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YouTube Optimization: How to Score More Views & Subscribers

“Oh man, did you see that video? Let me pull it up for you.”

It only takes a few seconds of being online before you’re face-to-face with video content from YouTube. This rings true whether you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed or you’ve been sucked into a loop of trending viral videos.

Don’t let the cat videos and flavor-of-the-week challenge compilations fool you, though. YouTube’s reach of over one billion active users is nothing to scoff at from a marketing perspective. With video content poised to take over most of the Internet itself, more and more marketers continue to hop on the ever-growing video bandwagon.

Despite this boom in video content, many marketers overlook the fine details of YouTube optimization. Just as you’d optimize your social media posts or blog content, videos require the same attention to detail when it comes to ranking in YouTube, growing your subscriber count and scoring precious views.

What YouTube Optimization Means for Marketers

Chances are you’ve searched a “how-to” query in YouTube at some point, especially since educational content represents the bread and butter of YouTube marketers.  For example, here are the top results from a search on how to create a site using WordPress.

YouTube optimized results for "How to Create a Site in WordPress"

These top video results are no accident. At a glance, you can tell that these videos are optimized based on their titles, thumbnails and descriptions. Meanwhile, the lengths of these videos signal that they’re in-depth and comprehensive versus surface-level fluff.

Oh, and peek the like-ratio, subscriber and view-count of this particular video:

Screenshot of optimized YouTube tutorial

Seems in-line with Google and YouTube’s emphasis on quality content, right?

Don’t get it twisted—YouTube SEO isn’t about keyword stuffing or sacrificing the quality of your videos for the sake of optimization. Instead, it’s about focusing on the minor details of your videos that impact its potential to pop up in search results and reel in viewers.

The good news? YouTube optimization is relatively quick and straightforward. Below we’ve outlined some of the changes you can make to current and future videos to ensure that they’re search-friendly to your target audience.

1. Inserting Keywords and Phrases Into Your Titles

This crucial piece of YouTube optimization is perhaps the most obvious. Similar to an H1 or title tag in a blog post, keywords and phrases are essential to increasing your videos’ visibility via search engines and YouTube alike.

YouTube optimized titles for Photoshop tutorials

When crafting your headline, it’s a good idea to optimize for both YouTube and Google search results. That means being aware of the number of characters you include in your title.

Bear in mind that you have approximately 70 characters at your disposal before you run the risk of your title getting cut off in a Google search. This is a reasonable amount of real-estate to work with as long as you’re economical with your words (take note of the third result here for “photoshop transform perspective tutorial”):

Example of YouTube title cutoff in Google

If there are keywords you’re targeting on-site or throughout your social campaigns, make it a point to use them in your video titles. YouTube can pick up on related terms (think: “guide” versus “tutorial”) so don’t be afraid to switch it up rather than repeat the same title again and again.

This aspect of YouTube optimization may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to overlook in an era of clickbait headlines. You obviously don’t want to bait and switch viewers. Still, there’s no denying that a slew of “how-to” or listicle-style (“7 Tips to…”) could grow stale.

As a remedy, consider ways you can integrate keywords and a bit of personality into your videos at a glance. Athlean X’s channel does a solid job of integrating fitness-related keywords alongside humorous quips and thumbnails that clarify the titles:

Titles optimized for YouTube SEO

2. Incorporate Keywords in Your Descriptions

Descriptions definitely deserve your attention if you’re on the hunt for rankings.

At a glance, your video’s description may seem like little more than a spot to summarize your content. The reality is that in terms of YouTube optimization, descriptions are arguably the most important aspect of driving more traffic, while simultaneously scoring new leads.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to YouTube descriptions. In fact, most descriptions feel like a laundry list of social links and oftentimes don’t contain keywords at all:

A description that lacks YouTube Optimization

Although there’s nothing inherently wrong with this description based on YouTube’s best practices, it’s not optimized for search.

You should treat YouTube descriptions similarly to how you might craft a meta description on a blog post in terms of keywords. With a massive 5,000 characters to work with, you have the opportunity to insert phrases naturally, while also giving a crystal clear overview of what your content is about.

But more importantly, descriptions are the ideal place to drop links which lead back to your site. Think of your descriptions as the launchpad from your YouTube channel to whatever CTA you might currently be promoting.

Check out this video based on a recent Sprout case study. Notice that the CTA for viewers to look into the study is front and center. Meanwhile, the brief but comprehensive description provides a place for relevant search terms.

Sprout Case study video optimized for YouTube

There’s no need to fill your descriptions with spam when there’s plenty of room for links and keywords alike.

3. Fine-Tune Your Transcripts & Closed Captions

Fun fact: Google crawls transcripts and closed captions of YouTube videos, but if and only if they’re crafted and uploaded manually by their creator. Taking the time to optimize your transcripts and captions beyond the auto-generated options represents a massive opportunity for your YouTube SEO.

YouTube transcript example

Google has specific instructions for uploading transcripts and captions based on your video’s content. There’s a bit of a catch that many creators overlook, though. You can’t simply stuff keywords or phrases into your videos after the fact, but rather actually ensure that they’re spoken throughout your video.

That’s why it’s ideal to plan your keyword-based videos in advance, if possible. Shoehorning keywords for the sake of YouTube optimization is risky business and could potentially backfire on you.

4. Spend Time on Your Tags

There’s debate concerning how much weight tags hold in terms of YouTube SEO in 2017, but conventional wisdom tells us that they’re especially useful for ensuring that your videos pop up in “related” searches.

Considering that YouTube provides a 500-word limit for tags, there’s a generous amount of space for you to insert relevant terms for your video. To stay aligned with YouTube’s best practices, refrain from stuffing and instead hone in on related and colloquial keywords related to your video.

Tags were formerly public but are now only visible if you look “under the hood” of any given video. When you land on a YouTube page, simply hit “CTRL+U” to open the video source, then hit “CTRL+F” and type “keyword” to see the tags on the video in question. For example, some of the tags for the following video include “how to change Ford Focus headlight” and “changing Ford focus headlamp.”

YouTube tag example

Pretty simple, right? You don’t necessarily need to obsess over tags, but even the smallest aspects of YouTube optimization can make a difference.

5. Spruce Up Your Thumbnail

Optimizing your thumbnails is an absolute must-do for YouTube creators. Even though thumbnails aren’t directly related to search engines themselves, an enticing or relevant thumbnail can be the difference between more subscribers and someone passing on your video.

Default thumbnails are rarely flattering and don’t do much to signal your video as “must click.”

default thumbnail example

On the flip side, custom thumbnails make your channel look much more polished, trustworthy and professional at a glance.

Example of YouTube optimized thumbnails

Some brands make a point to use a consistent color scheme throughout their thumbnails to make their videos more recognizable to repeat viewers:

YouTube optimized thumbnails w/ color

You don’t need to be a graphic designer to create compelling thumbnails, either. Tools such as Canva allow you to make thumbnail graphics from scratch. Once you’re happy with a design that meshes with your brand, you can save it in Canva as a template and adjust it time and time again.

Attractive thumbnails are just another piece of driving clicks to your content. Even if you don’t use a dedicated thumbnail template, just make sure not to stick with whatever default, random snapshot that YouTube picks out.

And that sums up our essentials for YouTube optimization and SEO!

Sure, there are tons of variables that impact your views and subscriber count. By paying attention to these aspects of YouTube optimization that are totally in control, you know that you’re squeezing more potential out of each and every one of your videos.

What Does Your YouTube Optimization Strategy Look Like?

Beyond promoting and scheduling your video content, minding the seemingly minor details of YouTube is a critical piece of your overall marketing strategy. Think about it: if your competitors are sleeping on these elements of optimization, you increase your likelihood of outranking them and growing your audience.

If nothing else, there’s so much that goes into YouTube content between writing a script, editing your video and promoting to your followers. Given all that hard work, nobody should sabotage the potential of their videos. Considering how straightforward YouTube optimization its, every marketer working with video content should strive to reach as many viewers as possible.

So, which of these pieces of optimization do you think is most important? What aspect do you feel marketers totally tend to miss? Let us know in the comments below.

This post YouTube Optimization: How to Score More Views & Subscribers originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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Social Media Secrets: 5 Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers

Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers

Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers

It's plain to see that B2B marketers, at large, see the value in social media. The latest B2B benchmarking research from CMI and MarketingProfs found that nearly two out of three respondents (61%) increased their usage of social media for content marketing purposes in the previous year. Another new report shows that social content is atop the list of focal areas for B2B marketers in the coming year.

It’s also fair to say, based on various data points and conversations with folks in the biz, that most of us feel we could be doing better with social. The size of the audiences on these platforms make them essential to any digital strategy, but breaking through suppressive algorithms and showing clear ROI is a perpetual challenge for brands.

One pivotal key to excelling with social media marketing is understanding all the tools you have at your disposal. Each platform offers a number of capabilities that seem to be underutilized by marketers who either don’t know they exist, or don’t fully recognize their potential impact.

With this in mind, we’re setting out to highlight some of the most useful yet overlooked features for driving results on social media platforms. Today we're focusing on the channel most pertinent to B2B marketers: LinkedIn*, with its member base of more than half a billion professionals.

Take Notice of These 5 Marketing Tools & Features on LinkedIn

Whether your goal is building brand awareness, generating leads, or boosting conversions, these five fundamental functionalities can provide a big assist if you aren't taking advantage of them already.

#1: Robust (and Now Simplified) Audience Targeting

LinkedIn recently overhauled its Campaign Manager tool (the interface through which marketers build, manage, and measure ads) around an objective-based advertising framework. The basic purpose of this initiative was to make it easier for users to align every element of their campaigns with the overarching objective. One of the slickest improvements to come out of this is the audience setup experience, which is now simpler and more intuitive.

From a B2B marketing perspective, the depth of available professional targeting parameters is by far LinkedIn’s biggest relative advantage compared to other social platforms. Nowhere else can you accurately filter audiences based on facets such as Job Title and Job Seniority. This provides unparalleled ability to reach decision makers and purchase influencers directly.

The revamped interface makes it quicker and more straightforward to select a qualified audience in line with your campaign goals.


#2: Revamped LinkedIn Analytics

The latest Social Media Marketing Industry Report via Social Media Examiner found more than half of respondents (54%) either uncertain or disagreeing that they are “able to measure the return on investment (ROI) for my organic social media activities.”

This is another area of Campaign Manager that LinkedIn recently spruced up. Given that advertising on this platform tends to be more expensive than other social networks, it’s especially important to ensure you’re getting return on that spend. The new reporting experience makes it easier to see results at a glance, and make optimization tweaks on the fly.

The underlying appeal of LinkedIn’s targeting facets also applies to its reporting mechanism; you can get an aggregated look at who is viewing and engaging with your content (i.e., which companies, which job titles, which experience levels). These insights can help you align your LinkedIn strategy and even your content marketing strategy more generally.

#3: Content Suggestions

Can’t figure out what to share on social media? That’s a common enough challenge. The Content Suggestions tab, found on the top nav bar within LinkedIn Page admin center, offers ample inspiration. It serves up a list of third-party articles your defined audience is engaging with — essentially a readily available stream of targeted, trending content.

Not only does this make it easy for marketers and social media managers to find share-worthy content that’s more likely to resonate with their followings, but it can also fuel employee advocacy efforts.

#4: Website Retargeting

Retargeting is a popular digital marketing tactic, which involves serving ads to people who’ve already encountered your brand. The element of familiarity, plus a concrete demonstration of past interest, tends to drive considerably higher clicks and conversions than standard ads.  

Through its Matched Audiences feature, LinkedIn allows you to place a pixel on your company’s website, then serve ads to people who’ve visited it before, while they’re on LinkedIn. It’s a great way to follow up with someone in a different context. One especially savvy approach is to create customized retargeting creative based on the specific section of your site a person visited (i.e., upper-funnel messaging for someone who went to your “About” page, and lower-funnel for someone who checked out a solution page.)


#5: Lead Gen Forms

This might be my favorite marketing tool on LinkedIn, and it definitely seems like one that more B2B brands could be utilizing. Lead Gen Forms are leveraged in combination with various types of ads, enabling your company to collect valuable contact info (and additional data about a prospect) from an individual who downloads something of value with minimal friction.

Unlike most gated-asset forms, which require a user to tediously fill out multiple fields, Lead Gen Forms automatically populate based on the member’s LinkedIn profile data. As such, it takes only a couple of seconds to get through the process. Because you’re attaining a more comprehensive snapshot of people who download, you can better qualify them as leads in comparison with other form-fills that often procure only a name, phone number, and email.


Step Up Your LinkedIn Marketing Game

LinkedIn can be one of the most valuable components of a holistic B2B marketing strategy. As mentioned earlier, there’s no denying it’s a pricier place to play than most other social networks, but you’re also paying for access to a higher-quality audience. Using the five features above can help you understand, segment, reach, and engage this audience efficiently while closely tracking the impact of your efforts.

Another underutilized tool on LinkedIn is video, which has been a key focus for the platform recently. Learn about all the metrics and specs for video on LinkedIn, as well as every other major social network!

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Social Media Secrets: 5 Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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