Unless you’re a digital hermit, you’ve likely heard of YouTube. After all, the video-sharing platform has a whopping 2.29 billion active users – second only to Facebook’s monopoly – with a billion hours of content consumed every single day. What you may not know is how vital YouTube can be for your business, helping you reach more customers and build your brand. 

Today, we’re going to show you how you can create and optimise video content that will help you establish a strong online presence. If you’re ready to get started with YouTube SEO, our guide has everything you need to know. 

How can YouTube help your business?

If you’re not producing video content, you’re missing out. According to Wyzowl’s 2021 Video Marketing Statistics:

  • 86% of video marketers say video has helped increase website traffic
  • 83% say video has increased the average session duration
  • 94% say video has played a vital role in helping users understand their products/services
  • 78% say investing in video has boosted their sales

And seeing as 86% of businesses are using video in their marketing, this is a content form you can’t afford to ignore. 

Of course, this is the tricky part – if everyone is producing video, how can you make sure yours stands out from the rest? With 720,000 hours of new video being uploaded per day, how can you connect with your clients before your competitors and be found in a sea of content?

This is where YouTube SEO comes in. See, YouTube isn’t just a platform – it’s a search engine in itself. And just like any search engine, there are certain things you can do to improve your ranking and secure that top spot, meaning that when your client is searching for product reviews or content related to your niche, your brand is front and centre. 

How to optimise your YouTube video for maximum views

To get you started, we’ve briefly broken down key aspects of the video making and uploading process you need to know to appeal to the YouTube algorithm. 

Much like with regular SEO, YouTube SEO is all about creating content that meets people’s needs. With this at the centre of your strategy, along with the best practices listed below, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of online video. 

Length 

While videos you share on social media should be less than two minutes, lest you lose your viewer’s attention, the videos that perform best on YouTube tend to be longer with most being between 10–16 minutes. This is because of watch time, one of the most important ranking factors for YouTube’s algorithm. 

At the end of the day, you’ll want to make sure that your video length corresponds to your competitors and the content type. If someone is looking for a product review or a how-to guide, for example, they’ll expect a longer and more detailed video compared to explainer videos or promos. 

Keyword research

As with all other types of SEO, keyword research is crucial for getting your content seen on YouTube. 

To start, type a word/phrase related to your business into the search bar and you’ll see a range of suggestions that people commonly search for. These make great keywords! You can also study your competitors’ videos and other authorities in your niche, breaking down the keywords used (look at the title, description, and tags), or use the same keyword research tools you would with SEO and PPC.

Once you have a selection to choose from, you’ll then need to select your main keyword. Depending on the size of your existing audience and how established your channel is, you’ll probably want to go for one with less competition as this will give you a greater chance to rank. 

You’ll want to use your keywords in the video file name, title, description and in the video itself. 

Video title

Much like the title of a website, a video title is crucial to convince users to click. The balance here can be tricky: you want something that is interesting enough that viewers will choose to spend their valuable time watching your video without resorting to clickbait. 

To rank highly, your title needs to match the exact phrases users are searching for, so make sure you include your keyword at the start. You’ll also want to keep things short and snappy – the highest performing videos on YouTube tend to have an average of 47–48 characters. 

Video description

Not only does your description help users understand what your video is all about, but it also helps search engines understand whether or not it meets a user’s needs. 

As YouTube only displays the first couple of lines of your description (approximately 100 characters), it is vital that you keep your writing concise and include any calls to action first. Make sure your keyword appears in the first 25 words and that it appears a few more times throughout (2–4 is a good benchmark).

The description is also a good place to include your links: your channel, socials, and any other important information. 

Tagging

Though tags may not be crucial to your ranking, they are a good way to tell YouTube what your video is about. Make sure you include your exact keyword and a few variations, as well as any topics covered in your video. 

Beware of excess or irrelevant tagging, as this can result in video suppression. 

Thumbnails

While your thumbnail isn’t a ranking signal, it is one of the driving forces that cause users to click on a video. It needs to stand out from all the rest. 

Take a look at what your competitors are doing: is there a trend? How can you make yours more eye-catching? 

A few things you’ll need to consider: 

  • Your thumbnail should reflect the content of the video – show the viewer the value they will get from watching
  • Your thumbnails should be cohesive, as this can help viewers recognise your videos (and your brand) more easily 
  • Always use a custom thumbnail

Subtitles/CC

Not only do subtitles make your videos more accessible for all users, but they can also boost your SEO. Your captions are crawlable, meaning that if you actually say your keyword, YouTube has an easier time figuring out whether your video is a match for a search. 

YouTube can automatically generate closed captions for your videos, but it may be worth it to upload your transcript to make sure that they are 100% accurate. 

End screen 

This is the perfect place to include your call to action or encourage viewers to engage with more of your content. Here you can include links to other videos, your channel itself or your site. 

Engagement 

This is another crucial ranking factor, as it shows YouTube that people like what you have to offer and find value in your videos. 

The best way to go about this is to simply ask – encourage your viewers to leave a like, comment, and share and/or subscribe if they enjoyed the video or found it helpful. 

Make sure you share links to your video on your other social media platforms as well, as this is an easy way to attract people who are already interested in what you have to offer. 

If your video is on the longer side, you may find it useful to break it down into smaller, bite-sized clips and publish these across your different platforms. This means you can get more mileage out of your content and reach a range of users. 

Want to use the power of YouTube to give your business a boost? Get in touch with our SEO strategists today!