Are you producing videos to promote your business, or planning to start filming content to share online? An ever-increasing number of businesses have realised the benefits of video for marketing. With more and more video content being uploaded online every day, it’s essential to know how to optimise your videos for YouTube success in order to show a return on the time and resource you’re investing.
Even large media companies are guilty of producing high quality video content which ends up unnoticed and ignored because they were entirely focused on what they were filming, and not how it was likely to be found once it was published. And yet the solution can take as little as five or ten minutes before you go near a video camera, and just a few extra moments of care when you’re publishing.
Not only will this mean your videos are easily found within YouTube, but the prominence of video in general search results means your overall SEO strategy will also massively benefit.
1. What are people looking for?
When you start planning your video strategy, it’s important to know what people in your industry sector are actively searching for.
As with any search engine optimisation, you should begin with researching the relevant search terms. Free tools such as Google Trends, Ubersuggest, or the Keyword Planner accessible via Google Ads will give you a host of ideas and a rough estimate of the search volume.
Enter your preferred terms into YouTube to see what content is already available. You’ll be likely to see a huge difference between the top performing videos which are generally well-optimised, and those which were uploaded in a hurry.
Areas to think about for your business include ‘How To’ explanations, which will provide value to new and existing customers. This evergreen content can attract new viewers for years, and also adds to relevant content you can include on your own website. Videos on topics as simple as ‘How to tie a tie’ have reached millions of viewers.
More complicated projects can also attract an audience. MAKE magazine has over 1.5 million subscribers to their channel which publishes videos of DIY technology projects. But you can also produce a useful ‘How To’ with nothing more than some screen capture software.
Many eCommerce businesses produce regular ‘Product Review’ videos, which allows them to target searches for individual product names. It also gives them a way to highlight the benefits of their latest stock, and can add personality and authority as a retailer. For instance, US motorcycle clothing retailer Revzilla has achieved nearly 100 million views for their weekly product updates.
A further big trend is for ‘Unboxing’ videos, which can involve customers or popular YouTube channels in the excitement of opening a new product for the first time. It’s a great way to capture the excitement of using your product or service for the first time. The key is to allow as much authenticity as possible.
2. How to title and describe your YouTube video
The second important step in knowing how to optimise your videos for YouTube success is to ensure you complete the upload information correctly. The first set of options are listed under Basic Info.
You should be using the title field in the same method as writing a page title on your website – including the most relevant keywords as close to the front of the video title as possible. Keep it to around the same 6-8 word length where possible, and include brand names after the title of the video if required.
Make sure you fill out the description field, again including the relevant keywords and information as early as possible.
In search results, the description will generally be cut off at around 126 characters (including spaces), so try to grab the attention of a viewer in that space. Even when viewing your video, the description is limited to around 356 characters (including spaces), with any further text and information only visible when the ‘More’ option is clicked. So make sure you include any important information or links early in the text. Description links will only be clickable if the full address, including https:// is included.
The final text information for Basic Info on YouTube is the list of tags (keywords) which you can associate with your video. You should already have a list of the most relevant terms and topics, and YouTube will assist you by suggesting options automatically as you type. Including your brand name as a keyword on every video will help to encourage YouTube to display other videos from your channel as Related Content.
Finally, you can set a Custom Thumbnail image to be displayed in search results if the automatic image suggestions aren’t the best options to summarise your video.
The YouTube Advanced Settings tab also includes useful options, including selecting the correct Category for your content, language and location, and whether to allow comments and the video to be embedded on other websites.
Make sure you have ‘Notify Subscribers’ ticked to allow anyone who has signed up for updates from your channel to see your new content in their subscription lists and update emails from YouTube!
3. Spread the word about your latest YouTube video
The final step when publishing any new content is to spread the word and encourage as much interest as quickly as possible. The more attention your content gets upon publication and in the time immediately after it is available, the more likely it is to be highlighted in search or in Recommended sections on YouTube.
Subscribers to your channel will get a push notification on their mobile device when you post a new video, but it’s also important to post a bespoke update on your channel home page to showcase the new content. And of course you can share the link on your other social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
In addition, make sure you’re displaying your YouTube videos on your own website by embedding them in the relevant sections of the site. Search engines can’t index audio-visual content currently, so include a text description of the video on your website, or consider providing a full transcript, particularly for interviews.
Finally, consider scheduling. Even if you’ve saved on resource by shooting 20 videos at once, consider uploading one or two a week, rather than bulk uploading everything. That means you’re not overloading your channels with promotions all at once, and people will start to expect content from you on specific days, building a regular viewing habit. Although streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have encouraged more and more of us to binge-watch an entire TV series in a single weekend, it’s better to build up your content catalogue on YouTube over time.
4. Keep experimenting and improving your YouTube videos
Finally, it’s important to maintain a consistent video production effort over time, just as with any content marketing strategy. While it’s possible to have an amazing break out success with a single video, such as ‘First Kiss‘, which has had over 100 million views and drove awareness of The Wren Studio, it didn’t translate to sales immediately.
Compare that to the success of Joseph Garrett, an English YouTuber who uploads new videogame content every day for children, and who currently has over 10 million subscribers, and nearly 7 billion views since 2011. Most parents will attest to the power he has over a global army of children addicted to ‘Stampy Cat’, with an estimated advertising revenue of £40,000+ per month.
Both examples are evidence of the low financial cost to achieve success. The ‘First Kiss’ video cost around $1,400 to create, while Garrett is one person operating from his bedroom with a PC. But the big secret of success for all YouTube channels is the time and effort that goes into optimising content, measuring results and then building on success.
This post was originally written on 13 February 2017, and updated on 29 July 2021.