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The Internet is brimming with videos; from the brief native clips on social media platforms to the paid streaming services offered by Netflix, Hulu, and the like. Among all these options, YouTube has become the mainstay, and by a significant margin, the go-to platform for free, high-definition videos. Rightly so, it’s become the biggest video marketing platform brands use to spread awareness and build a loyal following.

Studies have revealed that 93% of consumers cited video as helpful during the purchase of a product. If you’re looking to ramp up your marketing strategy, YouTube, with its 1.5 billion monthly active users spending more than an hour a day consuming its content, offers opportunities you can’t pass up.

YouTube Discovery and Watch Time

Before we jump into the “how,” let’s talk about the “why” of video optimization. The most critical indicator or ranking factor on YouTube is watch time. The success of your channels and videos no longer depends solely on views but on the average watch time because it details more about a viewer’s level of engagement than the former metric.

A healthy “watch time” means that your videos entice people to stay and continue watching, rather than boring them to click away. Most importantly, this ranking factor sends a strong signal to YouTube and Google that people are happy with your content. In exchange, YouTube and Google will show your video in the suggested or related list, sending free, organic traffic to your channel.

However, earning hundreds or thousands of “watch time” minutes doesn’t end at creating an engaging video. While you can pay to advertise your video, there are a variety of ways to organically build your watch time and increase engagement without blowing your budget. The most effective of these methods is to optimize your video to feed YouTube’s algorithm and help it show up at the top of search results. The method borrows similar principles with SEO for engines like Google and Bing, except that YouTube has an algorithm of its own that determines how it ranks videos.

10 Optimization Hacks for Better SEO

Create Fresh Content

A successful video campaign starts with engaging content, but what people and YouTube love most is fresh, newly updated content. Much like in Google and other search engines, freshness is one of YouTube’s most important ranking signals. The newer and more relevant or timely your video is, the more likely it will appear in the search results.

Refine Your Tags

YouTube tags are keywords or related terms that help viewers find your video when they search the site. Proper YouTube tagging is crucial to your video ranking well in YouTube search results. Because tagging is a key ranking factor, it’s important to have a strategy in place and to brainstorm the essential tags for maximum impact. Your best “core” words should be brand- or niche-specific and help identify what the video is about. Ideally, they should be based on various types of search queries: generic, navigational, category, or genre.

The golden rule is to understand the various ways different types of users would search for a video. Do this by prioritizing keyword research before creating and publishing your video content. In addition to the tag research tool, YouTube’s auto-suggest tool is also a useful source of relevant tags as these are ranked by relevance and reflect people’s search behavior. In addition to the site’s keyword suggestion tool, Google AdSense’s external tool is also a great place to extract keywords from your competitor’s videos and generate suggestions based on your “core” terms.

Once you’ve collected a list of single-word, multiple-word, broad-term, and brand-specific tag variations, sift through it carefully, omit what’s unnecessary, organize by relevance, and play with as many formatting tools as you like. Check out this in-depth guide to YouTube tagging for more information.

Choose a Great Title

Choosing a good title for your video is just as important as optimizing your tags. While tags help YouTube’s algorithm connect your content with your target audience, it’s the title that entices viewers to choose your video over others. Make your title as crisp, relevant, and catchy as possible—avoid clickbait-y titles altogether. A good rule of thumb here is to have both users and search engines in mind. If your title looks good from an SEO standpoint, your video will most likely appear at the top of search results, which, to a user’s mind, is a signal that you’re a relevant authority in the area they’re looking for. 

Optimize Your Description

Like titles and tags, descriptions and annotations are all crucial components of a video’s metadata, which is data that describes and provides information about your video’s content. These help viewers find the best videos that match their search criteria and maximize long-term viewer engagement (i.e., views, likes, shares, subscriptions).

When optimizing your video description, make sure it describes your video’s content in the most straightforward manner. Misleading viewers by including words unrelated to your content will only give you a penalty or even prompt YouTube to remove your video. Avoid stuffing your description with tags or keywords; instead, take it as an opportunity to introduce your video and why it’s worth the watch. For video titles and descriptions, make sure they don’t exceed Google’s maximum character count. Google truncates titles that exceed the 66-character mark and 300 characters for descriptions.

Optimize Your URL Structure

Restructuring your video and channel URLs is essential for your video’s SEO. URLs and domains have long been established as some of the most fundamental building blocks of SEO, and it’s only wise to apply best practices to your video marketing campaign. Follow this step-by-step guide to learn more about how to properly structure your video URLs for the best optimization possible.

Write Enticing CTAs

The beauty of YouTube is that it offers plenty of space to promote your other videos, digital channels, or product pages. You can embed links at strategic points throughout each video and create a playlist to encourage viewers to explore your channel and further drive conversions. Your descriptions can include links to your website and social media profiles, as well as enticing call-to-actions (CTAs) to maximize your opportunities on YouTube.

Understand Viewer Behavior

YouTube is an endless source of super detailed analytics and robust tools to help you understand your viewers’ behavior. One of these tools is Audience Retention, which lets you track a viewer’s drop-off point on each video. Understanding your viewers’ retention metrics will help you fine-tune your content creation strategy. Additionally, this information will help you build CTAs that are most relatable to the majority of your viewers. Use your analytics tool to find common information about your audience, such as age, interests, language, or location. 

Leverage Other Channels

To maximize your channel’s visibility, tap into your other channels to promote your videos. While YouTube vastly relies on its algorithm to rank videos, promoting your videos can still drive qualified traffic to your channel and improve your chances of generating higher engagement. Make sure to embed your YouTube videos on your website and social media profiles to expand your reach. 

Dress Up Your Channel

Consider your YouTube channel to be an extension of your website and social media presence. Personalize it through settings, colors, themes, and modules, and include your logo or a branded background image to reflect your organization. Also, don’t forget to encourage embedding and allow comments and ratings to up your engagement rates.

Measure & Calibrate

Optimizing your presence on YouTube requires continual research and risk-taking. As with all digital marketing methods, it’s important to stay proactive and dedicate time to monitoring each video’s performance and what your competitors are doing. Stay up-to-date on current viral videos and trends to see what’s grabbing your target audience’s interest. More importantly, take advantage of the tools and plugins that YouTube and other digital marketing platforms provide to help you make and optimize videos better.

Timing is Essential

Keep in mind that the window for optimizing your content so that it has a significant impact on your watch time and engagement is small. Have a plan that details what, when, and how you optimize your videos and consistently follow it within the first 48 to 72 hours after you’ve pushed a video live. In doing so, your video will come out strong and give the algorithm hints that you intend to drive viewers and engagement to your channel.

At RefractROI, our team understands what it takes to help your marketing videos get discovered, watched, and shared. We’ve taken videos from invisible to popular, so we know the best SEO practices to leverage your YouTube videos in conjunction with your digital marketing goals. To learn more about how we can help improve your videos and how they boost your marketing efforts, contact us now to get started. 

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