YouTube SEO: 5 tips for higher rankings

Do you know why you should care about SEO on YouTube? Easy: it’s the second most visited website in the world. In this article we provide 5 practical tips to rank your videos on top!

Marketing Team
Video Marketing YouTube SEO: 5 tips for higher rankings

Table of Contents

We are devoting an entire series of posts to a central theme: the importance of video for SEO (search engine optimization) strategies. Now, we want to focus on one specific side: the one involving YouTube

Here, we’re talking about a very large playing field, one that – in some ways – can be even more decisive than Google itself. In the next section, we’ll start by talking about the size of this ecosystem and the absolute importance of working surgically on YouTube video SEO. Then, we’ll move on to providing you with 5 practical tips for improving the ranking of your videos.

Here’s why you should care about SEO on Youtube

As promised, here are some very significant numbers:

  1. YouTube is the second most visited site in the world, behind only Google.
  2. YouTube records 2.6 billion unique users per month, a very impressive figure.
  3. More than 1 billion hours of videos are viewed on YouTube every day.
  4. The predominant age group of YouTube users is 15 to 35 years old.
  5. 62% of businesses use YouTube as a channel to distribute their video content.

We could go on, but we will stop here, as the landscape already seems perfectly clear and outlined. In conclusion, let’s look at two statistics that focus specifically on what YouTube video SEO is all about:

  • 70% of video views are determined by YouTube’s algorithm through recommendations and related videos.
  • The most popular 10% of YouTube videos garner about 79% of views across the platform.

Again, the data makes all of this all extremely clear.  And the message cannot be more explicit than this: improving your YouTube video SEO is a top priority.

As promised, let’s look at the best way to get the highest SEO ranking on YouTube—in 5 tips. 

YouTube video SEO: 5 tips for the best ranking

Let’s dive in!

Every good YouTube strategy plays out at the meeting point of two forces:

  • the goals of your video campaign
  • the context in which it fits

First, it’s a matter of getting as clear as possible and asking ourselves: what is the message we want to convey with our video? What is its core? Who is it aimed at, and who are the potential recipients? What kind of actions do we want the recipients to take once they finish viewing the video? (To continue to follow us? To leave a comment? To generate awareness of the brand? To visit the company website? To directly purchase a product or service? And much more).

Next, in terms of context, it’s a matter of getting the tools and capacity to capture the strongest sentiment and trends. In other words: it is a matter of data analysis. How can you best get this information?

By relying on the best Big Data Analysis systems, sure. But you can also start with simpler actions and – so to speak – “custom” actions. Some examples?

The YouTube Search Suggest auto-fill tool: type in a potential keyword and the algorithm completes the field. Why does it work?. Because the suggestions are derived from what people are searching for on the platform. Also, try to figure out what keywords are included in the most popular videos especially those from your competitors, or at any rate, for videos whose potential target audience overlaps with yours.

Finally, always remember to also do research outside of YouTube. A very practical tool? That of Google Trends, for example.

This preliminary research should provide the keywords that you can build your YouTube video SEO strategy around.

2) The hierarchy of keywords

The result of the preliminary research, which we mentioned above, should be that you end up with a range of keywords that are consistent with your communication goals, but also in line with general sentiment and trends.

At this point, it’s time to build a hierarchy. To do so, it’s good to start with the main keyword (in the next point we will see how and where to insert it in your video and the ones that surround it).

How to choose it? It’s a matter of balance. A practical (and very effective) suggestion is to choose a so-called low-competition keyword. That is, a keyword that is popular, but not overused. This way you increase the chances that users will end up at your video and not on that of a competitor who has many more subscribers than you, for example.

Of course, it’s a different matter if your channel is the most popular in a given segment: in this case, it might be enough to ride the trend and choose the most popular keyword.

3) Where and how to enter the keyword?

Here we move into a more operational field. Once the main keyword is identified, where should you insert it?

First and foremost, include the keyword in the title of the video itself. But note: this does not mean that the keyword should be the entire title! Include the keyword in the description of the video.

Also, include the keyword in the video tags. Here, we are in a more “technical” forum. You’ll want to include not only the main keyword, but also secondary ones (which are often related to the main one).

Then pay attention to the audio of the video itself! YouTube’s algorithms are increasingly refined and they can recognize the words spoken in a video with increasing accuracy (for example, think about automatically generated subtitles).

So, to increase the relevance of your videos, it’s good practice to make sure that the video speaks the keywords in the title and description.

Finally, include your keyword in the subtitles: it’s a good practice to include them, and this helps ensure that viewers know what your video is about (think of the large segment of users who view videos without audio), thus ranking.

4) Aim for maximum retention

Here’s a staple in YouTube video SEO: the algorithm rewards videos with the longest view times and lowest bounce rates.

Translated: you have to aim for maximum retention. It’s one of the most important factors in improving your ranking. Pay attention to this data as well:

  • Videos on the first page of YouTube have an average length of 14 minutes and 50 seconds.

So how do you keep users glued to your video?

First of all, it’s a matter of storytelling: it’s about building videos with the right narrative structure and the most consistent and effective lines of tension. Again, relying on professionals is crucial (even when you want to give a very immediate and – seemingly – unfiltered idea).

Also, a very practical tip: Pay close attention to the first 10 to 15 seconds of your video. The retention challenge is mainly played out here in the ability to attract the attention of a user who is increasingly bombarded with stimuli. Look for strong hooks, start with provocations, direct questions, make people curious! In short, immediately include a motivation that will make people want to continue viewing.

Finally: keep an eye on your target audience

Knowing your audience allows you to build increasingly tailored communications. The ultimate boost? So-called personalized videos, which are the specialty of companies like Babelee (more on this here).

The mechanism is simple: if a video is built based on my characteristics and interests, it will certainly strike my attention, and be able to hold it longer.

5) Promote and expand visibility

This last tip is perhaps the most intuitive. To improve the ranking of your videos, you must increase their visibility.

How? First of all, by encouraging and expanding engagement: thus, pushing people to comment (responding as much as possible to these comments), to interact, to share.

In this regard, here is some data:

  • An analysis of 1.3 million YouTube videos found that the number of comments, interactions, and shares has a strong correlation with high rankings.

And then repurposing the same video through different channels as well: embedding it on the company’s website, for example. Even better: by embedding it in other blogs as well and including the link in a specially designed email marketing campaign. Then there is the huge playing field of social networks and messaging apps.

Here’s the bottom line: there are many variables that you have to manage. What’s more, the dynamics of YouTube video SEO change rapidly because the algorithms are constantly evolving. But in the midst of this changing picture, the certainties we have isolated so far constitute solid pillars, a valid compass that you can use to orient yourself.

Tell us about you