Head of SEO & Content
SEO on Youtube is a good opportunity for positioning. When we think of Youtube, we usually forget that it is the second most used search engine in the world.
Therefore, if we do SEO content on Google, why not take advantage of the number two? They are, apparently, different platforms, but they are completely interconnected.
A YouTube video can appear in a Google search and, in fact, the video platform itself belongs to the Silicon Valley giant. This means that the SEO guidelines to follow for positioning on Youtube are similar to those for Google text search.
If we like creative SEO, there is no reason not to try to position our videos. As long as, of course, we have them in our planning.
Here we have to bear in mind that although creating a video takes considerably more time than a good SEO article (it requires the same research time and writing is quicker than recording, editing and processing), it is usually easier to rank.
The reason is that there aren’t that many people doing SEO on YouTube right now. There are, and there are quite a few, but they are nothing compared to those trying to rank written content.
So, if you are going to make videos, dedicate some time to SEO. Your stats will thank you for it.
Youtube on-page SEO
Optimising SEO on Youtube once we upload a video is a relatively easy process. There are only four elements we need to use:
Let’s look at each of these fundamental parts in turn. Later we will talk about keyword research and other aspects of video production. But, when we talk about SEO on Youtube, we basically refer to these four points.
The title of the video must include the main keyword of the video. I will explain how to select it below. Also, try to make it creative, funny and that it responds to the user’s search intention.
It is not an easy task, but with practice you will get better at it. Youtube has its own language, so it is titled quite differently than any Google article.
If you are going to do SEO on Youtube, one of the first things you should do is learn its codes. To do this, watch videos on the topic you are going to work on and check what kind of titles are used. If they make lists, examples, tutorials, etc… you will see that there are many pre-existing formulas that you can adapt for your video.
Also take into account the use of emoticons. This is especially important if you are targeting Gen Z, as they give them a completely different meaning to millennials and boomers, avoiding literalism.
For example, the emoticon of a crying face does not indicate sadness but laughter. And the emoticon of crying with laughter indicates, basically, being out of date.
However, if your audience is boomer or millennial, you can use emoticons literally.
The description is the short text that accompanies the video. We can use it to develop the theme of the video.
Here the use of the main keyword is fundamental, but also of other words in its semantic field. It is important to take a look at your competitors’ videos to see which keywords you should use.
In addition, we can link to other pages that we mention in the video and related content.
Be long in the description. It doesn’t need to be longer than an article, but develop everything you are going to talk about in the video. Also talk about tools or programmes if you are going to explain them or use them and, in short, anything that is relevant.
Keep in mind that this is what Google will take into account when ranking your content along with the title and tags.
Tags will also help you to position your video on YouTube. Think about keywords directly related to the topic, including long tails.
Of course, competition is again important to select. It will help you to know what tags are being used by other videos that you would like Youtube to understand that your content is related to.
It’s an easy way to say: this is about this and it’s similar content to this.
Be specific with tags and as varied as possible, as long as it is relevant. Just don’t fill in tags for the sake of filling in tags. Don’t put more than ten tags unless you are talking about a very broad and complex topic.
Remember that the idea is to reach the user interested in your content. Putting more tags to reach other users makes no sense because they will simply close the video after seeing that it is not what they are looking for.
Finally, we have the thumbnail. This cover image of the video is super relevant. Therefore, it is usual to include a small text (small in length, not in font size) that complements the title.
Keep in mind that the user will decide whether or not to click on your text with these two elements. Both the title and the thumbnail should explain why they should click on your video. The description and the tags help Youtube to classify you, but for the user it is the title and the featured image that are relevant, especially if they don’t know you yet.
Also keep in mind that the CTR is another key element for Youtube to get your video to the top positions. If we don’t get clicks, we won’t get views and nobody will see the video.
Other aspects to consider
Use the right keywords
Choosing keywords for YouTube is not as simple as keyword research for Google. In fact, many of the tools that claim to do specific keyword research for YouTube are actually taking data from Google, so they are not really reliable.
There are some options such as Google Trends or paid tools such as Ahrefs, which have the option to do specific and real search with Youtube data. However, there is a lack of an official tool such as Google’s keyword planner.
Another option that can help us find keywords is Youtube’s autocomplete function. We will not be able to see the search volumes, but it will help us to create better long tail keywords.
The ideal is to do the keyword research before the video. This way we can adapt the content to the title we have previously chosen. It is fine if we slightly vary the title to what we say in the video, but keep in mind that subtitles, even automatically generated ones, will also be a positioning factor to take into account.
Respond to search intent
Once we have the keyword, we must focus the video on responding to the search intention. We cannot forget that video engagement is an even more important factor than SEO on-page actions.
Interaction metrics including likes, comments, audience retention, clicks on cards or average viewing time will clearly influence the positioning of the video.
To make sure you have good data you need to answer exactly what your audience is looking for. One way to do this is to compare with the competition.
If, for example, you want to position an article about keyword research tools and you see that the first positions are occupied by lists, you know that you have to make a list, for example.
In the end, it’s all about giving the audience what they are looking for.
Recording a quality video
Of course, if we want to use SEO on Youtube we need our content to be of quality. It is important to script the video and make it dynamic. There is nothing more boring than a person talking to a fixed camera.
Edit, share images with secondary screens and, in short, dedicate time to post-production. Also, keep in mind that not everyone does well on camera, especially the first time.
It is normal to have to repeat yourself. Practice and repetition is the only way to improve.
The script is also very important. It’s not a good idea to improvise, but it’s not a good idea to read either. Have a prepared script and then tell it to the camera, don’t read unless you are a professional.
Time management is important, especially at the beginning. The first 10-15 seconds are essential to retain the user. Use storytelling to make them stay with you, structuring each video.
Speak to your audience in their language
Who are you addressing? Make sure they understand you. We already mentioned this with emoticons and titles. For example, if the video is aimed at me, if you use it repeatedly, it will seem appropriate to me, but not to other age groups.
While with written language there is a kind of more closed standard, although we can adapt it to our audience, in the case of YouTube, as it is spoken language, there is much more variety.
Very important, really, don’t try to be “cool”. There is nothing more cringe-inducing than someone who is trying to be cool without being cool. If you are addressing an audience with a language that is substantially different from your own, you can tone down your language, but don’t impost it.
It will look better if you speak normally than if you are forty years old and try to speak as if you were nineteen. Let them understand you, but don’t lose the naturalness of being someone you are not.
When you are in front of a camera, all this is easily transmitted.
Ask for likes and subscriptions
Likes and subscriptions will help you to rank your videos. How to get likes and subscriptions? There are no tricks. By asking for it.
You may have noticed that, regardless of the success of the Youtuber or their account, they all ask for likes. At this point, it’s not invasive and maybe by saying it, the user will listen to you. Maybe not, but you don’t lose anything by trying.
Also, by increasing your subscriptions, you’ll stop relying so much on SEO on YouTube and you’ll have an audience ready to watch your videos when they come out. Provided they are interested, of course.
A good number of likes and subscriptions will go a long way to giving you a much better starting position.
Also, ask for comments and interact with users. Create discussion and spend time with your community. Not only will this benefit you in terms of making your audience feel heard, but having more comments will make YouTube feel more relevant.
It can be lazy to respond to comments one by one, especially if you have a highly ranked video, but this is what will help you maintain your ranking.
Enter your subtitles
YouTube automatically generates subtitles for your videos. These automatic subtitles also influence the positioning of your video, as it gives the platform a wider semantic field.
However, the system is far from perfect. Voice transcription still needs a long way to go to be reliable. Therefore, the best you can do is to enter your subtitles directly with a document, which the platform itself synchronises afterwards.
If you have a script, it will be much easier and faster to transcribe. This way, we really make sure that YouTube understands what we are talking about.
Of course, it does take time and we don’t always have it to spare. Even so, I recommend it because it helps a lot with positioning.
Use the cards and set up the final screen
Cards are links that are inserted at a certain point in the video. You can link to another video, which will be seen with a thumbnail or even a link to an external page.
It is an element that helps to retain the user, especially when linking to other videos and positively affects the positioning. In the end, it works in a similar way to links in text. It provides context and generates valuable related information for the user.
And we already know that the more we help the user, the better positioned we will be.
Once the video is finished, we can also configure the final screen. Here I also recommend introducing other related videos of our authorship. We will keep the user longer on our channel and YouTube will value it positively.
Within your channel, you can create playlists of thematic or similar content. You are also telling Google what your videos are about and what they relate to.
For example, if you have a hotel, you can have a playlist about the hotel facilities with different videos, others about the restaurant’s recipes, one about experiences and excursions, etc… It is about making it easier for the user to find the content they are interested in.
Share the content
Once the work is done and the video is published, it needs to be disseminated. For this, all options are good.
If you have a newsletter, include it in it. If you write SEO articles, add them, which will also help you improve your dwell time, if you have a podcast for companies, mention it, etc… Social networks tend to work quite well with certain videos.
The point is that doing SEO on Youtube requires time and effort, so you have to try to get as many people as possible to see it.
If you don’t manage to increase your views and you are convinced that the product is good, I recommend that you opt to use YouTube advertising. You need a good CTR to start positioning, so we can force views and see if the public responds.
Analise your data
Finally, analyse your data. Use analytics to check what has worked for you and what has not. Identify patterns in subject matter, editing, keywords, tags, etc… to see what works and what doesn’t work for you.
And, of course, don’t just take the explanation. Analysing your data only makes sense if we are then going to apply the conclusions. The more time you spend and the more data you accumulate, the better results you will get.
As in traditional SEO, this is a job that takes time and effort, but it can be very rewarding.