YouTube SEO - 7 Hacks to Optimize Videos and Hit the Top Spot

In this article you'll find 7 most important YouTube SEO hacks that will help you get TOP positions in YouTube search.

It’s no secret that YouTube is a content giant

But did you know that YouTube is also the second-largest search engine in the world (behind Google)? 

There’s now more than 100 hours of video uploaded to the platform every minute, making it a super exciting — but incredibly challenging — place for YouTubers to be seen and heard. 

With so much content produced and delivered via YouTube, how do you make sure your videos are easy to find?

More importantly, how do you ensure your videos are being found by the right viewers, at the right time to help you grow your channel? 

The answer is SEO. Yes, that SEO. But for YouTube. 

If you’re not that familiar with SEO, here’s a brief introduction:

What is SEO?

SEO — which stands for search engine optimization — means the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular piece of content, by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.

In a nutshell, SEO is the process of actively trying to get your content in front of the right audience. Even better, you want them to see your content when they happen to be searching for education on products or services similar to yours. This is achieved through the use of strategic keywords, as well as a few other factors we’ll discuss a little later.

So how do you do it? 

First, let’s look at how SEO works specifically for YouTube videos, and then we’ll deep-dive into how to optimize your videos to rank as high as possible.

How does SEO work for YouTube Videos?

YouTube sees more than 3 billion searches per month. 

And there are a number of factors at play in the YouTube results algorithm, including video length and engagement rates. But SEO has a massive role to play, too.

Achieving great SEO rankings for your YouTube videos is a strategic process that involves optimizing your channel, playlists, and metadata descriptions for specific keywords. It also involves editing your videos themselves to follow specific SEO best practices. 

Let’s uncover exactly how you can put Youtube SEO into practice for your own videos… 

How to optimize YouTube videos for SEO

Do your keyword research

As we mentioned, getting to that top spot in the search rankings all starts with keywords. 

In order to make keywords work for you, you have to get strategic. The first step always research — finding out what keyword terms and phrases your preferred viewers are plugging into the search bar when looking for your type of content.

The best hack for finding these keywords is to use YouTube itself. There’s almost no better keyword planning tool than YouTube’s ‘suggested searches’ function. To begin using it, follow these simple steps:

  1. Think of a couple of keywords related to your video. (For example, if you’re doing a makeup tutorial, some potential keywords to start with would just be makeup, makeup tutorial, and how to do makeup.)

  2. Next, go to YouTube and start typing those keywords into the search box.

  3. As you type, you’ll notice a list of ‘popular searches’ pop up below from YouTube Suggest (the autocomplete feature built into the search box on YouTube).

  4. These suggestions will give you a good idea of what phrases and questions people are actually searching for when looking for videos like yours, and give you more keywords to focus on. For example, you might see “makeup tutorials for teens” or “30-second makeup tutorials”.

  5. After you’ve completed the steps above, and built a substantial list of keywords, head over to Google Trends and find out which ones are searched for most often. This will help you prioritize which keywords and phrases to focus on first. 

How to use Google Trends for Youtube SEO

Seems easy enough, right? 

So what do you do with all these keywords and keyword phrases you’ve identified?

Shape your content approach around your identified keywords

You’ve got a great list of keywords, and they’re prioritized based on search density — we’re off to a great start! 

Your next three hacks are to create a content plan around those keywords. Use these tips to come up with a posting strategy that will help you stay consistent and build a strong channel:

1. Build a content calendar 

One of the most overlooked aspects of building a strong YouTube following (which ramps up your SEO) is to post consistently. But keeping up with filming, editing, and posting is a big ask. 

A content calendar will help you set goals and stay on track. Will you post daily? Weekly? Somewhere in between?

Keep all of your to-dos in one place, so you can see the big picture and track your progress.

2. Make some playlists 

Can some of your keywords or keywords groups be linked into themes? 

If so, great news: curating strategic playlists can actually help you get found! And the further you dig into keyword research for each niche or theme, the better your results. 

If you haven’t produced much content yet, playlists can still help you out. Our favorite playlist hack is to create playlists using other people’s videos to start driving viewers to your YouTube channel page while you start creating!

YouTube SEO

3. Look for ways to add your keywords to titles, descriptions, tags, etc.

Basically, your keywords need to be everywhere:

  • Title - Keep it short and catchy. Make sure your title is at least 5 words long and includes your keyword or keyword phrase.

  • Description - This is the place you shouldn’t be afraid to get long-winded. Include as much information as you can about your video in your description (including your keywords!). Put a few summary sentences at the top that will grab a scroller’s attention and encourage them to want to click through.

  • Thumbnail -  The thumbnail you choose for your video is your first impression to your viewer; make it visually appealing, interesting, and clear. Always use custom thumbnails, and keep the visual theme (colors, fonts, etc.) similar to enforce branding and create a cohesive feel for your channel. There's also an opportunity here to use graphic overlays to mention your keywords, especially if you’re posting a ‘how to’ or informative video.

  • Transcript -  Using transcripts on your videos will help you rank for your keywords, but it will also give you the ability to translate the language of your video to appeal to a more global audience. The more viewers who can understand and enjoy your video = the better your chances of ranking for them.

  • Tags - Tagging is probably the easiest way to make YouTube aware of which keywords you’re trying to rank for. Tags can be up to 120 characters long, and it’s best practice to use at least 10 tags. Consider using your keywords along with other relevant topics.

  • Links - It’s a good idea to add links to your description or even inside your video. This will help drive viewers to other places you want them to go, like your website, social media channels or an offer page. 

A few other best practices for YouTube SEO

Let’s round things off with a few bonus hacks to help your YouTube SEO soar:

Keep it long

YouTube was built to compete with television (and its advertising rates). Therefore, long high-quality videos tend to perform better in searches. Videos should last at least five minutes and include great information on your topic. 

Share to social 

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to share your video across your social networks. Not only will this drive users to your videos, but the backlinks will help the search engines index your content quicker. 

Ask for the subscribe

At the end of your video, a simple one-line call to action can dramatically help you build your channel: “If you enjoyed this video, hit subscribe!” This request reminds people who like your content that they can follow you and hear more of the good stuff.

There you have it! Those are our 7 best hacks for optimizing your YouTube videos for SEO. Are there any we missed? Let us know!

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