A Non-Technical (But Complete) Guide to YouTube SEO in 2019 YouTube SEO in 2019: How to Optimize Videos to Boost YouTube Traffic

CategoriesSEO / Video

YouTube has over 1.3 billion logged in users who visit this ever-popular video sharing platform each month. And 6 out of 10 people choose visiting online video platforms over live TV. 

According to Think with Google,

“By 2025, half of viewers under the age of 32 will not subscribe to a pay TV service.”

The point here is,

YouTube can be a goldmine for your business if you’re able to harness its true power. 

Being skeptical?

My friend, online videos play an important role in the purchase funnel.

 

However, just uploading your videos on YouTube will not move the needle. 

You need a regular stream of relevant traffic to your videos to build brand awareness, generate leads, and grow your sales. And YouTube SEO can help you achieve these objectives.

What Is YouTube SEO?

More than 400 hours of video content were uploaded to YouTube every minute as of July 2015, according to Statista

And this number has been going up since then, thanks to smartphones and faster Internet. 

 

The landscape of YouTube is getting crowded with each passing minute. 

In fact, YouTube has become the second largest search engine. So, my friend, it is not easy to stand out from the crowd here without extra efforts.

YouTube SEO is to optimize your videos for YouTube search engine so that your videos can rank higher on YouTube search engine ranking page and Suggested Videos for relevant keywords. It also increases the chances of your videos appearing on traditional search for video keywords. 

Like traditional SEO begins with knowing user-intent (keyword), YouTube SEO also begins with finding YouTube keywords.  

How to Find YouTube Keywords

Having a list of right YouTube keywords is the foundation for your success on this ever-popular video sharing community as the right keywords will drive high traffic to your YouTube videos.

But how will you find the right keywords for YouTube SEO in 2019?

My friend, the best place to start keyword research is YouTube itself.

Suppose, you deliver fresh flowers. If you search YouTube for ‘fresh flowers, you will get plenty of suggestions.

These YouTube suggestions are good keywords as people are searching YouTube using these keywords. Make a list of these keywords and search YouTube for each keyword to manually check whether there is any popular video keyword. 

Let’s check’ fresh flowers arrangement’

What about ‘fresh flowers jewellery making’?

Look at the views on these videos. It is clear that people are searching and viewing these videos. 

This way, you can find popular keywords relevant to your business. 

Now comes a kicker!

Is there any way to know popular YouTube keywords that are giving huge traffic to your competitor?

The answer is YES.

Go to a popular channel in your niche and click on the most popular videos.

Once, you find the most popular videos. Analyze carefully titles and descriptions of your videos to figure out key phrases/keywords your competitor has optimized their videos for. 

You can also use any tool to find YouTube SEO keywords. 

Keyword Tool is my go-to place to start my research for YouTube keywords as it is an easy-to-use.

Google also shows videos results for certain types of keywords. Usually, it gives video results for sport/exercise related queries, tutorials, and how-to-queries. 

 

Check whether you can find few keywords/key phrases that fit in these categories. Also, google these keywords to make sure that you have found the right video keywords (Google shows video results for these keywords).

YouTube SEO Best Practices 

Congratulations for finding YouTube keywords. You have won half the battle. Here are some YouTube SEO best practices that you should follow in 2019.  

1- Channel Name & Its Branding

YouTube channel name appears on your channel page, videos, and YouTube search results. It represents your brand so it is important that you should name it properly. 

If done right, YouTube channel name can give viewers an idea about what your channel is about. 

Here are some tips to help you name your YouTube channel:

  • Choose your name as your channel name if you want to promote your personal brand 
  • Use your brand name as your channel name if you want to promote your business
  • Try to pick a channel name that describes your topics 
  • Pick a unique name if it is possible 
  • Avoid using numbers in your channel name 

Also, you should check whether social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are available for the channel name you pick. 

Once you are done with naming your YouTube channel, the next task is to write a description for your channel (about section).

You should include important keywords in your channel’s description so that users can easily understand what your channel is about. 

Follow these best practices to write your channel’s description:

  • Catch the attention of viewers in the first 160 characters 
  • Write description keeping viewers in the mind  
  • Use a CTA (like subscribe our channel)
  • Use important keywords

After writing the description, you should make an aggressive plan to promote your YouTube channel. Advertising your channel helps build authority. 

If your channel is eligible, you should a get custom URL for your channel. 

2- Video Quality 

Brian Dean analyzed 1.3 million YouTube videos and he found that HD videos dominate the first page YouTube search result.

 In his data, Brian Dean found that 68.2% of all the videos on the first page were in high-definition (HD). 

There can be only two reasons for this – either most YouTubers are shooting videos in HD or YouTube has a preference for high-definition videos. 

Whatever the reason is, you should always shoot videos in high-definition. 

3- Video File Name

YouTube is able to see your filename. So if you use a keyword in your raw video file, it can signal YouTube what your video is about. 

Spose your main keyword is ‘fresh flower arrangement’ and you have shot a video for it. Instead of leaving the raw file as it is, name it something like fresh flower arrangement.

SEO managers can debate over whether a video file name helps YouTube SEO or not. It does not take much efforts to name your raw video file, so you should do it. 

The more information you provide to YouTube, the better it will be. 

4- Video Title 

YouTube titles are a measure ranking factor, so you should strategically write the titles of your videos. 

Briggsby analyzed 3.8 million data points across 100,000 videos and 75,000 channels and found that higher number of results used at least part of keyword in their titles. 

Following is the percentage of results containing broad match keyword in title by rank

It is evident that you should include exact or some part of keywords in your videos titles to get them ranked higher.   

Briggsby also found that there is a correlation between title length and performance. Shorter titles perform better than longer titles.

How can you write perfect titles for your videos to improve YouTube SEO in 2019?

Here are some tips:

  • Include important keywords, intent modifiers, and clickbait
  • Keep your video titles under 50 characters 
  • Write succinct titles explaining primary topics 
  • Check titles of your competitors 

The best YouTube titles will include the combination of the above points. 

Your video titles have the potential to turn your popular videos into viral videos, so strategically write your video titles.  

5- Video Description 

Optimized video descriptions let YouTube know what your videos are about. Well-optimized video descriptions can improve your videos’ ranking and help them feature on suggested videos. 

“YouTube is one of the largest search engines in the world. And writing descriptions with keywords can help viewers find your videos more easily through search,” says YouTube. 

Look how smartly Brian Dean wrote description for his YouTube video. 

Wondering how can you write great descriptions for your YouTube videos?

 

Here are some best practices that you should follow:

  • Limit your video descriptions within 5000 characters
  • Describe what your videos are about in the first few lines
  • Use relevant keywords/key phrases in descriptions 
  • Use links to related playlist in descriptions 
  • Use relevant hashtags in your videos 

As YouTube metadata plays an important role in getting videos featured on suggested videos, you should make sure that your video descriptions have keywords/key phrases that popular videos in your niche have.  

Brian Dean has created a useful template for writing great product descriptions. Check it here:

Also, aim for 2-3% keyword density (including variations) in your videos descriptions. 

6- Engagement Metrics

Engagement on your videos is perhaps the most powerful YouTube ranking factor. The more people watch your videos, like your videos, share your videos, or comment on your videos, the better your ranking will be on YouTube search. 

Also, high-engagement on your videos improves the chances of your video getting featured on suggested videos.   

Let’s explore engagement metrics that you should keep tabs on to improve YouTube SEO in 2019:

 

  • Video Views

 

Needless to say, there is a strong relationship between ranking and YouTube views. 

High-ranked videos get lots of views. And this further improves ranking. How? 

If more people are clicking on your videos and watching them, it sends a strong signal to YouTube that your videos match the users’ intent.

My friend, views are one of the important factors that can determine your success on YouTube. Therefore, you should make an aggressive strategy to attract more people to your videos.

Here are some proven, legit strategies to increase views of your videos to improve YouTube SEO in 2019:

  • Make a kickass plan to distribute your YouTube videos on multiple social media platforms 
  • Employ the power of email marketing to promote your videos 
  • Embed your videos into guest posts that you write for high-traffic sites 
  • Include your important videos in your email signature 
  • Run paid ads to promote your videos  

Whatever promotion strategy you choose, make sure you stay legit.

Google does not want you to adopt any illegitimate practice to increase views on your YouTube videos. 

“Content that links to or promotes third-party services that artificially inflate views, likes, subscribers, or other metrics is not allowed on YouTube,” says Google.

It is self-explanatory. If more people like your videos, it sends a signal to YouTube that your videos solve the queries of viewers. This can eventually improve the ranking of your videos on YouTube search.

Also, incremental likes (thumbs-up) can help your YouTube video feature on Suggested Videos.  

As YouTube thumbs-up is a strong ranking signal, you should promote your videos to a large audience in order to increase the like of YouTube videos. 

The more people watch your videos, the more chance you will have to get likes. 

Remember, the only thing that determines the like of your videos is the quality of your videos. 

So create high-quality videos that solve your audience’s queries, likes (thumbs-up) will certainly follow.  

YouTube allows viewers to share videos on different platforms, including the top social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Reddit, Tumblr, LinkedIn, etc.

If more people share your videos on their social media platforms after watching, it can send YouTube a signal that your videos solve the queries of viewers or your videos deliver what viewers are looking for. 

Also, the more shares mean your videos will reach a larger audience, increasing views, likes, comments on your videos. It can eventually improve the ranking of your videos on YouTube. 

In a nutshell, more shares are good for YouTube SEO in 2019.

How can you increase shares of your YouTube videos?

Following are some tips on increasing shares of your videos in 2019:

  • Request your viewers to share at the end of your videos 
  • Run social media contests 
  • Submit your videos to Stumbleupon
  • Share your videos on Facebook & LinkedIn groups 
  • Post teasers of your videos on social media 

You must understand that people share videos only when they feel videos will offer value to their followers. 

So, you should make sure that you create high-quality, useful videos. Only then, you can expect viewers will share your videos.   

  • Comments

Brian Dean observed a strong correlation between comments and higher ranking when he analyzed 1.3 million YouTube search results.

“If someone leaves a comment, it sends a strong message to YouTube that they probably enjoyed the video (or at least engaged with it),” says Brian Dean

So you should encourage your viewers to leave comments on your videos. Requesting to comment at the end of your videos is a good strategy to earn comments on your YouTube videos.  

When somebody comments on your videos, you should reply to them. Never leave any comment unanswered, especially negative ones. 

 

  • Watch Time And Subscribe After Watching

 

If somebody opens your video, how long does he/she stay on that video? Does he/she finish watching the video or leave the video after a few seconds?

Watch time matters. The longer the watch time, the better it will be for the performance of your video. 

YouTube itself has reckoned it. 

“The longer you can keep people watching on YouTube because of your content, the more your content may get surfaced.”

Justin Briggs, in his industry report, found a strong correlation between watch time and ranking. 

So if you want to improve the ranking of your videos on YouTube, you should try to increase watch time.  

Here are some strategies that can increase watch time of your videos on YouTube:

  • Start your videos with something that immediately grabs attention (within 15 seconds)
  • Tell your viewers what your videos are about in the beginning so that they don’t have to guess 
  • Keep your viewers hooked by teasing them throughout the videos 
  • Promote your videos aggressively to get more views
  • Structure playlist for linear viewing
  • Choose title and thumbnails properly 
  • Grow your subscriber list 

 

Not only watch time, if someone subscribes to your channel after watching, it also means that the viewer has liked your video. 

And the best way to get more subscribers is to ask for it. At the end of your video, ask your audience to subscribe to your channel. 

However, remember that nobody likes to subscribe to a channel that doesn’t produce quality content. 

7- Thumbnails 

More than 40 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute, which simply means it is not easy to stand out from the crowd on this every-popular video sharing platform.

Video thumbnails are an effective tool that will help your videos get noticed and clicked. They work like marketing posters of your videos and let viewers have a quick snapshot of your videos while they are browsing videos. 

Additionally, eye-catchy thumbnails help your videos stand out on Suggested Videos and increase the chances of viewers clicking on your videos. 

In a nutshell, you should create irresistible thumbnails for videos. 

Though thumbnails do not have any direct role in the ranking of your videos on YouTube, they improved clicks on your videos, thereby increasing views. This can eventually improve the ranking of your videos on YouTube.

You can autogenerate YouTube thumbnails, but you should not do it. 90% of the best-performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails. So you should create custom thumbnails for your videos. 

“When you customize your thumbnails, be sure you’ve got a strong, vibrant image that looks great large and small, and conveys key information about your video,” says YouTube

Following are some best practices to create click-worthy thumbnails:

  • Create thumbnails of high resolution as much as possible (but keep under 2MB limit)
  • Write catchy titles for your thumbnails
  • Create consistent thumbnails for all your videos
  • Follow recommended specs: 1280 x 720 pixels (16:9 ratio) as a .JPEG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG.
  • Zoom in and zoom out of your thumbnails to check look

Once you have created thumbnails, you should examine whether the thumbnails of your videos stand out among other videos or not.

YouTube thumbnails are an important marketing tool to brand your videos. However, you should avoid using misleading, clickbaity, and sensational thumbnails. Doing so can adversely affect the performance of your videos. 

Always make sure the titles and thumbnails deliver on the promise. 

8- Subtitles and Closed Captions 

Subtitles and closed captions are not directly related to YouTube ranking. However, subtitles and closed captions enable your content to reach a larger audience, which ropes in deaf and hard of hearing viewers and people from different languages. This eventually improves views and increases the chances of getting more likes, comments, and shares, thereby improving your ranking.

Some people consider subtitles and closed captions the same thing. However, they are different from each other.  

Subtitles offer a text alternative for dialogue while closed captions provide text alternative for every sound of the videos.

Depending on your target audience, choose subtitles or closed captions for your videos. 

Google offers useful information on adding closed captions/subtitles to videos on YouTube. 

Conclusion

YouTube is huge. This online video sharing community can help you grow your business if you are able to attract a larger audience to your videos. And YouTube SEO is a tool that can improve the ranking of your video and get your videos featured in suggested videos. 

Follow the above best YouTube SEO practices, and I am sure you will be able to boost traffic to your videos. 

What about you? Do you want to add any other best YouTube SEO practice to this list to improve traffic in 2019? Please leave it in the comment section. I would love to know about it. 

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