How to Optimise Your YouTube Videos for SEO

December 21st, 2022  |  by amaliehluthra

Videos are undoubtedly some of the most powerful tools you can use to market your business. Small businesses in particular can use optimised video content - using tools like YouTube - to reach more of their target audience, enhance their brand awareness and increase sales of their products or services. But how do you ensure good SEO practice for your YouTube videos?

It’s all well and good implementing SEO best practices for your website to attract the right type of customers on Google. You can write engaging, quality content, ensure your site is technically optimised, achieve quality links and establish a firm local presence via your Google Business Profile. However, there is conflicting information online about what constitutes good SEO practice for videos, because it is not the same as regular SEO. 

This guide is here to clarify any misconceptions. After reading this, you’ll have a better idea of how to make your video rank and be a step ahead towards targeting more of your customers with engaging video content.

Video SEO in 2023

Video SEO marketing involves optimising your video content so that it is more likely to rank on search engine results for the keywords that you want to target. By investing in professional video production, you’ve already taken a tremendous step in the right direction. However, crawlers are looking for numerous other elements that accompany the video. 

Video marketing has only become increasingly more important as the years have passed. In 2023, the predicted top video marketing trends will include search-optimised videos, among others. So if you’re thinking of video content, now is the time to make sure you implement the right strategy to ensure the YouTube algorithm favours your content in search. 

Top creative tips for SEO-friendly video content 

1. Determine your goals for the video

Firstly, you need to consider what you want your videos to do for your company and why you need them optimised. Are you looking to increase organic traffic and qualified leads to your site? Are you trying to increase brand awareness? Or, are you trying to educate your audience about your products or services? All of these answers should influence the strategy you adopt for creating - and subsequently optimising - your videos.

2. Choose your video hosting platform

This article is focused on SEO for YouTube videos, so it’s natural to assume that you’ll be hosting the video on YouTube. However, many see a potential drawback with hosting videos on YouTube. In the interest of fairness, it’s important to highlight this. 

Hosting your video on YouTube means that most of your traffic will stay on YouTube rather than your site once your video is indexed. Most of the prospective site visitors are also likely to stay on YouTube after watching your video, which means you may lose some of these viewers to competitors that could be highlighted in suggested videos. 

Depending on your goals, you should consider whether this hosting is right for you. 

3. Create an engaging thumbnail image

A video thumbnail is invariably the first thing that people will see when searching. Therefore, it’s crucial to make sure it’s enticing, compelling and relevant to your audience and what you’re trying to rank for. Videos with customised thumbnail images can lead to higher click-through rates than those without, so don’t ignore them. Think of it like a film poster, a book front cover, or a video game box. 

You can use tools like Canva or Adobe Photoshop to create high-quality thumbnail images. Read about the recommended YouTube thumbnail sizes for YouTube videos. 

4. Optimise the title and meta description

As with standard on-page SEO, it’s important to pay attention to titles and meta descriptions. Conduct sufficient, in-depth keyword research to ensure you’re targeting the most relevant search terms to your audience. Tag your video with keywords that relate to your topic and make sure your title reads naturally, ideally with a relevant keyword threaded in. 

It’s important to avoid spamming the title and description full of keywords and instead write compelling copy that makes sense, explains the context of the video and encourages click-throughs. 

5. Insert a video transcript

Speaking of copy, your video should always have a transcript attached to it. Video transcripts make your content more accessible to a wider audience, such as those that are deaf or hard of hearing. This also has a positive SEO impact, as search bots scrape more of the text that is paired with the video. 

Many people scroll feeds and watch videos with captions auto-enabled, without toggling the volume. Assume that many of your viewers will do the same and include video transcripts, even if your video is long-form. By doing so, you’ll have a greater chance of ranking for more long-tail keywords and related search terms. 

6. Prioritise the video on your page

If you’re embedding your video on a separate landing page, you need to ensure it’s the primary focus. If it’s hidden, obscured or far down the page, this can negatively affect the number of plays and play rates. 

Search engine bots also likely stop crawling a page after one video, so if you have multiple videos on the page, ensure the one you want to rank is higher up. Keep the page and supporting text relevant to the video and don’t make it impossible for your audience and search engines to find. 

It’s also wise to not embed the same video on multiple landing pages on your site. Make sure that the video you add is relevant to the content that’s there. 

7. Promote the video 

While it’s smart to optimise your video for SEO, you can give it an incredible boost by promoting it yourself on your social media channel, paid video advertising, or encouraging your staff and network to share it. Google - which owns YouTube - is constantly changing its algorithms and thus, the video marketing landscape is also adapting. Therefore, you should take steps to promote it as effectively as you can.

8. Use strong CTAs

Give your viewers an incentive and simple instructions about what steps you’d like them to take. It’s so easy to watch engaging business videos but stumble about what to do next. In the world of marketing, a CTA (call-to-action) is crucial. Whether it’s offering a free trial, poll, signup request, mailing list, or requesting comments, the amount of video CTAs is almost endless. 

One of the best ways to include video CTAs is to use cards, defined as ‘pre-formatted notifications’ to promote your brand and other videos on your YouTube channel. Your video’s end screen is also a great place to add detailed instructions or encourage your viewers to watch more content from your channel. 

Other optimisation tips include the following:

  • Rename your video file to the desired target keyword. YouTube reads your video file name and all its code; it doesn’t watch your video to determine its relevance. So instead of using “video_ad_campaign_005FINAL.mov” as the file name, change it to, for example, “social-media-tips-for-recruiters.mov”. 
  • Categorise your video and group it with similar content on YouTube to spread its exposure to more viewers. This can be a good way to encourage plays and play rates. You’ll need to explore the reach of top creators in your niche, audience behaviour patterns, quality, length, format and style of content, among other factors.
  • Add hashtags. Hashtags allow you to add related terms to your content, much like when promoting posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You don’t need to go overboard; choose between two and four that are most accurate and relevant. 

If you are interested in generating more traffic to your site, growing your audience, or increasing sales, try incorporating these video optimisation strategies. These will help set your business up for positive results using YouTube and stay a step ahead of your competitors. 

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