6 Tips for YouTube SEO Optimization

Did you know that YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world? Businesses and brands all over the globe are creating YouTube videos to reach, engage, and convert users to customers. If you’re creating content for YouTube that you want users to find, it’s important to take time to optimize your YouTube channel and videos as much as possible.

How to Optimize YouTube Videos

Whether you’re just starting on YouTube or you’ve been on the platform for awhile, you can always work on making your channel more SEO-friendly. Follow our list of six YouTube SEO tips to put your content in front of more eyes.

1. Use a targeted keyword when naming the video file

Before uploading the video to YouTube, rename the file with one of your targeted keywords relative to your video. While YouTube cannot actually “watch” your video to identify what it is about, the file name will inform the crawlers of the context of your content.

2. Optimize the video titles and descriptions

Once your video is uploaded, a title and description must be added before it’s published. This is the time to add additional keywords and keyword phrases. These should fit and flow naturally within the title and description. The title should be clear and concise and explain the video content.

The description allows for more characters, giving you the opportunity to include more keyword phrases. However, YouTube only displays the first 100 characters before users must click “see more” to view the rest of the description. If there is a call-to-action you want users to see, make sure it is within the first 100 characters. 

3. Don’t forget to add tags

YouTube allows you to tag your videos with keywords that relate to your video. Be sure to double back to your keyword research to ensure you’re not missing any important, relevant keywords that you weren’t able to fit within the file name, title or description. Brian Dean from BackLinko explains, YouTube uses tags “to understand the content and context of your video.”  Tags are used by YouTube to associate your video with similar videos, allowing your video to be seen by more users.

4. Add a custom thumbnail

The thumbnail is a decisive element for a lot of users. This is the image they see when scrolling through videos, figuring out which to watch. According to the YouTube Creator Academy, 90% of the best performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails. When creating a custom thumbnail for your video, the dimensions should be 1280 x 720 to ensure it’s high quality on both mobile and desktop.

5. Enable closed captions

By enabling and uploading subtitles for your video, you create an opportunity for YouTube to crawl more content and find more of your keywords. To add closed captions to your video, you will have to upload an SRT file with the transcript of your video. There are resources available online that can create these transcript files for you.

6. Utilize cards and end screens

Cards and end screens are notifications designed to appear on desktop and mobile to promote your brand and other videos on your channel. YouTube allows up to five cards to be added per video. Cards can display custom images, URLs, and texts in order to lead users where you want them to go.

An end screen is like a card, but it is not shown until the end of the video. End screens have options for users to visit another video on your channel, visit another channel, etc.

Don’t Forget the Finishing Touches on your YouTube Channel 

While it’s crucial to optimize YouTube videos, you should not forget about your channel itself. When creating your channel, ensure all of the following elements are completed:

  • Add a channel banner
  • Enable longer videos and monetization within the “Status and Features” section of Video Manager
  • Add channel keywords through Advanced Channel Settings
  • Adjust your default settings to include default categories, public privacy settings, allow comments, tags, and video location

If you’re spending time and energy creating content to put on the YouTube platform, make sure that it’s worth the effort. The goal of these videos is to turn users into leads and convert those leads into customers. Optimize your videos and your channel to get them in front of your target audience. 

For more information on search engine optimization for your website, download our free SEO checklist.

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