If you’ve got videos on YouTube, learning how to consistently optimize them is a must. It’s easy to overlook the platform as a social site where people view videos and post amusing (and unamusing) comments, but this video platform is so much more—YouTube is the second most popular website in the world, right behind Google, which means it should be a vital part of your online marketing strategy. 

There’s plenty of space for SEO techniques in the YouTube space, and we’re here for it. Incorporating the right SEO strategies can help you boost your visibility, giving your business the brand awareness, traffic, and conversions it deserves. With the right YouTube SEO methods, Big Leap increased a client’s Youtube traffic by 132%

So without further ado, here are the five best ways to optimize your YouTube videos for SEO.

1. Target & Place Your Keywords in the Right Spots

Yep, we’re never going to shut up about keywords. Even in the YouTube space, keywords are the linchpin that solidifies your video with the needs of your target audience. 

You’ll need to get started with keyword research and competitor analysis to identify the right terms and phrases to target. Take a look at our free digital marketing toolkit to help you get started.

Once you’ve got your keywords, it’s time to insert them in the right areas. YouTube can’t actually watch your content to decipher how relevant it is to your keyword and audience, so you need to place keywords in areas where the platform can easily read them. 

  • Filename: We’ve all had those funky, automated names like “video1_005135.mov”. Be sure to update these filenames with your keyword. So if your keyword is “YouTube optimization tips,” your filename should be “youtube-optimization-tips.mov.”
  • Tags: Include your keyword in your tags. You can start with the exact keyword (“YouTube optimization”) and then use variations of it (e.g., “optimizing for YouTube,” “tips for optimizing YouTube,” etc.). Tags aren’t visible by default on YouTube, but you can view your tags along with your competitors’ using the free vidIQ Vision Chrome extension
  • Title & Description: Though adding keywords into your video title and description is helpful, there is little evidence that illustrates a strong correlation between keyword-driven titles and YouTube rankings. It’s more important that your title and description closely match what the user is searching for. Still, it doesn’t hurt to add in your keyword if possible. Brian Dean encourages marketers to insert the keyword if it can be used naturally. 

2. Improve Your Video Title & Description

Aside from keywords, there are other valuable ways to optimize your video title and description. Here are some tips that can give you a greater advantage in improving your SEO on YouTube

  • Title: Limit your title to 60 characters to keep it from getting truncated. And as mentioned above, make sure the title directly targets search intent. So if the user is typing, “How can I improve my YouTube rankings?” into the search bar, you want your title to reflect this. 
  • Description: Your description shouldn’t be an essay. Besides, YouTube only shows the first two or three lines of text in the description section. So keep your description to about 100 characters, adding your most vital information and links in the beginning. 

3. Upload a Custom Thumbnail

Ninety percent of the best performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails.” Thumbnails are the main images users see when they’re browsing through YouTube videos. They play a significant role in depicting information about the videos’ contents, which can make or break one’s decision to click on your video. 

According to YouTube’s Creator Academy, here are some key thumbnail tips: 

  • The image should be high resolution or at least 1280 x 720 pixels.
  • The image should align with your video title/topic (for example, if your video is about bad words, you may want to have an image of a guy with an expletive icon over his mouth).
  • The image should be a high-contrast image with a lot of visual depth to help make the main subject of your thumbnail pop.

Keep in mind, your YouTube account must be verified for you to upload a custom thumbnail image. You can find the verification steps here

4. Encourage Users to Subscribe to Your Channel

“Subscriptions driven” is a large YouTube ranking factor. When users subscribe to your channel, it tells YouTube your video is valuable and fulfills user intent. 

Therefore, be sure to have a CTA at the end of your video, encouraging your viewers to subscribe. Include a one-click option in the video and a link in your description as well. 

When people subscribe to your channel, they’ll see more of your content, which can help boost your viewership numbers—another strong YouTube ranking factor. 

5. Insert Subtitles & Closed Captions

YouTube allows you to add subtitles and captions to help out those who are viewing your video on mute, have hearing impairments, or speak another language. Subtitles and closed captions play a prominent role in YouTube rankings because: 

  • They open your content to a larger audience, helping improve your viewership and traffic. 
  • Search engine crawlers do crawl caption files/text and can, thus, give you a rankings boost. 

Check out YouTube’s guidelines on creating subtitles and captions here

Give Your YouTube Videos the Recognition They Deserve

If you’re having trouble optimizing your videos and seeing the results you want, contact Big Leap. It takes a team to strategize and win the long-term viability your business deserves. With over a decade of experience amplifying online sites and videos like yours, we can help you heighten your message and extend your video reach.