It’s no secret that YouTube is a traffic source with almost limitless potential.
There’s only one problem:
It’s a very crowded place. In fact, according to YouTube, there are more than 100 hours of videouploaded to the site every minute.
Considering the deluge of content you have to compete with on YouTube, the obvious question is: “How do you get people to watch YOUR video instead of the millions of others?”
The answer? Video SEO.
I bet that most of your competition lazily uploads their videos and hopes that one of them “goes viral.” Needless to say, this rarely (if ever) works out.
But if you take the time to optimize your videos for SEO, you’ll get significantly more traffic than your competitors.
Let’s jump right in.
A Brief YouTube SEO Primer
Before we dive into how you can use to optimize your videos for YouTube, let’s go over some of the most important ranking factors that YouTube uses.
It’s not nearly as complex as Google’s famous 200 ranking signals, but YouTube’s algorithm is no joke. It takes dozens of signals into account for ranking videos in YouTube search and for suggested videos, like this:
This infographic by Tag SEO sums them up quite nicely:
I know that’s a lot of information to process, so let me give you the Cliff’s Notes of the most important signals that YouTube uses:
- Title tag information
- Audience retention
- Keywords in description tag
- Video length
- Number of subscribers after watching
- Likes and dislikes
With that, it’s time to show you five ways that you can leverage these signals to get more traffic to your videos…and ultimately to your site.
1. Write Super-Long Video Descriptions
Remember that YouTube and Google can’t watch or listen to your video (yet).
That means that they heavily lean on the text surrounding the video to understand your video’s topic. That’s why it pains me to see extremely brief video descriptions like this:
Why is this such a crime?
Well, the more YouTube knows about your video, the more confidently it can rank it for your target keyword.
But more importantly, YouTube uses keywords in the description to rank you for super-long tail keywords.
For example, I published a video on YouTube a few months back called “SEO Strategy 2014: How to Rank in Google Today.” My description for that video is a hefty 291 words. Almost an entire blog post, really.
That long description – along with some other techniques I’ll show you later – helped the video rank quickly for it’s target keyword, “SEO strategy” (currently number three in YouTube).
But it’s also ranking for quite a few long tail keywords, like “infographic seo strategy” (number one), because the keyword-rich description includes words like “infographic” and “seo strategy”:
Bottom line: Make sure your video descriptions are at least 200 words.
2. Optimize Around “Video Keywords”
Ranking in YouTube is great, but ranking your video in YouTube and Google is even better.
Although Google gives YouTube videos an inherent edge in the SERPs, that’s only true for certain keywords.
These keywords are called “Video Keywords” because they tend to have video results on Google’s first page.
For example, any keyword that includes “cute cats” will almost always have a few video results:
This makes total sense if you think about it.
Someone searching for “cute cats” doesn’t want to read an article like, “10 reasons cats are so darn cute.” They want to see cute cats playing, eating, and sleeping!
On the other hand, someone searching for “ankle sprain” wants to read about symptoms and treatments. Google knows this and shows those searchers a block of 10 text articles:
Bottom line: Before deciding on a keyword for your video, check to see if there are video results on the first page. If so, that’s a keyword you should strongly consider because you can potentially get your video ranked in Google and YouTube.