Definitive Guide To YouTube SEO

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 9, 2021

Published February 25, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

YouTube SEO is as important as SEO for web pages if you want your content to be viewed. While the concept may be the same, YouTube SEO works slightly different from that of Google. There are many reasons why you should invest your time in working on your YouTube SEO.

In this article, you will find everything you need to know to create a great YouTube SEO strategy.

Related: Ultimate Guide To Strategic Planning

What is YouTube SEO?

YouTube SEO is the process of optimizing your YouTube channel, metadata, video descriptions, playlists and videos. Once you optimize your videos, they will be optimized for both the YouTube search engine as well as outer search engines such as Google and Bing.

YouTube should be a strong part of your SEO strategy if you want people to find you online because it is one of the strongest websites online. The stats prove it. YouTube is the second-most visited website online after Google according to Alexa traffic rankings.

Think of YouTube as a search engine for videos, and since it is a search engine, it comes with its own SEO rules.

How does YouTube SEO work?

Since Google owns YouTube, the two share data automatically. There is a huge benefit to uploading your videos on YouTube and that is that Google will immediately index your video. This means that you do not have to wait for bots to crawl your video, nor do you need to create a video site map and submit it.

For your video to be indexed high up on YouTube's ranking page, you will need to implement the best SEO tactics, just as you would for a web page to be indexed high on Google. Google must understand what your video is about, and to do this, you will need to add text to explain the content well.

Text for your videos includes the title of the video, its description and the tags. Besides these, closed captions are also key to great YouTube SEO. The latter encourages more engagement and viewership as well as SEO.

How to optimize videos for YouTube

With the millions of videos found on YouTube, optimizing your video has never been more important. There are many steps to perfectly optimizing your videos and below you can find the step-by-step guide:

1. Start with the keywords

Figuring out the keywords your target audience is using to find content similar to yours is key for YouTube SEO. The process is similar to that of SEO for Google. You need to make a list of words in your niche and then use Google Keyword Planner to find the keywords with a high monthly volume. You can also use the search bar on YouTube to see the suggestions that come up when you start typing your keywords.

Besides this process, when dealing with YouTube SEO, you need to take an extra step. After you find a set of ideal keywords, enter these keywords in Google and see which ones bring up videos at the top of the SERP page rather than websites as options. The keywords you do choose should ideally have hundreds of monthly searches.

2. Optimize the title of your video

Similar to optimized blog post titles, the title of your video should also be optimized. To do this well, use one of your keywords as part of the title of your video. SEO experts also recommend that you mention the solution the video will provide in the title. For example, “How to make souffle: A simple and quick method.”

3. Write your video description

Much like the title of your video, add the keyword in your description. The bots on YouTube will find these keywords and crawl it, giving your video a better chance of ranking higher on the page.

4. Optimize the tags

Tagging means entering relevant keywords when uploading your video so that you can generate more views. The more relevant the tags are, the greater the chances are of your video being viewed. For example, if your videos are about makeup, enter keywords such as “beauty products, makeup tutorials” and more. Avoid using too many tags. Aim for 10 to 12.

To enter tags, you must:

  • Visit your YouTube channel

  • Click on channel settings

  • Click on “Info and Settings”

  • Enter your tags in the tags field, separating the words with a comma.

5. Create a call-to-action (CTA) for people to comment

YouTube will give a higher rank to popular videos, and one way YouTube determines if a video is popular is through comments. For YouTube, the comments section is an important metric, so having people comment on your videos should be your priority.

One way you can urge people to comment is by adding a call to action at the end of the video for people to share their thoughts, tips or stories related to the content of the video. Using a question at the end of the video is a great way of getting people to start a discussion.

6. Get people to subscribe

Another metric YouTube uses to rank popularity is the number of subscriptions on YouTube channel. Having many subscribers means people want to see more of you and to YouTube, that is a positive metric that will pay off when it comes to ranking.

So when you are uploading your videos, encourage people to subscribe to their channel. Give them a reason to do so. Tell them that you will upload more videos they will enjoy. Giving your audience quality content will also give them a reason to subscribe to your channel.

Quality content in YouTube SEO is more than solving your viewers' problems. It also includes uploading quality videos. This can easily be done. These days, smartphones record high-quality videos, so it is possible to create a good video without investing in a lot of equipment.

Focus on having natural lighting when shooting your video. A steady hand or a tripod will help too, and you might even consider investing in a microphone for clearer audio.

7. Include closed captions

Closed captions are great for people who are deaf or hard of hearing to enjoy your videos, but these captions are also great for YouTube SEO. This is because closed captions are crawlable by search engines. This means that bots detect the text as text on web pages is detected, providing you with a better chance of ranking high in your niche. If you do decide to add closed captions to your videos, make sure they are accurate.

8. Share your videos

When you create YouTube videos, you want to have a strong social media presence across all social media, not just on YouTube. The more your video is shared on social media, the higher it will rank. One way to get more shares is by encouraging your viewers to share the video. You can also include links to your social media profiles when you upload your videos to get people to follow you and share your content.

Related: Creating a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy

9. Increase your watch time

Another ranking metric YouTube uses to measure your video's popularity is watch time. The more time people spend watching your videos, the better you will fair on YouTube's ranking metric. The best ways you can increase watch time is to:

  • Post at the right time for your audience

  • Promise something at the end of the video

  • Add suspense

  • Tell viewers what they can expect

  • Add links on your video for viewers to watch more of your content

  • Ask a question and answer it at the end of the video

  • Use playlists

You should also study your watch time report that YouTube provides to see which videos are doing well and which ones can be improved. To view your report, go to your channel and click on Creator Studio. Find the menu on the left, click on Analytics and then on Watch time.

10. Add playlists

Video playlists will increase your watch time and strengthen your SEO. There are many types of playlists you can create. For example, a baker can create a playlist with a series of videos detailing every step to baking a wedding cake. So there would be a video on baking the cake, then one on making the frosting, another on decorating the cake and more.

11. Increase your popularity

Being popular on YouTube leads to a bigger audience, a higher number of views and as a result, better SEO. These are some of the best ways you can become more popular in your niche on YouTube:

  • Create a great thumbnail: A thumbnail tells viewers what the video is about so that you increase the chances of them clicking on your videos

  • Name your raw files: Before uploading your video on YouTube, use the keyword to name the file of your video. It may not contribute directly to your SEO ranking, but it is another way of telling YouTube what the video is about

  • Inform your email subscribers: Take advantage of your email list. In sending out a newsletter informing your audience about your new content, you are giving your video more chances of getting viewed

  • Embed your video: If you have a blog, use it to embed your video in one of your blog posts.


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