Search Engine Optimization (also known as SEO)

Search Engine Optimization (also known as SEO)

Oh, the big boy terms! It is likely that you already heard of this term before but didn't really understand what it was. Or you know what it is, but you want to understand how this applies to your YouTube channel. Well this tutorial will be around simplifying SEOs to help understand how to grow your channel using various techniques and tools.

YouTube gets over one billion searches per day. Think about that. That’s more searches per day than Bing, Twitter, Facebook or any other search engines out there. SEO is about optimizing whether search engines think a video is sufficiently relevant and important to warrant a spot in the conventional search results and how they rank. It is also making sure a video is easily classified and categorized by search engines, providing an accurate picture of the video's significance to the audience. The result is an easier path to strong, relevant search engine traffic, and an additional driver for growth.

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Why is SEO important?

  • Chances are if you're reading posts on this subreddit, you want to network and grow your channel. You have creative and entertaining content, but the missing piece is getting people to actually find you so you can get more views, subscribers, likes, watch time and so on. That's when SEO is important. When people are searching for content, you want to do your best to have your content as part of the results.

How does the video ranking work?

  • When people search for content on YouTube, there are a few important things that will go in the YouTube machine, getting processed through its complex algorithm so that the viewer searching for content get a list of results. These are particularly important because it is all tied to YOUR videos and how the audience reacts to it. In summary, there are two categories when it comes to video ranking:

Indirect data

This is the data that the search engines use to show the quantity and the quality of interest in a video. This is pretty much how the audience is responding to your content.

  • View quality (watch time)
  • User-interaction: Comments, shares, likes/dislikes (actual engagement in conversation around the video and the comments are all things that can show the impact your video's having on the audience.)
  • Subscribers

Direct data

This is more the relevance of your videos. That's the stuff that helps search engines classify and categorize a video.

  • Metadata (Title, keywords/description, tags, etc)
  • Upload frequency
  • Thumbnail

Waaaiiit, what? Thumbnails? Do you mean that search engines will take my thumbnail and use that to determine where I rank in the audience's YouTube search? No, absolutely not. That being said, if your video is part of the results, having a nice looking thumbnail will drive people to pick your video over someone with similar content!

By having control over the direct aspect of video ranking, if done properly it will drive your audience to build the indirect data that's used to increase your ranking. Make sense? Awesome. Now that we cleared that part, we'll discuss the things that you can do to optimize your videos so that their ranking is higher when people are searching for videos on YouTube.

  • The most important thing about your video are tags. Here's what Youtube says about tags: "When users type keywords related to your tags, your video will appear in their search results". That's pretty clear, right? So use relevant tags. Don't game and use irrelevant tags to boost your ranking, that's another things that YouTube may pick up and penalize your ranking and/or remove your videos.
  • Put a descriptive, relevant and enticing title.
  • Your video description is also very important as the text will be indexed in the Google/YouTube machine for searching.
  • Determine an upload frequency and stick to it. Once you have loyal subscribers that will watch your videos, they will expect to see more content from you! Don't overdo it, however. Your subscribers may feel spammed! Quality over quantity, but stick to a frequency that you're comfortable with and work on your editing skills so that your videos come out as awesome as possible.
  • I mentioned thumbnails a bit earlier. Make them look good and make it stand out. You don't need Photoshop to get this done; GIMP is a free image editor that's quite powerful!
  • Create playlists! If you have multiple videos of the same series, create a playlist and make it visible on your channel. This will allow viewers to watch the episodes in sequence, increase your watch time and views!

There are other important outlets to promote your channel and videos. Social Media websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr are all really important or your own personal channel website. Announce your videos to your followers! This may increase your traffic and get your video SEO ranking up as it will become more relevant as it will increase the view velocity!

But what about this service that I can buy for cheap that will increase my popularity? Can I trust this and is it safe?

  • Chances are you've been tempted to the dark side and/or heard that you can get services that will increase the popularity of your content. There are tons of services that you can pay money to get your SEO ranking skyrocket. They will have people play your video, leave comments, embed your video on different sites or likes/favorites to your videos. Honestly, it could work for a little while but YouTube people are smart and have seen this before. Most of all, they are LOOKING for anomalies. If they notice that a channel just scored 10k views in one day with no history and nothing to support a natural or organic growth afterwards, they will penalize you by dropping your ranking and/or remove your video(s). Bottom line; DON'T DO IT, there are people paid to look for these types of anomalies. Stay true to what you believe in and if you're here and upload original content, then be proud of it and keep creating more!

Final Thoughts

Here's a list of various tools that can be used to optimize your videos:

Extensions that can help you with channel/video management:

Keyword tools: