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So You Started a YouTube Channel… Here’s How to Optimize It for Search

So You Started a YouTube Channel… Here’s How to Optimize It for Search

So you started a YouTube channel. Congratulations! This is the second largest search engine behind Google – with roughly 3 billion queries performed every month.

This article provides a checklist of the three most important YouTube elements to optimize for, as well as great keyword research tools you can use to magnify your reach. Keep reading!

The Three Most Important YouTube Elements to Optimize:

1) The Channel Homepage

  • Website Verification: Verifying your channel with its associated website adds credence to your channel, and enables cards and end screens More on this later in the guide.
  • Channel Description: In 150-300 words (or more!) describe what your business does, and the type of content that users can expect to find on your channel.
  • Channel Trailer: Trailers automatically play when a new user visits the homepage. Like a movie trailer, it should be as a way to highlight your channel’s offerings, and encourage viewers will want to subscribe.
  • Pro Tip: The standard length of a channel trailer is 30 seconds to one minute.
  • Channel Tags: Channel tags should describe the overarching theme of your channel.
  • Pro Tip: Optimize a YouTube channel’s tags differently than it’s unique videos to avoid keyword cannibalization. More on keyword research later.
  • Channel Links: Provide links to other active online platforms to help drive traffic and provide new ways for users to connect with your brand. E.g., Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

2) The Playlists

  • Philosophy: Playlists should provide a ‘lean-back’ experience for users by playing related videos one after the other. When done well, a channel can help a channel garner more views and longer session times.
  • Number of Playlists : There is no limit in number of playlists a video can be in, or number of playlists you can have on a channel. Get creative!
  • Segmenting Playlists: You can segment playlists anyway you see fit.
  • Pro Tip: Base your playlist topics on your target demographics’ interests and affinities.

3) The Videos

  • Video Titles: The title of your YouTube video is the most important piece of content on the page, besides the actual video. Best practice is to keep the title between 45-60 characters, using targeted keywords toward the beginning.
  • Pro Tip: Users search differently on YouTube than they do on Google, so keyword research tools are different too. The TubeBuddy Tag Tool is my favorite, as it offers the ability to research terms and provide auto recommendations.
  • Video Thumbnails: A video thumbnail is analogous to the cover of a traditional book. It should reinforce your videos’ title and the actual content. Best practice here is to include branding elements and or important spokespersons.
  • Pro Tip: Take a still shot during your video shoot to improve the quality of your thumbnail image. Though YouTube can automatically generate this for you, images often come out blurry.
  • Video Descriptions: The longer a video’s description, the more useful it is for YouTube, Google and the End-User. A good rule of thumb is at least 150-300 words.
  • Video Tags: Tags are insanely important to a video performing well in search engines, as they are directly related to the terms people search for inside youtube.
  • Tags should remain between 1-4 words. Think, long enough to be relevant, but short enough to be searchable.
  • Video Length: Though there is no “correct” or “incorrect” length for videos, there are general guidelines depending on the type of content the video is. Ads are typically 1.5 to 3 minutes, Product reviews are typically 20-30 min, and podcasts can be in the upwards of 2 hours!
  • Pro Tip: The more concise the better.
  • Video Subtitles: Video subtitles are an awesome way to optimize your YouTube videos. They provide the most detailed information to Google about what your video is about, and improves UX by catering to international and sound-off users.
  • Pro Tip: Subtitles can be uploaded, manually entered, or automatically generated.
  • End Screens: End screens are the small overlays during the last 20 seconds of a video that prompt viewers to subscribe to their channel, watch another video, visit the associated website, etc.
  • Pro Tip: Keep end screens as relevant as possible to the video that was just watched to maximize UX and video consumption.
  • Cards: Cards are interactive pop ups that appear throughout a video to keep people engaged. You can have up to five on one video.
  • Pro Tip: Cards to related videos, channels, polls, and/or the associated website are all great options.

5 Keyword Research Tools

There are many free keyword research tools specially tailored for YouTube. Check out my list of my top 5 favorites, below!

1) YouTube Analytics

All YouTube account holders have access to YouTube Analytics, a tool within the site that shows what keywords a channel’s videos are already ranking for. It is great for identifying opportunities to further optimize video content! To see this list of keywords, visit YouTube Analytics > Traffic Sources > YouTube Search.

2) YouTube Suggest

YouTube Suggest is a tool within the website that offers a list of autocomplete suggestions based on what’s currently trending. Phrasing targeted keywords to match popular searches is one of many great tactics to get your video found more easily.

Quick Tip: Put “_” before your keyword and YouTube will show you suggestions that include terms before your keyword.

3) Google Suggest

Google SERPs have a bar at the top that allows you to filter results based on the type of content you’re looking for. Click the “Videos” results option to have Google Suggest only look at trending video terms.

4) Google Trends

Google Trends tracks and compares searchers’ interest in keywords over time. It can be filtered by location, time frame, and type of search – with YouTube as an available option.

See Also

5) Emulate Successful Competitors

If your competitors are already active on YouTube, it’s worth checking out some of their video titles, tags, descriptions, and even content strategy to see what types of keywords perform well (or which ones don’t!) This can be done by viewing the page source on one of their videos.

Quick Tip: There are also numerous free browser extensions that allow you to spy on competitors’ YouTube tags with ease. My favorite is Social Blade on Chrome!

BONUS: Google Display Planner

In September of 2014, YouTube eliminated its on-site keyword research tool in favor of Google’s Display Planner. Make sure to filter formats to only video!

Ending Thoughts:

How does your company optimize for YouTube? Let us know in the comments section! Want more tips on optimizing your YouTube channel? Browse similar Wpromote posts here.

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