SEO for YouTube: How to improve your search ranking

YouTube new logo

My friend and Booktuber Merel from A Blackbird’s Books recently asked me what she could do to rank higher on YouTube. It led to the inspiration for this blog article on how you can improve your YouTube search ranking in 2018.

Rank higher by using the right keywords

YouTube in itself is a search engine. As YouTube is a part of Google, it works in much the same way: you type in keywords and the videos that seem to be the right fit for you will appear in the search results.

That’s what you want to remember. You have to make sure the keywords you use match with what people are looking for. To do so you must take several things into account:

  • You have to be aware of who your audience is and how they are searching for your content
  • You should use keywords people are actually looking for
  • To rank higher on YouTube, you should use those keywords that have the least competition

Find the right keywords

Start from what you would be looking for if you would want to find a video like yours. This will give you a general idea. From there on out you can go ahead and type terms in YouTube’s search bar. As you write, YouTube will give suggestions for search terms.

YouTube search bar

These terms are words and sentences people actually look for, so it gives you a good idea of what terms are being used. Select several and you will see how many results appear. The greater the number of the results, the unlikelier it will be you will rank high.

Find the right balance between the number of results and the right keywords. No matter what you publish, always make sure the keywords you use tell the viewer what they can expect to see.

Where to use the keywords

The keywords should appear in your title, description, in the actual video and in the tags. This is information YouTube sees, so it knows what your video is about.

Keywords in your title

Add the keywords you’ve chosen to your title and position them as closely to the beginning of the title as possible. So: Review To Kill a Mockingbird: Why you have to read this book.

Keywords in your description

Make sure to add your keyword to your description. But don’t just do that, make sure you have a lengthy description; 200 to 300 words should do it (don’t be afraid to make it even longer).

Don’t overuse your keywords though. Add it into your text a few times and stop there. You still want your description to be readable, after all.

Keywords in your video

Mention your keyword in your video. Out loud. Really! Did you notice how YouTube transcribes what you say now? Well… that means the platform can read what you’re saying. If you want to up your ranking game, you should say the keyword in the actual video.

Keywords in the tags

This is a great place to add some keywords and an easy place to do it too. Add your keyword including synonyms. Just keep in mind what words people use to look for your video.

Make good videos to rank higher

This is a no-brainer of course. Your videos should be good to rank high. There’s several reasons why this is so important.

First off, you want to create content people like to see, so they visit your channel time and again. It’s not just that though. YouTube looks at different indicators that tells the service your page is one people should be on. These are a few of them:

  • The number of comments on your video. The more comments, the better your channel and video will rank.
  • The number of video shares. Shares to social media is an indicator to YouTube you’ve created a great video.
  • The number of subscribers after watching a video (there’s a reason why many YouTubers ask viewers to subscribe in their video).
  • The video length. Yes, really. Longer videos tend to rank higher.
  • Thumbs up and thumbs down. Receiving thumbs down doesn’t just influence your mood. It also hurts your search ranking.
  • The amount of time a viewer spends viewing your video. The longer the better.

Link to your YouTube video

The more views, the higher it will rank. It might seem unfair sometimes, but it is the way YouTube works. Especially since the most recent changes regarding the YouTube Partner Program.

There are, however, ways to link to your video and get more views. Social media is a great way to get your content out there, but you can also think of other platforms.

Do you for instance have a blog? Post the video you’ve made there too. Do you send out weekly or monthly emails to your followers? Add a video to a newsletter.

Get cracking on those YouTube videos! 

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