Ranking at the top of YouTube search results can send a flood of consistent traffic to your videos. But with over 500 hours of content uploaded to YouTube every minute, getting to that coveted #1 position is easier said than done.
In this complete guide, I’ll walk you through a step-by-step YouTube SEO process to optimize your videos to rank higher in YouTube searches.
Here’s what I’ll cover:
- Why YouTube SEO is critical for growing your channel
- How to do keyword research for YouTube
- Optimizing your video content for maximum retention
- Technical YouTube metadata optimizations
- Promoting your videos to get initial traction
Let’s get started!
Why YouTube SEO Matters
Some say YouTube SEO is dead and that suggested videos bring in most of the views. But here are 3 big reasons you still need a YouTube SEO strategy:
1. Suggested views require existing authority. When you’re starting out, suggested traffic is hard to come by. YouTube SEO helps new channels gain momentum.
2. Search provides consistent views. Ranking for keywords drives steady traffic over time, leading to stable growth.
3. Higher watch time and viewer intent. People finding your video in search are more likely to watch most or all of it.
The proof is in the numbers. Our YouTube channel got over 1.3 million views last year just from YouTube search rankings.
Now let’s get into how you can do the same.
Step 1: YouTube Keyword Research
The first step is finding keywords and topics to create videos around.
Start by brainstorming broad keywords related to your niche. Some options for generating more specific keyword ideas include:
- YouTube Suggest: Review autocomplete suggestions as you type keywords.
- Google Trends: See search volumes for YouTube keywords over time.
- VidIQ or TubeBuddy: Browser extensions with keyword research tools.
- Ahrefs: Provides keyword volumes and search trends.
- SemRush: Provides keyword volumes with related keywords and search trends.
Once you have a list of potential topics, pick one to focus on for your next video.
Step 2: Analyze Competing Videos
Search for your target keyword and analyze the top 3-5 ranking videos:
- What formats are they using? (tutorials, listicles, etc)
- Who are the creators? Scope out their authority in your niche.
- Can you realistically outrank them as a newer or smaller channel?
Gauge the difficulty and whether it makes sense to compete for that keyword. Repeat these steps until you find a good opportunity.
Step 3: Create a High-Quality Video
To rank highly, you need a video that keeps viewers watching:
- Script it: Write a script to stay concise and on-topic. Hook viewers throughout.
- Format it: Match the top videos’ format and style.
- Show don’t tell: Use visuals and examples for complex topics.
- Use your voice: Mention keywords clearly in your narration.
- Provide value: Teach viewers what they want to know. Add your unique spin.
Follow this process to craft videos that resonate with your audience.
Step 4: Optimize Your Video Metadata
YouTube’s algorithm analyzes your video metadata, so optimize it:
- File name: Use your target keyword, like “youtube-seo.mp4”.
- Title: Include the keyword. Keep it under 60 characters.
- Description: Summarize your video in a few sentences using keywords.
- Tags: Add relevant keywords and phrases as tags.
- Thumbnail: Complement your title to boost clicks.
- Captions: Upload a caption transcript for higher watch time.
- Cards and end screens: Recommend related videos to increase overall watch time.
This metadata gives YouTube more signals on what your video is about.
Step 5: Promote Your Video
It takes work to compete against more authoritative channels. Here are 3 strategies to promote your video:
- Share it socially: Post your video on relevant Reddit subs, Quora spaces, Facebook groups, etc. Provide value!
- Run YouTube search ads: Target your keyword with $5-$15 per day to get views and momentum.
- Sponsor newsletters: Pay to promote your video in newsletters read by your target audience.
Combine this external promotion with solid YouTube SEO, and your videos will start ranking and bringing in organic traffic over time.
Final Tips for YouTube SEO Success
Here are a few closing tips to help your YouTube channel grow through video optimization:
- Focus on a niche and target keywords with less competition. As your channel grows, you can go after more difficult keywords.
- Closely analyze larger competing channels and videos on an ongoing basis. Identify opportunities where you can beat them.
- Respond to viewer comments and questions. This further establishes your authority on your video topics.
- Experiment with different video styles and topics. See what performs best for your audience.
- Use YouTube Analytics to identify your top-performing traffic sources and double down on those areas.
- Be patient. YouTube SEO takes time. Stick with it and you’ll reap the benefits.
I hope this guide gives you a strategy for ranking your videos higher on YouTube. Now get out there, do some keyword research, and start creating some videos!
Let me know if you have any other questions on YouTube SEO in the comments below!