YouTube Video Optimization from A to Z

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Why Optimize Videos on YouTube?

With the explosion of computer technology, the Internet has become the primary source from which the average Joe receives news. Good, old-fashioned newspapers and television as information sources are nearly extinct. Reading articles online wasn’t enough for Joe, so he moved on to a more entertaining, mobile method. Now he absorbs all his information from videos. Joe is a really smart dude now. He learned how to prepare a mind-blowing platter of sushi this morning; followed by a Portuguese lesson on verbs. Right before bed, he watched the highlight reel from last night’s ball game.

Why is this important to people in the Internet marketing world?

Once a video is completely optimized, viewership will increase by at least 400 percent in most cases. Internet marketing professionals need to think outside the Google box. YouTube is now the second most popular search engine in the world – Google being first, Bing being third. More people obtain their news through video than any other source. Why sit there and read boring text when you can watch a cool, exciting video? Rather than spending money on a boring auto repair manual, people prefer to watch a mechanic fix a radiator on video- for free. They want to be able to start and stop the tutorial at any time, and watch it on their TVs, computers and mobile phones any time of day.

Video optimization is a brand-new concept that most companies need to start taking advantage of. YouTube allows for one followable link on the channel page, which has very high link value. Video descriptions also allow a few non-followable links in the body.  Social media syndication can also greatly boost the viewership of the YouTube channel. All of these aspects combined create a massive amount of exposure for the company and increase impressions at an incredible rate. Once a video goes viral, it becomes the most powerful Internet marketing tool available. Best of all – it costs nothing.

YouTube Video Content Optimization

Before even considering video optimization, a well-thought-out plan must be implemented for the video content. Proper keyword selection and placement within the script is a very important factor in reaching the correct target audience. A well-rounded video contains captivating content to retain the attention of viewers during key selling points. Videos must also be visually appealing to the general public in order to spark interest in and engagement of the subject matter.

Once uploaded, YouTube converts video files into Java. Spiders currently are unable to crawl Java content, so supplemental copy must be put in place to make the videos more search-engine-friendly. Recent advancements in technology, along with Google’s acquisition of YouTube, has allowed for Google’s speech recognition software to convert transcription files into accurately timed closed captioning. This amounts to keyword-rich content, which is now crawlable by search engine spiders. By mentioning keywords in the script, Google and YouTube search engines will be able to deliver accurate impressions to the proper audience- delivering a much higher traffic rate. YouTube will also index these changes instantly, and Google will have the video changes indexed in video and web search within one week.

Recently, YouTube added a new metric, Hotspot, to its analytical tools. This tool is a godsend to sales-related videos because it measures the attention span of viewers. Hotspot generally takes at least 30 days after the video has been uploaded before data is available. Similar to CrazyEgg’s Heatmap software, Google Hotspot measures the points in the video where viewership drops or whether the viewer stops the video, skips ahead or clicks on another video; all of these drops in attention are noted in a graph. Most videos see a major drop-off of attention in the middle point of the video, then a rebound toward the conclusion.  It will take some experimentation, but placing essential sales elements at times of high attention should, theoretically, increase engagement.

Scripting and content placement are both substantially important factors to properly develop during video production, but most importantly,  a successful video must possess alluring visuals so that viewers can comprehend the message being delivered.  The availability of high definition options may greatly impact video interest. After all, we aren’t in the 2000s anymore, when pixilated video resembling a Monet painting were considered acceptable. Nobody wants to sit there and watch a video of a strange face either. Forget the narcissism, and focus on visual aids for the product rather than the salesman. Adding mind-blowing special effects, tantalizing transitions and perplexing 3D modeling to increase interest; but humor, action and genuinely interesting content will be the key deciding factors between “ZZzzZZzzZzz” and “Wow! Tell me more.” Viewers are mainly interested in watching stuff getting blown-up or learning how something works. A good laugh also never fails with most audiences.

YouTube Channel Optimization

Search engine performance of YouTube channels relies heavily on three main aspects: tagging, calls-to-action, and an eye-catching theme. Proper tagging and keyword usage are the most important influences for organic search ranking of channels. Enabling call-to-action modes of engagement will drive more traffic to social networking outlets as well as bump the channel up in search rank. As a cost-free, interactive billboard for the company, the channel should resemble the company website. Think of the YouTube channel as the landing for the company billboard. The objective is to direct potential customers from the landing page to the video pages to learn more about the company products.

Tagging the YouTube channel properly has more impact on organic search ranking than anything. The channel title and username should be the same as, or similar to the DBA name of the business. Doing this will avoid confusion of brand identity by consumers. Choose no more than three to five keywords to target in the video campaign. The selected keywords should all be targeted by the company website as well. Mentioning these keywords in the channel description and “about me” sections will also aid search engine spiders in finding relevant content for search queries related to the keyword strategy, but avoid keyword cramming. Keyword cramming will actually cause an adverse effect on performance, so only use a few keywords in the description – supplemented with quality content about the company.

Consumer engagement is usually the primary goal of any internet marketing campaign. In video marketing campaigns, a visible call-to-action is the only way to engage the audience to take action after the video is over. This can be done in many ways. First, make sure there is a full URL to the company website in the channel description. This is the only followable link opportunity which can be obtained from a YouTube channel. In the channel’s “about me” section, it may also be beneficial to include a link to the company Facebook and Twitter page. Enabling commenting, friending, and subscriptions has a deep impact on organic search rank. The more views and subscriptions a channel has, the better it will perform in search results. Opening the channel up for commenting and friending will also enable viewers to interact directly with the company.

Most of the time, users will land on video pages instead of channel pages in search results. However, in case a user lands on the channel page first, it will need to be visually appealing to retain their attention. Don’t waste time using distracting, super-flashy graphics for the background, while leaving the content section nearly abandoned. After all, the goal is to get viewers to watch the videos, not the background. Be sure to select the best video to play automatically on the channel. Design a channel theme that is representative of the company website. If the company website is blue and white with a grey background, then the YouTube channel should be blue and white with a grey background. Never make the foolish mistake of putting black text against a dark background either. Make sure the content is easy to see.

YouTube Video Optimization

Optimizing each individual video will bring more traffic to the channel than anything else. Building a successful video profile requires correct keyword usage to engage viewers. Proper tagging of videos influences search results more than channels- making this the single most important factor in the success of a video optimization campaign. Approving as many call-to-action options as possible will aid the video in organic search rankings- much like with the channel.

Including the word “video” in the video title may sound silly, but it will help a lot in search results. A good video description should talk about the products being mentioned in the video, and keywords surrounding those products. At the very beginning of the description, be sure to include a link to the company website before anything. The reason this non-followable URL must be in the beginning of the video description is because YouTube features a rollover-style description viewer. This means that anything not in the first line of the video description will be covered up unless the viewer clicks to read more. Be sure to include a link to the company Facebook and Twitter accounts somewhere in the description as well.

Just like with channels, tagging each video properly is imperative. Again, choose between three and five keywords to target in the video tags. Make sure each keyword is separated by quotation marks and spaces. For keyword selection, choose keywords targeted by the company website. Selecting the same keywords for all videos will help in keyword dominance. However, if the company offers a wide array of services, individual keyword selection may be appropriate to keep the tags relevant to the video content.

Videos give way for more call-to-action options than the channel does. Remember to set each video to public with a standard YouTube license as soon as it is uploaded. Authorizing commenting, voting, responses and ratings will give the viewers a way to engage themselves after the video, and it will increase the organic search ranking for the videos. By permitting other websites to embed the video, traffic can potentially be greatly increased. This is also necessary for social media syndication- which will be discussed later in this article. Empowering users to view the videos via mobile devices will also increase views.

Promoting YouTube Videos:

Page hits are now pouring in because of YouTube channel and video optimization efforts. What can be done next to bring in more traffic? Distributing and syndicating videos through social media peripherals will give the channel the jolt needed to turn it viral. Keep it simple – post each video on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, etc… Social media syndication reaches the largest audience possible in the least amount of time. Embedding the videos on the company website and company blog will greatly impact the number of views. Be sure to include a link to the YouTube URL on the blog and website.

Finding linking partners for videos will assist in driving in more traffic. The easiest way to do this is through Tube Mogul is a pay-service video distribution company. For a fee, they will distribute videos across numerous video-hosting websites. A much cheaper method of doing this is by searching through websites and blogs, and getting them to link to the video page on the company website. This process is very time consuming, but numerous back-links can be obtained through this process.

Read our YouTube Video Optimization Best Practices for a complete step-by-step guide.

Harrison Jones

Harrison Jones

Agency Lead, Analytics and Testing at Envisionit Media
Harrison Jones is the Agency Lead, Analytics and Testing at Envisionit Media - a digital marketing agency in Chicago. He specializes in SEO, data science,... Read Full Bio
Harrison Jones
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  • Nick Stamoulis

    Optimizing your videos is so important and beneficial for SEO! Those videos can rank on their own in the search engines, helping increase your web presence. Most people won’t search through YouTube looking for an informational video, they’ll head to a search engine. You want to make sure your video is easily found!

  • Melissa Cahoon

    Thanks for this article Brad — I feel like I learned so much! We’re planning to include more video in our company blog in the near future and I’ll certainly be referring back to this article to make sure it’s correctly optimized. 

  • Robert XM

    Excellent post. Relieved to know I have always made those optimization efforts for client, company, and personal videos. Then again, Ive been a YouTuber since its inception.

  • Mahendra Sharma

    The time has changed… the world is moving from text to voice and video, so here I agree with the author that we must have video of our services and optimized well on youtube. 

  • Virtual Business Assistant

    There is no doubt that the internet has forever changed the world in which we live. So it can only be expected that it would change the way we sell and marketing our businesses globally.

  • term papers

    very interesting! thanks for sharing! hope it can be useful!

  • Anonymous

    Harrison, could you please share where you got your source for this quote in your article: “More people obtain their news through video than any other source?” Are you distinguishing online video (internet and mobile devices) from traditional sources – such as television, print and radio?

  • online shopping uk

    Informative Tips!! Thanks for sharing some wonderful tips.. Video Optimization Plays Vital Role and its is quite beneficial in terms of SEO as well.. If you optimized your video effectively it will facilitates you to enhance your rankings in search engine because most of YouTube videos crawled by Search Engines..

  • SEO Liverpool

    Awesome!Yes Video optimization is a very important part of SEO and its help for Generating more traffic, leads, visitor and improve SERP.thanks for sharing ABC of YouTube Video Optimization.

    Ii find your blog to be very helpful. I have bookmarked it and I promise to visit atleast once per week.Once again well done and I look forward to reading more

    Good work!

  • Press

    Optimization video is more important in SEO

  • Local Internet Marketing

    It is amazing how few local businesses are actually utilizing the power of free commercials that can be used on their sites and syndicated across the web to increase their traffic!  Thanks for incorporating some of the less common factors that need to be considered in optimization, especially like the transcription. 

  • webdesign eindhoven

    You Tube is a very important site and it makes sense to post some good videos on You Tube. People perform lot of searches on You tube and it will be good to have a video ranked well on You Tube. I like the details and tips that you have shared in this post. Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work.

  • SEO Professionals

    It makes lot of sense to do seo for YouTube video as YouTube is 2nd largest search engine and the best source of all type of videos. Keyword research plays the most important role in the video seo process. Half the way you achieve is by selecting keywords in video optimization. The next step is creating Meta tags – Title, description and tags for the YouTube video. The title must be well optimized, eye-catchy and Informative, so that users feel to click on that. Use keywords to describe the title. Meta description is a brief of what your video is actually about. 

  • Johnm

    Utilizing YouTube videos on your business’ website is a great idea.  I work in online marketing so I’m always uploading videos posted by Google, Matt Cutts and other experts on mobile marketing etc.  Doing this not only informs readers about the trends in your specific industry but it also helps boost traffic to your website.

  • SEO Vab Media

    Great post this is so relevant, just did a presentation this week in Santa Cruz about video seo and youtube.

  • Tom Aikins

    Some really useful information but how do you find and access the channel description and about me sections you mentioned? I clicked on everything and couldn’t find them.

  • Tom Aikins

    Some really useful information but how do you find and access the channel description and about me sections you mentioned? I clicked on everything and couldn’t find them.

  • Anonymous

    This one is truly one of the huge and fabulous contented post about YouTube video optimization. And the post information is massively looking just great experienced. And the content and features of this post really enhances my amount of knowledge about it. Thanks for sharing some awesome information. It’s really mind blowing.

  • KayAlex

    I’m interested in JohnM’s reply – we are currently re-branding and given that many clinets and would-be clients seem to think SEO is just not necesary for them, I was thinking of incorporating onto the new website Google SEO videos from Matt Cutts etc. Totally for INFORMATIVE reasons to help people understand WHY their website needs SEO. Often clients will not give me the time of day to really explain to them why they need SEO and what it can do for them – I thought that by lookng at a Google video in their own time when they see our website, it might help change their perspective!
    Yes completely understsand the value of one’s own video for SEO reasons but also the fact that other videos can provide good value info is I feel another reason for for incorporating onto a website – ensuring of course to give 100% credit to the creator. Would be interested in other people’s opinions on that.

  • Internet Marketing Training

    Great post! The tips are very practical. I’ve shared it with my students. Everyone can do channel optimization and video optimization by himself or herself. Thanks for sharing!

  • Tanveer

    Hi Harrison,

    You have given some interesting tips on how to optimize the YouTube videos.


  • Anand Saini

    Very rightly said about youtube vedio optimization

  • Fardeen

    Brilliantly written on how to optimize the YouTube videos. Great work!

  • website designing

    You Tube is a very important site and it is practical to publish some excellent video clips on You tube. People execute lot of queries on You tube and it will be excellent to have videos clip rated well on You tube.

  • Ktechsol

    I have Same question like Tom Aikins how do you find and access the channel description and about me sections you mentioned?

  • Carlos

    This is very interesting. I am actually trying to get into Video marketing and this information is Gold. Although i am still trying to get a hold into keyword research which i found kind of confusing. I’ve seen a lot people putting their keywords on the video description, is this good or isn’t a good practice?

    So far i have made 4 videos and i am trying to optimize and I’ll make sure i follow up these tips. Thank you!