YouTube SEO: How to Help People Find Your Videos

If your nonprofit is producing great video content, it deserves to be seen. And if you are publishing your video content to Youtube, you are in luck: YouTube is a massive search engine (the second largest of them all), so it is a great platform to host your videos. Now we just want to make sure the right people will be able to find your content by adding a few drops of that magical YouTube SEO juice.

YouTube SEO is not really magic, though, so let me explain the basics of the algorithm and how you can influence it too! First, you need to do some YouTube keyword research, so that you’re aware of what people are looking for and what terms they are using. Once you know your keywords, we can get started.

How to Rank Better on YouTube and Optimize Your Videos for SEO

The YouTube algorithm works differently than the Google algorithm because it is a different platform, and people are interacting with it in a totally different way. Besides, Google cannot analyze the video itself, which is why you need to help Google understand what your video is about. So, how do you rank better on YouTube? Here are the three most important ranking factors, and what you can do to influence them:

1. Increase Watch Time

The most important ranking factor on YouTube is ‘watch time’, or how long people are viewing your videos. If people watch your entire video, this signals that your video content was of high quality and/or that people were engaged. Ways to ensure your people watch more of your videos:

  • Better content:
    Is your content in the appropriate format and length for the topic? Is your content in the right tone for your audience? Is the video of high quality? Does it have the right pace? Is it something your audience really wants to see? Make sure you are providing something of value to your target audience.
  • Optimized channel management:
    Do you post content consistently? Are fans aware of your posting days? Are you responding to comments?
  • Thumbnail pictures:
    You want to make sure people are enticed to click, without being click-baity. If people find out your video is not what they expect, they will get irritated, leave and decrease your watch time.
  • Playlists:
    Playlists are extremely important. Not only do they allow people to sit back and continue watching all your videos on a topic (and hence watching the entire or most of each video), they also influence what shows up in your ‘related videos‘. What shows up in related videos is determined by what users watch after your video within the first few days after posting. So, besides annotations at the end of a video and using similar tags on every video (see point 2 below), playlists are a great way to help influence the ‘related videos’ will be some of your other videos.

2. Invest in Meta Data

You can show up next to similar videos if you target the same keywords (because you are talking about the same topic). Aside from that, meta data will help you show up for searches within the YouTube platform, and possibly, on Google search results. To help Google understand what your video is about, you want to make sure you have your target keywords in the following:

  • Titles:
    Make sure that your video title is not only appealing for clicks, but also includes your keyword. One strategy is to have a creative title for the first few days to ensure you get clicks, and have an SEO-friendly title after those few days so that you can be found in search. The best strategy, of course (in my humble, totally biased opinion)is a happy medium between being search-friendly and interesting.
  • Descriptions:
    Make sure your descriptions are 150+ characters, include your keyword(s), a call to action, social links, and a description of your brand.
  • Tags:
    You want to make sure your video has three types of tags:

    • Video Specific Tags: Tags that are specifically related to this video. These are your video keywords, possibly your title, and similar keywords (e.g. ‘teaching kids about respect’, ‘respect for kids’, etc.).
    • Category Tags: Tags that are related to a topic you talk about on your channel more frequently (e.g. these could be keywords related to specific campaigns or programs your organization runs, but looking more from an SEO perspective it is an overall ‘category’ that several keywords will fall under, e.g. to follow our respect for kids example: ‘values for kids’ would be a good one, if you do make more videos about this topic)
    • Channel Tags: Tags that you include in every video, including your channel name and what all your videos are about

The video-specific tags will help you rank for your keywords, and the category and channel tags will help support that but also will help your own videos show up in ‘related videos’ next to your video because you’re telling YouTube that you’re talking about a similar topic.

3. Improved Distribution

The more people that see your video (and watch it entirely), the higher esteemed it will be by the YouTube algorithm, and, more importantly, the more awareness you will get for your cause. So you want to make sure you embed your videos on other sites and get social shares. Lead by example and promote your videos on your other platforms, and then ask others to join your cause and share your video as well.

I hope this post has given you the confidence to try your hand at YouTube SEO. People do care about your cause and your campaigns, and they want to find you. So all you have to do is be right there where your audience is searching. As I mentioned in another post; you can’t change the world if you can’t be found, so let’s get going! If you want more information here’s a checklist for YouTube SEO that we’ve found very helpful, and here’s a more detailed look into YouTube ranking factors.

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