7 Easy Ways to Optimize Your YouTube Content

Featured Video Play Icon
Posted on by Jason Cook
Categories: Multimedia Production

Log onto Google and do a search for anything, and you’ll be provided with what Google interprets to be related video content. Most likely, the results will feature videos that are posted to YouTube (over other video platforms) since it’s a Google-owned platform. In other words, YouTube content has SEO Value. And since this series is all about optimizing your various SEO signals, here are ‘7 Easy Ways to Help Optimize Your YouTube Videos’.

Video Title

To optimize video content for entity-driven SEO, we adapt many of the same steps that we take when optimizing written blogs and website content. As many of you know, Google’s ever-evolving algorithm has shifted away from basic keywords, and now favors ‘search entities’. An entity represents a specific topic, while acknowledging that topic’s natural relationship with related topics and how users might go about searching for them online. This is why it’s important that your video’s title properly reflects both the subject matter, and how people might go about trying to find it. And it’s exactly why I included the phrase “ways to optimize YouTube Videos” in this video’s title. Why? Because I want to attract the attention of people looking for ways to optimize YouTube videos.

But here’s a super-secret pro tip. It’s not just about the your video’s public-facing title. You can also nudge things in the right direction by renaming the source file itself. It’s why I’m uploading a file named “7-Easy-Ways-to-Optimize-YouTube-Videos” instead of “JTT_20_05_28”.

Video Description

The growing popularity of video tells you everything you need to know about people’s desire to read. That said, your video description still plays a role in attracting attention, and offers specific SEO value. All in all, YouTube gives you about 5,000 characters to play with when you’re typing your description, but will limit what is immediately visible requiring someone to click the “Show More” link. Remember this when composing your video description, and make strategic word choices to attract more immediate attention. 

Keyword Tagging

In SEO, we talk a a lot about intent. Google’s desire to understand the intent of its users is based around the goal of providing the most applicable search results for any inquiry. When uploading a video, YouTube allows you to tag that video with specific keywords that will help the platform to understand what your video is about, so it can deliver it to those who will find it valuable. Help to streamline the process by tagging it with applicable phrases and you’ll set your videos up for greater success. Fail to do so, or tag it with unnecessary or irrelevant keywords, and you can expect your video’s performance to suffer.

Video Category

Another means by which YouTube better understands the intent of its users, is through video categorization. If keyword tagging provides a very specific idea of the subject matter, as well as the intended and desired audience, video categories provide a wider understanding and serves as the first step in determining the video’s value.  With that in mind, it’s important to select the most appropriate category based on your both your video’s content, and your intent as the content creator.

Thumbnail Image

When uploading your video, you have the means of selecting the thumbnail image that will represent your video, as it appears to the casual user. Think of your thumbnail image as your video’s curb appeal. It’s what helps to separate your video from other search results that are vying for those clicks, and it plays a huge role in communicating the value of your content.  From the image itself to the inclusion of text, as well as its dimensions, resolution and file size, your thumbnail matters. You’ll get the best results by creating a custom thumbnail as opposed to settling for YouTube’s default selection, or the freeze-frame of a random frame. As with your video itself, your image file should be sized to a 16:9 aspect ratio. It should be uploaded as a file sized to 2MB or smaller, and should be designed to be aesthetically pleasing, to communicate its subject matter, and to attract attention.

Captioning / Subtitling

Our regular viewing may remember that we’ve discussed the impact of captioning within a few different contexts. First, and most importantly is the importance of answering the needs of Google’s hearing-impaired audience. Second, comes as a result of the increasing tendency for users to view video content with the sound off. Well, as if these reasons weren’t enough, let’s refer back to our earlier mention of how there are similarities in how you optimize written and multimedia content. When publishing a blog, the text itself has SEO value due to the inclusion of search entities. By uploading video transcripts in the form of SRT files, and the creation of captions/subtitles, you are ticking three separate boxes. You’re making your content suitable for hearing-impaired viewers. You’re encouraging audience retention, should they choose to view your video without sound. And, you’re increasing the SEO value of your video.

End Screen Elements

Audience retention is a topic all to itself but, as content creators, we hope that people will view our videos to the last frame – and possibly continue on to view our related content. YouTube assists us in this, by giving us the option of incorporating cards and end-screen elements. A card (or “link card”) is an active link that verified YouTube accounts can do to encourage traffic to another location, such as their website, an alternate YouTube channel or a third-party funding site. An end-screen element can be used to encourage viewers to subscribe or view related content. By using these tools, you can help to increase views, increase traffic increase and engagement all of which is exactly what you’re looking for.