Video SEO has changed dramatically over the years. Today, YouTube’s algorithm tries to match each viewer to the videos he or she is most likely to watch and enjoy. In this post, you’ll learn how YouTube’s algorithm works and find actionable tips on video SEO best practices so that your professionally developed corporate video which is filmed by a corporate video production company, is easily found on YouTube!
YouTube’s search and discovery systems sort through loads of videos to find the most relevant and useful results to a user’s search query.
YouTube’s algorithm then “follows the audience” by paying attention to things like:
- What they watch.
- What they don’t watch.
- How much time they spend watching.
- Their likes and dislikes.
- “Not interested” feedback.
Now that you have a good idea of how YouTube SEO works, here’s how you can optimize for YouTube.
Like Google’s search engine, search on YouTube strives to surface the most relevant results according to keyword queries.
Videos are ranked based on a variety of factors including how well the title, description, and video content match the viewer’s query.
Beyond that, YouTube looks at which videos have received the most watch time and engagement for a particular query. For example, if you have an animated explainer video and the video has very strong engagement and long watch time, the video has a good chance of appearing highly on YouTube search results for relevant keywords. Optimize watched time, make sure you produce intriguing video content!
Suggested Videos are a personalized collection of videos that an individual viewer may be interested in watching next, based on his or her prior activity.
These videos are shown to viewers on the right side of the watch page under Up next, below the video on the mobile app, and as the next video in autoplay.
Studies by YouTube have found viewers tend to watch more videos when they see recommendations from a variety of channels, so that’s what Suggested Videos do. Recommendations are ranked to maximize engagement for the viewer.
Signals that contribute to these recommendations include:
- Videos that viewers watch along with the current video, or videos that are topically related. These could be videos from the same channel, or from a different channel.
- Videos from a viewer’s past watch history.
- You can see which videos bring viewers to your channel from Suggested Videos in the Traffic sources report in YouTube Analytics by clicking on the Suggested videos box.
Some tips for optimizing your videos for Suggested Videos:
- Make strong calls to action to encourage viewers to watch another video in your series.
- Long endings may delay viewers from watching more, so be mindful of how your videos end.
- Use playlists, links, cards, and end screens to suggest the next video to watch.
- Develop a series of videos that are organically connected.
- Make videos related to popular formats on YouTube such as challenges or lists.
Titles and thumbnails are usually the first things viewers see when browsing on YouTube.
They work together to help viewers decide to watch your videos and build anticipation – if they accurately represent what’s in your video.
If viewers click into your video and stay to watch most or all the way through, this lets YouTube know that the viewer is enjoying your content.
However, if your titles and thumbnails don’t deliver on their promise of what’s in the video, then viewers tend to leave almost immediately. This can limit your discoverability on YouTube.
The longer you can keep people watching on YouTube because of your content, the more your content may get surfaced.
Here are some tips for optimizing your titles:
- Write titles that spark curiosity, but also include keywords.
- Keep titles concise (60 characters) with the most important information upfront.
- Save episode numbers and branding towards the end.
- Check that your titles don’t get cut off in suggested videos, search results, and mobile.
Thumbnails are usually the first thing viewers see when they find one of your videos, and 90% of the best-performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails.
When you customize your thumbnails, be sure you’ve got a strong, vibrant image that looks great, large and small, and conveys key information about your video.
You can apply the “rule of thirds” to compose interesting and dynamic images, then overlay them with your branding and/or descriptive text.
If you add text, make sure to use a font that’s easy to read on screen. Also, think about how you can be eye-catching and age-appropriate for your audience.
Here are some tips for optimizing your thumbnails:
- Think about your thumbnail before you shoot so you can capture several options.
- Make as high a resolution of a thumbnail as possible but keep under the 2MB limit.
- Specs: 1280 x 720 pixels (16:9 ratio) as a .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG.
- Zoom in and out of your thumbnail to see if it looks good small and large.
- See if your thumbnail would stand out among other thumbnails.
The description field is incredibly useful for helping viewers find, learn about, and decide if they’d like to watch your videos.
You can think about the description as two parts – what viewers see before they click Show more and what they see after.
Here are some tips for optimizing your descriptions:
- Be sure each video has a unique description – this makes it easier to find through search and helps it stand out from similar videos.
- Use the first few lines of text to explain what the video is about using search-friendly keywords and natural language.
- Use the rest of the text (what shows up once they click Show more) for 300 to 2,100 characters of extra information like what your channel’s about, social links, etc.