If you just finished creating an amazing video, congratulations! Video marketing can be highly effective. But, what do you do with your video, once you’ve created it and shared it on social media? And how can you organically drive more people to find your video, without having to use paid ads to get people to find it? If you’re looking to increase video views, and grow your subscription base, then doing SEO for videos can be super helpful. The purpose of this blog post is to give you the info you need, to help boost your video marketing results.
As with pretty much anything that has to do with SEO, we need to start with the keywords.
Be Strategic With Your Keywords
When your ideal client or customer searches YouTube, or even Google, in an attempt to find your content, what are they typing as their search query? As an example, just before finding this blog post, you might have used the search query of “SEO for Videos?”
When doing keyword research, there are a few things you should consider. Specifically, you want to think about search volume, keyword difficulty and relevancy.
There are a lot of keyword research tools you can use, to help you figure out how often a keyword phrase is searched. The tool I’m using right now, while writing this blog post, is “SEMScoop.” According to that tool, “SEO for Videos” is searched an average of 4,400 times per month. When you prepare to do SEO for your videos, you want to identify the keywords that are regularly and frequently searched. Creating and ranking well for a video that focuses on a frequently searched concept (keyword) will help you increase your traffic, exposure, and hopefully your leads and sales as well.
You want to do keyword research relevant to your audience and what they’re interested in. But aside from search volume, you also want to consider keyword difficulty.
Using SEMScoop again, I can see more than just the search volume of 4,400 for the keyword of “SEO for Videos.” I can also see the average DA score. This is a score given by a company called Moz. It indicates how likely your website will rank well on Google. All websites are attributed a score by Moz that ranges from 1 to 100. The higher the score, the more likely it is to rank well. You can check your DA score for free here: Website SEO Checker
While you’re at it, feel free to check your competitor DA scores too.
The reason I like to use SEMScoop it because it also gives me insight on the average content length, number of backlinks, and other details for the best ranking websites that show up for any given keyword phrase. This is very practical information that helps us as we develop our SEO strategy. If, for example, we wanted to rank on the first page of Google for “SEO for Videos,” we would want to write at least 1,759 words, have 359 backlinks, have a website domain that’s at least 17 years old, and have a DA score of 75 or higher. If there’s anything we can’t control, such as the age of our website domain, we can compensate in other ways.
One way to compensate would be to increase the word count, so it has more words than the typical page ranking well for that keyword phrase. This blog post for example, is nearly 4,000 words long. This is way longer than the typical first page result for “SEO for Videos.” But, we need to have a much longer and more helpful blog post if we want to rank well. The reason for this is because our DA score is currently 30.
As you come up with the keywords to focus on for your videos, try to prioritize based on difficulty. If the average DA score for the top ranking websites is 90+, and you have a DA score of 15, you’ll definitely want to target other keywords. Then again, if you also have a DA score of around 90, then go ahead and target whatever keyword you want.
As a side note, just because you probably won’t rank well for a keyword, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create content that centers around it. As a general rule, you want to focus on keywords that have a low difficult. However, if the topic or keyword is something your audience really cares about, then it’s worth creating. This leads to the next point.
Google and YouTube like your content more when everything you produce is related. For example, all our content has to do with marketing. Almost all our content is focused specifically on digital marketing. If we randomly created an amazing blog post about the difference between a jet and an airplane, that content wouldn’t make sense as being on our website, or our YouTube channel. On the flip side, we don’t offer video production as a service. Though it is related to marketing. And you can do SEO for videos. So, it does make sense for us to write this blog post, even though it isn’t a service we currently offer.
When you plan out the content for your marketing, focus on keeping the content all relevant to your audience, and to what it is you specialize in.
Sometimes the person reasonable for coming up with the content get’s stuck, trying to figure out a bunch of different video topics, all focused on one theme. Here’s the trick… you want to focus on longtail keywords.
A longtail keyword is a keyword phrase that uses about four or more words in the phrase. While planning out your video strategy, think about the longer keyword phrases someone might search. Here are some examples:
- What Tools to Use for Video SEO?
- How to Increase Engagement With Video Marketing
- What Factors Impact SEO for YouTube Videos?
- How to Get Inspiration for Your YouTube Content Strategy?
- Can you do SEO for Vimeo Videos?
- How to do Research on Tags, Categories and Keywords for Video SEO?
- Is SEO for Vimeo Different from SEO for YouTube?
- Who are the Best SEO YouTube Consultants to Follow?
- Does YouTube SEO Impact Google Search Results as Well?
- What’s Better Between YouTube and Vimeo?
The list above could get much longer. Just think through every related question to your product or services, and write it down. Then, see which topics aren’t too difficult to rank for, and also identify the keyword phrases that have high search volume. Focusing on longtail keywords, such as demonstrated above, will typically be much easier to rank well for, than targeting short-tail keywords such as “Video SEO.”
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As you brainstorm the content for your video production, include the information in an editorial calendar. This will make it easier for you to keep track of what you’ve decided to produce. And when you have an idea for another topic, you can easily reference the editorial calendar to make sure you haven’t already created it.
Aside from using a tool like SEMScoop for keyword research, you can also just go to YouTube and do a search for the type of videos you want to create. See what videos rank at the top of a YouTube search and get an idea of topics you could share, based on what you see. This can be a great way to come up with relevant topics for your editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar can just include the titles of your videos and the dates you want to have the content published. Though to get even better results, you may want to include even more information. In a moment, you’ll read about where to include keywords, for SEO reasons. But, you may want to include some of the info below as part of your editorial calendar. I’ll put an asterisk next to each field we would suggest including as part of an editorial calendar.
When you publish your YouTube video, you’ll want to include the keyword in specific locations. This is something YouTube is looking at when determining how to rank your Video in a YouTube search. Some factors have a stronger weight in ranking your video than other factors. But all of these should be worked into your strategy.
*Title: Make sure the title of your video includes the keyword. If it’s a whole keyword phrase, that’s fine. Work in the entire phrase, as closely as possible.
The first example of a longtail keyword, listed above, is “What Tools to Use for Video SEO?” The keyword for that video might be the phrase “tools to use for video SEO,” which is essentially the entire title. The second example is “How to Increase Engagement With Video Marketing.” The keyword for that video might be the phrase “increase engagement with video.” Regardless of what the keyword is though, be sure to work it into the title, if possible. If it isn’t possible, try to get as much of the keyword into the title as you can, while still sounding natural.
Ultimately, if you have to choose between having a super SEO-friendly video title that sounds a little awkward, or having a not so SEO-friendly title that sounds more natural for the viewer, go with that second option. The person watching your video is more important. But in most cases, you should be able to get the best of both worlds.
First Two Sentences: Work the keyword phrase into one of the first two sentences of your video. Also, if you can, try and include the word “you” in the first two sentences.
*Description: Include the keyword phrase in the description of your YouTube video. This shouldn’t be too difficult, since your entire video is centered around the one central keyword theme. And, if you can work a keyword phrase into the first two sentences, you can probably take those first sentences and use them as part of your description.
Captions: Captions are known to help with video engagement as well as SEO. If you include your keyword throughout your video, it will naturally be included in any captions you use. Additionally, by including captions with your video, you’ll be able to keep the attention of those who prefer to view your video without audio. This may not be a huge factor for consideration, though doing everything you can to help increase viewer engagement is wise. The more engaged your video is, the more favorably YouTube will think of your content. And as a result, the better you should rank in a YouTube or Google search.The more engaged your video is, the more favorably YouTube will think of your content. #Content #VideoMarketing #SEO Click To Tweet
Thumbnail: Strictly speaking, YouTube can’t [as far as we know] process your thumbnail’s meaning. However, we do know that 90% of the best videos on YouTube have a custom thumbnail. We also know the best thumbnails very clearly convey the keyword that embodies the content of the video. When a strategic thumbnail accompanies a video, the engagement tends to be higher. As a result, this helps the SEO for videos on your YouTube channel.
Tags: According to BrightEdge, most YouTube videos include five to eight tags. You don’t want to become “tag happy” and include every tag you can possibly think of. In fact, as you include tags, you want to make a point to be selective. Only include the best tags that most accurately convey the concept of your video. The more specific you are, the better. This is the exact same concept as explained further up, when talking about topics. It’s better to create videos that position you as an expert in your given field, rather than just knowledge about many topics. In the same way, the tags used should be focused on the obvious topics covered by your video.
Category: Similarly to your tags, be sure to select a category for your video. The category chosen should be as relevant as possible to your video. Here are the categories you can choose from, when deciding what’s most appropriate for your video:
- Film and animation
- Cars and vehicles
- Pets and animals
- Travel and events
- People and blogs
- News and politics
- How-to and style
- Science and technology
- Non-profits and activism
Embed Video on Relevant Blog Posts: As you publish videos on YouTube, one of the metrics you’ll pay most attention to is the number of video views. As the views increase, so will the perceived value of your video, and how it ranks. One way to increase your views is to embed the video on relevant blog posts or website pages. When you have a highly valuable video embedded on a relevant page, and the website visitor watches your video, this can certainly help with your views and rankings.
Not only does embedding a video help with your views, but it can also help your blog post or page. When someone does a Google search, Google wants to send the user to content that will fully satisfy what the searcher is looking for. If an embedded video helps improve the quality of the written content, and helps satisfy what the Googler is looking for, that ultimately helps Google have greater confidence in the landing page. As a result, this can help the website rank even better on Google for related search queries.
Video File Name: This is an easy tip to implement. When you create your video, it will likely have a default file name that could look something like #A#B#C.MOV. There will be a string of numbers and/or letters and the file format (MOV, MP4, etc.). The file name is something YouTube and Google can read. So, rather than leaving it as a default (#A#B#C), change it to display the actual name of the video, which also includes the keyword. This is one of the easiest tweaks you can make when doing your SEO for videos.
Focus on Video Engagement
Chances are, your video will show up far more often in a YouTube search if it’s engaging. High engagement is an indicator that your video is actually valuable. How do you optimize your video to make it more engaging? Great question. Here are some tips that will help you with this:
Consistent Upload Frequency
Daniel James, the founder and CEO of Tubefluence says “Consistency is one of the most important aspects of growing a channel, and YouTube does reward it.” This is something we also recommend for general SEO, like you would do for a blog. You want to show you are regularly producing great content. Sometimes we’ll get the question of “how often should I publish content?” Our answer is to publish content as often as you can, while staying consistent and creating quality. If you can do one piece of content a week, then start there. Later, as you get more efficient or have more time, then bump it up to two pieces of content a week, or more.
Ideally, make the frequency of your video content consistent, so your audience will know when to expect something new. And, as a result of your consistency, they can intentionally seek out your videos on a regular basis. This will keep them coming back, resulting in more views, comments, likes, shares, subscribes, etc.
Consistent Topic Focus
If you scroll through the blog posts on our website, you’ll see everything is related to marketing, and almost everything is related to digital marketing. What you won’t see much of is general business advice, IT related content or blog posts about traditional marketing. We don’t write about best practices for billboards, radio ads, print marketing and promotional materials. Our content is very focused. As a result, Google clearly knows what it is we specialize in. Because of this, it’s much easier for our website to rank well for searches we aren’t trying to rank well for.
Here’s an example. I recently did a search for “competitive research companies in pensacola.” I was trying to find someone locally to interview for a podcast. We have never tried to rank well for that particular keyword phrase, even though it is related to digital marketing. I was pleasantly surprised to discover our agency ranked in the top three results for local businesses, for that search query. Why did we rank so well without having ever tried? It’s because Google knows what kind of content we write about. For that reason, Google believed we would be a logical local company to rank well for that keyword phrase.
YouTube is the same way. As you create content, don’t jump all over the place. You want to show YouTube you specialize in a specific type of content. Stay in your wheelhouse and you’ll do better with your video SEO. YouTube will come to see you as an expert in your field, rather than a generalist.
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Drive User Engagement
The two points above have to do with content and posting strategy. However, here are some specific engagement tips to consider as you do SEO for videos on YouTube.
Likes: This is pretty self-explanatory. The more people who like your content, the better. This is a general rule for just about any type of social media.
Comments: Comments are a great way to generate engagement. Once the video is published, try being the first person to comment on your own video. When you leave your comment, say something that will drive conversation. Try and get the viewer to want to respond to your comment. If you can prime the conversation, that can really help drive engagement. Asking a question is a good way to do this.
Shares: Naturally, you’ll want people to share your content. As you think about creating your video, make a point to create content that’s so valuable the viewer will “want” to share it. If it’s not truly valuable, why would someone go out of their way to share it? If it’s not shareable, it likely won’t drive great engagement. Before publishing your video, ask yourself, “would I share this video with my friends?” If the answer is no, consider making the video better.
Subscriptions: One of the most common goals of a YouTuber is to get subscribers. You want your audience to know when a new video is published. If someone likes your content enough to subscribe, then you’re definitely on the right track. But a viewer often won’t subscribe unless they’re encouraged to do so. Make a point to encourage your viewers to click the subscribe button.A YouTube viewer often won't subscribe unless they're encouraged to do so. Make a point to encourage them to click the subscribe button. #YouTubeTips #VideoSEO #JLM Click To Tweet
Watch Time: Do your viewers only watch a few seconds of your video and then leave? If so, this isn’t a good sign. It isn’t good engagement and doesn’t encourage YouTube to make your video rank well in search results. If you see the watch time for your videos is poor, focus on improving the quality of your content. And take the time to see if there’s something harmful you’re consistently doing that makes your viewers stop watching your video.
Post the First Comment as a Question: This goes back to the previous point about comments. While this was already said, it’s worth reinforcing as it’s own tip. Drive conversation by being the first to post a comment. And making your post a question is a great way to spark a conversation.
Use a Custom Thumbnail: According to YouTube, 90% of the top-performing videos have a custom thumbnail. Take the time to create a great thumbnail that relates to the topic of the video. And if you already have a lot of videos, go back and edit them to include thumbnails as well.According to YouTube, 90% of the top-performing videos have a custom thumbnail. #SEO #VIDEOSEO Click To Tweet
Use Playlists: If your target audience is looking for a particular type of content, and that’s what you’re usually creating videos about, it’s likely they will want to see more than just the one video of yours that they stumbled upon. Once they finish watching your video, have them go into the next video of your playlist. Not only does this keep them seeing you, but it also helps increase the views for your other videos.
Use End Screens: When the viewer reaches the end of your video, you have the opportunity to direct them to go somewhere else. You might send them into a playlist, to a different video, or even to your own website (outside of YouTube). Regardless of where you send them, consider including an end screen.
Add Cards: A card is a lot like an end screen, but a little different. It’s a type of notification that will encourage the viewer to take a desired action. YouTube recommends including cards in the last 20% of the video. Below are examples of different types of cards you might use:
- Channel – Send someone to another channel.
- Donation – Encourage the viewer to make a donation.
- Fan Funding – Request fans to support you through funding.
- Link – Create a link going somewhere outside YouTube, such as to your website.
- Poll – Create a card that encourages your viewers to take a poll.
- Video/Playlist – Drive viewers to other videos or playlists.
Stay on YouTube: If possible, keep people on YouTube for a while, before driving them away from the platform. It’s not considered a best practice to influence people to leave YouTube as soon as they land on your video and start watching it. Think about it… YouTube wants people to watch videos on YouTube and not instantly leave as soon as they get to the platform. So, hook the viewer with your great video. Then, at the end, use your end screens and cards to send the viewer to your website, if applicable.
Use Clear CTAs: Aside from using end screens and cards, consider working a clear call-to-action (CTA) into your videos. When someone nears the end of your video, what do you want them to do? You can ask them to do anything you want. This may be to subscribe, or leave a comment or visit your website. You could even ask them to do more than one thing. But, don’t end the video with a “Thanks for watching” and that’s the end of it. Encourage your viewer to take a desired action. If you’re creating great content, but not influencing your audience to take action, then what’s the point of creating the content? Unless there’s a really good reason not to include a CTA, make sure you don’t skip this step.
Final Thoughts About Doing SEO for Videos on YouTube
Many people invest countless hours creating amazing content, but never think about how to optimize it for SEO. Because of this, their content doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it deserves. Often, just understanding and implementing some minor tweaks can result in much better traction with search engines. If you’re going to take time to create amazing videos, or any type of content, don’t limit it’s exposure by failing to optimize it. Make great content, but also make it rank well. Doing this will maximize the value of your content and also result in a higher ROI for your business.
Don’t have time to do SEO for videos you’ve created? No problem. We would be happy to discuss this you, and see if it might be something we can assist with. Doing SEO is one of our favorite ways to help businesses and we would enjoy the opportunity to help you as well, if it’s something you would like assistance with. Just connect with us via the contact page, or through through contact form below.
As the founder of Joshua Lyons Marketing, Josh Lyons primarily focuses on business development. He has studied and practiced marketing since 2008 and launched his first company (a marketing agency in Pensacola, Florida) in 2015. When he's not writing blog posts, recording podcasts or consulting, he enjoys spending time with family and friends. He loves listening to audiobooks and checking out different coffee shops. He also enjoys fire juggling, amigurumi, travel and swing dancing; which is how he met his wife.