Whether it’s a six-second Vine or a two-minute YouTube clip, video content is a major element of brands’ marketing strategies. As the medium becomes a more permanent part of your content strategy, it’s increasingly important that you’re creating with SEO best practices in mind.
Video SEO Tips
Here are some video SEO tips to help grow your video’s visibility in search engines. Although we will primarily focus on videos that are hosted on YouTube, some tips can be applied to your Vines and Instagram videos as well.
Know What to Look For
While the two sites are closely linked, YouTube’s algorithm is not nearly as complex as Google’s. That said, the video-hosting platform still takes dozens (compared to Google’s 200) of signals into account for ranking videos.
Still, there are too many to name, so here’s a short list of the most important signals YouTube uses: title tag information, audience retention, keywords in description, tags, video length, number of subscribers watching, comments, likes and dislikes. For a more robust list, check out the infographic featured on Search Engine Watch.
Why is this important? Because if you know what signals YouTube is using for ranking, you can leverage them to get more views and ultimately more traffic back to your website (or whatever your end goal may be).
Use Strong Keywords
Keywords are a great place to start when it comes to video optimization. While YouTube is capable of many things, it can’t actually watch or listen to your videos to know what they’re about. Your keywords help the site determine whether your content is relevant to a specific audience. They will also come in handy on Vine and Instagram (inside accompanying text) when someone is deciding whether or not to watch.
As a general rule, keywords should be included in your title, description, and tags. That said, any keyword featured in your title should be there naturally. For example, “weight loss,” “diet,” and “workouts” are great keywords, but as a title they don’t have a very natural flow. However, “Diet and Workout Tips for Healthy Weight Loss” includes your major keywords while maintaining a natural cadence. Keep in mind that while YouTube has a 100 character limit for titles, most search engines cut off after 70.
You have much more flexibility with your description, which has a 5,000 character limit on YouTube. While brevity is usually preferred, there’s no harm is being descriptive as long as doing so provides value. The first line or two of text used in your description can also appear as rich snippets in search results, so pay extra attention to them as they’ll encourage searchers to click through to your content.
Inspire Viewers to Take Action
YouTube places a lot of weight on user experience signals like subscribing and liking. Obviously as creators we all hope that our content speaks for itself and that viewers will take action without being prompted. However, that’s not always the case, even with videos of the highest quality. So if you’re going to solicit likes, comments, or subscribes, do so in tactful way.
For example, feature strong calls to action in your titles or descriptions, but be cautious not to use overly click-baity text. The key takeaway here is not to trick people into clicking play. Additionally, you can work in subtle reminders to subscribe or kick off conversations through annotations during your video.
One last tip is to allow others to embed your videos. This increases potential for more views, inbound links to your site or YouTube Channel, and so on. Both Vine and Instagram allow for embeds as well. While this might not be a big gain for site traffic, it can send new followers to those profiles, leading to more engagement.
And finally, we recommend using analytics to monitor your video’s performance and the activity around your content. This will help you determine whether your SEO tactics are working or require some tweaking.