Youtube SEO: How to optimize and grow your channel

Youtube SEO: How to optimize and grow your channel

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If you did not know, Youtube SEO is a thing. It works just like search engine optimization for websites. When done properly, it can help you grow your Youtube channel at no cost. Which, as a small business with a tight budget, is something you want. 

Google may be the most powerful search engine, it is not the only one. And a strong Youtube channel can really help bring more awareness to your business. If you think about it, Pinterest is also a search engine and can bring your website a lot of traffic. Using Instagram SEO can also help increase discoverability for your profile.

At the end of the day, SEO is free and helps increase organic traffic. Youtube SEO requires time and effort but it is all worth it. You will agree when the results of your SEO work start to show and you see an increase in views and followers.

How to nail your Youtube SEO

Youtube research keywords

While your SEO strategy will start with keyword search for your website, the same goes for Youtube SEO. It starts with video keyword search. Making a list of keywords and keyphrases starts with picking your niche. What do you want your Youtube channel to be about? You can then search for keywords relevant to that niche.

A great way to find keywords is to use YouTube’s Search Suggest feature. Pop a word or phrase in the Youtube search bar and look at the suggested keywords. They are terms people type into Youtube and videos they are actually looking for. You know there is an audience and you want them to find you.

Once you have keywords ideas, you need to pick the best ones for your content and channel. You need a mix of popular and less competitive keywords. Using keywords with less competition increases your chances of popping first in search results, since there are less videos to compete with.

Optimize your Youtube channel name

Optimizing your Youtube channel for SEO means helping the search algorithm understand what your content is about and show it to the relevant people. That is why keywords are so important. If you use your brand name as a channel name, it can be a good idea to add keywords in there too.

Why? Simply because your brand name may not be enough to explain what your content is about. For example, Happy Shark Media. It very obviously refers to the media but remains quite generic. Adding marketing specific keywords to the name will give a quick explanation as per what our channel is about, i.e. Happy Shark Media – Marketing strategies for small businesses.

This can be especially useful if users see your channel name in the comments under some videos. While your name may not bring up anything to users who see it. Adding keywords to your channel name makes sure people who see your channel name know what you do.

Optimize your channel description

Optimizing your Youtube channel for SEO includes optimizing your channel description with relevant keywords. As mentioned above, keywords help the algorithm understand what your content is about so that it can show your videos to people interested in that particular content.

Optimizing your channel description can help you rank higher in search results. Youtube gives a lot of space to write lengthy keyword rich descriptions. Make sure to add relevant keywords, keyphrases and synonyms. You can also add information about the different types of videos you do as well as your posting schedule.

For example, if you post baking videos, you may list the different types of videos you do, i.e. beginner tricks, seasonal recipes, savory recipes, how to’s, etc. Use the list of keywords you made to write a comprehensive description. Add your other social media links so that users can follow you on your other channels.

Use channel tags

Channel tags are essential to Youtube SEO. They are great to help you optimize your channel and to increase discovery. Channel tags help the search algorithm determine which other channels and videos to recommend when a user is watching a video. Remember that list of “watch next” or “recommended for you”?

Or when you are on your homepage? And you see a lot of videos, some from channels you follow and others from channels you don’t know? Well, channel tags help you be featured amongst those. Such tags can include your channel topic, our niche, the type of videos you do, your channel name, etc.

Adding channel tags is easy. Open Youtube Studio. On the left side bar, click on “settings”, then “channel” and then “basic info”. There will be a space where you can add a lot of keywords. Click “save” when you are done.

Create and use playlists

Even if your channel revolves around a very small niche, chances are, you will do different types of videos. For example, booktubers will do monthly bookhauls, weekly reading wrap up, reading vlogs. Baking channels will do savory recipes, sugary recipes, tips and tricks videos, etc. Even though those videos all fall under their respective niches, they still are different types of videos.

Creating a playlist for each type of video allows you to optimize your channel for SEO even more. Indeed, each playlist gets a title and a description which means you can add more keywords to your channel.

Playlists are one of the best ways to get more views on your videos. They will automatically play every video in the playlist. Or one video will have recommendations of more of your videos belonging to the same playlist.

Optimize your video files, description and title

Youtube SEO is about doing anything you can to help the algorithm understand your content. When saving your video before you upload them on Youtube, add relevant keywords to their file name. Youtube can read your video’s filename and the code that comes with them when they are uploaded.

Think of your video title and description as a movie title and synopsis. That is the first thing people see about it, especially the title. Your video title must clearly state what the video is about and includes relevant keywords.

When it comes to the description, you can add up to 5000 words. Use all the space you can. Write keyword rich descriptions that sum up what the video is about, list the points you are making, link related videos, etc. Make sure the first few sentences get to the point as they are what people see first in the “recommendation” sidebar, below a video.

Go big on the video tags

You can add tags to your channel. You can add tags to each video as well. Similarly, they are descriptive keywords that will help viewers find your content. They basically repeat keywords already used in your title and description. Once again, they help inform Youtube what your content is about.

Tags help Youtube associate your videos with similar videos, which will broaden your content reach. Tags must be relevant to your channel and particular video. Choose short-terms and long-terms keywords, competitive and less competitive ones.

Tags will not only help Youtube know what your videos are about but also Google. Google search results can indeed show videos in top results and video results. 

Add closed captions and subtitles

Youtube SEO works with keywords, written or spoken. Indeed, Youtube can pick up what you say and transcribe it automatically. However it is not always accurate. More often than not, you will have to work on the subtitles yourself. Subtitles and closed captions can boost Youtube search optimization by highliginh important keywords again.

You can either write a transcript and upload to Youtube. The software will match the spoken words with the written words automatically. Or you can modify the subtitles Youtube already came up with. The former is usually faster.

Use cards, end of screen and good thumbnails

Using a beautiful thumbnail, adding cards and end of screen to your videos are Youtube SEO best practices.

Cards are the little “i” at the top right of your video. You can add up to five. People can click and go see other videos of yours. End-of-screen will show at the end of the video and display other videos to watch on your channel. Both cards and end-of-screen are great to increase user retention and views.

Thumbnails are the first thing users see. It must be clear, striking and high quality as well as convey a strong message. Youtube will generate a thumbnail for you from your video but better design one yourself.

Built your channel backlink profile

Backlinking for a Youtube channel is slightly different than doing so for a website. Adding links to a channel is not necessarily backlinking. However, it is still link building. You can add links directly in your description to other videos. Make sure they are trustworthy and bring value.

You can also add links to your videos on your social media or blog post. You can even embed videos in blog posts. More links to your channel means that people value your content to recommend it to others. It helps build authority.

Authority is a big factor in how your content ranks in search results. That is why link building for your channel can really help boost your Youtube SEO. However, just like with websites, those links must be high quality.

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