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SEO Best Practices: Are You Optimizing Your YouTube Videos?

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
an illustration with a blue cloudy sky background and people dressed colorfully watching a youtube video on a giant computer screen, a giant phone screen, and a laptop

Last week, we covered branding your YouTube channel as a search engine optimization (SEO) best practice to keep viewers engaged once your content appears in their search results.

As part of that, you can optimize each video on your channel by completing the fields will all relevant information. After all, video marketing is content marketing. Here’s what we suggest.

Using Keywords in YouTube Videos

YouTube videos offer ample opportunity for short and long-form keywords, including:

  • Video Title: “How to” keywords like “How to Get More Sales Leads” or question keywords like “Where Is the Best Place to Check for Website Errors?” are great options for this field.

  • Video Description: Your video description should be keyword rich, informative, and easy to skim. To make your video more user friendly and easier to break up into topical segments, you can add timestamps in your video description that users can click to start directly at the segment of the video they most want to see. This field is also an ideal place to drop the URL of your homepage or any content marketing landing pages you want to promote.

  • Video Tags: These are individual keywords, separated by commas, that you can add to help people doing topical searches find your content.

  • Video Content: During the video itself, you should keep a few focus keywords front of mind. These could be products or services you’re discussing in the video, branded keywords to help you improve name recognition or question keywords you and your guest are discussing as part of an interview.

Since you can view analytics by video, optimizing YouTube videos is just another way to find out which keywords are giving your content the most traction online, and which are less relevant to your ideal clients and customers.

Optimizing Images and Visuals

YouTube is a highly visual medium, and that means each video upload brings opportunities for image optimization. If you’re including custom thumbnails, those should be visually branded and optimized for SEO. We recommend taking the following steps:

  • Make It Your Own: Keep your YouTube aesthetics consistent since it’s an important part of your brand. This includes what you wear in the video. If you use thumbnail illustrations or graphics, keep brand colors dominant, and be sure the fonts used on the thumbnails are true to your style guide.

  • Use Correct Dimensions: Google suggests the following when creating custom thumbnails: “We recommend your custom thumbnails have a resolution of 1280x720 (with minimum width of 640 pixels). [They should] be uploaded in image formats such as JPG, GIF, or PNG, [and] remain under the 2MB limit.”

  • Consider Video Banners: Adding video banners to the bottom of each YouTube video during the video editing process keeps your logo and a keyword phrase or title in front of the viewer for as long as they’re watching.

Bonus Points: Video Transcripts

Video transcripts are more affordable than ever and an asset to your video SEO. They’re keyword-rich, informative, and improve accessibility for people with disabilities.

You can include a transcript when publishing video content to your website and link to that content, or directly to the transcript in the description field of your YouTube video. If you upload caption files, your video transcript will be visible in real time, and will be much more accurate than any captions auto-generated by YouTube.

Videos are a critical part of your content marketing strategy, and optimizing them for SEO makes them more visible to the people searching for the answers, information, and entertainment your videos provide.

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