YouTube SEO 2021: The Definitive Guide

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Videos are everywhere and YouTube is skyrocketing nowadays. Millions of videos are being uploaded and consumed on this platform.

When it comes to SEO, everyone thinks about Google ranking. Do you know that YouTube is the second most visited site on the internet after Google?

Most people still treat YouTube as a social platform. But it is a video search engine. It uses various algorithms to rank videos based on some ranking factors.

Video creators (YouTuber) and digital marketer ignores the importance of YouTube SEO and further claims about not getting views.

So let’s see how you can optimize your videos for better ranking and more views.

Let’s dive into it.

What is YouTube SEO?

YouTube SEO is the process of optimizing videos, playlists, and channels for better ranking and more views. This helps to get a better organic ranking when someone searches a query related to your video.

Millions of videos are being published on the platform every minute. So how your video would stand out?

Millions of searches are performed regularly and you need to optimize your videos that sweets YouTube algorithms.

Latter we would discuss how you can optimize videos for YouTube SEO.

How YouTube’s Search Engine Algorithm Works?

Like Google search, YouTube has its own algorithm to rank videos on various places on its platform.

YouTube’s algorithm is crafted to serve the most personalized and relevant videos to its users. There are five different sections on the YouTube platform such as:

  • Home
  • Search
  • Suggested Videos
  • Trending
  • Subscriptions

YouTube wants to keep visitors as long as possible on their platform. So the search and other section’s algorithms are coded accordingly.

The two biggest factors of YouTube search engine algorithms are its keywords and relevance. But the key factor of Video SEO is high engagement.

The more engaging your videos are, the better rank you will get. If you are not focusing on engaging video creation, then never hope for a better ranking with keywords and headlines.

Videos should also obey some SEO rules to stand out in the ocean of videos.

YouTube SEO Fundamentals

There are some fundamentals to understand before optimizing your videos. So let’s cover that one first.

1. Start with Keyword Research

Your video optimization process should start with keyword research. As we know, YouTube is considered a video search engine and millions of people use it to find the solution to their query.

This is very similar to Google where we optimize blog posts according to some keywords.

Keyword research will give you the list of keywords that are people using to search for a video in your niche. No matter which industry you belong to, you would find a bunch of good keywords. You can use them to create a video playlist or individual videos.

To accelerate the process, you can use some free or paid keyword research tools.

Ubersuggest would be a good one for free use. If you want to go with paid one then, Ahrefs & Semrush would be best for you.

Once you find out a keyword, now its time to see the popularity of the topic or keyword on the YouTube platform.

You may be wondering how I can check that. Well, there is a free tool for this.

Do you know that Google trends have the feature to show the popularity of a keyword or topic on YouTube?

Most people don’t.

You would find the “YouTube Search” option underneath the “Web search” option.

Covid 19 Youtube search trend youtube seo

This tool won’t show you the exact search volume of a keyword. But it shows the popularity in percentage which is enough to measure the potential of the keyword.

Likewise, Google Trends shows you all relevant topics & you can incorporate them into your main video or cover them separately.

2. Identify Search Intent First

Search Engine algorithms have evolved a lot. You can’t cheat the algorithm by placing keywords only. You should identify the search intent and satisfy it.

Search intent means the reason why a user searches for a query in a search engine.

To identify the search intent, simply search for the term. Analyze the results and you would find some similarities.

If you notice the results page shows up step-by-step video guides, you should adjust your video accordingly.

If keywords like “best earphones” result in list style videos, then your focus should be on creating a video with a list of the best earphones to choose from.

Youtube search result youtube seo

3. Content is King, But Consistency is the Key

Content is king in every format. But in YouTube consistency also matters a lot.

Through your YouTube video, you can build your audience base and long-term relationships with viewers.

To achieve this, you need to publish quality videos on a regular basis. Laziness in posting regular content creates a negative impact on your subscriber base.

Here consistently doesn’t mean you should post a video daily. You can make a video publishing calendar of your own and maintain that. One video per week is also good if you can maintain the schedule.

4. Video Duration Matters

Video duration is also a factor to consider when you are optimizing video for YouTube SEO.

Similar to the text-based articles on Google, lengthy videos rank well on YouTube.

So now you might ask me what should be the duration?

Well, there is no ideal video duration. But shorter videos seems to perform worst.

average rank by video duration
Image Source: Briggsby

Try to create the best and quality video possible. No matter what is the length, if your video is providing value to the user they would watch. Moreover, you can track the watch time new YouTube Studio.

5. First 48 Hours are Crucial

The first 48 hours of a video after publishing on YouTube is crucial. Your video performance in this time frame will decide how it would be treated in the coming days.

So never expect to optimize the video after a few days of publishing. You should complete all the optimizations before publishing it.

YouTube algorithm would judge your video based on the overall performance of the video within 48 hours. It mostly measures in terms of watch time and other viewer’s engagement metrics.

Important YouTube Ranking Factors

In addition to the above factors, you should optimize your video with the below-listed ranking factors.

1. Video Comments

If someone sends their time to write a comment in your video then he must enjoy the content. This sends YouTube a good signal.

In fact, some SEO case study suggests that there is a correlation in video comment and ranking.

jkdks youtube seo

So when you are making videos, encourage your audience to leave a comment. They may also leave comments spontaneously. If you ask them to do so then the chances are higher of getting comments.

You can proceed one step further and reply to the comments. This way you can build a loyal customer base and engaging audience.

2. Video Shares

Video share also plays a strong role to rank contents. People never share low-quality videos on social media. If viewers are getting some value then they want to share the video with their friends.

YouTube SEO

YouTube allows viewers to share the video directly on various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Indirectly, social shares bring more people to the YouTube platform and you would get more views.

You can also encourage viewers to share the video and let others know.

3. “Subscribes” After Watching a Video

If someone subscribes to your YouTube channel after watching a video, then this sends a great signal. As someone likes your content and subscribes, YouTube thinks that the video or channel has some potential.

The best way to get more subscribers is to ask people to subscribe. Inside the video, you can say like this “If you like this video, make sure to subscribe”.

4. Click-Through-Rate (CTR)

Click-Through-Rate (CTR) plays an important role when it comes to rank a video on YouTube. Very similar to Google search results, YouTube pays close attention to user behavior.

The percentage of people that click on your result when it appears is known as “click-through-rate” (CTR). There is no surprise that, the higher your CTR, the better.

How to improve Youtube CTR?

The best way to improve your CTR is to create attractive thumbnails and titles. Design your thumbnail and make it awesome. The short description under the title may also increase the CTR. The short and compelling titles also attract people to click on your video.

Which of the following can increase the CTR of your Youtube videos?
Image Source: DataBox

5. Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

Like and dislike count on a video also plays a role in ranking. If the like is way more than dislike, then it sends YouTube a good signal.

This shows that people are taking interest in the video and express their feelings in the form of likes.

High View Satisfaction Helps YouTube Rankings
Image Source: Briggsby

Create awesome content and it will drive likes automatically. To get more likes, you may ask people to like your video. You may have noticed that YouTubers ask you to like their videos.

How To Optimize Your Videos?

As of now, you know the basics of video optimization. Now let’s discuss some of the important parts of YouTube SEO.

1. Video Title

The video title is the first and perhaps the important part of optimization. The title is the first thing that grabs user attraction with the thumbnail.

Your title should be catchy and appealing so that viewers many intended to click on it. Make your title short and sweet. Long titles many not visible in all forms of devices and YouTube cuts that off.

average rank by title length
Image Source: Briggsby

The title also helps you to improve the Click Through Rate (CTR). We have discussed the importance of CTR above.

Before writing your title make sure you have done the keyword research & don’t forget to add the primary or targeted keyword in the title.

2. Description

The video description tells more about the video. Write a few sentences about your video and explain what you have discussed in it.

Use the main keyword here also. This increases the chance of getting placed in search results. In addition to that, use the related keywords.

Broad Match Keyword in Video Description
Image Source: Briggsby

Now you may be wondering how to find related keywords?

Well, you can take the help of a keyword research tool.

Instead of that, you can also check some videos that are ranking on YouTube search for a particular keyword. Analyze their descriptions and try to find some common terms used.

Collect those phrases and add them to your description. You can also add a call to action links or other relevant references in the description.

3. The Thumbnail

In my opinion, video thumbnail is the most important thing that attracts viewers. To stand out in the YouTube search result and other sections of the platform, your thumbnail should catchy.

YouTube thumbnail is the preview image that represents the video before playing. Now YouTube started showing animated video previews when you hover the crosser over a video.

Take your time to make a custom image that can express your video theme in an appealing way. To take some idea, you can search on Google or stock photography sites.

It needs to be the correct size when you are designing YouTube thumbnails.

The ideal thumbnail dimensions of YouTube are as follows:

Resolution: 1280×720 (with a minimum width of 640 pixels)

Aspect Ratio: 16:9

Max File Size: 2MB

Accepted Image Formats: PG, GIF, & PNG

When you are designing your thumbnail, make sure you have fulfilled all the above criteria. You can use Canva to design thumbnails.

4. Tags

Tags increase the chances of getting placed in YouTube search results and various sections. This tells YouTube what your video is all about.

Keyword in Video Keyword Tags
Image Source: Briggsby

As you have already done keyword research and written description, it is not hard to add some keywords.

Thanks to YouTube for suggesting tags and phrases. You can use them straightforwardly. Don’t add too many tags as it looks spammy and may lead to low video views.

You can also use tools like TubeBuddy and VidIQ to find out the best tags.

5. Speak Your Target Keywords

If you have noticed that the new YouTube Studio shows automatic transcription in videos. Basically, it automatically transcribes your voice. It is also very accurate.

So it is confirmed that YouTube is hearing what you are talking about. They use machine learning and advanced AI to transcribe the audio in such an accurate way.

Saying your targeted keywords in videos can be a smart step of optimization. This way YouTube will know what the content is all about.

6. Links To Your Other Videos

Similar to interlinking on the blog, you can replicate the process in video optimization. In the description, you can give links to your previous videos if it is relevant to the existing one.

This shows that you have in-depth knowledge of that topic and YouTube takes it as an authority.

7. Use YouTube Cards

YouTube has introduced a new feature called cards. This encourages viewers to take various actions like:

  • Watch another video or playlist
  • Discover another YouTube channel
  • Donate to a nonprofit
  • Answer a poll
  • Visit an external link

Just select the card you want to show in the section and choose the timecode. The card will trigger at that time.

When a user clicks on the info icon, the list of cards will appears.

The poll feature in the card is also good to get users’ opinions. Ask them some questions and they will answer them through a poll.

Rather than adding many cards in the list add some relevant one. You can also encourage users to click on the card and watch other videos. This will visible in a list form under the video player. The viewer can click on the list to watch another video.

All the popular YouTubers are using this feature and you should too.

8. End Screens

YouTube has launched an end screen feature to engage viewers and keep then on the platform.

You can add this feature to your video and increase subscribers. The end screen can also contain other related videos.

YouTube End Screens youtube seo

You may have noticed this when watching videos of your favorite YouTuber. You can also do the same to get more video views and subscribers.

9. Create a Series or Playlist

The playlist provides more video videos. If you have similar content in a niche, then you can add them to the playlist.

Find out 4-5 videos on the same topic. Once you get them, create a playlist and include those set of videos.

This is also very helpful for the suggested video section. If someone is watching your video, YouTube will automatically recommend them to watch another video of the playlist.

10. Optimize Your Channel Page

As you have a YouTube channel, you must have a channel page. Optimizing your channel page has also a good impact on the ranking.

Your channel page should look professional. In addition to that write detailed information about your YouTube channel. In this description, you can add your main targeted keywords as well.

For ideas, you can check some other YouTube channel descriptions in your niche. This gives you an overall idea of how you can make your own.

11. Promote Your Videos

Promote Blog Post

After all the optimization now it’s time to publish the video. Video publishing time also matters a lot. Because the YouTube algorithm picks the first 24-48 hours to consider video performance.

There is no ideal specific time for publishing the video. It depends on the audience’s demographics and geo factors. The best thing you can do is to test various times.

Take a week period as a test and publish videos at different times. Or you can analyze the performance report of previous videos. This helps you to decide what is the best time to publish a video.

Now it’s time to promote the video.

You can use following methods to promote your video:

1. Use Existing Audience: Do you have a blog, social media followers, social media pages, email subscribers? Then apply each medium to promote your video.

2. Use Quora: Quora may be a good option to try for you if you don’t have an existing audience. Pick a question on your niche and write an in-depth answer. Then you can embed your video there.

3. Embed Video: If you have an existing blog, then embed your videos in text-based content. If you don’t have similar content where you can add them, publish similar content and embed the video.

4. Make Use of Youtube Notification Feature: YouTube has a notification feature. If anyone subscribed to your channel and clicked the bell icon, then he/she will get new video notifications. So encourage your viewers to press the bell icon.

5. Collaborate with Influencers: Collaboration is also a good way to get more views and subscribers fast. Find some YouTubers having a good amount of subscribers and a helping hand. Approach them to collab with you and publish a video of you on their channel. This way their audience will come to know about you. This leads to extra video views of your videos and more subscribers.

6. YouTube Ads: YouTube Ad is also a good way to get more views and subscribers fast. You can run video ads and target your audience through interests and keywords. Make an awesome video and run video ads. If you do some video ad optimization techniques, then you can achieve a lot on a low budget. This is a very good way to promote your videos in the initial days.

12. YouTube Analytics

After all the optimization and promotion, don’t forget to measure the improvements. YouTube provides you analytics where you can watch them all. It is available on youtube.com/analytics.

You will get enough data to analyze in YouTube Analytics. This helps you to check which video is performing well and getting more views. It also shows you the subscriber gain in every video.

The demographics show you all the data related to you to your viewers. You can also link your YouTube Analytics with Google Analytics to get more features.

Conclusion

So these are some of the things you need to consider when you are doing YouTube SEO. From a technical point of view, it is not so difficult. The best thing about YouTube is, you don’t have to be super technical or huge budget to make awesome videos and getting views.

Be consistent and produce videos at regular intervals. Make a habit of these things and you are good to go.

Bibhu Prasad Bal is a content writer at BloggingForge and a tech-savvy guy. In spare time you will find him watching Ancient Aliens and exploring the web. Contact - bibhu@bloggingforge.com

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