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YouTube SEO with Aleyda Solis




Craig Campbell: We are joined by the famous Aleyda Solis. Welcome, Aleyda. Thank you very much for coming on. Today we're going to be talking about YouTube SEO with Aleyda. I think a lot of people are still likening towards the power of YouTube and everything else. 

I've been on YouTube for a few years. I uploaded everything, but I wasn't taking it that seriously. It was just a process where I've just uploaded my video and that was it, nothing else happens. I wasn't keen about driving traffic to it. So it will be good to hear... what you've been thinking. We will get Aleyda to start sharing the slides. 

Aleyda Solis: Excellent. If it is okay, I can start already. And yes, don't worry because I will be sharing the slides also afterward. You will see that I have a few resources. These are easier for you to get also from the links that you will see here.

I'm just an SEO consultant. I make my living by helping businesses to grow in their organic search results, traffic conversions and as I was talking a little bit about before. This is a thing, right? I always try to keep up as an SEO writer with the latest trends and opportunities.

Video is Overlooked in SEO

Actually, less than a month ago, I had the chance to interview the Google webmaster analyst team. One of the questions that I asked them is, which are the most important trends that you think that SEOs are overlooking in general, right? That people are not talking enough about and they should. It was Gary who mentioned that media search in general, which includes not only images but also videos, is one of those top trends.

But the thing is he had been focusing a lot on images because this is the low hanging fruit in media at the end of the day. The format that everybody has already by default in the websites. However, there are tons of fruitful opportunities I will say with video. Because with video, we are not only going to be able to build and grow our presence in Google, but also in YouTube, which is the second most visited website in the world and a huge search engine too at the end of the day.

YouTube is huge. All the numbers are always in the billions from the ones that they share in usage. We can see the role of video through the customer journey. A lot of people think about video about just informational types of clips that are not necessarily going to pay off from a conversion perspective, right? However, from data that has been gathered by Google itself, it shows that videos are really taken into consideration during the buying process.

Video is not only for these types of informational clips that are disconnected from the actual offering and content that we have on our website. But we can actually also leverage videos to enrich and support already existing content; our landing pages, product pages, category pages, to help them to actually achieve their goals much more easily. To explain better, to sell better, to our potential customers.

Today's presentation is going to be mostly about my findings during the last year. When I was starting last year and I saw all of these trends already and the data, I decided to take the leap and start testing it with my own YouTube channel that is called Crawling Mondays.

When I was starting, the first thing is like, "Oh, this is not SEO as usual." I had zero experience doing video or YouTube optimization. So I told myself, "Okay, I need you to target, tackle this, and to research and test and validate to identify opportunities in the optimal way”. Because I don't have an unlimited budget to produce my videos and grow their views.

A Simple and Effective Kit for Creating Video Content

And after a few tweaks, I started to use this simple but effective video kit. It doesn't need to be complicated. A lot of people think that it should be a super huge camera, super expensive, etc.

Realistically you can start without in a rather simple way. And you can use Camtasia as an editor, which is also very straightforward to use. Just make sure that you have a clear and high enough sound volume and a clear video and graphic with good lighting, because when I actually was starting, I didn't configure the video export in such high quality.

Someone told me, "Oh I am watching your video through my TV set. And the quality is not as good." I was like, "Who watches YouTube videos on TV?'" But yes, there are people out there doing this. So, you should make sure that the quality is good enough to be able to see the high definition. 

These are the questions that I set myself to answer. There's this research - implementation - optimization and testing - process, right? Key questions to test to optimize the production that I will do in order to increase the views of my videos and to be able to reach the type of audience that I wanted.

How People Find Your Videos on YouTube

Let's go through the top insights that I actually ended up finding through this journey. The first one is that YouTube's video discovery goes well beyond YouTube search. Most users don't discover videos through YouTube search, but via video recommendations. In fact, based on data that has been shared by Google itself, 70% of the videos are recommended by the use of algorithms. 

YouTube search is one of many of the channels and potential traffic sources within the platform that is powered by YouTube functionalities and can be found across different areas of YouTube. 

YouTube videos also have important external traffic sources as we are going to see too from embedded videos, links to videos from external sites; Google search results is one of them. Organic search is the second traffic driver to the YouTube website after Direct and it is mostly mobile too.

And this is interesting: when everybody thinks of a video, they think about YouTube as the channel as if it was something independent and not connected with Google. But we need to take into consideration that for example, 31% of mobile search results in the US include video carousels and more than 80% of the videos from the carousels are from YouTube at the end of the day. 

This should be a win-win, right? Those videos that we publish and optimize for YouTube itself as a platform, will end up also in many situations also getting visibility in Google search, from Google search results too.

How to Improve YouTube Discoverability

Another important finding: to grow your YouTube discoverability you need relevance, retention, and engagement. YouTube's algorithm has two goals. The first one is to help each viewer to find the videos they want to watch. And the second one is to get viewers to keep watching more of what they like. 

The reality is that it works pretty well, right? Your recommendations keep mobile users watching for more than 60 minutes at a time on average based on data that YouTube has. 

What are the principles that are used to recommend those videos and from where are they being recommended? YouTube will follow the audience behavior, what users watch and don't watch, what users like and dislike, how much time a user spends watching the video. That is why we want to keep the user engaged to watch longer.

Suggested videos, for example, are ranked to maximize engagement based on prior user activity. If we have interacted with or if we are already subscribed to a channel, we interact a lot with videos on a channel, we will end up getting them suggested. In the YouTube home, we can see videos are shown from subscriptions, videos watched by similar viewers, new videos also. 

YouTube search runs the most relevant and highly engaged videos to the query. We'll see how to do this right; optimize for title relevance, description relevance, watch time of the video for the query too. It's not only focusing on making the video relevant and that's it. There are many other factors and many studies have been done. 

For example, this one that was developed I think a year and a half ago. We can see the correlation of YouTube ranking factors and many of these...engagement types of metrics in the top positions. 

Based on all this and not only the studies, but the findings that I'm going to show you now, it's clear that relevance is not enough in SEO. In SEO we also need the links. It's also about popularity...retention and engagement; these are key. 

Relevance: optimizing the content for targeted queries and topics are the run for. Title, description, et cetera, the hashtags. Then engagement: the likes, the views, the rating, the comments, the shares, the subscription. The retention is about the watch time of the videos.

Building Engagement on YouTube

Having the engagement, the community type of interaction and presence to be able to retain and engage the user and refer the users; this is key in order to attract and to grow our subscription beyond only being or trying to be relevant, which is only one part of the puzzle.

The question here should be: how to develop the videos to be liked so much that they can retain and keep users engaged, looking for more or willing to share our videos and coming back for our videos, right? We should start by understanding audience preferences and competition to establish an effective video plan.

This is what I did; I went to the tools that I already had to do keyword research. We can identify the videos with more engagement about your topics, using tools like Buzzsumo. We can refine the terms by using YouTube focused tools like vidIQ.

So we can already start taking you to go to original topics that are relevant for us and are popular in general, but the competition level that exists for them. Of course, especially at the beginning as it happens in SEO, we can't rank for very raw generic types of queries that will have very high competition by very well-established channels.

Identify the top-ranked video keywords using tags as well as the most popular related terms. We can also verify seasonality and trends over time, also using Google Trends data that includes a YouTube search filter. 

We can use SocialBlade and Noxinfluencer to obtain the top channels from any topic in any country, and we can analyze it. We can analyze the ongoing behavior of the channel. How often do they publish? When do they publish?? What are the best performing videos that they have? What terms are they targeting with their top-performing videos?

These tools will highlight not only the data, but also the specific terms for which these videos are being applied for. And then we can even use SEMrush and check which of the terms that we have identified before are also popular, not only on YouTube but also in Google and trigger video results, carousels, snippets in Google.

Which of these queries to the YouTube domain is already ranking in Google search, how is it being shown? That can also give us an extra signal to see the popularity and importance of a video within those results. Or which of these topics already have text content? Sometimes a lot of people stress about developing the script or the content from scratch for the videos. 

Many cases already have a well-developed blog already. You have already potential blog posts that can be easily repurposed into videos that once that you generate and produce, you can even also reuse to embed in the already existing content that you have. 

You should start with relevant, not so competitive but still popular queries/topics to address with videos. Using a variety of factors that I mentioned here, like from medium search volume, low competition, high topical relevance for your audience, high expertise videos that are working for you or make sense from a business perspective for you to talk about. 

Feasibility to produce and cover with a video too. Is there a video intent? Google shows videos too. The possibility to repurpose to blog posts, articles, et cetera, or use with existing content too, or are aligned with your marketing and business goals too.

When I was researching and validating about this, I've decided that I will avoid SEO topics like how to do SEO, how to start an SEO, the top SEO checklists. I will avoid these queries this time because yes, they were very popular but they were also very competitive and not necessarily so relevant towards my audience, which is a little bit more advanced.

We need to think then here that we are not looking here for raw numbers, crazy numbers, we need to remind: what is our actual goal with our videos? This is not to grow subscribers for the sake of growing subscribers, right. This needs to be a relevant audience that is actually meaningful for us based on what we are able to provide to them.

Establish a Consistent Video Publishing Schedule

With this information we can establish a consistent video publishing schedule that we can follow, right? In my case, every Monday it was to publish a video. But to be able to publish that video, I needed to record video on Sunday. I have that included and annotated there in my calendar. 

And then Tuesday after publishing the video I will promote it in social groups, reply to comments, repurpose video and blog post. On Wednesday I will reply to the comments again. Thursday I will reply to comments which I already shared with the people. On Friday I will ask for feedback on the current videos and ask for questions for the next topic.

You can see that it's important to have a consistent plan that you can follow over time. And this is what I did to publish 24 videos so far in my channel as we can see here. 

Tracking and Measuring Important YouTube Search Metrics

And then another very important aspect here is to have a really good tracking system from the start, for both YouTube and Google Search Results. It's important to measure what we do, right? YouTube channels come already with a powerful analytics tool, allowing you to check your video reach, engagement and audience.

We can see our video’s overall impressions, CTR, views and unique viewers overall and also per view to which are the top YouTube traffic sources, the video behavior, the keywords that were used to find the videos via YouTube Search too. 

But beyond the tool that comes by default, we can use video optimization tools also like vidIQ analytics to track our own evolution, our own channel of evolution versus our competitors’ channels. We can also set alerts, for example, to be warned whenever the new video from relevant topics start to trend on YouTube.

We can also track video rankings for any targeted terms in YouTube search results with Rank Ranger. I love that it is an SEO tool that also has this very well integrated YouTube support. We can see any of the videos that you publish from your channel, what are the rankings for specific queries that you want to rank for. 

As well as your own site’s video rankings in Google with a video thumbnail. We want to also be able to track if we are able to get that page result, whether our videos will feature with a thumbnail or for example if our own website or our our channel is being included in the video carousel.

I love how they actually also show the evolution over time of the rank as we learn the carousel versus the competition. Because this is always changing, there's a high velocity in this result.

We have the Google Search Results, so we have the capacity to check structured data for any potential errors. After we publish it on YouTube, we will also want to publish it on our own website. Using Wistia, that will generate, for the video, object structured data. We can validate that it's actively implemented here, and if there's any errors that are being identified, troubleshoot it directly here.

There's a wealth of tools that we can actually use to track or video presence and to be able to monitor the evolution over time. I highly recommend you to have this in place before you even start. 

Optimizing YouTube Videos for Relevance

You should start by optimizing your YouTube videos’ key areas for relevance and better structure. This is the base of it all. Begin optimizing the base of your presence, your channel description, the keywords. When publishing your videos, you want to make the most out of each content area to make it relevant towards the video target queries for the title, description, the tags. 

You can even add relevant hashtags in the description, I think it will be featured above the title as you can see here. You can also even use the hashtag when the titles too. The hashtag will become clickable and generate that YouTube search. 

Make sure to include also hashtags that are relevant for the videos too, and enlarge your own high quality closed caption to videos if you can in order to control better what you show to users in your closed caption. And take a look at how the top-ranked videos for your queries, for your public queries are optimized in order to improve yours.

This takes a little bit of work. When I was doing this I was wondering realistically which of these elements are really taken into consideration when ranking in YouTube. Title, description, hashtags, tags, closed captions. I did a little bit of testing. I included some dummy text in the title, description, hashtags, closed captions to see which rank in each phase, right?

And I can confirm after a few tests that I did with a few videos... consistently the ones that were taken into consideration were the title, description and the hashtag. Closed captions and tags, the terms when I include the tags, they didn't have an influence in the rank, so I didn't see them having any influence for those times that I included them in the test.

However, we need to remind ourselves that closed captions have other important roles that will improve engagement and retention too. And this is something relatively new.: Google has also started to show timestamps in the ranked videos in English search results from YouTube. We want to include it in our descriptions, the timestamps like this of our videos highlighting the main areas or topics that we cover with our videos with labels showing the times where they start.

These are shown in ones that you are already being included in video carousels. We can not expect to have this very nice type of video with timestamp there if we are not ranking already while in the video carousel.

After we make sure that our content is relevant, we need to optimize and promote YouTube videos for engagement and retention. Remember that these are key to grow subscriptions in a much more powerful way. So once that you're ranked for a query in YouTube search results, how do you engage and retain users to grow your subscribers even further? 

How to Make YouTube Videos Stand Out from the Crowd

Besides the relevant and catchy title and description, of course, your thumbnail can make your video stand out versus the rest and improve your CTR.

We need to think about the thumbnail as if it was an ad for the video. And as such, you should design them to make them unique, attractive, with a representative image, including a catchy title. 

I started doing these initial thumbnails that were all with this generic image of me. But then after a while, I realized that I should make them a little bit more fun, specific, more relevant, attractive for the user to click. 

The point here is to replace the full thumbnail that is also generated by default from the video and you are publishing the video with an original image for it in every case. Run A/B tests for your video thumbnail and metadata with tools like Tubebuddy to identify your audience preferences and optimize them accordingly too.

And you can, after you do all this, create playlists to facilitate users to browse through your channel videos using relevant topics that will be meaningful to connect. Include info cards too in your videos to link to all the relevant ones or create a poll to engage the users.

You should also add end-screens to your videos at the end of the video. You can do this through the YouTube studio feature to refer your users to all the videos that you can choose to be chosen automatically by YouTube itself based on the video or based on the user preferences.

You can refer the user to a specific video of your channel, right? You can also add another item there to incentivize the subscription of your channel too. To optimize your channel to increase you need to put here a little bit of the conversion optimizer type of pack, to incentivize the user to keep watching the video, to subscribe to your channel and to keep watching more.

We shouldn't be shy. We should actually ask our users to do this through the video. To keep watching to get the answers at the end of the video. To leave comments with questions, to like the video, subscribe to the channel. To interact with users in the comments addressing their questions, liking meaningful comments and replying to them, and pinning the best one for example.

Promoting Videos Outside of YouTube

We shouldn't only promote our videos from our own channels, but also we need to do it in our own presence outside YouTube, from social media, your newsletter, your email signature, even your own website to refer them to YouTube.

You can do giveaways to encourage subscriptions. And of course whenever it is possible, invite special guests by doing interviews or Q&As with authoritative people and figures within your field that will have their own community, and even bigger communities or different communities than yours. You can go beyond the limits and reach of your existing community.

Taking all of this into consideration, we need to think also that there's a freshness factor in YouTube also. We need to try to boost as much as possible, engage and refer to YouTube in the first weeks after we publish the video. Engagement and retention requires you to use your conversion and community management skills.

We also need to make sure that our video doesn't only perform well in YouTube; that we repurpose and we expand and we make the most out of the video for our own presence in Google. Expand or repurpose your YouTube videos for Google search rankings. Create a blog or a section within your existing blog, creating a post for each one of your videos for example. 

You can also include a watermark to your entire videos allowing the users to easily subscribe, and you can generate transcriptions. You can now do all this very cheaply or even for free as I will show you by generating transcriptions of your videos with services like Rev for example.

You can go to your automated transcript from YouTube. You can open the transcript, copy-paste and you will have free content right there. Paste it on the blog post. In some cases it’s not as accurate, but if you have a limited budget, it’s a way to do it.

Does all this Effort Lead to YouTube Search Success?

I have been sharing so much stuff that requires a lot of work. You will say, Aleyda, this is too much, why should I bother with all of this?"

Are you ready to see some results finally? You can rank for those not so competitive but highly relevant terms within YouTube, yes. Even with a new channel. We can also rank as well in Google search results with your YouTube videos and embedded videos and blog posts too.

You can say it pays off. However, the process requires effort, is slow, is iterative, is incremental. It shouldn't be about raw numbers or generic numbers or subscribers for the sake of subscribers, but how to increase subscribers or those audiences that actually are important and meaningful for you. 

This is what we should be thinking about: being able to communicate to establish your trust, to establish your authority, to establish your brand, to grow your brand across different groups of audiences that you wouldn't have gotten to connect with only by text. 

Hopefully, this was useful for you. As you can see it's not as straightforward as I had wished at the start of last year, but it has certainly opened my eyes to a whole complete new work for me, which actually I enjoy, I love producing all the videos.

Craig Campbell: That is an excellent presentation. A lot of good feedback. Sadly we are out of time. It has been a great webinar. I've certainly learned a lot and obviously have a lot of interest on YouTube. And so great work Aleyda. It's always great to hear what you've done and all the tricky small details, the tools you use. So thank you very much for sharing all that with everyone. People are asking for your slides, which we will put out after the webinar. 

Aleyda Solis: I will be sharing them on Twitter, so SEMrush retweet too. Follow me on Twitter and follow and subscribe to Crawling Mondays. Thank you very much for your time, Craig. You're an awesome host. Thank you very much for everything. Thank you, everybody. Bye-bye.

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