What is an SEO plan for YouTube?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of making web content rank high on search engine results pages. This process is always changing (SERPs). Search is often the gatekeeper to your content, so optimizing it for search is important if you want to get more traffic and grow your audience.
Google’s ranking is based on backlinks and other factors, but YouTube’s is based on how you optimize your channel, playlists, metadata, descriptions, and videos. You can make it easy for people to find your videos both inside and outside of YouTube.
You may know the basics of YouTube video SEO services, like putting keywords in the titles, meta descriptions, and tags. But you can do more for YouTube SEO through making videos easy to find. Since search engine bots can’t watch videos, they use the text data that goes with them to do a good job of indexing them. Using the power of your video’s text in the form of transcripts, closed captions, and subtitles is a key part of a YouTube SEO strategy. This can improve the user experience, engagement, watch time, viewership, and SEO.
1. Choose a good keyword
Before you can improve YouTube SEO, you need to make sure your video has the right keyword or phrase. Keywords often show up in the titles and metadata of videos, and when they are spoken in the audio, they show up in the captions and transcripts. That’s good for SEO in two ways.
- Keywords and keyword phrases should match a) what your video is actually about and b) what people type into search engines to find content like yours.
- You’ll need to do some keyword research to find out what search terms and words people use. Using YouTube’s Search Suggest is a simple way to find a keyword for your video. Type a word or phrase related to your business into the search bar and look at YouTube’s suggestions.
- You can also look at your YouTube search report (under Traffic Sources > YouTube search in the YouTube Studio) to find keywords.
- To see if your keyword is good, search for it on YouTube and look at how many “About” results it brings up. You should try to find keyword variations with a lot of searches but less competition so that you can stand out.
It’s easier to say than to do, but there are many tools that can help you choose the best keyword. Some of the tools are:
- Moz Keyword Finder
- AdWords Keyword Planner
- VidIQ Vision
With these tools, you can look into other resources like keyword volume, which is the number of searches for the keyword per month on Google, and cost per click, which is the average cost per click for the term on Google Ads.
Once you’ve found a good keyword, put it in the name of your video file so YouTube knows what it’s about. For instance, the name of your file could be “makeup-tutorial-for-the-hulk” followed by the type of video file.
Tip: For individual videos, try going after more specific “long tail” keyword phrases. For example, “how to put on makeup like the Hulk” would be a better keyword phrase than “how to put on makeup.”
2. Make sure the closed captions are correct.
- YouTube translates your videos so that automatic captions can be made. But YouTube’s auto-captions are only 70% correct, which makes them hard to understand and often embarrassing.
- Google likes to see search results that are helpful and punishes spam. “Automatically generated gibberish” is one way to describe spam, which is also a good way to describe most auto-captions. If you use wrong captions, your YouTube channel could be marked as spam and lose its search rank.
- To stop auto-captions from hurting your YouTube SEO strategy, you should add accurate closed captions to your videos using an SRT file.
- Text can be read by search engines, but they can’t watch videos. Your captions will be full of relevant keywords that tell Google what your video is about and how to rank it.
- There are many ways to add captions to videos on YouTube. Some YouTubers start with the automated transcript and fix any mistakes by hand. There are other ways to do DIY transcription that are cheap but take a lot of time and work.
- The easiest thing to do is to send your videos to a service that transcribes videos for a fee. The quality of professional video transcription is high, and it is done quickly.
Not only do captions help SEO, but they also have the following benefits:
Digital Discovery Networks did a study that shows that YouTube videos with captions get a better search rank. They got 13.48% more views in the first two weeks after adding captions, and 7.32% more views overall. To test this, they looked for a keyword phrase that was only in the video captions and not in the title, description, tags, or metadata. Videos with captions did well for the phrase because search engines could read the text in the captions.
Better user experience and engagement:
Closed captions get more people to watch because they keep people interested even if they can’t hear the sound. This is especially important for mobile users who might not have access to audio. Since more than 70% of the time people spend watching YouTube is on their phones, it’s important to have accurate captions. It has been shown that YouTube videos with closed captions get more likes, shares, and comments than videos without captions. In turn, this makes video search ranking factors better, which leads to more views. Also, more engagement leads to more time spent watching, which is a key factor in YouTube’s search algorithm. Higher SERP ranks are directly linked to longer watch times.
Closed captions make your YouTube videos accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. They also help your SEO. Hearing people can also watch your video with the sound off on a noisy train or in a quiet library. In essence, captions make your video viewable, understandable, and enjoyable for a larger audience.