YouTube SEO 2020 — A Step by Step Guide – Khandaker Ahmed Shah Nawaz

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A complete guide of YouTube SEO

When we talk about SEO, the first thing that hits on our mind is Google. Most of us do not treat YouTube as a search engine. Yes, it’s a search engine for videos. If you know already know about search engine optimization, you may have heard a lot about YouTube SEO. But if you don’t know what it is or how it works, you need no worries. Don’t be frustrated if your videos are not getting ranked well on YouTube. Read this article till the end, I’ve tried to provide you with a step by step guide from beginning to advance. This will also help a lot who already knows the basics of YouTube SEO because I’m also going to discuss far more than the basics. Alright? Let’s dive right in.

It’s a major part to increase your video views. Maybe you are getting views from your funnel but that’s a limited edition, right? You will be uploading new videos and the last video will be wrapped up with the views. What I meant to say is if your video is not discoverable you might not get enough views. Think YouTube as like Google. As I said earlier, YouTube works as a search engine for videos. Like Google, it has its algorithm too. If you have ever searched on YouTube, you may have noticed some videos with fewer views than the others are showing you up first. It’s because they have done their SEO well. It’s called ranking. YouTube has it’s own ranking factors. In a nutshell, the process/actionable steps that help rank your videos higher than others is known as YouTube SEO.

We want our videos to be discoverable, right? If people are not finding our videos we are not gonna get as many views as we want. We need to optimize our videos to be discoverable by people on

  • YouTube search results
  • Suggested videos at the right sidebar
  • Recommended videos on the feed etc.

Not only we want to get views, but also we want subscribers and traffic. Let’s not forget about the monetization.

Now that you have learnt about YouTube SEO, here is the step by step guide:

Choose your channel name wisely. While choosing a name you should consider your niche. Upload a clean channel icon, looks good. Upload a nice channel art too. If you don’t know photoshop, you can use tools like canva (easy and free to use). Your channel description should be nice and smart enough to describe what your channel is about. If you have uploaded sufficient videos already, you can now create playlist/playlists to help your audience differentiate between the topic of these videos. For example, if you are uploading videos on digital marketing niche you can create playlists like SEO, Social Media Marketing, Google Ads etc. (more is discussed in the last part). YouTube doesn’t like channels that don’t follow any niche, videos that confuse the algorithm actually what the channel is about. I’ve seen many YouTubers who have earned eligibility for monetization but not approved yet, although it has gone 3/4 months after applying. In a nutshell, decorate your channel with the needful to make it look more professional. For each video, the thumbnail is an important part which I’ve discussed later. Overall, your channel should create a good impression on your audiences. All these might not seem related to our main discussion but hey we are talking about optimizing, right?

Firstly, you need to find the appropriate keyword for your video. You need to understand the searchers’ intent. You can generate yourself a list of potential keywords. Using tools like keywordtool.io/youtube can be useful. Here is another tool you can use for keyword research: https://ahrefs.com/blog/youtube-keyword-tools/

What I’ll suggest is this:

Use search results to find your keyword

Using search suggestions from YouTube is a handy one. It’s simple and easy too. Just head over to YouTube and type in your desired word/phrase. It will begin to show you a bunch of search suggestions related to what you have put. Believe me, if you can implement this technique right it will come in handy for your keyword research phase. This tells you how do people search for your desired term. By this way, you have already learnt about some popular search terms. Remember, choosing the right keyword is the most vital step for video optimization. You can even pick up a popular video in your niche and find the keyword the video is optimized for. Check the title, description and video tags to find the keyword the video is optimized around. If you are using chrome you can install extensions like VidIQ to find the video tags. Another handy way to find your keyword is: trends.google.com/trends/explore?gprop=youtube

Select your desired location, categories and learn how people are searching for your specific term. It is divided into two parts:

  1. Search Topics
  2. Search Queries

These two are again divided into two parts:

  1. Rising
  2. Top

You can also compare your search terms to other words/phrases. Like if I search for YouTube SEO it will show me related topics and queries like these:

Related topics and related queries for the search term “YouTube SEO”

Now that you have selected your keyword, put that into the TITLE of the video, I will highly recommend putting this keyword into the first section of your title. Using parenthesis, a hyphen, a colon is a good idea e.g. Advance SEO: How To Rank #1 On Google (FAST). Generate a catchy title. At this stage, I’ve assumed that you have made a nice video to work with. Don’t forget about your video properties. Just go to the video that you want to upload, then press the right button on your mouse to find properties. Click on the details section; fill up the title, subtitle and tags field. This will also help you boost your ranking. While uploading you will find youtube has already fetched some portion of you video metadata, this will save you some time too. Remember, we don’t want to spam. So, you need to be careful when putting your desired keyword into different sections. Now put a nice description related to your video. Don’t put anything that seems weird. You can think this as a mini blog post. Write a description in a way that lets your audience feel like they still need to watch the full video. You can put related hashtags to end your video description because youtube by default shows the first 3tags above your title. To me, using hashtags directly in the title is not a good idea. Find proper tags into the tags field while uploading. This is very important. Don’t put too many tags that confuse the algorithm to distinguish your video. Rather put highly specific tags but in small number. A nice way to find related tags is to select a popular video of your niche. Press Ctrl+U which will take you to the page source section, then Ctrl+F and type keywords to find what are the tags the video is ranking for. Put them directly (all of them those are related) into the tags field. Put your main keyword into the tag field FIRST, then others. Another way is to use YouTube search suggestions. Lastly, use broad keywords. The aim is to give YouTube more context about your video.

Thumbnail is very important. Thumbnail should be attractive and informative. It is probably the first thing a viewer notices. Again canva is a good tool to design your thumbnail if you don’t know photoshop etc. A proper thumbnail can let your audience click on the video. Consider your keyword and put it on the thumbnail. Also, don’t forget to fill up your image properties as you did for the videos (discussed above). Thumbnail is a tricky part to grab viewers attention. Consider not to take YouTube colour code that is white, black and red. Use other than those. Your thumbnail content should contain big bold text.

On the first 15 seconds or so try to show a summary of your video. By this, your audience will learn quickly about your video. Video length is an important factor too. Don’t make your videos clumsy. Although longer videos (maybe a minimum 10–15 minutes) tends to get outrank the shorter ones. The idea is to keep people watching your videos for a longer time. Thus, it will increase your watch time. A well-scripted video helps improve retention time. Let your audience engage with the video until the end. YouTube likes those videos which are loved by your audience. Videos that get comments, likes and shares are easily get ranked. Videos those get a lot of comments and likes tend to outrank the other videos those are not getting comments, likes and shares. The more engaging videos are likely to get a higher ranking. Rather than simply asking your viewers for a random comment, give them a specific thing to comment on. Use the pinned comment section to drive more engagement. Try to reply pretty much all the comments. Put a big subscribe button at the end screen of your video. Rather than quantity always try to focus on quality videos. There is no obvious thing such as how often you should publish your content but make sure your videos are awesome.

Remember, session time is not the same as watch time/retention time. Session time can be referred to as the time your viewers spend on YouTube as a whole. As YouTube stated, “The longer you can keep people watching on YouTube because of your content, the more your content may get surfaced.” To increase the session time always put a big subscribe button on your end screen and don’t forget to link your other videos that your viewers may want to watch. Remember I talked about creating a playlist on your channel earlier? A playlist can also boost your session time. The example I gave you earlier was a general thing. You can create more creative names for your playlist. Instead of SEO, you can name your playlist like how to rank higher on google and include a nice description on it. That’s what you can call it a benefit-oriented title.

After you get a few hundred subscribers and healthy watch time it’s now time to take your channel to the next level. Use YouTube studio to crack down all the thing that is working and that is not working. A nice study of your video analytics can tell you where your video engagements are dropped off. Find out the reasons and work on those things.

Final Thoughts:

Don’t forget that the content is the king. If possible include a closed caption file while uploading. There are some examples where you will find the videos are not properly optimized but the content was such a thing that forced the viewers to watch the video. Those videos are unique or even viral ones. Last but not the least, don’t forget off-page strategies like social sharing, embedding videos into a blog post (if possible) and all those things that will drive more viewers. Don’t use techniques like sub for sub etc. This may ruin your channel. Let me know what do you think?

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