YouTube videos are the norm today: brands, educational platforms, bloggers, and virtually anybody who’s working their way up online is experimenting – and many times succeeding – with video content on the platform.
Some people remain sceptical about the value of building a strong presence on YouTube. As competition is fierce, they fear their content will go unwatched and their efforts will be wasted.
As valid as that concern is, it’d be a shame to write off the platform on this alone. Since viewers really like to engage with videos, a video marketing strategy built around YouTube can greatly complement the rest of your marketing efforts, and bring great visibility to your content.
However, if you are planning on making YouTube a part of your marketing push, you have to understand how to use the right keywords on your videos. Otherwise, you’ll have a tough time making your content widely available to new audiences.
To help with that task, we’ve put together this guide so you can start optimizing your videos and benefit from increased exposure on your content today.
Where to start: Keyword Research essentials
Talking about a keyword strategy, isn’t it enough simply to add as many keywords as possible, just like many people use hashtags in their Instagram posts?
Trying to stuff your videos with arbitrary keywords in order to attract users vaguely interested in your niche is a poor strategy which, if implemented, will fail for sure. Keyword optimization is a bit more complex than that.
For one thing, your content should account for user intent. In order to improve your SEO, your videos should deal with topics that your target audience wants and actively looks for.
YouTube users don’t simply search for isolated keywords. Instead, their searches tend to be more customized: they generally write what they want to learn or watch in phrases.
This is why you should favor long-tail keywords—highly specific phrases (not single words) that capture what people are looking for. That way, your content will be more attuned to users’ real needs and will fare better under YouTube’s algorithms.
Finding the “Right Ones”: YouTube keyword sources
Instead of settling for a set of likely keywords or falling back into preconceived assumptions about the best keywords to use, it’s essential to spend time doing research to analyze your current best alternatives.
But where to start? Here are some of the best (free!) resources you have at hand for the task.
Before you choose anything, run a quick search to see the type of content that shows up in searches related to the content of the video you want to upload. That will give you a pretty solid idea of the most relevant keywords being used by other channels.
But don’t settle too fast! Do multiple searches in tandem: minimal changes in wording can alter the results significantly. By trying slightly different formulations, you’ll get more ideas and better information to use.
Even before looking at the results, pay attention to the suggested phrases that appear under the search bar. These are the key trending terms people actually enter to find the content they want to watch.
Again, try mixing different keywords and changing the wording; keep a record of the ones that are more relevant for your video.
Wordtracker’s paid keyword tool also provides YouTube suggestions data, so you can do your keyword research all in one place for your videos and other content.
Now it's time to get hard data to inform your research. With Google Trends, you have a free tool that you can specifically set up for 'YouTube Search.'
This is particularly useful for nailing the best keywords for your video in great detail. For example, Google Trends allows you to see:
- The interest around a topic in a specific time range, which comes in handy if the video you want to upload is a better fit for certain holidays or annual events.
- The popularity of a topic in a certain geographical area, which is cool when you want to target your intended audience.
- How different keyword topics compare, so you can prioritize those that will most likely benefit you.
After doing broad research, take some time to learn from how your competitors optimize their videos. Apart from studying their titles and descriptions, look at things like the tags they use to categorize their content.
To do this:
- Right-click on the page and choose ‘View Page Source’.
- Activate the ‘Find’ option (Ctrl + F) and search for ‘keywords’ in the source code.
- This should allow you to see the tags used on that video.
As easy as that!
Effective implementation of your keywords on YouTube
Using these keyword research resources should give you enough material to improve your chances of good rankings for your videos on YouTube.
But once you’ve identified your keywords, how should you implement them?
In the next section, we’ll discuss the key places where your keywords should be and how to use them to best effect.
Video file names are often overlooked, which is a shame since you can use them to inform YouTube's algorithms about the content of your video with practically no effort on your part.
Don’t leave your unintelligible working title as ‘TUTORIALVIDFINAL2020.mp4’—rename the file with 3 to 5 keywords that capture the topic of your video and then add the extension.
So, instead of uploading your 'DEFINITELYFINALFINAL.mp4' file, it's better to write something more informative, such as 'how-to-start-marketing-online.mp4'.
Beyond being one of the places to add your keywords, titles are your chance to attract curious users. For that reason, you want to make sure to include the keywords and that the title is clear and compelling. That means it should read naturally and closely match what users are searching for.
Make the most of your 100-character limit, but avoid keyword stuffing. Add your absolutely essential keywords, but don’t feel you have to fill all the available space; make sure the title is clear, reads well and draws viewers in.
Lastly, make your titles different from your competitors, as the obvious keywords will probably be widely used. You will have a greater chance of boosting your video rankings with creative, customized titles.
You need to show your video description some love too. Try to include the same long-tail keywords as in your title, file name, and tags: YouTube's algorithms will greatly reward your efforts to tell them what your content is about and will try to max them up together.
Remember that the description box only showcases the first two or three lines of text, so you don't want to lose that space to say, "Hey, guys!" to your viewers. Instead, reserve it to front-load the most important information and keywords, and leave the rest below the 'Show More' button.
Again, using the right tags is not only useful for your audience, but also serves to give YouTube better information about your content. However, be careful how you use tags. Don’t try to include misleading keywords to attract users of all kinds - you could be penalized by YouTube for that, and will likely end up with an irrelevant audience.
Don't be afraid of repeating the same keywords in different tags. A good mix of long tail and single keywords will be more profitable than just relying on one single formulation.
Transcripts and captions
This last step is a real game-changer.
Uploading full transcripts as SRT, TXT, or any other accepted file format, will help YouTube gain better and more detailed information about your video script, and allow them to associate it with other relevant content.
Many viewers watch videos with sound off, so captions are essential in order not to lose this audience.
Uploading transcripts and captions will significantly expand the number of keywords you can use, focusing on those related to your audience's searches.
Sure, these will take some additional time to produce, but it really is worth the effort: your audience will find your video more easily and have a better viewing experience!
Being new to YouTube is no longer an excuse not to start attracting new users to your amazing content!
The key to effective keyword implementation is to do thorough research before deciding which ones to use. Be on the lookout for how competitors are using keywords, and use Google Trends to gain invaluable data on specific trending topics.
Once you have a good range of keywords—particularly long-tail keywords—include them in all the relevant places (yes, including the file name!). This will help you attract new visitors and give YouTube a pretty good idea about the topic your video deals with.
The opportunities to succeed with your content on YouTube are there. Don’t wait, use the guide above to give it your best shot.