There are a multitude of reasons for businesses to invest in video. Considering that visual content is only getting more popular and YouTube is the second largest search engine, you can no longer afford to ignore it. But just slapping some videos up on YouTube isn’t good enough. You need to optimize them to make them more searchable and attractive to visitors.
It’s not just retail or B2C brands that can benefit from improved YouTube video optimization. It’s also beneficial for seemingly “boring” B2B businesses. We work with a B2B client in a highly technical industry that utilizes video frequently to explain the science and engineering behind their products. This past year, we helped them optimize previously published YouTube videos. Only six months into the optimization process, they saw an increase in video views of over 200%. Their video views and channel subscriptions only continue to rise.
So where should you get started? These five tips are the most important bases you’ll want to cover.
1. Do Keyword Research
The best time to do keyword research is before creating your video. What questions do people have about your product or service? What type of content are they seeking? If you can work the terms and keywords you uncover during keyword research into your video from the start of your project, you’ll be much better off in the long run. What if your video has already been created? All is not lost. You can still do research on the topic(s) covered in your video to see what phrases people are using to search for them.
My tool of choice for video keyword research is KeywordTool.io. This great keyword research tool pulls keyword suggestions from YouTube Autocomplete and displays their Google search volume. In addition to keyword suggestions, it also gives questions related to your keywords. The questions can be especially helpful when in the content creation stage. Choose one main keyphrase to optimize your video for and several other related keyphrases.
Bonus Tip: Use your keyword phrase in the video file name before uploading it to YouTube.
2. Create an Engaging Title
I’m pretty sure that Jane Austen is rolling over in her grave with the upcoming release of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Let’s say we were creating a video about this. The last thing we would want to do is create a video title of Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or (gasp!) 83546521.mp4.
Too often, businesses upload their videos with the simplified subject as their title or even the file name. Not only can this hurt you in search, but it doesn’t accurately convey the video content to the user or encourage them to click through. Instead, create a keyword rich and engaging title. For example, “Why Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is Killing Jane,” “Why Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Has Jane Horrified” or “What Would Jane Think? Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” It’s important to keep YouTube video titles under 55 characters so that they aren’t cut off in search results.
3. Don’t Skimp on Your Video Description
Another common error businesses make is having no video description, using the video title or file name as the description, or having a short description with only one or two lines. It’s important for YouTube and the search engines to have a keyword-rich description they can index and can impact a user’s decision to watch your video. There are approximately 5,000 characters in the description field. Put the space to use!
The first 140 characters of your YouTube video description are the most important. These will be used as the meta description in search. They will also display above the “Show More” line on the video page and have an impact on the user’s decision to watch your video. It’s also best practice to inlcude a link to a page on your website with more information on the topic before the “Show More” line.
At this point, we’ve only used approximately 250 characters. What should you do to fill the additional 4,750 characters? After the initial video description at the beginning, I include a section encouraging users to subscribe to the channel and links to social profiles:
SUBSCRIBE to Jane Austen Hates Zombies:
CONNECT with Jane Austen Hates Zombies!
Facebook ► https://www.facebook.com/JaneAustenHatesZombies
Twitter ► https://twitter.com/jahateszombies
Next, you’ll want to create a more in-depth description of the video. My time-saving trick for this is to use the video transcript. It’s naturally keyword rich and relevant. If you’ve got a long video with a long transcript, edit and paraphrase to get it the right length for the space you have left.
4. Caption Files Aren’t Just for the Hearing Impaired
People and computers can’t “read” your video, but they can read a caption file. YouTube has a feature which will automatically create captions for your video, or you can upload custom video captions. If you ever need a good laugh, look at the auto-captions for a video. Let’s take a look at the auto-captions for Popsugar’s The Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Cast Plays Pride or Prejudice Video?. At the beginning of the video, actress Lily James says, “The core of Jane Austen’s story absolutely remains true.” The auto-captions say, “the core janus this story absolutely mainstream.” Huh? This is terribly confusing to users and computers alike.
My time-saving trick for creating video captions is to hire someone else to do it. 🙂 Speechpad is a great transcription service that offers caption files for only $1.50 per minute. In addition to the caption file, that price also includes a video transcript that you can download to Word. That bad boy can be copied and pasted into your video description. This saves you time on two steps of the process, and time is money. One caveat: I have occasionally noticed small errors in the transcription files. After you’ve uploaded the .SRT caption file to your YouTube video, watch the video to make sure they are timed correctly and there aren’t any small errors and make any necessary corrections.
5. Choose the Right Video Tags
While not the most important aspect of optimizing for search, video tags can have an impact on where your video may appear as a suggested video on YouTube. A common mistake people make is to use each word as a separate tag. For example: Jane, Austen, Pride, Prejudice, Zombies. Instead you want to focus on keyword phrase tags like: Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Lily James, Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, etc. When creating your tags, refer back to your original keyword research.
Bonus Tip: Tag your competitor’s YouTube channel name.
While there are many other ways you can optimize your videos, slay the most important optimization zombies with these five tips.