Search engine optimization may not be the be-all and end-all of successful video marketing. However, if you want to gain competitive advantage and maximize your exposure on Google and YouTube, optimizing your channel can go a long way – especially over the long haul.
When you really stop and think about it, video in and of itself has very little or no SEO value. That’s because video, much like audio, doesn’t contain text. When a search engine crawls a website, it decides what your articles or blog posts are about based on the text you provide them with.
So supplying adequate textual information for your videos is smart, particularly if you want to make them search engine friendly.
Interestingly, embedding YouTube videos on your website can be beneficial for your SEO, and part of that has to do with the fact that Google owns YouTube. Another factor is that you can supply more keyword-rich information on your blog by adding a description, a timeline for the video, show notes, or the like.
Presented here are five ways you can optimize your YouTube channel.
1. Brand Your Channel
While there may not be any direct SEO advantages to branding your channel, you can set yourself up as a destination rather than a portal when you take the time to customize the look and feel of your channel. A residual benefit is that you will keep your viewers on your channel for longer, and dwell time is an important SEO factor.
Create customized channel art to reflect your branding, cross-promote your social channels by liking to them, and place calls to action strategically. As an artist, you can leverage this space to promote your latest release, get people to “like” you on Facebook, subscribe to your channel, or ask them to sign up for your newsletter.
You can also customize the colors on your channel to match your brand and/or your website.
2. Optimize Your Uploads
Take the time to add a title, description, tags (I usually limit myself to about five and use the most relevant ones first), and pick a relevant category (most likely “Music”) for your videos. There is a reason why YouTube wants you to fill out this information, as these are the most important snippets you can provide for SEO purposes.
You don’t want your video title to be me_playing_guitar_0035.wmv or equivalent. Your headline is valuable SEO space. Include the most relevant keywords and terms you want to target and rank for, and make sure the title actually matches the content contained within the video.
For example, if you’re uploading an acoustic cover, include the song title, artist name, and your artist name as well (including the word “cover” might also be a good idea). On the off-chance people are actually searching for you specifically, you want to be discoverable as well. Here’s what that might look like:
Use the description field to link up to your website and other relevant links (point people to where they can buy your song, album, etc.). The link to your website should include the “http://” portion and be on the first line of the description.
Add a reasonable amount of descriptive text, detailing what the video is about. The description may be secondary to the title, but you can still use the description field to further outline what your video is about, and search engines will use that information to catalog your content.
Tags are also important search tools. On a blog, they are used to categorize different posts based on the content they contain. For example, if you had 300 posts published, and 30 of those talked about social media, you would tag all 30 of those posts with “social media”.
Relevant tags for artists might include things like genre or musical style, mood, year, artist name, record label, etc.
Though it can take a great deal of diligence, another thing that can make you more discoverable is being a part of the community and interacting with other content creators. YouTube has built-in commenting, liking, subscribing and sharing capabilities. Using these on a regular basis will make you more visible to other people.
Proactively commenting and liking videos, as well as subscribing to channels will cause you to pop up on other people’s radars more often. People may also find your comments and want to check out your channel. As for sharing – well – that’s mostly for Karma. But some content creators will really appreciate the fact that you shared their video and will want to interact with you.
4. Create Playlists
Use playlists to categorize the various videos you have on your channel. For example: acoustic covers, live performance, music videos, tour diaries, etc.
For one thing, cataloging your videos into playlists allows you to add more descriptive text. Each playlist not only has a field for a title, but also for a description (take advantage of these).
Another advantage of creating playlists is that people may choose to watch all of your videos within that playlist in one setting, and who doesn’t want more upload views? If they really like you, they will subscribe too!
I’ve talked briefly about the power of Spotify playlists as well, and the same idea does apply to YouTube. You can create your own curated playlists, include a few of your own videos, and get more views that way too.
5. Create & Optimize Your Google+ Profile
Maybe I’m wrong, but it still seems like you need a Google+ profile to create a YouTube channel. I know they were talking about decoupling Google+ from other Google services, but I don’t know how far along that process actually is.
Anyway, there are still some benefits to creating and optimizing your Google+ account (I know, it might seem crazy). For one, whenever you publish a new video, you can have it auto-pushed over to your Google+ profile. That can help it get a few more views, if nothing else.
You might have noticed that Google also uses your profile picture as your “channel icon”, as they call it. As with your cover image, this is a really important piece of branding, and not using it to your advantage would be a major mistake.
And don’t forget – you can flesh out your Google+ profile, use relevant keywords in it, link out to relevant websites and social media profiles, and so on. Maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, but this is the advanced guide to channel optimization after all. This could end up helping you, even if it’s just a little bit.
Although I did cover this topic on the blog quite a while back, I thought it would be worth sharing an updated guide on the latest best practices.
Not a whole lot has changed since I published that article in 2013, except for maybe the amount of content that’s on YouTube, which is growing at an insane rate, by the day.
When I first started creating video game related content for YouTube in 2009, getting thousands – and sometimes tens of thousands – of views wasn’t that hard. Today, I would consider several hundred views (like 400 – 600 views) a success.
So if you want to make the most of YouTube, just be aware that it can be hard to get attention for your content. Now is the best time to go niche, because now more than ever, people want to watch content that’s relevant to them, and not just anything.
Well, I guess cat videos will always have their place…