Ranking on the first page of YouTube is no easy feat (even more so to rank #1). YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world, just behind Google (which makes sense, in hindsight, why Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 million back in 2006); Yet, it is a relatively underutilised territory in business — with only 9% of U.S. small businesses using YouTube as a marketing platform as of 2015. Hence, it is the perfect time to incorporate videos into your marketing strategy. With that, here are a few tips & tricks to get your video to the top of YouTube search results!
The most obvious portion of your video that all your viewers will be reading — the video title. Naturally, it holds high importance in ranking, as the more relevant your viewer deems your content to be, the higher you will rank in the YouTube SEO.
So, what can you do with this information? Firstly, make sure your title is relevant to your audience base’s searches and keywords. This may sound relatively simple, but some can easily make the rookie mistake of slightly changing the keywords to fit their creative needs. Essentially, you need to use the exact wording of your audience’s keywords! For example, if you were to post instructions on crocheting a bucket hat, you should name your title “How to Crochet a Bucket Hat” instead of “Bucket Hat Crochet Tutorial”.
A strategic formula for the video title that YouTubers have discovered through experience is to place the main title at the beginning of the video title. This, oftentimes, is more effective than putting it in the middle or at the end. For example, title your video “How To Sell Your Car: A Practical Guide” instead of “A Practical Guide: How To Sell Your Car”.
On YouTube, the description box is a powerful tool to boost your ranking. The first 2-3 sentences of your description will be one of the first features your audience will see before clicking into your video.
With that, here are a few tips to craft your video description:
In this way, as the description is part of the features that are shown when users are searching via YouTube, your video can rank higher. It is also important to recognise that you must use natural language in your sentences so it still makes sense — a list of just trendy keywords will steer viewers away from your video instead.
Like any other mainstream social media platforms, hashtags have arrived in YouTube, as the platform slowly rolled out its hashtag landing pages at the beginning of this year, which aids the viewers in finding their desired video content. To find the perfect tags for your video, check out our handy guide!
That being said, video marketers must be careful not to abuse this system - YouTube has a penalty for over-tagging, where the search engine will ignore all hashtags in a video that has 15 or more hashtags.
By now, it’s a well-known fact that the average human attention span has decreased. Thus, for longer videos, your viewers will appreciate time videos segmented into small parts, so that they can click directly into the portion of the video they need. By including a [timestamp]: [title] list in your description, as seen in the picture of Ali Abdaal’s video below, viewers can easily manoeuvre through, thus increasing engagement and quality for your viewers and their experience.
Furthermore, by listing out your different segments, you may be able to incorporate more keywords into your description box, allowing a higher ranking for your video through its content relevance.
YouTube has recognised the importance of timestamps, and thus have released a new feature to accompany this. You can now further enhance your video description through YouTube’s new “video chapters” features, in which you can segment your videos within the scroll bar itself and have individual previews for each part.
Besides the Title and Description, you must ensure your video quality to maximise your video views & SEO. With that, here are some little details that can make or break your video’s effectiveness.
There is no magic formula to exactly how long your video should be. However, YouTube videos that are longer than 5 minutes tend to perform better. This is because the search engine wishes to maintain users on the platform, thus, the longer the video, the more ads it can place in between. With that in mind, do not mindlessly drag out your video just to hit a specific time. Remember, if your content bore your viewer and garner dislikes, you will rank lower in YouTube’s algorithm.
A thumbnail of a video may be more important than the title itself. This is because they’re the largest elements in results of a YouTube search and, most of the time, will determine whether the user will click on your video.
It’s been proven that having a close-up of a face or eye contact in the thumbnail increases the click-through rate. Humans have naturally developed a preference for face-like visuals, thus explaining why videos with faces in the thumbnail have the highest click-through rate on YouTube.
Besides the visuals, there must also be appropriate usage of font and font size for your thumbnails. Depending on the video, the fitting font may differ — but usually, Sans Serif fonts, such as Impact, provide an easier reading experience for users, which attract more attention. Font sizes must also be big enough to capture the audience’s attention immediately for words that are crucial in describing the video — but do not repeat the video title. Lastly, as much as having text is good, a sweet spot of 3 to 7 words in a thumbnail is enough to prevent clutter.
Can’t picture what a good thumbnail looks like? Some good video examples thumbnails are:
Planting 20,000,000 Trees, My Biggest Project Ever! (MrBeast)
MrBeast, one of the most popular YouTubers, tends to go with a simple thumbnail. Most of the time, words won’t be included in the image, as his titles speak for the video content. In the case that he does include text in the thumbnail, as seen here, a maximum of 3 words are used, emphasising what is actually important in the video’s title.
The Unspoken Reality Behind the Harvard Gates (Ivy-Way Academy)
In another angle, where one would like to present themselves as professional and knowledgeable, the thumbnail would follow the branding. Here, in a video on a Tedx Talk, the speaker is clearly present, showing the main attraction of the talk. This is accompanied by “Harvard is hard” — a simple sentence that encapsulates the main takeaway of the video, yet is attractive to its target audience at the same time, as most viewers of the video would want to understand the inner workings of Harvard admissions.
How To Stop Being TIRED All The Time (Thomas Frank)
Thomas Frank, a YouTuber known for his productivity tips, produce simple yet impactful thumbnails. For example, this video thumbnail gives a close-up of his face, in which his exaggerated expression tends to draw more viewers to the video. The simple, big-sized text, “Why You’re Always Tired”, makes it easy to capture what the video is about, while not repeating exactly what is already in the video title.
Do spend some time with your graphic design team to come up with the appropriate thumbnail, as it is a determining factor in your video’s success.
Closed Captions are an optional feature to include in your video, which serves as subtitles, generated from a document you provide during the upload process, for your deaf or hearing-impaired audience to enjoy your videos. In essence, videos with captions perform much better than those without, with a 40% increase in viewership.
Aside from the obvious benefit of reaching a larger audience base, search engine bots can detect closed captions compared to open captions, as it came from a text file provided by the video uploader. In turn, search engines detect this and weigh videos higher in rank. A study has shown that by just providing Closed Captions, they garnered 7.32% more views.
As much as you can optimise features accompanying your video, you must ensure your product delivers a satisfactory quality in the first place that your viewers can gain insights from. At Big 3, we provide in-depth guides on video production; feel free to check out any of them below!
As much as we have been raving about keywords in the entirety of this article, you may be wondering, how do you find the appropriate ones to include? On the internet, there are numerous YouTube keywords tools, which can auto-generate the search volume, or how many people are searching for that specific query, as well as related keywords for you. Some of our favourite programs are:
One of the best tools to use for YouTube keyword research, optimization and competitive analysis, vidIQ is a useful freemium Chrome extension that offers many features and data to help you rank for your targeted keywords on YouTube. Here are some key features:
a. Social: Upon viewing a video, you can view the engagement rate, number of YouTube likes and dislikes, like ratio, as well as the number of Facebook likes and Reddit engagement.
b. SEO: vidIQ also gives you a rough idea of how your video is doing based on their custom SEO score. The tool also provides useful information on the total number of description word count, number of end screens, total number of links in the descriptions, the number of external links that link to the video and a video optimization checklist. All this info, if utilized properly, can be useful in optimizing your videos.
c. Channel statistics: vidIQ allows you to view the overall statistics of the YouTube channel that the video you’re viewing belongs to. Information such as total channel views, average daily views, total subscribers and views in the last 30 days can help you determine how tough the competition is if you’re targeting a specific topic niche like travel or cooking.
d. Tags: A few of the most important features in vidIQ are the video, topics and channel tags. vidIQ allows you to view the tags of your competitors’ videos which is crucial as tags play a big part in ranking your video for your targeted keywords. You can copy your competitors’ tags and further improve on the tags according to your own research to increase the chances of your video ranking on YouTube.
Developed by Neil Patel, a well-known marketer and top influencer on the web.
A Chrome Extension that shows the search volume of each keyword as well as related keywords automatically when you use a search engine (i.e. Google, YouTube).
Search up a keyword and you’ll receive a dashboard of that keyword usage, separated into time and geographical areas, as well as other related ones.
Aside from third-party keyword research programs, YouTube has its own analytics page, for content creators, Channel Analytics, in which it provides keywords that draw viewers to your videos. In addition to keywords, there are a whole lot more features that YouTube Analytics provides within its native platform, from Your Audience analysis to your Views and Watch time. These are all important metrics to keep track of in order to track your video performance in real-time, as well as learn more about the attractions and differentiating factors of your videos for your viewers.
Lastly, make sure you promote your videos on other social media platforms when you publish your video (on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Reddit, email, etc etc).
By doing so, you increase traffic to your video and improve important metrics like views, click-through rate (CTR), likes, shares, comments and subscribes (assuming your video is well-produced, of course).
If your video performs well initially, there’s a better chance that your video will rank higher for your chosen targeted keywords.
Although there is fierce competition, there is a myriad of tips and tricks out there to get your videos ranked higher. From adjusting small features, like simply including tags, to rearranging your video production process, you can bring your videos closer to those who need them the most.
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