Issue #14

How to rank YouTube videos

Content Marketing Video YouTube
9 min read

YouTube wants to provide its users with the best, most valuable video content on their platform. How they decide what’s relevant to each user is based on each video’s SEO.

The more focus you put on optimizing your YouTube videos, the better they’ll perform in search. This allows YouTube to introduce your videos to more people who fit your ideal audience when you create targeted content.

How to rank YouTube videos with SEO

On your quest for higher user engagement and brand visibility, let’s talk about how you can optimize your YouTube videos with video SEO tips.

Include relevant keywords

Most of us know how important it is to sprinkle keywords throughout our blog posts and websites because of the high SEO value it provides. Well, you can do the same with your YouTube videos.

While you may be tempted to reuse the same keywords you’ve placed on your website, let’s reassess if they’re the right fit for your videos.

YouTube is its own platform, meaning users could be searching for different keywords than blog readers and website visitors. The best way to determine what keywords are most relevant to your video is to use a tool like VidIQ or TubeBuddy that’s specific to YouTube.

  • VidIQ goes beyond YouTube Analytics to give you recommendations on how to rank your video for search and educates users on what goes into good video SEO. This tool is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to easily download and start using the software in minutes.
  • Like VidIQ, TubeBuddy is a Google Chrome extension that is used and trusted by over one million YouTube content creators. This YouTube certified tool helps you optimize your video SEO with dozens of features like Search Explorer, Suggested Tags, and even Video A/B Tests. (And you know how much we love split testing!)

You may also want to look into the keywords your competitors are using in the market research phase of your video content creation. You may find an edge you have over the competition or find subjects they haven’t covered yet so you can stand out.

Your sweet spot is to find relevant keywords that are commonly searched for by your target audience but aren’t being used by many competitors. Then you can tap into long-term growth potential with your video SEO.

Don’t forget about your metadata

When you upload a new YouTube video, does it feel like a pain to fill out all the extra information that goes with it? While you may feel like skipping it altogether, there’s actually a lot of SEO value in your metadata if you take the time to harness its true potential. Let’s cover four key ways you can optimize your video SEO.

Video title

Before you click into a YouTube video, chances are you’ve already read over the video title to assess if it sounds interesting enough to watch. While clever video titles can garner attention (like most of Casey Neistat’s videos), it’s more important for your video title to be clear and keyword-specific.

When you’re creating videos for business, you’ll want to keep most of the entertainment value inside the video, or even on the thumbnail, rather than adding a funny but potentially confusing title. YouTube users who are looking to learn through tutorials or educational content want to know what they’ll find in the video from its title.

Use the keywords you discovered from the first step and try to place one or a maximum of two keywords in the title. It’s a great idea to also call out who your audience is in the title. If you were creating a video on Instagram Marketing Strategies, you could add even more value by titling the video “3 Instagram Marketing Tips for Professional Food Bloggers” to fit a specific niche.

Meta description

Your meta description tells search engines what your video is about and can commonly be found right below the video title on SERPs. You may think meta descriptions are only for your website pages but they’re useful for YouTube, too.

You only have around 160 characters before the meta description is cut off so use them wisely. Try to fit relevant keywords where you can and relate it to the subject of your video.

Video tags

Your YouTube video tags are one of the best ways to help your video rank in search. Relevant video tags tell YouTube what categories your video falls under so it can suggest and recommend your video to interested viewers.

Your video tags will be optimized by the keywords you’re using so it’s best to include them in the tags portion of your metadata. Don’t forget to include your brand name and any other brand-specific tags since you want to rank for your own business, too.

Add a transcript

After creating a video, do you wish the blog post would just write itself? When you add a video transcript, it can! A transcript is a word-for-word documentation of everything mentioned in the video you’ve posted. It can also double as your video script if you like to write out speeches and presentations before you record videos.

How to rank YouTube videos with video transcripts

When you sprinkle keywords into your transcript, you weave more SEO value into your content. Transcripts normally live on blogs so it’s best to embed your YouTube video into a single blog post and paste your transcript into the text area.

Hosting videos on your own domain is great for SEO too, so it’s a win-win. You can also add extra value by internally linking to any relevant blog posts from your site or externally linking to any additional resources.

Other tactics to grow your YouTube channel through SEO

Now that you have a grasp on the SEO basics, let’s talk about additional ways you can grow your YouTube channel. When you combine healthy, white-hat SEO tactics with targeted digital marketing strategies, you’re able to reach more of your ideal audience and build trust through your valuable video content.

Create an eye-catching thumbnail graphic

When a first time visitor lands on your YouTube channel or sees your video in their suggested video feed, they’ll see two things: your video title and thumbnail graphic. Your thumbnail must communicate the value and vibe of your video at a quick glance.

When I typed in “minimalism declutter closet”, I saw these three videos pop up. Looking at their video titles, they all match what I’m looking for. So how would I choose which one to watch?

How to rank YouTube videos with SEO and images

The middle thumbnail has the best lighting, reiterates what the video is about in the graphic, and looks more minimal than the examples above and below. I’d choose it in a heartbeat.

Usually we make these decisions in seconds or less, so it’s smart to test different graphic styles to see which will work best for your videos.

Here’s a few tips to keep in mind when you’re creating your video thumbnail:

  • Add a photo of yourself. One of the things I love most about the examples above is the video content creator is featured in all of them. It humanizes the information and gives us a sneak peek into the personalities of each person.
  • Use colors and fonts within your brand guidelines. Since ConvertKit’s signature color is blue, it would be a bit strange if our videos constantly switched between purple, green, and orange colors. It’s best to stick to the color palette you’ve already chosen for your brand along with your specific typefaces.
  • Go near the light. You probably already know how important lighting is when filming a video so keep that same lighting when capturing your video thumbnail.
  • Don’t be afraid to add text! Even though your video title shows what your video is about, you may want to reiterate what a user will learn about directly on the graphic. Just make sure it’s easy to read.
  • Add personality! Whether you add emojis, illustrations, or fun symbols, have fun with your thumbnails. The more you can show your brand personality, the better.

Make your content shareable

Once your video title and thumbnail have convinced users your video is worth watching, it’s time to focus your attention on making your content shareable. You can do this by adding a call-to-action at the end of your video asking viewers to share their thoughts on social media.

When you watch a video on YouTube’s native platform, there’s a “share” button right below the video, next to the like or dislike buttons. When users click on it, it’ll give them options to share the video on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and beyond. The post is then generated automatically for really simple sharing.

Direct your viewer’s attention to that button and it’ll do the rest of the work.

Consistently add new video content

Not only is consistency important for your blog, but it’s also crucial to your YouTube channel’s success. If you upload eight new episodes one month but then disappear for three months, your subscribers will be wondering what happened to you. Or worse, they’ll forget about your content altogether.

Create a content calendar to improve your Youtube rankings

It’s best to create a video content calendar that fits your schedule from the get-go. That way you can make a commitment to posting regularly no matter what that looks like for you.

Whether you start with weekly, biweekly, or monthly content, find a way to weave it into your current marketing plan.

Ready to maximize your YouTube video SEO?

There’s always something more you can optimize so take this article as an opportunity to show up, dig in, and starting experimenting.

Kayla Hollatz

Kayla Hollatz is a copywriter and content creator for creative entrepreneurs who want their words to connect and convert. Few things make her happier than ghostwriting for clients in her studio, aka her four-season porch with a lake view. She can frequently be found fighting Minnesota winters with a mug of hot chocolate in hand.

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