How Marketers Can Build and Grow an SEO-friendly YouTube Channel

Anna Ji, Director of Product and Growth, Clipchamp, talks about SEO strategies to build your YouTube Channel and to improve SEO. Her tips will help you increase your user base, define a successful strategy, create a company ‘voice’, and more.

Since its inception in 2005, YouTube has become the most used online video platform in the world. With over one billion hours of video watched via the platform every day, more than Netflix and Facebook video combined, it has become a crucial marketing channel for some businesses.

YouTube videos are included in Google’s search results, which means your YouTube videos can potentially get you to the top of Google’s rankings too.

While we tend to look at the viral hits of YouTube videos with millions of views, the majority of people’s videos get very small amounts of traffic, mainly in part because of a lack of a good SEO strategy. Search engines can only crawl text, they can’t watch your video. As such, it is crucial to tag your video correctly so the search engines can include your video in the mix of people’s search results.

Also Read: The Rise of Vertical Video Content on Social Media

How YouTube ranks you is based on two major factors. The information you provide for them on each video e.g. your keywords, titles, descriptions, tags and transcripts. The second thing they consider is audience engagement. The more people who watch and engage with your video e.g. ‘like’ and write comments, the better your rankings will be.

Here are my tips on how to formulate and execute a top class YouTube SEO Strategy.

Your Keywords: If you have ever had to do keyword research for your website for Google’s ranking, YouTube has a very similar path. While you may think you know what keywords your potential customers type into YouTube’s audience to potentially find your videos, doing keyword research before you start tagging your videos is key. It will show you variations of phrases people use when searching for what you have to offer as well as suggestions you may not have considered.

Start by jotting a list of topics relevant to your content, then, for each topic, jot down as many words as you can related to that topic. These are called ‘Topic Buckets’.

From here, you need to start looking at the search rankings for each of your topic buckets. Tools like Spyfu can tell you how many times people are searching for your keywords and give you suggestions of variations of this. Knowing what people are searching for can also inform the videos you make in future!

Your Title: Your video title needs to be short, punchy, and sweet, conveying the exact reason why your audience should watch your video in as few words as possible. Take a look at competitors’ similar videos, and use them as a benchmark to write your title, if not better.

Your Thumbnail: The thumbnail is the still image you need to add to each video. It is the image people in turn see as they scroll through the search results deciding which video they want to watch so it plays a crucial role in people deciding which video they will choose to invest their time. Having an eye catching image with very large text overlayed on it saying what the video is about will mean your video is more likely to get clicked ahead of your competition.

Your Description: A YouTube video description is an often forgotten tool for perfecting SEO, and you have 1000 characters to use, so dive deep into the content of your video, outlining everything possible. Keep in mind that YouTube will only display the first two-to-three lines of text, without the user clicking ‘read more’, so ensure all important links, call-to-action and information are contained at the top of your description.

Your Tags: Tags are the most basic aspect of YouTube SEO. One common mistake marketers often make is neglecting to include phrases as well as keywords. For example: if the video is about ‘The Best Platforms to Create Branded Video Content,’ you should tag the complete phrase along with your main keywords.

Your Closed Captions: This is the lowest hanging fruit to improve your YouTube SEO ranking that people often overlook. Enabling the closed caption feature means that YouTube will transcribe your video. Since it is a computer generated transcription it is often not perfect but now YouTube has a transcript of everything that is said during the video they know more about what it is about and will rank you better when people are looking for what you have to offer.

Increase your Engagement: Success breeds success on YouTube. They look to see how many people watch, ‘like’ and ‘comment’ on your video to help determine how they will rank you. So obviously the first step is to share any of your videos on your social media channels to get people watching. Many YouTubers try and find ways to encourage people to like, comment and share their videos knowing this is a crucial way to increase the number of views.

Grow your Subscribers: When someone is subscribed to your channel it not only helps your ranking, it also helps with engagement because your followers will get an alert every time you post new content. The YouTube in-app editor makes this easy for marketers, with the option to add a one-click ‘subscribe’ button on-screen at the end of your video. It’s also helpful to include a simple sentence from the host or voice-over artist – make sure to include the phrase ‘if you’ve found these tips helpful, please subscribe, and include a small arrow pointing to the subscribe box to drive home the point.

Setting Expectations: Not every business is suited for a very active YouTube channel. Brands like GoPro have millions of followers because their product is designed to make cool videos. If you are a company that sells a hair product with a wide potential audience you of course want to try and have a great demo video, which lots of people see. But if you are a technology SaaS start-up servicing a niche industry it may not make sense to expect millions of views (unless that is your goal) and you may feel disappointed that it just got a few thousand views – but each of these views were probably from more serious customers.

Also Read: How YouTube Is the Surprising Secret Weapon for Smart B2B Advertisers

Finally – Don’t forget analytics.

Don’t forget to check your YouTube analytics and to connect the dots between it and your own company website. Google Analytics will tell you how much of your traffic comes from YouTube. Constantly monitor how you are improving on ranking for particular keywords. See how long people watch your videos for. Do they watch it all the way through or get bored? Also on your company website check to see how many new sales, leads or customers came from your YouTube channel to measure how it is working for you. You may be surprised by the results.

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