Learn how to optimize your YouTube channel for SEO.

The essentials of YouTube search engine optimization (SEO)

I think most of us know what the world’s most popular search engine is.

(And if you don’t, let’s just say I suggest you “Google” it).

Less well-known, though, is the world’s second-largest search engine.

Give up?

It’s YouTube.

That’s right, the same medium you use for watching people take products out of their packages and prank their loved ones is also a go-to source for internet users when searching for information.

That means there are lots of opportunities to reach your audience through YouTube’s search function. (Add in the fact that the owner of YouTube, Google, frequently prioritizes YouTube videos in its search results and you have even more reason to prioritize the tactic).

In this post we’ll look at steps you can take to boost your YouTube search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Follow these tactics and you’ll quickly find your videos frequently appearing high up in search results.

Design videos with user intent

This is probably the most essential element of YouTube SEO.

Any SEO strategy– either YouTube or otherwise – is all about trying to decipher user intent.

What information does my target audience want?

What content is going to be most useful to them?

What phrases are they using to search for that content?

Then, once you know that, you can start to design content that will be useful to them.

That means building SEO into every stage of the creative process.

Before you even begin to consider what sorts of videos you’re going to be creating, ask yourself about the types of content that’s going to matter most to your audience.

Then design videos that will matter most to them.

Ignore this step and every other step in your YouTube SEO strategy is going to be a slog.

It’s that simple!

Do your keyword research

Keyword research is the backbone of any SEO strategy. And YouTube is no different.

The key to creating SEO-friendly video content is finding topics and keywords that users are searching for, but for which there isn’t that much existing content.

This allows you to create videos that users will want to watch without having to compete against other creators that are already ranking for similar keywords.

Finding this sweet spot is where keyword research comes in.

It has two main components:

  1. Identifying the keywords that your audience is using to search for their chosen topics.
  2. Identifying the sorts of content that is already available on the keywords you hope to target.

Optimize your title, description and closed captions

YouTube is, of course, a video-centric medium. But there is a writing component as well.

Nowhere is this more important than with trying to get your YouTube videos to rank for targeted keywords.

Think about it: The YouTube algorithm can’t “watch” your videos. How is it supposed to know what they’re about?

The answer lies in optimizing your title, description and closed captions for the keywords you’re targeting.

Let’s say you’ve created a video on how to get your YouTube videos to rank in search results. You’ve done your keyword research and decided that “YouTube SEO” is the keyword that will help you get in front of your audience.

You’ll want to ensure you write a title for the video that clearly features the keyword you’re targeting. Something along the lines of “The essentials of YouTube SEO” would do the trick.

Then, you’ll want to include the phrase “YouTube SEO” somewhere in the description. If you’ve created your video with SEO in mind, it should also be naturally included in your closed captions.

With those three steps, you’ll send a signal to YouTube’s search engine regarding what your video is about.

Build your topic authority

“Topic authority” is a key ranking factor for YouTube’s search engine.

The algorithm will give preference to channels that are developing authority on particular subjects by getting lots of views and engagement.

Example: Say you’ve published a number of videos on the common cold that have received lots of views and likes.

In this case, YouTube will consider your channel to be an authority on the subject so that when users search for information on the common cold your videos are more likely to appear.

Get lots of views

OK OK. This isn’t so much a “step” as it is an issue most/all YouTube channels face.

Everyone wants more views on YouTube. But views are, of course, hard to come by.

From an SEO perspective, it also creates a chicken-egg situation that’s difficult to solve.

You need an SEO strategy to get more views.

But you need more views for a successful SEO strategy.

What does that mean for you?

It means that improving your search rankings works in tandem with building your channel more generally.

Mark Brownlee is a Digital Marketing Strategist with Banfield.

Banner image art: Ben Marley

Tags: SEO, YouTube,

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