YouTube SEO: How to Optimize your Videos to Get More Views
YouTube is a search engine (just like Google) and most SEO factors that impact the ranking of a webpage also impact how your videos rank in YouTube.
You must understand and apply SEO best practices for YouTube to increase your likelihood of success in the platform.
Because if you rank higher on YouTube, more people will find your content.
And if it’s valuable and high-quality enough, chances are your views will blow up and subscriptions will increase exponentially over time.
That’s why in this blog post we’ll cover SEO best practices to rank higher and get more views in 2021. Follow our tips and you will grow faster and faster with each video you upload.
You can also apply this advice to videos you already have in your channel and optimize each one to ensure higher rankings in YouTube search.
How to get more views and grow your YouTube channel: SEO fundamentals
We will divide this article into two main parts, the pillars of YouTube SEO: optimization and performance.
Optimization means strategically research and plan the keywords you are going to use for each video. It also means to use these keywords in different parts: your title, description, tags, etc.
On the other hand, performance refers to things that happen after your video goes live: the engagement it receives, where and how much it’s shared, etc.
Optimize your videos and rank higher on YouTube
Boost your CTR
Here we want (without being clickbait!) to make our title and thumbnail catchy and intriguing –they need to be enticing enough to be almost impossible to not click on them.
But how do we do that?
Well, it starts by knowing your viewers: if you know who’s watching you (a.k.a. your target audience) chances are that you’re going to know how to communicate with them in a way that’s appealing and persuasive.
A tip for the title: use [brackets] or (parentheses). Inside them, include a sneak peek of what the video contains, to make it super catchy.
For example: How to Build Backlinks to increase your SEO Authority [2021 Step-by-Step Linkbuilding Guide]
To go a step further, analyze the titles of other videos on the topic you want to upload. Then, figure out a way to craft a title that’s more appealing and eye-catching.
Pay attention to your tags
With the new changes YouTube made to the algorithm in 2021, tags aren’t a super important part of SEO anymore. However, it continues to be a valuable ranking factor to consider.
These changes to the algorithm were made due to people abusing tags and stuffing their videos with them. Something very similar happened in one of Google’s algorithm update, where they become less focused on keywords and more focused on user search intention.
It’s a great idea to learn from this and make sure you are using tags correctly, without overdoing it.
I recommend that the first 2-3 tags are your main target keyword and a few variations of it.
- linkbuilding strategies
- linkbuilding guide
- linkbuilding tutorial
The next 2-3 tags will be synonyms of that main keyword:
- backlinks technique
The last 2-3 tags will be broad categories that your target topic falls within. For example:
- search ranking
- web traffic
And that’s all you need! Choose your tags smartly if you can, analyzing the value of each one with a keyword research tool (we’ll talk about this below).
Have you thought about the suggested videos section?
You can rank here as well –don´t let these potential views go to waste!
YouTube suggests videos accordingly to what you tend to watch and/or what you’ve watched in the past, and accordingly to the video you’re watching at that moment.
So, if a person is watching a video on the same topic that yours, it is a good idea to heighten the chances that your video appears in that person’s suggested section.
But how do you do that?
Well, a good tip is to find a few very popular videos on your exact topic if possible, and assess the keywords they use.
You can use some of the same. YouTube will know from these keywords that your video can pair well to expand on the topic of the popular videos you found before and will suggest yours to that audience.
Thus, you’ll have more chances of your channel showing in the recommended section!
Optimize the video description
I’m tired of seeing videos with a single-word description. Those days are over.
You need to write a good description (150+ words at the very least) that sound like you were talking to another fellow human. So, no keyword stuffing, please!
Instead, use your main keyword in the first 2-3 sentences. Next, you can sprinkle these and other related keywords into the body of the text.
Make sure your description is engaging and fun to read as well.
Bonus tip: find keywords with high potential
You’ll love this tip.
First, head to the analytics on YouTube Studio and click traffic sources > search.
There, you will see the keywords that people use to find your videos. Chances are that you’re aware of some of these keywords because you were using them intentionally to rank your videos.
But if you dig deep enough, you’ll find keywords that you rank for accidentally.
Since these keywords already bring people to your channel, why don’t use them to optimize your videos or to create new content targeting these keywords, capitalizing on them?
Another great tip is that you invest in a tool like TubeBuddy. It has, among other functionalities, a keyword research tool.
TubeBuddy will tell you if a certain keyword is worth pursuing based on the competition and the search volume of that keyword. The ideal situation is to find keywords that have low competition and high search volume. It’s like finding a gold mine!
Work on performance to strengthen the channel
Boost engagement signals
Engagement signals include likes, comments, shares, etc. Basically, represents how the people who watch your videos engage (or not) with your content.
There are a few things that you can do to boost them.
For example, make your videos easy to comment on. Instead of vaguely ask your audience at the end of each video to drop a comment, make them a close question or a little survey.
Like, “what of these strategies was your favorite? Tell us in a comment down below”.
People love to interact, but (generally) not to think. If they have to come up with a long well-thought answer, probably they don’t going to bother to comment. Makes sense, right?
Another great tip is to give people a reason to subscribe. A very popular way to doing this is telling something like “subscribe so you don’t miss on great future content like this!”
If you want to expand more on this topic, you can learn with this guide how to build a strong channel to boost your subscriptions.
Embed your videos
Really. Embed them in your blog posts, your website, in guest posts or press releases, etc.
This is another ranking factor on YouTube, and signals to the algorithm that your videos have authority on the internet.
Increase your watch time
A big ranking factor on YouTube is watch time: the total amount of hours a video has been watched.
This metric is not the same as audience retention, which indicates the percentage of a video that people see before leaving.
An increase in watch time signals to YouTube that people find your content useful and valuable, and your videos will rank higher.
If they keep watching, they’re enjoying it!
To achieve that, make sure to plan, script, and outline your videos before filming them. That will give you a clear structure to follow, so you won’t get lost or ramble (when that happens, people leave quickly!)
If you want to dig deeper on this topic, we have a great blog post on planning and organizing YouTube content for you to learn more.
Lastly, make sure your videos aren’t static. Include different camera angles, different shots, music, and animations to keep your video fluid and fun to watch.
The upload and preach strategy won’t get you very far.
Make sure that you’re promoting extensively every new video you upload.
Get creative: you can promote on social media, to your email list, in your blog posts, even on sites like Reddit and Quora (without being spammy, of course).
You want the chance to capture as many eyeballs as possible. YouTube will interpret this as your video being very valuable and will reward you with higher rankings.
Doing YouTube SEO will help you to increase the possibilities of success on your channel, and will ultimately lead to more views, as you get higher and higher on rankings.
This doesn’t have to be complicated. As you saw through this article, paying attention to a few tips will get you far.
Now, the only thing you need to do is to take action. What of these tips are you going to try first? Tell us in the comments 🙂