Everyone knows video is a big deal. According to a 2015 study from Searchmetrics, video shows up 14% of the time in search results; of that, 82% of the videos are from YouTube. So why do some videos show up when others do not?
The higher a video is placed in a search, the more likely it will be clicked. Unless you have the budget to buy your way to the top, it comes down to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). That is, producing content for YouTube so that the search engine can easily identify it as quality, relevant content, giving it a higher ranking than your competitors. Google, who owns YouTube, decides the order of videos in a search result by crawling through web pages and assigning scores based on quality, popularity and relevance to the search. Creating quality content is just the first step to reaching your target audience; the next step is SEO. Here are basic SEO guidelines to follow when producing content for YouTube to help organically reach the most people.
The first piece to cover is the video content. Assuming the content of your video is the best for reaching and engaging your target audience, then optimizing the technical aspects of your video for search is the next step.
Record in Full HD. YouTube prioritizes HD videos, placing them higher than standard definition videos. It’s a simple trick that makes a difference.
Upload a Closed Caption File. Google does its best with the automated closed caption service; but let’s face it, you need only look up #sirifail to see how the most advanced audio intelligence systems work. By adding in the correct text file, Google can crawl the text to better understand what the video is about, finding relevant connections between actual user searches and the content.
Video Engagement Metrics
Retention. At what point do people stop watching your video? Do more than 50% end up watching to completion? It’s satisfying to see that more and more people end up in the 75% completion percentile, but guess who else sees that data? You guessed it: Google. Retention is an important factor when understanding user interest and engagement in the video, thus Google takes that into consideration.
Comments. When there are numerous comments on a video, that is simply more text, and thus opportunity for relevancy, when search engines crawl your video to understand the content of your video, and users sentiment around it.
Subscribes, Shares, Favorites, and Thumbs Up. It feels good to be liked. When people thumb up your video, add it as a favorite, share it, or subscribe after watching, it’s additional indicators to Google that users like your video. And Google is in the business of finding things that people want.
File Name, Video Title, Tags, and Description. Just like a web page’s URL is critical to its SEO, the Video Title can be considered its equivalent. The different tags you can add to the video and the description you enter that goes below the video are all more instances of content that can be crawled, and provide additional opportunities to create relevancy.
Links at the Top. Within the description of your video, make sure to add links to the website(s) and/or web page(s) at the top. This maximizes the chance for clicks to what you’re trying to promote.
Transcription. To cover all your bases, you can add a transcription of your video in the description. Not only is it inclusive and convenient for viewers, but it also provides even more data to YouTube and Google when people search for those terms.
Doing Your Research
Now that we’ve gone over some of the basics on which places to focus and importance the content in those areas have, how do you know what content to even start with? That begins with keyword research. If the goal of the video is to be evergreen content that you’d like to be found and relevant for a long time, then doing keyword research in conjunction with the overall idea of the video is a good idea.
The goal of SEO is to be in the right position on a search results page (regardless whether that be a traditional search engine or social network) for as many relevant searches there are for your topic. So finding out what people are searching for is critical. As there is more than one way to skin a cat (no personal experience here), there are many different ways people search for the same thing. Best Chinese food in town, best Chinese food near me, best Chinese food nearby… get the picture? It may all be the same to you, but to search engines those are similar, but still completely different. One phrase may be searched 100 times a month while the other has 10,000 monthly searches. Finding the keywords that are most relevant and that have the largest average monthly searches will help you identify whom you’re trying to reach. You can use tools like Google Topics or the KeyWord Planner Tool if you have access to Google AdWords or BingAds to do this.
With all of this considered, this is a tool to help you reach your audience. PewDiePie, the king of YouTube, didn’t get to 60 million subscribers because he mastered SEO, but it definitely helped him get there.