How to Optimize Your YouTube Channel for Greater Visibility

Want to get more out of your YouTube channel? Learn how to optimize your channel for better search engine visibility; we cover it all from keyword research to video optimization!

By: Devvkanth Musunuru and Kelly Paul

You’re missing out on a huge opportunity if you’re not using YouTube as part of your marketing strategy. With more than 2 billion active monthly users (45.6% female and 54.5% male1), YouTube is second only to Google when it comes to reach. YouTube also has the power to influence purchasing decisions: more than 90% of people say they’ve discovered new products through their use of YouTube.2

If you’re like most businesses, you may have a YouTube account, but are you following best practices to ensure as many of your personas or target audiences see your videos as possible? If not, here are some key steps you can take to ensure your YouTube channel is optimized for impact.

Keyword Research

Keyword research involves identifying key words and phrases that individuals search for on search engines such as Google or Bing. To find keywords, you’ll want to:

  • Brainstorm topics that connect to your video(s)
  • Use a keyword research tool such as UberSuggest
  • Find popular topics using online forums

Most Search Engine Optimization (SEO) professionals divide keywords into three main categories:

  • Head Terms
    Usually, single words with high search volume and high competition. Think of words such as “insurance” or “vitamins.”
  • Body Keywords
    These two-to-three-word phrases have a search volume of 2,000 or more and are more specific than Head Terms. These would be more in the range of “life insurance” or “order vitamins online.”
  • Long Tail Keywords
    These are long phrases of four or more words with a search volume of 2,000 or more and are quite specific. Think “affordable life insurance for senior citizens” and “order vitamin d capsules online.” Generally, these have a much lower search volume of around 10-200 searches per month.

Once you’ve identified keywords, you’ll want to assess them for potential effectiveness. You’ll want to consider the search volume and search difficulty. Search volume is the number of searches using that keyword in a given month, and search difficulty is the estimated competition for those keywords. The higher the search difficulty number is, the more difficult it will be to rank well. You’ll want to start by looking at low-difficulty keywords with a search volume high enough to make them worth ranking.

YouTube SEO does not prioritize content in the same way as Google SEO. YouTube’s algorithm prioritizes content from trusted authorities for searches such as news, politics, and medical or scientific information. For other categories YouTube looks at signals such as:

  • Relevance
    The title, hashtags, description, and video content.
  • Engagement
    Likes, subscribes, comments, notification status, and watch time.
  • Quality
    The channel demonstrates expertise, authority, and is trustworthy.
  • Personalization
    Takes into account a user’s search and viewing history.

YouTube Video Optimization

To optimize your videos for YouTube you’ll want to develop video content that your target audience is searching for, and you’ll want to make sure it’s a length that the viewer wants. It’s worth noting that almost half of videos that perform well are 3-5 minutes long, and “…the next most successful lengths are 1-3 or 5-10 minutes long.”3

There is more to optimizing your videos than just content and length. Below are some factors YouTube uses to rank videos:

Produce High-Quality Video

Viewers expect high-quality video content, especially with the prevalence of HD Video and 4k and 8k TVs. Your videos need to be well-lit and recorded at 1080p or above.

Create Engaging Titles and Descriptions

You only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention when they land on your video—which is why having an engaging title and description is so important. Write clear and concise titles that include relevant keywords so your videos appear in search results. Your description needs to give viewers a brief overview of what they can expect from your video without giving too much away. Be sure to include a call-to-action (CTA) so that viewers know what you want them to do after watching (e.g., subscribe to your channel, visit your website, etc.)

Use Relevant Hashtags

Hashtags are helpful for classifying content, and allow users and search engines to understand your video content better. Only use hashtags that are relevant to your video. Irrelevant hashtags only serve to annoy viewers.

Optimize your Tags

Not to be confused with hashtags, YouTube allows you to tag your videos with keywords and phrases. You have up to 500 characters’ worth of tags for each video—so make sure you’re taking advantage of this. Include a mix of general tags and specific tags that relate directly to your topic. Doing this helps ensure your videos appear in relevant searches on YouTube and other search engines.

Use Attractive Thumbnails

Your thumbnail is like a mini-movie poster—it should be eye-catching and give viewers an idea of the subject of your video. Choose an image that’s bright, colorful, and visually appealing.

Create a Video Transcript

Transcripts are written versions of your videos, which are important for a couple of reasons. One, they help YouTube understand your video so it can be properly indexed and ranked in the search results. Two, they provide an alternative way for people to consume your content if they prefer reading over watching a video or are hearing impaired. Make sure to proofread your automated transcript thoroughly or use a transcription service.

Use Relevant Links

Make sure you link within the description to all the channels your potential viewers may need. Links could include your social channels, website, and your other YouTube videos.

Create Call-To-Action Cards or End Screens

Provide your viewers a one-click option to subscribe to your channel and tell them why that’s good for them to do. Subscriptions send a quality signal to YouTube, which will help your future rankings.

Allow Video Comments

While it might seem like a fabulous gift to turn comments off, it will significantly reduce your video’s visibility and credibility. Comments are yet another signal used by YouTube to determine videos’ relevancy, quality, and recency.

Create Playlists

As you develop and share more videos, be sure to create Playlists for like content. This allows viewers to find content on a topic in which they’re interested, and it’s a further signal to YouTube about video content. Playlists can increase video views and your ranking.

Content That Wins

There are a variety of signals that YouTube uses to determine rankings and visibility. You’ll want to keep them in mind when you plan and develop your video content and manage your YouTube channel. Pay special attention to the following:

  • How long viewers spend watching your videos.
  • Keywords that are relevant to your video and search queries
  • Growing your channel’s subscribers—YouTube sees this as a signal of trust.
  • Engaging with your viewers to develop credibility.
  • Optimizing your video length so that users are interested in the content and derive real value.

YouTube is a tool that can help increase your brand awareness and drive sales. By following the tips above (and this handy checklist), you can optimize your YouTube channel for greater visibility and reach so more people see your videos.

Learn more about New Path Digital’s SEO services and People-First Marketing.

Footnotes

DataReportal, YouTube Statistics and Trends, https://datareportal.com/essential-youtube-stats?rq=youtube

Google/Magid Advisors, U.S., “The Role of Digital Video in People’s Lives,” n=2,000, A18–64 general online population, July 2018.

SEMRush YouTube SEO Study, https://www.semrush.com/blog/youtube-seo-study/

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