Uploading high-quality videos is half the job when it comes to publishing your videos on YouTube. Prioritising the optimisation of your videos is just as important to make your content accessible and discoverable for users and as a result, increase views and visibility.
At Visit Greenland, we recently updated our guide for better Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) on our YouTube channel. We navigated a jungle of information and picked out tips and tricks that can be easily implemented to any YouTube video.
In this brief guide, we would like to share those simple but effective steps you can take to extract the most SEO value from your YouTube videos.
What is SEO and why is it important?
Before we get started, let’s look at what SEO actually is and why it is important first. SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimisation”. It’s the practice of improving your content to increase traffic and exposure for your brand.
On YouTube, optimising your videos will help you show up higher in people’s search results and suggestions on related search queries. This is important because it will increase your views, channel visits and overall visibility for your brand.
As a search engine, YouTube has algorithms that decide which content fits a user’s search query the best. Therefore, it’s important that YouTube understands your content and that it’s relevant and attractive for users. The steps below will help you navigate some of the factors that are important when optimising your videos on YouTube.
Searching for keywords to target
Getting the most SEO value from your videos starts with thorough keyword research.
According to the Search Engine Journal, YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world. With millions of searches a day it’s very likely that someone might be searching for your content right now, and if you can identify what terms they’re searching for, your videos are more likely to show up in their results.
To generate ideas for your target keyword you can use data from YouTube directly by looking at autocomplete search results and competing videos of related topics and what they’re ranking for.
If you would like to dive deeper into your SEO research, there are many free and paid tools available (e.g. ahrefs, TubeBuddy, Ubersuggest, etc.) that can help you find target and secondary keywords. If you have data on individual keywords available, a general rule of thumb is, the higher the search volume and the lower the competition the better.
If possible, you should start your keyword research in the post-production phase already. YouTube automatically transcribes your videos once uploaded, therefore actually saying your target keyword in the video can earn you some SEO plus points. Additionally, conducting keyword research beforehand might give you video ideas that are relevant to users’ search queries.
Adding compelling titles and descriptions
Thoughtfully weaving your target keyword into your title and description is key in getting the most value out of your YouTube videos.
SEO Tools like TubeBuddy recommend including your target keyword in the first 60 characters of the title. To add your target keyword naturally into a sentence and avoid keyword stuffing, your title should be at least 5 words long but not exceed 50 characters in total according to a study by Briggsby.
The description also plays a very important role in extracting the most SEO value from your videos as it should tell search engines directly and without being spammy what your video is about. The video description should be a minimum of 250 words long, with your target keyword mentioned in the first 200 characters and 2-4 times in total. You should also include partial matches and variations of the keyword and your secondary keywords, to mention and rank for the other topics your video talks about as well.
Furthermore, the YouTube Creator Academy suggests using the rest of the text for extra information like social media links, or information about your channel.
Creating eye-catching custom thumbnails
To get the most SEO value from your videos it’s important to create compelling custom thumbnails that align with your brand.
According to the YouTube Creator Academy, “90% of the best-performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails”. When uploading custom thumbnails, YouTube recommends using:
- easy-to-read fonts
- a format of 1280 x 720 pixels (16:9 ratio)
- high-resolution thumbnails that are under the 2MB limit.
Additionally, custom thumbnails should include the same colours, fonts and imagery you use on your website and social media. This aligns your YouTube channel to your brand identity and creates coherent branding across all platforms and between individual videos on your channel. Aligning your thumbnails with your brand also improves and generates views through brand recognition and sets guidelines to easily create YouTube thumbnails for future videos.
To conclude the first part of this guide, thorough keyword research and adding the right title, description and thumbnail are the fundamental steps you should take in extracting the most value from your Youtube videos. You can find more useful steps in part 2 of our article.
Student Assistant at Visit Greenland
Johanna is a German-Australian Marketing graduate and Multimedia Design student based in Copenhagen. Since early 2020 she has been part of the team at Visit Greenland where she has particularly been working in the fields of SEO and Web Design.