YouTube is the second most visited website on the web, after Google, so for businesses and creators alike, should be considered as a key player in marketing. 

As with anything in search engine marketing, there is a wide range of areas in all strategies, so – let’s explore what I consider to be the six main stages of YouTube SEO strategies.

#1 – Keyword research

Keyword research for videos is completely different than for text-based blog posts and sites.

This is down to two reasons:

  1. Most of your views come from YouTube suggesting your video to their users – not search engines as most people only get around 15-25% of their video traffic from search. The rest come from suggested videos and “browse features”.
  2. People use Google and YouTube in completely different ways. A keyword that gets 100k monthly searches in Google (like “car insurance”) may get only 50k on YouTube. On the other hand, a keyword that gets a billion searches on YouTube (like “cute cats”), will get significantly less in Google.

#2 – Create exceptional content

Like all things with SEO – content comes first. If the content isn’t good enough, to begin with, ranking it shouldn’t even be a thought. Resource should only be spent on ranking a video higher if the content is exceptional.

Content is measured by YouTube in the following KPIs:

Session Time (how long users spend on YouTube after watching your video – not directly measurable – create playlists and CTAs to other videos at the end of your video to improve this)
Watch Time (TWT – the accumulation of how long every user watches your video for.. because of this, long videos can naturally perform better)
Audience Retention (the bounce rate of the average viewer.. because of this the first 15 seconds of your video is the most important)
Engagements (likes, comments, subscribes, shares, add to playlists – make clear CTAs verbally and visually)
CTR (create engaging thumbnails and titles)

When you create content with these KPIs in mind, you can find yourself doing well organically.

#3 – Video optimisation

As with content marketing, there’s more to video SEO than publishing a good piece of content and hoping for the best.

You also need to optimize your video around keywords that people use on YouTube (and Google).

To do this, work on the following:

Title of the video.

There are two goals with YouTube titles: Include target keywords and increase CTR.

Description of the video.

The current best practice seems to be to write video descriptions including 200+ words due to the simple reason that longer descriptions are more likely to give YouTube a greater understanding of what your video is about and why it should be ranked highly.

A greater understanding will allow your video to be recommended more, too – allowing more views from ‘suggested’ tabs.

Video tags

Tags are nowhere near as important as they were 5-10 years ago. However, they are still a factor, albeit a small one. The only thing to focus on with video tags are target keywords, video relevance and competitor names (if, and a big if, it is relevant to do so).

Verbally talk about target keywords in the video itself

YouTube’s algorithm tries to make sense of every word that is uttered in a video and creates transcripts of them for YouTube’s automatic captions. Therefore, directly talking about target keywords in the video itself can allow YouTube to understand the purpose of your video.

Upload a transcript

Due to the above, this can help.

#4 – Channel authority

The channel’s authority (AKA subscribers…) plays a direct and indirect role in how your videos perform on YouTube. In general, videos published on a channel with lots of authority and a strong community will rank above the same video on a new channel.

#5 – Ranking YouTube videos in Google

Google earmarks certain keywords for video results.

So, how do you get a video to show on Google?

Create a good video + optimise video + hit correct niche at correct time = Ranks in Google.

Other than that, it’s all about getting backlinks to your video. Like any page on the internet, the more high-quality backlinks you build, the better.

#6 – Promoting your video

400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. So, even the best optimised most incredible videos need promotion. Promotion methods are:

  • Build an email list and send out a mailshot with every new upload.
  • Build a following on other social media platforms and share your videos there.
  • Create blogs off the back of your video and link back to your video.
  • Promote and encourage viewers to visit other videos on your channel.
  • Share videos on forums, Quora and Reddit.