If you’ve ever spent time thinking about marketing, you know how important it is to find new uses for old tools. But how can you use something as specific as SEO knowledge in other parts of your marketing strategy? Could you find a way to translate that knowledge into other channels?
YouTube has become a media juggernaut. Whether you go there to get entertainment, follow news, connect with people, or learn a new skill, YouTube has established itself as the first (and, in some cases, only) place people go for content.
Don’t believe me? According to Hootsuite, 2 billion people log into YouTube every month. Each of them spends (on average) at least 11 minutes on YouTube each day. And each of these visits averages to 6.5 page views.
One common misconception about popular YouTube channels is that they found success because of a single viral video.
That may be true of content creators who make travel videos, share DIY tutorials, or play music. But most “business” channels on YouTube find success because they came into the platform with a strategy.
There are ideas and concepts shared by those channels, and today I’ll break down four easy steps to build a successful YouTube channel using SEO best practices that you probably already use.
Step #1. Know Your Target Market
Before your web content can rank on Google, you’ve got to know what your target audience is searching for. Keyword research is an absolutely essential tool for digital marketers, because it’s how we find where our products or services intersect with what our target audience is looking for.
You can transfer that same mindset to your YouTube channel. We now know that YouTube is the second most popular search engine (I’ll let you guess which is number one), and that means the only way to make sure people find your content is by positioning it in a way that will outrank the millions of videos already covering the topics you care about.
There is a whole fleet of YouTube keyword tools out there that will help you do this, and all of them offer different perks. But there is also something you can explore on your own without investing into a third-party app:
You won’t have a full breakdown of related keywords, but it’s an entry point into YouTube SEO that anyone can do.
Step #2. Check Out The Competition
No company will find (and maintain) success without getting very familiar with other brands in the same market. That’s not an SEO secret by any means, but it’s something that can easily help you improve your success rate on YouTube.
YouTube actually makes this process easy. You can easily research competitors by going to their channels, browsing through videos that match your own target keywords, and seeing which tags are used. Which brings me to Step #3.
Step #3. Choose Your Tags Carefully
It can be tempting to tag a video with every keyword imaginable. If Google SEO can pick out multiple keywords in a single piece of content, we tend to think YouTube would just use the same algorithms as the site’s parent company.
After all, that’s how you can get the video to show up in the most searches, right?
Wrong. YouTube’s algorithms have evolved a lot — not quite the same as Google’s, but close enough that the same strategy can apply to both. You want to base your video tag selection around the keyword, using only a couple of long-tail versions.
Here’s an example: You made a video about a new social media posting tool. If you use 35 different tags that mention every possible related keyword, YouTube will assume your video covers a lot of topics in a very shallow way.
On the other hand, what if you stick to a handful of keywords that are all fairly similar to the video or your channel? Well, in that case YouTube will read that as being a deeper, more authoritative piece of content about a very focused topic.
It works just like traditional SEO practices. And while there is no hard and fast ruling on how many tags to use, there is research that shows that using fewer keyword tags helps videos rank better in YouTube search results.
Step #4. Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
The only way to establish your voice on YouTube is to build engagement with your audience. Viewers won’t remember how educational your videos are or how much expertise you bring to the field. But if you drop a call to action at the end of your video, you might just convince them to answer a question in a comment, share the video with a friend, or click through to learn more about your product or service.
“Engagement” has become a keyword for social media marketing. And with YouTube becoming a key platform for social media, companies are now chasing audience engagement on their video channels like never before.
As the market becomes more and more saturated with brands investing in video marketing, consumers are learning to avoid static companies and looking for options who feel a little more accessible or personable.
People won’t just watch a video and decide your company is perfect for their needs — they’ll want some kind of interaction, or at least to know that you are actively engaging with people. That might be showing up in the comments, creating videos to address common questions and feedback, using Youtube background music to increase entertainment value, or even collaborating with customers and other industry experts.
That transition might feel strange for your team, but if you’re doing your SEO research (finding good keywords, going after competitive topics, and choosing the right tags) you’ll position your videos to get in front of the right audience. Then it’s all up to you to connect with those viewers and show them why your product is the right fit for them.
A Final Word Of Advice
One thing YouTube doesn’t have is a parallel to pillar pages. You’ll still want to build content clusters on a YouTube channel, of course. That’s a huge benefit to make the most of the “Suggestions” sidebar, and also how you’ll keep people coming back to your content.
However, without a way to build a centralized hub, it’s up to you to make sure each video targets a keyword that will help your brand outside of YouTube.
YouTube itself can be a valuable resource to get your content in front of more people. But embedding those videos into existing blog posts is a way to double down on the weight of YouTube keywords. If YouTube sees the SEO value of your video content, then you know Google will recognize that when it crawls your website.
Chasing views and shares on YouTube can become a hamster wheel for digital marketers. And if YouTube is a new channel for you, it’s easy to put all of your eggs into that basket — after all, with 2 billion monthly users actively searching for new videos, even 0.001% of that number would be a huge win.
So to really make the most of your YouTube channel, make sure you are using those skills in your video marketing strategy. It might not win you any awards, but following these four steps will help you leverage your SEO knowledge into a straightforward, tried-and-true process toward YouTube success.
Drew Gula is the copywriter at Soundstripe, a company that creates royalty free music to help businesses produce better video content.