YouTube SEO: How to Boost Your YouTube Rankings

YouTube presents an incredible marketing opportunity for virtually any brand. Video is one of the most popular forms of content available today, and YouTube platform reaches more than 80 countries with more than one billion daily users. Internet users watch roughly half a billion hours of video content on YouTube every day, and marketers are taking note. Today, about 90% of online marketers report using YouTube as a regular marketing channel.

With this incredible potential reach for your video content also comes a staggering amount of competition. YouTube is the second most visited website on the internet and arguably the most popular website for video content worldwide, and every marketer and content creator is trying as hard as possible to boost search rankings and increase viewership.

Understanding YouTube Video for SEO

As someone trying to market a business, you likely have at least a foundational understanding of search engine optimization (SEO) or tailoring your online content to secure high placement in search results. When users search for keywords related to your brand, your website and your content should rank among the top search results if you leverage strong SEO practices. YouTube is a different type of platform than other places potential customers can find you – it uses a different search algorithm than Google – but there are a few best practices it shares with traditional SEO tactics.

YouTube search optimization requires a firm understanding of the different metrics YouTube analyzes to determine search result rankings. A few YouTube SEO tips to consider include:

  • Leverage Keywords. Use words that pertain to each piece of content you publish to YouTube that users would be looking for to find you. Choose keywords most likely to resonate with your content and your brand, and don’t forget to select keyword phrases, too.
  • Consider Content Length. More isn’t always better, but shorter isn’t always sweeter. While some YouTube viewers enjoy longform video content similar to watching a full-length television program, other users want shorter, information-dense videos that quickly answer questions or show them how to do something. YouTube scores search result rankings with content length in mind; longer content implies more information-rich content, which will likely rank higher in YouTube searches.
  • Make Optimization Lead. Always make sure to fully optimize every video before uploading. YouTube’s search algorithm is incredibly unforgiving; a poorly optimized video will deteriorate in ranking very quickly and optimizing it later will do very little to resurrect its potential once the YouTube algorithm ranked it based on the previous poor optimization.
  • Get Professionals for Thumbnail. YouTube uses advanced algorithms to scan the thumbnail images that creators load with their video content. If your thumbnail contains any type of offensive content (or anything an algorithm might mistake for offensive content), the algorithm will likely flag your content and reduce your search result rankings. Choose professional still photography with clear typography and a recognizable brand logo in every video thumbnail to improve visibility and establish consistency with your videos.
  • Include Video descriptions. The YouTube algorithm reads video descriptions to determine relevance to specific keywords and keyword phrases, so take advantage of the space you have for your videos’ descriptions. Don’t stop at just a few sentences; create information-rich descriptions and entice readers to click the “show more” button at the bottom of the description panel.
  • Create a Transcription. Many people with hearing difficulties use YouTube while others simply prefer watching video content with accurate subtitles. Uploading a full transcription time-stamped to match the audio tracks of your video content takes extra effort, but it pays off with higher search rankings. Accurate transcription makes your video content more accessible to a wider audience and also increases search rankings.

Once you understand the various metrics the YouTube algorithm uses to judge and rank your video content, you can start experimenting with different keyword combinations, different thumbnail styles, content lengths, and other variations to find a successful formula for your YouTube marketing campaign.

Make Necessary Adjustments for More Rewarding YouTube Search Rankings

The basics of nailing YouTube SEO reflect the golden rules of SEO for search engine rankings; start with your keyword list. Compile a list of keywords you think are most accurate for your content, and then do some competition research by using YouTube’s search suggestion feature. As you start typing a search query, YouTube will offer several different possible search queries that include the keywords you type. This can be a great tool for brainstorming new keywords and keyword phrases.

Keyword testing also helps you carve out a niche of your own on YouTube. If your brand operates in a competitive field, you can get a feel for how much competition you’ll face by focusing on specific keywords. For example, generic keywords that apply broadly to your content could have millions of hits with a YouTube search. A more specific keyword phrase may only have a few hundred thousand, which means much less competition for getting your content in front of your target audience.

After tailoring your keywords, develop content that not only applies to those keywords but also keeps viewers interested enough to keep watching your content. YouTube scores videos based on how long viewers keep watching. If your longform videos seem to lose viewers after so many minutes, it may be time to consider more streamlined and information-dense content. The ultimate goal should be to create high-retention videos, or videos that keep viewers interested longer.

Encourage Engagement

If you’re building a YouTube channel as an extension of your brand’s marketing campaign, try getting your customer base involved. Encourage them to like, share, and comment on your content. You should also incentivize your viewers to subscribe to your YouTube channel for notifications for new uploads. YouTube takes viewer engagement very seriously from an SEO perspective; the videos that generate the most discussion and engagement rank the highest.

YouTube offers content creators and marketing professionals a staggering amount of potential reach and customer engagement, but only if uploaders take time to develop valuable content optimized for high YouTube search rankings. YouTube uses slightly different metrics than Google Search, but the same basic guidelines apply; create content around the most relevant keywords for your niche and constantly track your video content’s performance so you can improve and grow your brand’s reach with every upload.