Michael Utley: Hey everybody. I'm Michael. This is Chris.
Chris Raines: How're you doing?
Michael Utley: Welcome to the Dodgeball Marketing Podcast. Today we're going to talk about— and this is episode 29— we're going to talk about Optimizing Your YouTube Page for SEO. YouTube is great. YouTube is a video content site, extremely popular, has been for years, and it's not going away. We're using video on websites and in social media content more and more than we ever have before. I mean, video is your background.
Chris Raines: Yeah.
Michael Utley: Yeah.
Chris Raines: It goes without saying that YouTube is not just a place where people go to watch videos they already know about, but they also search for new content, and they search for new videos. So that's what this is about. It's about optimizing each video and helping your channel to be found. YouTube is still the number two search engine behind Google.
Michael Utley: That's right.
Chris Raines: So many searches that come through, a lot of them educational, a lot of them informational.
Michael Utley: Yeah.
Chris Raines: So it's almost as important as optimizing your website to show up on Google.
Michael Utley: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. If you're a company that's doing anything, whether it's construction healthcare, retail products, education, technology services, the video is that opportunity to kind of reach through the screen and make a personal connection, but it's also for search engines. It's a way to make sure that you're mapping your content and your online presence against, essentially, your top nav. Whatever's in your top nav, you should have video content specifically for each item there in terms of services or products offered.
Michael Utley: So we think of video as important and as big of a thing as webpages. So yeah, using keywords, YouTube gives you a lot of real estate for keyword optimization. You've got your channel, and you can kind of think through that. Typically, it's going to be an extension of your brand, but sometimes if you have to come up with any kind of variation, you can use that as a keyword opportunity, video titles, tags, descriptions, the content of your video, which can end up in transcripts and then things like playlists. So all of these are different areas. So how do you think about this?
Michael Utley: Well, we've always been cautious. Whenever we put folks on camera, we're real hesitant to try to coach them to use certain keywords and to try to think about something. We find that it's better. If it says scripted piece, it's fine, you can do it. But if it's non-scripted, we tend to just get people to say what they need to say and we assume that there's going to be enough keyword intensity there, or density, that it's going to work out fine. But with titles and descriptions, you can modify this and break away a little bit from the exact text that is spoken or as part of the material in the video.
Michael Utley: So your titles, if you ever need to keyword optimize a title and you don't have a good way to kind of shove something in there, one good sheet is to hide it right at the beginning, like it's category and then use a colon, and then have the title of the video that's a bit more readable or a little bit softer in terms of not using particular keywords. So yeah, this is a really good way to think about titles. Descriptions, just including the most important keywords for that video topic in the description. So yeah, using keywords in all of these different touchpoints of content is really, really good for search engines. All right, Chris, tell us about the next one.
Chris Raines: Yeah, so the second one is similar to this and it's optimizing your actual YouTube profile. So that's kind of your homepage where people go to see all of your videos. There are plenty of places there where YouTube allows you to add content, add links. There's even a little social profile links that you can put up at the top near where the banner is. Filling all that stuff out, those are great opportunities to put in keywords, to put in links to other things. You've got your description or your about section, you've got URL. So that should definitely have that. That's a high-quality link back to your main URL.
Chris Raines: The other thing you can do is you can actually put featured or followed channels on the side. So channels that your own page vouchers want to recommend. So if you have another area of your business, you can follow each other and feature each other. So that's another thing you can do. So really just looking at your profile, anywhere where there's texts to input, that as an opportunity to provide content that's indexable by YouTube. Take advantage of it. Don't leave any of your profile areas blank.
Michael Utley: Yeah, absolutely. Those channel profiles are really good because that gives you real estate to make sure that you're saying all of the things that you need to say that may not be covered in any one particular video. For example, if you have a set of main services that make up what your company does, you may have videos that cover just that topic. And you might want to think about a homepage video that's sort of a wrap up that covers everything.
Chris Raines: Yeah, homepage video. We didn't cover that.
Michael Utley: A homepage video on your website is good because it's kind of a wrap up. Well, think about this YouTube profile as covering all the topics, hitting all the bases, like a homepage video.
Chris Raines: You can have a featured video on your homepage.
Michael Utley: That's right.
Chris Raines: So think about what that's going to look like. That probably shouldn't be like a specific content-focused video, but it should be like, this is what the channel is about.
Michael Utley: Yeah.
Chris Raines: Kind of like a homepage video would be.
Michael Utley: Right.
Chris Raines: Yeah.
Michael Utley: So that might be kind of obvious, but what we're saying, the point we're sort of arguing or making is, don't forget that search engines, not thinking in terms of the way a person watches the video and says, "This is the message, this is the story, this is the idea." Search engines are looking at text and interpreting that into their indexes as keywords and topics. So it's easy to kind of say, hey, we got the video up there, but then you look at it and the title is 12345.mov. That's not a title.
Michael Utley: So similarly, copying and pasting your mission statement into your about page on your YouTube channel is not really optimizing for SEO. Your mission statement may be true, may be good, but it's not getting all those keywords of your services in there that you need people to know that you offer.
Michael Utley: All right, next step, subtitles and captions. Use subtitles and captions and all add transcripts to this. You have a lot of real estate on a screen with a video. If you don't get greedy, you can actually think of the talking head or the mix of live action shots as being the foundation of your video content, but you can actually build on that with some texts that people can see that's actually part of your video content, not part of the platform, but part of your video. We can talk about this all day. This could be a whole series, how to craft videos for different purposes, but we generally think of the lower third or coming in from the side. So you need to think about this when you're shooting video, how are you going to compose your shots so that you're leaving room for these dynamic elements that you want to bring in during post and ad as part of the content and the experience of the actual video?
Michael Utley: So those little cues can help people know and be contextualized. They've already got maybe the title, or if they're in a playlist, they know that they came in because it's part of this topic. But if you want to sort of reinforce, here's where we are in the journey, here's where you're in the story, captions, lower third or side call-outs can help people track with what it is you're saying and what you're talking about.
Michael Utley: Think about videos and more of a magazine format than a novel or a book format, you want something that's not just pure video content without being broken up. You kind of want things uninterrupted. Like, here's a little call out, here's a thing, or maybe if you're doing a voiceover and you've got some live action shots, you might want to define and make the connection between the live footage that you're cutting away from the talking head to show. Like if you're saying, "Here's an example of some of our equipment on a job site," you might want to say, "A recent project we completed in Boston, Massachusetts." That kind of text can contextualize the shift in gears of the change in what's being done and it makes it a little bit more interesting, exciting.
Michael Utley: And then what we get with YouTube that's really powerful SEO are transcripts. Transcripts are a way to not only make sure that your content is consumable by people who need to read the text rather than hear what's being spoken, that's sort of a jumping off point for why YouTube has it, but really it's valuable for search engines, because that voiceover, everything you're saying, the internet is not taking that and transcribing it automatically for you and adding it to search indexes. Now YouTube is automatically trying to, but those transcripts are not great. You need to actually go through and manually load your own transcripts or go through, and correct, and craft and make sure that those transcripts are accurate in YouTube. When I go do that, they do get search indexed and all that text is getting added to search indexes.
Chris Raines: Yeah. And a good resource to do that is a site called Rev.com. For about $1.25 per minute, you can get those SRT files, they're called, that you can upload directly to YouTube. You send them the video link or the audio, and they will send you back a ready-made transcript that you can upload right to YouTube. So that's a kind of a low cost way at Rev.com to do that.
Michael Utley: That's right. And a gimmick is, we also take those transcripts and put them on a landing page on your own website and then embed the video. So those transcripts are really valuable because then you've actually got all that video content. Some of it might've been extemporaneously delivered and actually really hard to recreate as a standalone piece of content, but you've already gotten it. So Chris, let's talk about the next topic. Let's talk about thumbnails.
Chris Raines: Thumbnails.
Michael Utley: This is kind of your zone. Tell us how to think about thumbnails.
Chris Raines: So thumbnails are less about discoverability and more about clickthrough, but it does-
Michael Utley: What is a thumbnail? Let's define it for people.
Chris Raines: Yeah. So thumbnail is the image that's displayed before you click on the video and play it. And really its sole purpose is to get the click. So the best practice there is to think about what might make people want to click. So for us, you'll notice on our channel, on the Dodgeball Marketing channel, we don't use just a still photo that may turn or whatever during the recording. We have a template and we make. There's a little cartoon image of me and you and it has the text over the top of it. So that makes for a more ... People can readily know what the video is about and it's a more pleasing image to look at. It's a little more interesting.
Michael Utley: Something a little visually different because then people, when they're on a channel, if they're on a playlist or something else, they can kind of see, there's more of this type of content. I know what to expect.
Chris Raines: Think about like you would an ad. So if people are scrolling and they're on the discover page on YouTube, what's going to make them want to click? So think about ways to create excitement, create intrigue, create mystery. Be a little bit different in how you display your thumbnail.
Michael Utley: The way this relates back to SEO is Google pays attention to how often people click through your video. That's a signal. So it's not just these keywords in the description and the title, everything we've been talking about, it's actually how people interact with your video. Do they click it? When they click it, how long do they watch it? That's all information that tells Google, "Should this video show up on people's discover page? Should it show up on the suggested videos page?
Chris Raines: So if you ever watched a video that the suggested videos that come up on the right-hand side or within the feed if you're on mobile, that's all information Google uses. If people are clicking through on that thumbnail, that's a signal to Google that this is a popular video. This is something that people want to watch, and you're going to be more discoverable on YouTube, outside of the keywords and everything else we've been talking about. So really think about what you can do to stop the scroll, stand out, be unique, evoke an emotion. Do something that ... Think about it from the user's perspective, what would make people want to click on this thumbnail? And then proceed.
Michael Utley: Yeah. SEO can get very technical. It can be very spreadsheet driven. This is kind of a creative thing that you can do that's part of your SEO work.
Chris Raines: Look at the top. A good exercise is probably to look at the top channels on YouTube that have. Look at all the YouTube channels that have a million subscribers or more, see what they're doing with their thumbnails because they know exactly how the system works. Otherwise, they wouldn't get to 100 subscribers, see what they're doing and just emulate what they're doing really.
Michael Utley: Right.
Chris Raines: That's a good way to do it.
Michael Utley: All right. Last step, use YouTube playlist to improve SEO. Playlists are another thing that YouTube has done that's really innovative. YouTube is amazing. It's this whole universe of really short bits of content, but you can have these themes and these rivers of content that you can actually create with your own content and with others. Those titles of playlists are keyword rich. So if you have a set of services and you're producing a lot of video content, you may have sample projects that you've done, and you may have videos about this projects. If all those projects fall into a service category, you could have a playlist of your service and have all of your videos organized so people can easily see all of the different projects that you've done in that particular service set.
Michael Utley: This is also a handy way to equip a sales team or a new business development team to have a sheet of URLs that they can use where your video content can be updated, but they've always got that link that they can use in their conversations with folks that they can easily copy from a spreadsheet and pop into an email.
Michael Utley: We really like also to use a playlist for different formats and to actually use different formats of video so that we can play into the structure of how YouTube works. So with this podcast, this is the Dodgeball Marketing Podcast, we'll actually have playlists in YouTube. Actually, we're kind of rolling this out now that we've switched over to this video format at the beginning of, or I guess sometime last year, so now we're rolling out. Now that we've got some material banked, we're rolling out our playlist strategy.
Michael Utley: We're going to actually have a playlist of full episodes, but then topic by topic playlist. So we'll have SEO as a topic, we'll have video marketing as a topic-
Chris Raines: Email.
Michael Utley: We'll have email marketing as a topic.
Chris Raines: Yeah.
Michael Utley: All of these are going to be different playlists. So we're going to have the ability to do is take our episodes and cut them into separate clips. So each episode will be blown into five clips and those could be tagged and then added to the appropriate playlists. These playlists are great and clips are great because you can share these shorter bits of content out with social media or with your own email marketing. So playlists and clips give you a different way to arrange things so you can think about your audience segments, how you're communicating with those audiences, whether it's one-on-one through a business development team, or with a larger segment through an email newsletter. These are ways that you can use the publishing platform that's sort of out there in the world to work for both search engines and for other points of contact.
Chris Raines: I'll add one thing to that. That's all great, but also playlists encourage binge-watching, right? And so that plays in. So if you have a 10 part series on how to set up a WordPress development environment or something like that, people will watch. If they know it's part of a playlist, they're going to want to consume all the pieces of content to know how to do the thing that you're promoting. And so it's going to encourage binge-watching, which then communicates to YouTube's algorithm for watch time. We keep saying watch time, watch time is a big signal. How long do people spend on each video? How long do people spend with your channel? So playlists really encourage people to spend a lot of time with your channel and each video inside the playlist on your channel, which then raises your watch time, which is a signal to then promote your channel above other channels and the search results in suggested videos.
Michael Utley: So better discoverability with playlists. Great. This has been Optimize Your YouTube Page for SEO. If you have any questions, check-in with us. We're Michael and Chris at Dodgeball Marketing Podcast. Let us know you're out there. Drop your comments below. Hey, thanks so much. We'll see you on the next one.