How to Optimize YouTube Videos for Search

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How to Optimize YouTube Videos for Search - Kim Garst

Do you regularly post videos to YouTube? Are you frustrated by the lack of views and engagement your videos are getting? If so, the problem could very well be that they aren’t properly optimized for search.

Fortunately, giving your videos the best chance at getting found isn’t highly technical, and shouldn’t take you a ton of time. This post will walk you through exactly what you need to do to optimize YouTube videos for search – both for Google search and for YouTube’s on-site search.

How to Optimize YouTube Videos for Search:

1. Video title

Your title is perhaps the single most important feature for getting your video to rank in search. Just as you spend time doing keyword research for your website content, be sure to work at finding popular and relevant keywords to use in your video title. Be sure to choose keywords that your audience will be looking for, but that aren’t so competitive that they will be impossible to rank for. If possible, use your most important keywords near the beginning of your title and your branding keywords (i.e. company name) near the end.

For guidance on selecting just the right keywords for your videos, blog posts and website content, see my post A Step-by-Step Guide to SEO Keyword Research Using FREE Tools.

2. Video description

Your description is where your keywords can really shine. By accurately and comprehensively describing the content of your video, you have a better chance at getting found for both short and long-tail keywords. Most experts recommend making your description a minimum of 200-250 characters, but longer is almost always better. Use as many characters as you need to accurately convey the content of your video. Just as with your video title, be sure to include your most important keywords near the beginning of your description.

Another important strategy for your video descriptions is your website URL. If possible, put your URL near the beginning of your description. Make it as easy as possible for viewers to visit your site or contact you for more information!

3. Tags

Think of your tags as a list of all your relevant keywords. Include all the keywords you have found in your keyword research, but also consider adding long-tail phrases that speak to the problems your viewers might be trying to solve. For instance, “How to carve a turkey”, “Thanksgiving turkey carving”, or “Turkey carving tips”.

4. Video transcription

Transcribing your videos is not only useful for your hard of hearing viewers, it can also help boost your search rankings. There are two ways you can do this: either by manually adding captions via your video manager, or by creating and uploading your own plain text transcript file. For instructions on how to do this, see YouTube’s help article.

5. Video thumbnail

While your thumbnail image won’t actually help you rank in search, it can have a significant impact on how often your video gets clicked on in search. You can choose to use either an automatically generated image, or upload your own custom thumbnail. In either case, it’s a good idea to keep the following best practices in mind:

  • Use clear, close-up images so viewers don’t need to zoom in to see the image
  • Use professional-quality images that accurately convey the topic of your video
  • Overlay your video title onto your image
  • Use good lighting to make sure your images are clear and the subject is easily identifiable
  • Use bright colors that will stand out against YouTube’s white background
  • Avoid using your logo as your thumbnail. Trust me when I say it will NOT help entice people to click on your video!

Keep in mind that YouTube also factors in user experience as a ranking factor. This means that the more views and engagement (thumbs up, subscribes, etc.) you get, the higher your videos will rank. For this reason, avoid using irrelevant keywords or other sneaky tactics, as these strategies will not get you ahead in the long run.

Looking for more guidance for your YouTube marketing efforts? Check out these posts:

7 Ways to Make Your YouTube Video Strategy More Social

7 Reasons Your Business Should be Using YouTube

10 Top Tools for Creating Short Videos That ROCK

What other strategies do you use to optimize YouTube videos for search? Share below!

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8 years ago

Thanks Kim! I’ve had a lot of success by using all these tips, so this is a great refresher!

Al Eddy
Al Eddy
8 years ago

Good tips! I do youtube seo and you are spot on with everything but i recommend 700+ words in the description.

8 years ago

Thanks for sharing all these tips regarding Youtube..!!

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