As with company websites, an online video presence is increasingly becoming regarded as an absolute must for any small or medium-sized businesses. With YouTube attracting over one billion unique users per month and continuing to enjoy its status as the second-biggest search engine on the internet behind its parent company Google, the benefits in terms of potential audience should be obvious.
As with conventional websites, there will be a range of search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies to follow when setting up your YouTube channel to maximise its usefulness as a marketing tool. With more than 100 hours of video uploaded to the site every minute in 2013, the vast array of video content hosted by YouTube makes it an exceedingly crowded marketplace in which to get noticed so it’s essential to optimise as much as possible. You are unlikely to gain decent levels of brand recognition on YouTube without proper optimisation, it’s as simple as that.
There are a lot of parallels between the techniques used in SEO for websites and that used for YouTube optimisation, such as the use of keywords and quality content. It’s important to understand that YouTube is usually a destination and not a stopover with average click-through rates of about 1%. In this sense it’s vital that you not only get people to click on your videos but you’re effectively selling your brand when they do.
Here are five top tips for optimising your YouTube channel.
In the same way that web search engines cannot crawl flash and video content, so the ranking algorithm on YouTube cannot actually watch the videos posted on channels. Like Google’s, YouTube’s algorithm relies on text to rank content and therefore good use keywords is essential. Key search terms and phrases should be used extensively but not exhaustively. It is therefore necessary to identify keywords that tie in with your brand and your target audience is likely to be searching for.
Like traditional website SEO, this involves a little detective work. By digging deeper into exactly what words users are searching for, you can tailor your video to their needs via keywords and attract the right audience. For example, typing in a word or phrase into the excellent YouTube Keyword Tool builds phrases that are commonly searched for, helping you understand common searches around your keyword and other possible keywords to optimise your content for.
Choose an Appropriate Title
These are the three main areas on the YouTube video editor where you can input your own text to describe and ultimately sell your video. Using relevant keywords in these areas is essential to boosting the ranking of your video. The title of your video is also very important, as it is prominently displayed to both YouTube's algorithm and is of course essential for users browsing your content. Be sure to use at least one keyword, but do not sacrifice descriptiveness for keyword-stuffing. Ultimately your channel should be user friendly and the content on it clearly and coherently defined.
Describe Your Video
The first one or two lines of the video description shows up both on search engine results pages (SERPs) and the YouTube search results pages. Loading this box with well-chosen keywords works well with the YouTube algorithm and gives the added bonus of emboldening words on both results pages if the user has specifically searched for them. Text flows here of 200-500 words are typical on well-optimised videos, as they utilise a great many keywords in a detailed description of the video as well as naming contributors or places of interest in full in order to include such names in the video's search parameters.
Tag Your Work
The tags section allows you to enter common tags suggested by YouTube (such as ‘rock music') and keyword phrases that help your video to be found in a search. It is important to bear in mind that tags include both singular and plural words, so it is good practice to include both versions of a tag where necessary. Feel free to use as many tags as possible, provided they are relevant to the video content.
Organise Your Channel and Content
Channel authority refers to the ranking entire channels have with YouTube, based not only on how the algorithm reads the content, but also on how users have interacted with the content. Well-organised channels will have playlists in which videos covering a similar topic will be grouped together with targeted keywords alongside them.
Resist the urge to list your most popular content at the top of the page. Instead, organise your videos evenly according to topic and relevance rather than how many views and comments they have gained. High-ranking channels will also be regularly updated with fresh content, with videos habitually shared on social media and embedded on other websites.
Last but certainly not least, remember that it has been proven again and again that YouTube success ultimately comes down to good content so it’s important not to rely on these tactics and neglect the calibre or relevance of what you’re producing. A clear and well defined marketing strategy is a must (and warrants an article all of itself). Everything else is just oiling the wheels.
Jon Mowat used to make hard hitting documentaries for the BBC and can now be found running British based video production and marketing company, Hurricane Media. Well-known clients he’s worked with include BMW, Peugeot, Canon, Barclaycard and Airbus, as well as plenty of lesser-known startups and SMEs. You can follow Hurricane on Google+, Twitter or Facebook.