YouTube Marketing Strategies
How to Rank YouTube Videos Using SEO Techniques
YouTube is a critical driver for online sales and businesses and is an excellent way to introduce and lead people to your product or website. Without a presence on YouTube, it’s difficult to attract attention in the visually-focused modern world.
YouTube allows you to embed exciting visual content on your site, along with many other search engine optimization (SEO) benefits. Whether you’re looking to learn about or improve your digital marketing, funnel people to your website to increase sales and grow your business, or simply practice your SEO techniques, strategically improving your YouTube channel is one of the most important parts of a well-rounded and comprehensive SEO strategy.
Let’s look at how it works, the best ways to get your videos ranking higher in search results, and how to get more views, likes, and subscribers on YouTube.
Why YouTube Matters
Google is the most important search engine in the world, and Google owns YouTube. YouTube is actually the second-largest search engine in the world after Google’s main page, making it one of the best ways to increase your audience.
Optimizing your YouTube content is a great way to improve how Google views and ranks your site, allowing you to reach a wider audience, grow email lists, increase subscribers, make money off ads, and target more specific demographics.
If you don’t have a camera or video editing software yet, you can still easily make videos. Tools like animoto allow you to quickly and easily make slideshows or other high-quality YouTube content quickly using images. While a real video with a call to action is preferable, slideshows are a good way to start.
While YouTube views are good, they don’t equate to sales unless you can convert them from views into clicks and sales on your website. One of the best ways to drive traffic to your business is to include a link in the description and encourage viewers to click it while watching the video.
Having a YouTube channel with good content also improves your credibility and online brand image, showing that you are an established business online users can trust.
YouTube SEO 101
To begin, it’s important to understand that YouTube is more than a video hosting website – it’s a social media website. YouTube helps you make connections, network, meet potential customers, and make sales just like Instagram or Facebook.
Don’t think of it as somewhere that only accepts Hollywood productions with smooth editing and high-quality video. Although those are good goals to strive for, think of it more as a way to increase your online engagement and make further connections with people.
Proper keyword research is the cornerstone of an effective SEO strategy, and YouTube is no exception. It’s important to research what keywords and queries people are searching for that could potentially lead them to your video, and optimize your titles, tags, and descriptions to contain these keywords.
Begin by using keyword research tools to discover what people search for that could lead them to your videos, and then incorporate these different keywords and their slight variations into your content. For example, if you run a meal prep service, your keyword research will likely suggest using terms like “meal prep ideas”, “weekly meal prep”, or “best meal prep” in your titles and descriptions.
If you don’t know how to do this, begin by searching “YouTube keyword research tool” and go from there or contact an SEO professional for expert advice. A keyword research tool will look like this, showing you the most popular variations of potential keywords you should include:
Ahrefs.com’s keyword generator is a good tool, as is Google’s keyword planner. Another good place to start for keyword research is to simply search for your keyword and see what other popular videos are using in their titles.
When it comes to SEO, the title of the video is the most important text you have to work with. Always be sure to include the right keywords and think carefully about what people will be searching for to lead them to your video.
You want your title to be at least 60 characters, and make it something catchy that will attract people’s attention. Don’t title your video something boring like “Instagram growth hacks”, as there are likely thousands of other videos with the exact same title and yours won’t stand out. Instead, title it something like, “7 Instagram growth hacks that ACTUALLY work!”.
Here is an example of videos with catchy titles that rise to the top while still incorporating their keyword of “Instagram hack”:
Choosing the right keywords, like “Instagram hacks” instead of “hacks for Instagram” can have a large effect on your SEO success, which is why keyword research and good titles are so important.
After the title, the video description is the second most important place to optimize content and place keywords. Your description should have its main content in the first 125 characters, which is what people see without clicking “view more”.
It should entice people to want to watch the video and should include a way to funnel people to your website by including your URL or other forms of advertising. Including the URL in the first 125 characters is a smart technique, as most people don’t click “view more” to see the full text.
Here is an example of a good description for SEO:
Remember that while having lots of views, clicks, likes, and engagement on social media is a first step, the ultimate goal is to get the user off of the social media site and onto your site. There are too many distractions, ads, and competitors on sites like YouTube, so always think about ways to get them to focus on your product and leave social media to click on your URL.
Consider where the user will land, as well. This is called a “landing page”, and usually will be a page other than your home page, like a page on your site where you sell a certain relevant product so the customer can make an instant purchase without having to navigate your site.
Video Marketing Tags
Tags are also a very important aspect of SEO. Tags are used internally by search engines to categorize and sort relevant content. Using plenty of tags will help a wider audience find your videos, so don’t hold back when adding them.
When you upload a video, YouTube will ask you what tags are relevant to it. Use a list of keywords and consider anything people might search that could lead them to your video. Use as many as possible, considering combinations of keywords and different phrases.
It’s also important to consider the user intent of queries. While one-word keywords are important, you have to consider keywords as phrases too. For example, if you run an Italian restaurant and want to implement tags for the keyword “pizza”, you should include that but also include keywords or tags like “pizza near me”, “best pizza recipe”, “pizza delivery”, etc.
Unlike titles and descriptions, you can add a lot of tags without losing natural language flow or appearing like you are just trying to include as many keywords as possible. Consider plurals, slang, jargon, or any other type of language that people would be searching for.
Here is an example of tags added to a video:
The thumbnail image is the most instantly appealing part of your video and usually the first thing people will notice (or not notice). You have to make sure your thumbnail is enticing, so make a custom thumbnail and don’t just use what YouTube suggests.
Go for vibrant, hot colors, high-contrast images, and images that stand out. If you don’t know how to do this, search for your keywords and check out what kind of thumbnails your competitors are using. When it comes to SEO, you just have to do better than your competitors, so studying what they do is a good place to start.
If you need help creating a good thumbnail, consider hiring a cheap graphic designer from a site like fiverr.com. However, to save money, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with programs like Photoshop, the free version GIMP, or websites like Canva. Try to come close to a resolution of 1280 by 720 pixels, which should provide an optimal image resolution for YouTube thumbnails.
Spending time on your thumbnail and considering what will entice people into clicking on it will increase your clickthrough rate, conversions, and overall sales.
Playlists are an excellent way to keep people engaging with your content. Instead of just uploading your videos without structure, you should always try and organize them into playlists whenever possible.
One major benefit of this is it keeps people watching your videos, not your competitors. When a user is in a playlist, YouTube will automatically play the next video you have in the list, instead of suggesting a video recommended by their algorithm. This means that they will stay with your content, and makes it more likely they will eventually click through to your site.
On your website, you don’t just have one page that shows all of your services, blogs, and content. Instead, you should have a hierarchical structure that organizes and presents the content logically and coherently. In the same way, your YouTube channel should be organized into a structure people can easily follow and understand.
Think of a playlist as a video series and a way to group videos together. Not only will this make your channel more comprehensible and user-friendly, but it will increase your channel watch time, views, and engagement because the user will be on your channel at least until they get to the end of your playlist.
One good tip is to create a playlist with every video you have. If someone clicks on a video in the playlist, they will be automatically presented with all of your content, which is a great way to keep eyes on your content.
When using YouTube, it’s best not to rely on making money off of views or ads. Although this can be a benefit to you, you will only make somewhere around $1 for every 1,000 views, which isn’t usually enough to be profitable.
Instead, focus on using YouTube to funnel business to your site, where your profit will be far greater than $1 per 1,000 views. A good way to do this is to include a call to action screen at the end of your video, where you can suggest another of your videos to watch, advertise your website, or at the very least encourage people to subscribe to your channel so they will be updated on new content.
Here is an example of a good call to action screen at the end of a video, showing the lead to their next video and a very visible call to subscribe to the channel:
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why is SEO important for YouTube channels?
A: YouTube is owned by Google, and as people grow more used to how search engines work they are less likely to click on ads sponsored by Google at the top of the results. This leads to Google losing money.
So, in the future it is likely that YouTube results will play a larger and larger role in Google’s search results, as many YouTube videos also have ads that Google makes money off of. Google will usually only show results from YouTube, not other video hosting sites for this reason, which is why it is so important to stay on top of your YouTube channel’s SEO.
Another reason is that people are trending towards visual content like videos over articles as time goes on, meaning that having video content online will only grow more important over time.
Q: What counts as a view on YouTube?
A: To avoid click-bait videos tricking people into clicks to get more views, YouTube usually requires a user to watch a video for at least 30 seconds, but it doesn’t have to be consecutive. So, a user can skip around in the video and as long as they watch for at least 30 seconds, it will count as a view.
There is usually a limit of 4 to 5 views per day counted for each user, which is a measure meant to prevent people from artificially inflating their view count using bots, scripts, embedded videos that autoplay on websites, or simply refreshing their own video over and over.
However, YouTube does track how long people watch a video for. If users are consistently leaving your video after only 30 seconds, you will get views counted but it will cause YouTube’s algorithms to view your content more negatively. You really want full-retention views, where the user watched the video all the way through.
Q: Is there a “sweet spot” for video length on YouTube?
A: There’s not really a good way to determine the optimal length for content, as the type of content will affect this. For example, if your videos are about highly-technical subjects they will usually need to be longer, but if you are making content for kids or something like a dinner recipe they will probably need to be shorter.
Always consider your audience and who will be watching it, what their attention span might look like, and try to tailor your videos to them. The first five seconds or so of your video are the most important, and you should consider this your “hook” where you must capture people’s attention and get them to stay watching.
Q: Can you use other people’s videos in your playlists?
A: You do not need people’s permission to add their videos to the playlists you make. For your videos, for example, you would be happy if other people included them in their playlists, as it would lead to more views, engagement, and conversions for you.
However, you should focus on your own content, as that will have the most benefits for you. Consider reaching out to other content creators and offering to host their videos in your playlists in exchange for them hosting yours in theirs. This type of networking is critical to online marketing success.
Q: I run a new channel and don’t get any views, how can I begin to get my channel recognized by YouTube so it shows up more in search results?
A: This is a tricky question, and it’s a stumbling block for many content creators. It is very difficult to get the initial inertia going to get views and subscribers, which will subsequently get your channel recognized by the algorithms and create a positive feedback cycle of engagement.
One way to do this is to buy real YouTube views, which is a legitimate way to get a channel started. However, be careful about only working with reputable and professional SEO companies that can deliver real views and actual organic followers. This will create a snowball effect that will help you go viral.
SEO is a multi-faceted science, and buying views is one aspect of growing a successful YouTube channel.
Why Videos Matter
Many people think that SEO is all about search engine rankings. While this is a major component of SEO success, there is much more to it than that.
Truly good SEO involves optimizing all of your online content and creating content on many different mediums and channels. If you don’t have a YouTube channel, plain and simple you are missing out on money you could be making.
It’s so easy to make videos these days that anyone can do it, so there’s no reason not to make a YouTube channel for free. Even if it’s just to experiment, go ahead and make some simple slideshows about your product or service, and practice implementing the right keywords into your titles, tags, and descriptions.
You might be surprised at how well you can use YouTube to communicate, attract, and engage with potential customers. The younger generations love video mediums like TikTok, and they will continue to rely on video as a primary information source as they grow older and become a larger share of consumers.
This means that it’s critical for your business to begin working on your YouTube SEO strategy today. If you need help, contact an SEO professional today and begin the process of creating and optimizing your content!