With over a billion users and enough traffic to place make it the third most popular website globally, YouTube beats out all other search engines with exception to Google. Combine that with Google’s incorporation of YouTube videos in general search results, and you have a powerful search engine that cannot be ignored. In this post, I’m going to show you five ways you can improve your YouTube organic reach.
1. Build up Your YouTube Channel Reputation
To start improving your YouTube organic reach, you will want to build up your YouTube channel as an authority in your industry. To get started, you will want to fully complete your YouTube channel like you would a profile on a top social network.
This includes having a good profile photo and cover photo (or as YouTube calls it, channel art). At 2560 x 1440 px, it’s one of the largest cover photos in the social media landscape, yet is also the one with the most narrow display.
Next, you will want to have a strong channel trailer to introduce new visitors to you, your brand, and why they would want to subscribe to your channel. The video you use for your channel trailer should also have a great description, as that will be shown alongside your trailer.
YouTube Profile Information
On your channel’s About tab, enter a description of yourself, your business, and your channel. Then link it to your website and your top social profiles on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
From here, you will want to upload lots of great videos to your channel and organize it using playlists. If you know it will take you a while to upload videos of your own, you can populate your channel with playlists and videos from other YouTube users. Just make sure they aren’t competitors and are relevant to your brand or business. This tactic will allow you to have a strong channel and build subscribers while creating your video library.
Building YouTube Subscribers
Speaking of subscribers, be sure to start building your YouTube subscriber base by linking to your YouTube channel on your website, in your email signature, on your email newsletter, on your other social profiles, and anywhere else you might be able to connect with people who would be interested in subscribing. Subscribers will provide social proof for your channel and will be updated to your latest video uploads.
You can also boost your subscribers by going to your channel’s Branding settings and adding a watermark to all of your videos. When people click on it, they will be taken to your channel page to subscribe. This will ensure that people can subscribe to your channel from videos that are embedded on other websites or shared on social media.
2. Do Keyword Research for Each Video you Upload
If you want to improve your YouTube organic reach, you will want to start with good keyword optimization. Just like you would with a web page you want to rank well in search results, you should do keyword research for your YouTube videos. You can start with the trusty Google AdWords Keyword Planner to determine search volume and competition for your target keyword phrase.
For additional variations of your keyword, you can move on to using the suggestions from the Google search box or paid SEO tools.
In the image below you can see a list of suggestions from Rank Tracker ( Just a note: I’m the founder, but the tool does have a free version, which has no limitations for keyword research).
This should help you get the right target keyword phrase, plus additional variations of your target keyword phrase to use in different aspects of your video optimization.
3. Optimize Videos Before you Upload Them
Search optimization of your YouTube videos needs to begin before you upload your video. Before you upload your video to YouTube, be sure to optimize it for your target keyword phrase, starting with the filename of the video itself.
Next, you will want to get more info about your video. From this screen, you can add more information about your video to the video file itself. Most video editing tools have this ability built-in. Depending on your operating system, you may also be able to right-click on your video file and add extra details.
This will let YouTube know what your video is about right from the start.
4. Optimize Your Videos After Uploading Them
As soon as you start uploading your new videos, you will have the chance to optimize them on YouTube.
This page gives you some hints as to what YouTube finds important about the optimization of your videos.
First, you have the basic information for your video: the video title, description, and tags. Think of the usual on-site optimization rules for these fields.
Your SEO title should be 55 characters or less and should include your target keyword phrase. In this case, your video title is the SEO title.
Your meta description should be 160 characters or less in length. In this case, the video description is the meta description. While keywords in your meta description will not necessarily help you rank better in Google search, they are typically bolded in Google search results, so it’s important to include your target keyword phrase in your video description.
Note that you shouldn’t make your video description 160 characters or less, but rather, you should put the information you would want to appear as the meta description in the first 160 characters. YouTube allows up to 5,000 characters in your video description.
This gives you approximately 800 words for your video description, give or take, to use to further optimize your video for search. Think of it like a blog post content that is optimized for your target keyword phrase along with the additional variations you found in your keyword research.
Your meta keywords should be 255 characters or less in length. In this case, the video tags are the meta keywords. Granted, these have little weight in terms of factors that will help you rank in Google search, but they should be incorporated to help optimize your video for YouTube search. So be sure to include your target keyword phrase along with the additional variations you found in your keyword research.
Next, you have the Advanced Settings tab. Here, you will find additional things to configure for your video.
Be sure to choose the best category for your video and add additional details such as the location of the video (if applicable), the language, and the date.
Back on the Basic Info tab, you will see the option to share your new video with your Google+ and Twitter audience. This should alert you to the fact that social sharing metrics – especially on these two networks – are important.
Below the social sharing options, you will see the option to add your video to a playlist. For this, you will want to create or choose a playlist on your YouTube channel that relates to your video’s target keyword phrase.
If you have verified your YouTube channel (which can be done by simply entering your mobile number and confirming the code sent to you via text), you can upload a custom thumbnail for your video. This allows you to use something eye-catching as your video thumbnail that isn’t necessarily in the video itself.
Like you would with any image you upload to a web page, optimize the image for search using your target keyword phrase in the filename and the image metadata. The fact that YouTube thumbnail images appear in the image results of Google search shows that the optimization of even those images can count for something.
Annotations and Cards
After your video is uploaded, you can go to it and use the icons beneath the video to make additional edits to your video.
In particular, you can use Annotations and Cards to link more of your videos to your video. This will boost the views and engagement of your other videos.
5. Get Engagement for Your Videos
Once your video is uploaded, it’s essential that you get engagement for your videos. When you think about YouTube as a search engine, you have to think about the things that will tell that search engine why it should show your video above everyone else’s. You’ve already configured the video’s on-site SEO settings. Now, it’s time to boost the other ranking factors.
By default, YouTube shows the number of views, thumbs up, thumbs down, and comments for every video unless the video owner disables these features. If you can boost the number of views, thumbs up, and comments for your video, it will signal to YouTube that your video is important, which will ultimately help it’s rankings.
In addition, think back to the Basic Info for your video while you were uploading it. Social sharing was indicated as something that would help your video. Hence, you will want to get social shares for your video as well.
You can do all of these things through promotion of your video. If you have a large audience on your blog, social networks, email list, or other platforms, share your video with those audiences first to get the ball rolling.
You can also do outreach for your video in order to get it embedded and linked to on other websites. Simply look for blog posts that relate to the topic of the video, then reach out to the people who authored those posts. Let them know you loved their article and thought your video would make a great resource for their readers who want to learn more about the topic. Both embeds and links to your video will count towards boosting the video’s authority.
You may even be able to do outreach to other YouTube channels with the same approach. Find videos that relate to the topic of your video and watch them. If they don’t have annotations or cards pointing to other videos, reach out to the channel owner to see if they would want to link their video up to yours as a resource for their viewers. In this case, you may want to include directions on how to use Annotations or Cards to link your video to theirs.
Be sure to measure the results of your promotions by installing vidIQ for YouTube. This Google Chrome extension will show you the detailed analytics of most videos on YouTube, including your competitor’s for research purposes.
If you follow the steps outlined above, from building up your YouTube channel’s reputation to promoting each and every video you create, you will improve your YouTube organic reach in search results, suggested videos, and even Google search results.
If you have tried any of these things or have some other great tips that I might have missed, please share them in the comments below!