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Liza Perstneva

The Ultimate Guide to YouTube SEO Success #semrushchat

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Liza Perstneva
The Ultimate Guide to YouTube SEO Success #semrushchat

It’s no longer a secret that YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine. With over a billion users, YouTube is a source of traffic with almost limitless potential.

But the problem is, it’s a very crowded place. As of July 2015, over 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Given the abundance of content on YouTube, it can be very difficult to get users to watch your video instead of the millions of others.

Nevertheless, if you properly optimize your video content, you’ll be able to get much more traffic than your competitors. To discover all the secrets of YouTube SEO success, we invited Nathan Hague to our SEMrush Chat. Nathan is a software and YouTube marketing expert, and the director of AustraliaWOW!. He and our other chat participants shared great insights into YouTube video optimization.

Let’s delve into the topic!

Q1. What are the biggest SEO factors in ranking your YouTube videos?

Uploading a video is not enough to earn views on YouTube. To get your videos to rank higher in Google and YouTube’s internal search engine, you need to optimize them.

To start, let’s figure out the most important SEO factors in ranking your YouTube videos.

  • Video quality

One major ranking factor is video quality. It’s important to provide your users with the best viewing experience possible in order to make them watch your video till the very end. “Content! That's the first place where people fail. High-quality video has a better chance of ranking highly,” pointed out F13Works ‏@F13Works.

  • Titles, descriptions, tags, thumbnails and links

Nathan Hague provided a great piece of advice: treat your videos with the same reverence as your blog posts. Video titles, descriptions, tags, thumbnails, and hyperlinks are important YouTube signals that you can leverage in order to get more traffic.

Create an eye-catching, readable title that looks natural. Don’t stuff it with keywords only for the sake of including keywords. Write a good description that provides as much information as possible. Don’t forget to always tag your videos and use keywords and key phrases that are relevant to your particular video.

Add video thumbnails to allow your viewers see a quick snapshot of your video as they browse YouTube. Finally, you can link to your website or social media account from your videos.

“Views, titles, tags, descriptions, and subscribers,” tweeted Debi Norton ‏@BRAVOMedia1.

  • The right keywords

Once you’ve created your video, it’s time to find the right keywords to optimize it with. Before deciding on a particular term or phrase, check to see if there are any video results on the first page of Google for this particular term or phrase. If there are, you should definitely consider this keyword or key phrase. “Choose the right keywords. These are different from regular search,” pointed out Rohan Ayyar ‏@searchrook.

  • Engagement

Some of our chat participants, including our guest expert, mentioned that engagement is another important ranking factor: “If you aren't creating engaging content, why would YouTube want to promote your videos?” asked Shawn Harding ‏@shawnbandv. CoHost ‏@CoHostLtd also recommended paying attention to your video engagement: “Keep people on the YouTube ecosystem and you will be rewarded with better rankings.”

  • A video transcript

Annaliese Henwood pointed out the importance of transcribing your videos. Transcripts make your videos more searchable across the Web and boost their SEO. Also, you can use transcripts to create subtitles.

Finally, F13Works ‏mentioned that your videos must offer value: “Your viewers must see the value in your videos. Tutorials, how-tos and product reviews are good examples.”

SEMrush Chat Recap Q1

Consider the above ranking factors, when optimizing your YouTube video.

Q2. Bad optimization tips for YouTube: What’s the best way to bury your video forever?

Sometimes your SEO efforts don’t deliver your desired results and success on YouTube. Is this situation familiar to you? If so, you might be overlooking these five YouTube SEO mistakes. Check out the following list so you can avoid ruining your video marketing campaign.

  • Not optimizing your video

Some people don’t optimize their YouTube videos at all. They fail to optimize their video titles and descriptions, which is a serious SEO mistake. “It would be a mistake to just post a video and do nothing. You need to optimize it. You need to promote it,” tweeted Express Writers ‏@ExpWriters.

  • Not promoting your video

If you want more people to see your video, you need to make an effort to promote it. To start, you can at least link to your videos from your website and share them on social media. “[You can bury your video] by not shouting about it! Share it on social media to start. Again, don't forget to optimize your keywords,” recommended Traffic Jam Media ‏@trafficjammedia.

  • Paying for subscribers and people to watch your video

A YouTube subscriber is someone who has decided to follow your YouTube channel and watch your videos by their own choice. You won’t be able to build up a strong subscriber base or a powerful online community by simply buying subscribers and views. You need to naturally acquire new people to your channel in order to get more organic traffic.

  • Low-quality video content

All your optimization and promotion won’t help you if you consistently upload boring and poorly executed video content. Be unique, focus on originality and make sure that your videos provide value.

  • Not having a content plan and not researching your target audience

It’s always better to have a solid plan than not having one. Just as you need a content calendar, you need to have a schedule for what videos you’ll upload and when you’ll upload them. This helps you better create the ongoing story you want to tell about your business.

Also, Annaliese Henwood advised researching your target audience in order to figure out what they really want to see from you.

If you follow the above-mentioned “tips,” you will definitely fall below the potential amount of views you could receive. Make sure to avoid these YouTube SEO mistakes.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q2

Now that we know some markers on the road of video marketing failure, let’s move on to the next question!

Q3. Do embedded videos improve SEO? If so, how?

You can add a YouTube video to your website or blog by simply embedding it. To do this, you need to go to the video you want to embed, click Share under that video, and then click Embed. Then you can copy the HTML code in the box that appears and paste it into your website or blog HTML.

But do embedded videos improve your SEO? Our chat participants shared their opinions.

Nathan Hague pointed out that hosting videos on your website gives you more exclusivity. Besides, you obviously want users to spend more time on your webpage.

However, YouTube provides a range of features that actually outweigh the advantages of self-hosting.

Lindsay Kavanagh and Andy Drinkwater agreed that embedding videos has its pros and cons. Embedded videos reduce your webpage’s loading speed. On the other hand, they can make your page more interesting and add more valuable content for your viewers.

In Matthew Young’s opinion, embedded videos are good for engagement, but they indirectly impact your website’s visibility.

The Miles Technologies team believes that embedded videos increases exposure. “Yes – it increases video exposure, which in turn can potentially increase engagement. As long as the video is high-quality,” tweeted Annaliese Henwood.

Let’s sum up these key points:

SEMrush Chat Recap Q3

Embedding your videos can help you increase their engagement. But it also impacts the loading speed of your webpage.

Q4. What tools do you find best for improving your SEO on YouTube and why?

Today’s tools make it easier to optimize your videos and strengthen your SEO efforts. Our chat guests shared some effective tools for improving your YouTube SEO.

  • Reddit and Quora. To stay abreast of the latest news, Nathan Hague recommended using Reddit and Quora. These websites can help you discover trending topics and even spot upcoming trends before they happen.

  • vidIQ Vision. One important tool for YouTube video optimization is the vidIQ Vision extension. Install this extension and you’ll get access to a wealth of information, such as your videos’ average view percentage, their view rate (views per hour), the number of subscribers driven by your certain video and a lot more.

  • TubeBuddy. TubeBuddy is another browser extension that helps you easily run your YouTube channel.

  • Google Analytics and Google AdWords. By connecting your YouTube channel to your Google Analytics account, you’ll be able to keep track of your subscribers over time as well as your video engagement, including watch times, average view duration and more. Linking your YouTube channel to your AdWords account allows you to promote your video and access AdWords reporting.

  • Tools for keyword research and analysis. When it comes to YouTube SEO, you need to discover the right keywords to include in your video’s title and description. Our chat participants recommended using Answerthepublic, Keyword Tool for YouTube, and SEMrush.

Also, Annaliese Henwood ‏suggested investing in tools that will help you create high-quality videos, such as lighting and sound equipment.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q4

Are you using any tools to optimize your YouTube videos? Please share them in the comments.

Q5. In terms of SEO, is it better to post your videos on YouTube or self-host them, and why?

We’ve already discussed embedded videos. Now let’s figure out the difference between hosting videos on YouTube and hosting them on your own website and server when it comes to video SEO.

Our special guest pointed out that YouTube provides you with various tools and increases your potential for free traffic.

Michael Ramsey reminded us that YouTube is the second largest search engine. That means that when you host your video on YouTube, more people who otherwise wouldn’t have known your website exists can find it.

But he also believes that self-hosting provides some niche benefits. What’s more, there are some great tools to help you make the most out of your on-site video, like Wistia.

Reva Minkoff prefers hosting her videos on YouTube, because of the various benefits that the platform provides, including organic traffic and linking.

Some of our chat participants think that your choice between these two options will on what you need. Andy Drinkwater pointed out that hosting videos on YouTube and embedding them on your website and slows down your page’s load time.

Tara M. Clapper said that in addition to her videos she even uploads her podcasts to YouTube, because she gets more engagement on it than on SoundCloud, Podbean and other audio distribution platforms.

Check out a few other points in the following recap.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q5

As you can see, most of our chat participants prefer YouTube videos, because YouTube has a huge audience and many features to optimize for SEO.

Q6. What is the best tip you would give to beginners for beginning their YouTube SEO efforts?

At the end of our discussion. we asked our chat guests to share their best tip for newcomers to YouTube video SEO.

  • Be consistent

You need to keep your channel updated in order to interest viewers and encourage them to come back. Stick to a regular schedule and upload videos consistently, provided that they’re quality videos. Nathan Hague recommended paying attention to the quality of your audio: “Get the best microphone you can. People forgive crappy video, but they’ll click away because of bad sound.”

  • Treat every video like a blog post

Nathan Hague strongly encourages YouTube video marketers to treat all their videos with the same reverence they would give to their blog posts. You would never think of creating a new post without optimizing it. When it comes to video SEO, there’s no difference. You need to pay attention to every detail of your video, such as its title, description, tags, thumbnails, etc.

  • Do research

Some of our chat participants recommended doing research before developing your video SEO campaign. Andy Drinkwater suggested seeing what industry winners are doing in order to get inspiration and emulate some of their successful techniques and strategies.

  • Understand your audience

As with other types of content, when creating a video, you must understand what your specific audience wants to see. Knowing your viewers and their behaviors will help you craft your videos and build an audience of devoted fans. Nathan Hague advised checking your audience analytics for retention, and your viewers’ age, sex, location and which device they’re using.

Don’t forget to ask your viewers to like and share your videos on social networks.

  • Make every effort to create great content

The more you put into your video content, the more you can get out of it. No matter how your video is optimized, if it’s low-quality and boring, it won’t rank and, as a result, won’t help you reach your business goals. You need to provide your audience with the best viewing experience possible.

SEMrush Chat Recap Q6

YouTube is a powerful platform that can drive loads of traffic to your website. Hopefully, the tips from this post will help you fine-tune your video marketing campaign.

Many thanks to our special guest and our other chat participants for sharing their great insights into YouTube SEO!

Liza Perstneva


Liza Perstneva is a Social Media Manager at SEMrush and a #SEMrushchat host. Follow Liza on Twitter.
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