How To: Optimising your YouTube Channel

By Alice Logan
SEO 04.09.2019

Video marketing has been increasing in popularity ever since YouTube started to rise to fame. Optimising your YouTube channel and videos as part of your digital marketing strategy is key to ensuring the success and ROI of these marketing tools. However, knowing where to begin is not always easy. If you use our simple guide to YouTube Optimisation, you’ll be shooting to the dizzying heights of the YouTube search pages in no time!
Conduct Keyword Research

Before doing anything else, the top priority for YouTube SEO is keyword research. There are multiple ways to conduct your keyword research with a multitude of tools available for keyword research to help you get the job done well as well as YouTube’s own keyword suggestion tool:

Google Keyword Planner

With keyword research, you’re looking for the terms that people are searching for to get to your content. These for example may be questions; how can we answer those questions with our video content? Or they could be shorter keywords, in which case you’d be looking to include them in various places as described in further sections.

Once you’ve conducted your research and nailed your target audience, you can start to incorporate your new-found keywords throughout your listings into your descriptions, titles and file names. Which brings us to…
Rename your video file using a target keyword

We’ve covered the importance of optimising file names in our image optimisation blog, and your YouTube videos are no different. Just like you would with any other piece of content, visual or otherwise, you first need to identify your target keywords and place these throughout the listing. First and foremost, before even uploading your video, drop a keyword into the bare file name. Again, much like how Google can’t “see” pictures, YouTube can’t “watch” videos. It doesn’t have eyes or ears so you need to drop signposts where you can to let it know what the video is about and relevant to. Although it can’t watch your video, it can read the video’s file name and all of the codey goodness that goes along with it at the time of upload.

Cameras automatically give images and videos a stock name, it usually looks something like this: “220819_023.mp4”. With your keywords in mind, consider an appropriate file name. For example, if your video’s content is about how to make overnight oats, the file name should be “overnight_oats_how_to.mp4” or MOV, WMV or any other file format that is supported by YouTube. (MOV, MPEG4, MP4, AVI, WMV, MPEGPS, FLV, 3GPP, WebM). The file name will help signpost to YouTube that this video is about overnight oats and how to make them, therefore encouraging the chances of the video ranking for that search term.

Create a Bespoke Thumbnail

As with SEO, one of the most regularly overlooked parts of optimising your videos is the imagery that goes alongside it. Video thumbnails are a viewer’s first interaction with your video alongside the title and a snippet from the description, so it’s essential that your thumbnails are of the highest possible quality. The thumbnails need to be eye-catching, relevant and hold enough valuable information to encourage those fingers and thumbs to get clicking.

This is very much a case of judging a book by its cover. If you have a great video, but no one’s going to click on it, then the content doesn’t matter anymore. The same goes for your titles (which we’ll cover next). Use all the keywords you want, do everything right, but for all you know, the thumbnail could be the reason why your vlog is failing. Take the below as an example:

Google video carousel

Between these three results on Google, each video had a clear title within the thumbnail, relevant imagery either directly from the video or the imagery has been produced post-filming giving the user a good idea of what to expect from the video.

Categorise Videos

YouTube playlists are one of the biggest drivers of traffic through to other videos on your channel. The first thing that you need to do is to amalgamate videos that are relevant to one another together into a playlist. YouTube’s automatic ‘next video load’ means that it’s easier than ever to direct traffic to exactly where you want it to go, thereby increasing your views. Playlists enable you to get multiple views out of a single user, so they’re an extremely valuable optimisation resource.

Secondly, each video’s titles and description must be optimised and keyword focused. Additionally, they should be eye-catching, short enough to maintain the reader’s attention and descriptive enough so that the viewer knows what they can expect from the video. These rules apply both to the individual videos as well as playlists. Maintaining keyword focus, relevance and value throughout your listings, playlist or otherwise, will increase your chances of your videos ranking more highly in searches.

Insert your keyword naturally in the video title.

Much like with a blog post, you may see an uplift in rankings on YouTube by including your keyword in the beginning of your video’s title. For example, if you were creating a cake baking tutorial, you’d want your video’s title to read “Cake Baking Tutorial: How to Bake the Perfect Batter”.

Optimize your video description.

A video’s description may not seem like a key part of a YouTube post – the information that your viewers are looking for is inside the video, right? Right. Kind of. As we already discussed above, YouTube can’t “watch” your video in the same way that your viewers can. Although you’re already using the video file name and video title to signpost to YouTube what the video content is about, your description is another major tool to help YouTube understand your video’s content. The greater an understanding YouTube and Google have of your video’s context, the higher you’ll rank and the more likely you’ll be to show up in the “suggested videos” sidebar.

If you’re looking for a nudge in the right direction, here are some pointers for writing a stellar description:

Your keyword should be used roughly 3 times throughout the description, however this isn’t a must. It’s much better to avoid keyword stuffing – prioritise quality over quantity.

Keep your description between 250 – 350 words. Not so long that viewers get lost, not so short that YouTube struggles to categorise your video.

Ensure that your keyword is written within the first 30 words of your description.

Add subtitles & closed captions.

When it comes to subtitles and closed captions (CCs), there are two key things to remember:

  • Closed captions that are manually added using an SRT file or closed captions software, ARE indexed by YouTube
  • The closed captions added by YouTube automatically, ARE NOT indexed by Youtube.

It might seem backwards that YouTube’s own CCs aren’t indexed by themselves, however they’re simply not accurate enough to be considered reliable. Take the below example and heed its warning.

Youtube wrong captions

“That’s your special friend butterfly who came to say ‘hello’ to you”

So, why should you add CCs to your YouTube videos manually?

Increases keyword diversity and density

In Septemer of 2013, Discovery Digital Networks experimented with adding CCs to their YouTube videos, the experiment very clearly paid off resulting in a 7.32% increase in views on videos that were captioned. Given that the keywords are indexed by YouTube, CCs act as a great opportunity to increase keyword density for your chosen keywords.

Increases user engagement

User engagement is a significant ranking factor on YouTube. What this means is that videos that gain a high number of views, rank more highly on YouTube – especially when those videos are watched all the way through. Why do CCs specifically increase user engagement? There are a lot of factors to consider. According to Action on Hearing Loss, one in six people suffer to some degree with hearing loss, meaning one in six people watching videos could be clicking away from videos early because of a lack of CCs.

Additionally, consider the number of viewers who are commuting to work on a loud train, or are studying and unable to listen to the video, or are simply in an environment where they can’t listen to the video. Adding CCs to your video opens up another dimension of engagement to your viewers, ultimately increasing engagement.

If YouTube videos are a key part of your digital marketing strategy, optimising your videos and channel are key areas to invest your time and money in. One of the main benefits of YouTube Optimisation is that it’s far less complicated than standard SEO, by following this guide you’ll undoubtedly be well on your way to YouTube success. That said, if you find yourself in need of a helping hand, Yellowball is always here to help.

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