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Keys to SEO Optimization of Your YouTube Videos & Channel

January 9, 2018
Table of Contents

Having a good strategy to rank your videos on YouTube is important to growing your channel and brand awareness.  In addition to creating engaging video content that your YouTube audience loves there are other things you can proactively do to maximize your YouTube video rankings and visibility.

Below we provide an in-depth outline of those YouTube SEO tactics and initiatives with explanations on how and why they will help you rank your video’s on YouTube, the world’s 2nd largest search engine.  At the end you will also have access to the checklist Power Digital uses with our YouTube search engine optimization process to assure we hit the key points to a fully optimized YouTube video! Use these YouTube SEO tips and checklist so you can watch your rankings grow on YouTube!

Starting Off With Our Pro Tips!

Tip #1: Conduct Keyword Research to See What People are Searching for on YouTube

This YouTube keyword research process has a lot of similarities to standard SEO keyword research but is a critical step to ranking your YouTube videos and gaining greater search visibility.

Our favorite SEO tool for this research is FREE and is called, – here is a link to this greattool for YouTube Keyword Research!

Also, if you optimize videos correctly, these videos can actually start to rank within Google’s organic search results, so it is a good idea to run those same keywords from through Google’s Keyword Planner.

We recommend that you do this research prior to producing your video so you can create the perfect video that appeals to what the searchers are looking for but if you have already produced the video you can still do this keyword research to assign the best keywords possible to your video.  By best keywords possible, we mean the following:

  • The keywords that have the greatest monthly search volume
  • That are most relevant to what your video is about
  • The keywords that Google would also display video results for in universal organic search results.

Keywords for videos will typically differ from those used on your website which can help you to gain exposure on terms that you would not normally use throughout your website content. Keeping this in mind, find a variety of higher volume head terms (shorter keywords with higher volume) and long-tail keywords so that you can show results for different points in the funnel or buyer’s journey.

When coming up with keywords that Google will show videos for in the universal organic search results, think about the types of terms you typically see videos ranking for. As a starting point, look for keywords that include the following types of terms:

  • How to (How to choose a tire)
  • Reviews (michelin ps4s review)
  • Tutorials (tire mounting tutorial)

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Once you have done this YouTube specific keyword research to see what types of video’s people are searching for, it is time to craft your video indexing strategy and YouTube metadata.

You want to align your content to best serve this interest and optimize the video metadata!

  • Video Title: Include your targeted keywords in the video title in a natural and valuable way for the reader. Google is smart and will pick up on this valuable and keyword rich description. Ideally you want to lead with the keywords you are targeting in the video description because YouTube just like you and I, read the title from left to write and leading with your main keyword or keywords places a greater emphasis on them for ranking and to have a higher click-through-rate.
  • Video Description: Write a rich video description that uses the keywords in a quality fashion and clearly tells the viewer what your video is about and why they will love it. Do not keyword stuff your video description or it will actually hurt your rankings.
  • Video Tags: Another place you want to use the keywords you are targeting to ensure the classification of your video matches the keyword targets.
  • Video Transcription File: is critical and you want to assure the keywords are in this file as well in a quality and non-spammy fashion. Creating your keyword strategy prior to filming the video will ensure that these keywords are used in the video content and transcription, so like anything else, more planning will translate to better performance.

Tip #2: Be Consistent and Focused with your Video Publishing

Just like blogging, Google wants to see consistent thought leadership and quality content.  The longer you consistently produce great video content on your area of focus the more authority you have and bigger priority you will get when people search for video content around your topic area.

YouTube looks at user metrics (plays, comments, embeds, likes/dislikes, percentage of time viewed) to determine how the rank videos in YouTube results, so make sure you are putting our valuable content rather than to just publish a video to make sure you have a new video go up in a given timeframe.

Tip #3: Make it Easy for People to Embed your Videos on Their Website

When people embed your video on their blog, website or webpages this shows Google that your content is so valuable that other people want to showcase it and share it.  It acts as a vote of trust for your YouTube channel and video and increases your visibility very similarly to how a link works in SEO.

Two ways you may be able to proactively drive embeds include:

  • Contact distributors or business partners of yours that may be able to use your videos to further support their blog or website, show them your content and see if they are interested in using your videos through an embed
  • Contact bloggers or media outlets that may be able to leverage your video content and share this opportunity with them


Tip #4: Get Comments on Video Early and Often

Getting people to comment and engage with your video early and often will help show relevancy and helps give your video more visibility.  Some tips for getting comments on your video’s include:

  • Use call to action in your titles for people to comment or share
  • Use YouTube Annotations to drive engagement and other goals (more below, as they not only help with engagement but also can provide a better user experience and other SEO benefits)
  • End the video with a question to your audience so that people comment on the video to answer the question and share their point of view.

Tip #5: Use YouTube Video Annotations on Your Videos

Annotations are a great way to hammer home core messages on your video.  They also have proven to be a solid ranking factor when used in a quality fashion that truly provides greater value and context to the viewer. For example, the screenshot below shows how you can effectively use annotations to drive people to your website from a YouTube video:

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Tip #6: Maximize Percentage of Time Your Videos Are Watched

This one is a bit obvious but this is one of YouTube’s biggest metrics.  It is a strong indicator to YouTube on how interested and engaged your user base is.  Typically, leading with the most valuable and engaging content helps keep watchers engaged and prevents them from bailing out part way through your video.  If your watchers complete your video or watch a large percentage your video’s will get preferential treatment.

The higher the watch time, the better. One typical mistake video marketers do is having a really long generic end to the video which causes users to bounce out or move on and not complete the video, avoid making that mistake and you will have a higher completion rate.

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Tip #7: Leverage Playlists to Organize Your Videos into Categories

These playlists will help you group your videos based on the subject and content matter.  Very similar to the Meta data mentioned above, you want to optimize this same meta data at the playlist level.

This may be a later stage in the YouTube video optimization process if you are low on video content so don’t force it but when you feel you have sufficient content and variation of videos, you should start leveraging YouTube playlists for your brand.

Here’s some examples of how playlists can be structured:

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Tip #8: Take the Time to Brand Your YouTube Page Just Like You Would Your Website

This is one that many brands skimp on.  You want your YouTube page to be branded to your brand and content. More than anything this will help people have a better experience when on your page and make them more likely to dive into your video content and drive views of your videos.

Some of the basics to branding your page include: linking your other social channels, featuring your top videos, and setting up a custom background and banners. Nike does a good job at this as seen below:

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Tip #9: Optimize Your Channel Description

YouTube allows you to filter results by type of results (videos, playlists, channels, movies, etc) so optimizing your channel description (the “About” tab on your channel page) for keywords around the types of video content or business you are will help to display your channel when people filter results by channels.

For example, if your business offers yoga classes and puts out content on yoga classes, stretches, etc, put those types of keywords in your channel description will allow your channel to rank for those types of terms. This helps with generating subscribers to your channel so that you have people who are commonly engaging with your content.

Video Uploading & Launch Checklist

  • Select Keywords For Video Based on Search Volume and keyword intent/type. If possible, do this before creating your video so that you can use the keyword strategy in the video content naturally.
  • Write title with top keyword at the front and call-to-action asking viewers to share or comment
  • Write video description with keywords included
  • Put keywords into the video tags
  • Run video transcription process
  • Assure start of video brings value so people don’t have to wait for the meat of the video
  • Make sure your video ending isn’t boring so people watch entire video
  • Publish video on your page
  • Share video to your email list
  • Share video on all social profiles
  • Engage with commenters on video to drive further comments
  • Start working on next video and stay consistent with process and posting
  • Optimize your channel description

If you follow this checklist and are consistent in creating high quality content, that caters to the type of content users are searching for, you will have success and become a YouTube video SEO expert.  Stay the course and watch your subscribers and viewers rise from one of the top search engines!


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