditional website page.
- Channel Description:
Both your channel description and video description can stand in as your traditional website Meta Description–a brief summary about your brand, channel, and content that includes a target keyword to attract relevant viewers online.
- Content Categories and Tags:
Similar to website page keywords, social media hashtags, and blog categories, content categories and tags can help group your content together into relatable topic clusters, similar to a digital blog strategy. Incredibly important for helping relevant YouTube users find your content, most data fields on YouTube can be optimised to help position your videos at the “top” of the search engine results pages shown online. Again, keyword research here is a must.
Once you start thinking about YouTube as a second major search engine and your channel as another website, it’s easy to see how you optimise it for SEO traffic. Better still, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when first diving into YouTube or optimising your channel for the first time. Why? We’re assuming you already have the basics of an online presence, a digital marketing strategy, or—at the very least—a website. By updating your YouTube videos to act as an extension of your existing marketing channels and knowing how and where to optimise specifically for the new platform, you can start widening your potential target market.
Read on to learn more about the first best practises you should implement to start optimising your channel with the most influential YouTube ranking factors today.
Optimising Your Channel and YouTube Videos
Even if you only have a small presence on social media sites or your website, you can use the marketing materials you already have and what you know about your ideal target market to get your YouTube video SEO strategy off the ground. How so?
- The Title, File Name, Categorisation of Each YouTube Video
Consider the available spaces for copy or tags that can help identify and define your videos for your target audience. From the video file name to the working title, these basic data fields can help clearly identify what your content is about to both viewers and YouTube alike. Again, keeping in mind that YouTube works like a search engine, the platform wants to “understand” what your channel and content are about so it can offer you as a solution (or YouTube search result) to viewers who are likely to be interested in your content.
Another great hack? Make sure to categorise your video accurately. By grouping your video into a category with other videos with similar interests, you can help both YouTube and viewers identify what your content is about and be recommended as “a suggested video” for viewers already interested in and watching similar businesses and brands. Don’t worry about competition here—being classified alongside and recommended by complementary channels is one of the best ways to get in front of new viewers.
Lastly, because YouTube works like Google, take care not to inaccurately identify your content solely for the purpose of getting more views. Like websites, YouTube frowns on brands that try to “click-bait” viewers into watching their videos and is constantly adjusting YouTube rankings to better position brands that accurately identify their channel and content. Don’t try to mislead the search engine by intentionally miscategorising your brand to grab new views.
- YouTube Channel About Copy and Video descriptions
This is the best equivalent we have for website meta descriptions. Much like including relevant keywords on your website for website viewers, YouTube SEO strategy requires conducting similar keyword research and incorporating similar key terms that are “likely” to be searched by your target audience online. Much like optimising your website and web pages for Google’s SEO capabilities, making sure to optimise your short YouTube SEO copy sections (like your video description and YouTube channel About text) boosts your chances of connecting your channel with new viewers and getting a better search engine ranking online.
- Video Tags and hashtags:
When it comes to tags, we recommend considering them as extensions of your existing SEO keywords—with only a slight change, if needed, to be relevant to YouTube’s audience. With this in mind, it’s important to list your video tags as:
- Relevant: again, YouTube could penalise you for irrelevant keywords or click-baity tags;
- Most important first: make sure you list tags in order of importance for each new video as they relate to your brand’s content and context;
- Consider long form keywords / tags: much like Google’s SEO preferences, long-tail keywords like “How do I” are a great way to attract new views. Make sure to do keyword research and review existing relevant keywords that rank well for your market.
As for hashtags, many of the same practices should be followed, bearing in mind that you shouldn’t use more than 2-3 hashtags per video. If you want to get more people to know about your brand, use your brand or business name as one hashtag on each new video, along with 1-2 other hashtags that explain what your content or brand is about.
- In-content optimisation:
You thought YouTube optimisation was limited to copy alone? Think again! In-content optimisation is not only a great way to increase the viewability and user experience of your videos but also another way to boost your visibility and anchor your place online.
Moving beyond the expected video thumbnail image, title description, and tags, we always recommend including a keyword in your video cards and end screens. New to both?
Video cards include six unique ways that viewers can interact with your content while viewing it, and you can include up to five cards per video. The six options include:
- Channel Cards:
These direct viewers to another channel.
- Donation Cards:
Promotes fundraising for a Not-for-Profit (sorry, US based charities only, at this time.)
- Video or Playlist Cards:
A great way to prompt users to view more of your related YouTube videos they may like online.
- Link Cards:
Directing viewers to an external site
- Fan Funding Cards:
Is a way to monetise your YouTube video through direct contributions from viewers and fans.
- Poll Cards:
Allow viewers to answer polls and content creators to directly engage with their audience’s preferences, likes, and dislikes.
Including cards in your content can support the YouTube SEO process and help your videos rank and become suggested videos for similarly keyworded content. (Hint: cards are also a great way to break up longer videos and increase watch time.)
As for End Screens, these prompt viewers to “follow on” to related, relevant content they may like on your channel. A great way to create a “sales funnel” (if you’re in the business of selling things) or simply create more direct user engagement and interactions with your brand.
With both functions offering a great way to connect with your viewers and prompt their continued engagement with your content online, we recommend that your direct links and end cards linking to related content act as “silos” or topic clusters—similar to your website blog strategy. Not only is this a great way to organise your content for a better user experience, it can also help you position your brand as an authority or go-to provider on YouTube’s search engine, thereby increasing your chances of ranking high in search results.
A Final Note About Google’s YouTube Search Results
One last important thing to keep in mind: while we keep harping on about YouTube being the second-most relied-on search engine in the world, it’s equally important to remember that YouTube content is just as likely to show up on Google (or other search engines) as a result that meets the user’s intention.
Gone are the days when search engine results simply showed static website pages; instead, Google users are presented with a varied array of results that include paid, organic, static, and video—and the video search results could be yours.
You can increase your chances of being found by searchers on both platforms by optimising your website and YouTube channel to be complementary and in line with best practises for both Google and YouTube. Furthermore, with both static website pages and video pages showing as Google search results connected to your brand, you offer potential customers and audience members a way to choose how they would like to consume your content—thereby better meeting their needs.
Get Started on YouTube SEO with the Edge Marketing Team
Starting to optimise your website and YouTube channels to support a cohesive digital marketing strategy can seem like an overwhelming task—but it doesn’t have to be. As one of the go-to teams in digital marketing content creation and strategy execution in Australia, our experts can help guide experienced marketers and solopreneurs alike when it comes to working with YouTube SEO for the first time.
The Edge Marketing team can help you build and position your brand online by putting out new blogs every week that look at new digital marketing trends, SEO tips and best practices for YouTube, and how to drive paid and organic search engine campaigns.
With services catering to both larger-scale businesses that need outsourced marketing help and small business owners who are just beginning to navigate online marketing on their own, our digital agency has something for everyone. Contact our team if you need additional support, or follow along with our weekly blog to take a deep dive into marketing tips you can action on your own.