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The basics of SEO for Video on YouTube is the same as all good SEO and marketing with a few twists,

  • Know your audience – just remember YouTube demographics may be younger, more educated or more technically savvy;
  • Know your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and how you can communicate that to your audience;
  • Know your keywords relating to your audience and your USP. Then utilise those keywords in the video the same as you would utilise them on any webpage – don’t stuff keywords, just incorporate them as part of the useful message you are communicating to your audience.

What does YouTube use to rank your videos?

  1. YouTube Video InformationTitle: 100 characters, only the first 60 are displayed. Make sure you have your keywords in the first 60 characters, there is no concrete evidence that the next 40 characters are viewed differently, but better to be safe than sorry. As with all good copy, it is important that your keywords are formed together as phrases so as to meet the proximity test, i.e. don’t spread the keywords out through the whole title. For example, if the keywords are “Brisbane marketing consultant”, make the title “Brisbane marketing consultant airs views on advertising”, instead of “Marketing via Advertising – views by a Consultant based in Brisbane”.
  2. Description: The only direct link to your website from a YouTube video should be included in the form of at the beginning of your description. Whilst there is space in your description for up to 5000 characters, only about 70 characters will show on your actual video.  YouTube cuts off at about 150 characters, so include everything relevant to your video, remembering to include the relevant keywords.
  3. Remember your viewers are only human –  if you want them to do something – ask. Your videos will be ranked higher if you receive ‘Likes’ (and less ‘Dislikes’), so ensure you ask your audience to click on ‘Like’ at the end of the presentation.
  4. You may choose to give a special offer for those who have watched your whole video presentation. YouTube considers a video as watched once it reaches 8 seconds, by teasing at the beginning of your presentation for a special offer at the end, you will encourage visitors to remain and watch the whole video.
  5. Whilst working on your video, you may decide to set your video to ‘private’, this is fine, just always remember to return it to ‘public’ when you finish editing.
  6. Don’t ignore the other delivery methods of video such as TV and mobile; to utilise these other methods choose syndication = yes.
  7. Make the most of your viewers; allow comments, you may learn something new and exciting about your target audience. Similarly, encouraging additions of your video to favourite saves and playlists will not actively increase rankings, but will create a climate for others to notice your video and ultimately improve your position.
  8. What about embedding your video onto your social networking sites and take advantage of increased views through blogs and other websites. All the additional coverage and inbound links will help your rankings as well as make you more visible to your target audience.

So how can YouTube help you?

How do you know what keyword usage is happening in YouTube in the space that is relevant to your videos?

Why not try some of their analysis tools?

Keyword tool

YouTube Promotoed Videos

This tool generates keyword ideas based on your target information and is a Google AdWords offshoot. It will look at the current keywords you define from your videos and show the current traffic for those words. It will also give you other related keywords and their traffic to help you incorporate this information into further videos.

An additional benefit of this tool is that it can offer you ideas for long tail key phrases. Imagine you have just decided to buy a new car. Your original query may be ‘new car sedan’. Your searching phase of the buying cycle may go on for some time, identifying all the options that are available, all the prices etc. Over the course of your research, you define more clearly what you are searching for, so when it comes time to actually purchase, you are looking for everything you really want, so your search may become specialised to ‘new 2010 Holden Commodore Omega sedan V8 Brisbane’. This is effectively a long tail key phrase and tends to indicate your prospect has finalised their research part of the buying cycle and is ready to buy. Being aware of long tail key phrases on your website also allows you to target niche markets when incorporated into relevant rich web copy. So videos may be a great tool for your niche markets. Long tail key phrases may not bring the huge volumes to your site, but the conversion rates are more likely to be higher.

Insights for Audience Tool

YouTube Insights for Audience

If you have come to this part of the YouTube world with your marketing plan in place, you will already have some idea of who is your target audience. You will know at least some of the demographics associated with past and future customers. This tool requires at least a partial understanding of those demographics. Keeping your search general, you can obtain some useful insights into what that demographic is watching.

YouTube Search Suggestions

As you begin to type into the YouTube search box, YouTube will offer you suggestions based on the highest traffic relating to your words. This is useful to see your competition as well as to see again the niche markets of the long tail key phrases.

Keyword Ideas Tool

This tool allows you to enter phrases you believe are connected to your web vision. The resultant list of keywords is useful to determine your future steps for material to include in your site which is relevant to your audience. It also helps you to cull features from your copy which are just not cutting it in the ‘search-ability’ of your site.

Other important facets of your video:

  • Know how your video audience will search for you, they may use different natural language to find a video of what they want rather than words, e.g. ‘show how to crack and egg’, rather than, ‘how do you crack an egg’?
  • In your tags area you have up to 5000 characters, utilise some of these to create a call to action to your website.
  • Again, use your 5000 characters to create valuable, relevant tags. These tags will be made up of your Title and Description using keywords especially at the start of the tag. Similarly, you have the ability to add additional tags using these extra characters. Make the most of these additional tags as they will be used to rank your video. Use valid keyword phrases in legitimate sensible informative tags that will be attractive to your genuine target audience. As will all searches, if you know your target audience, and you know your video will deliver them something, give them the keywords to attract them to your video to give them the answers they need.
  • In the copy, also remember to ask for what you want, ask your audience to ‘like’ or rate the presentation, comment on the content, or even offer a phone number to allow them to fulfil a call to action.
  • You will receive better YouTube rankings if your video is viewed frequently, ensure your written tags always ask for the sale, in this case, ask for them to view your video.
  • If you meet the YouTube criteria, it may be an advantage to become a member of the YouTube Partner program. This can offer better definition of videos as well as opportunities for raising revenue and custom thumbnails amongst other things. They are quite strict in the minimum standards in various areas, but worth investigating.
  • If you are in a position to have custom thumbnails, don’t waste the opportunity, go to for all you need to know to get started customising.
  • Annotations are an easy way to clarify portions of a video. You can add annotations (text showing over the video message) throughout your video. Currently, these annotations are not used by YouTube for indexing, however, they may be exactly what your audience needs to understand your message clearly and be an excellent source of call to action text, such as phone numbers, web addresses or even simple human statements, such as ‘why not pick up the phone now, see how we can help you’.
  • Closed captions are further text that can be added to your videos. The full text of the video can appear as closed captions. Multiple closed caption streams can be added in different languages enabling multiple language users to make use of your video. Hearing impaired users and users who are in a situation where it is not appropriate to listen to the audio (e.g. in an office environment without headphones) can also access your video with comfort. There are conflicts within the SEO community as to how much if any actual indexing is performed on closed captions within YouTube. The crux of the issue is whether the closed captions enhance your user experience with your video, and if the answer is positive, include relevant closed captions, if the answer is negative, just don’t do it for the sake of search engines.

Whatever you choose to do and whatever way to chose to do it, make sure you do it with your audience of real people in mind, not just search engines and take advantage of the tools available to make your efforts really count.