We’re not talking viral video here, unless one of your team is a piano playing cat or the next PewDiePie. We’re talking about 1) getting your business in front of the billion users who visit and search on YouTube and 2) increasing your chances of appearing in searches on Google, which owns YouTube and favors its videos on Google search-return pages. Just as you do search engine optimization (SEO) to help your website get found, you can improve your shot at video views with these five video SEO tips.
1. Start with a “how-to”, “what-is?” or “about us” video
A Google report says that 100 million hours of video on how-to topics were watched on YouTube just in the first half of 2015 and, as Google points out, “when people ask how to do something, that’s a need. That’s someone asking ‘can you help me out?’” So a smart starting point would be a video showing how your product or service works or showing your expertise in diagnosing or solving a problem.
You can do this, really. Take a look at this video by Honda mechanic Eddie Carrara, “Wheel Bearing Noise VS. Tire Noise” – 470,000-plus views to watch Eddie driving around, mostly with the camera focused on the dashboard, recording car noises. This is not “Gangnam Style” or even a cat playing “Gangnam Style” on the piano.
The other big opportunity: an “about us” video that will come up on Google or YouTube when potential clients search for information or reviews about your business. This style of video might include shots of your place of business, staff at work, interviews with owners or managers, plus customer testimonials–and you should go out and hire a professional to shoot and edit for a polished final product that makes your business look professional.
2. Research search terms to zero in on your video topic and title
Again, the goal is to get found in search on YouTube and Google. Think of regular website SEO research plus YouTube-specific SEO research to see what in particular is popular on the video site. For instance…Enter a term in the search box on YouTube and it will unspool a list of related popular searches…Or go to Google Trends and filter for YouTube search trends…Or go to the YouTube search return page for a term, click the “Filters” button and select for “Rating” or “View Count” to see the successful videos (and the titles that worked for them). When you have a list of likely search terms, try them out in Google to see if they produce videos on the first search return page – that’s not guaranteed for all searches (though more likely with how-to search terms).
3. Upload your video – then do a whole lot more writing than you’d think
YouTube and Google depend on all the written material attached to your video to know how to serve it up in searches. First and foremost, that’s the title, but also the file name of the video, the description (you can use 5,000 characters so there’s plenty of opportunity to give details), the tags (use your keywords), subtitles and closed captions (more text for the search engines to read) and a transcript of the video (you can upload that as a “caption” in the Video Manager section of your account).
4. Create a channel to host your video
Don’t launch your video on its lonesome in YouTube; create a channel in your business name (instructions from YouTube) to host it. A channel is another opportunity to write a description of your business with some relevant search terms, as well as attach keywords to the channel. And viewers who like your video can subscribe to your channel, which boosts the SEO for your video.
5. Mind the other signals that improve search rankings
YouTube and Google look for “ranking signals” to determine how high up to place your video in search returns, and some of these signals are weighted differently from website SEO, which is heavily based on links to a website. In the video world, user engagement counts: comments, thumbs up, favorites, shares on social media, subscriptions to the channel—and, of course, views. Another weighty signal is “audience retention” or how long viewers watch before clicking away. The bad news: Viewers will likely decide whether to continue watching your video in the first 15 seconds. The good news: YouTube offers extensive tools and training to help you keep viewers from wandering off in search of musical cats.
YouTube SEO: The Ultimate Guide by Backlinko
YouTube Ranking Factors: Getting Ranked in the Second Largest Search Engine by Search Engine Land
5 Advanced YouTube SEO Tactics to Drive More Traffic to Your Videos & Website by Search Engine Watch