Search Engine Optimization (also known as SEO) can be a convoluted topic.
You could literally spend all of your time becoming an expert on the subject and keeping up-to-date with the latest changes without accomplishing anything worthwhile.
SEO best practices continue to change as Google applies new updates like Panda and Penguin.
So, here’s a simple breakdown of steps you can take to make your videos more discoverable on YouTube.
1. Optimize Your Title
I have seen several instances where artists are failing to utilize their title to attract search traffic.
What you must keep in mind here is that although your fans and subscribers to your channel will likely find your latest uploads, you won’t attract any search traffic without putting relevant keywords in your title.
The worst offenders are those who don’t bother making any changes to their title after uploading their video.
Their video appears on YouTube as I’m_Playing_Guitar.wmv or something equivalent. The only relevant keyword in that title is “Guitar”. Imagine how heavy the competition is likely to be for that keyword. You don’t stand a chance.
Another thing not to do, although it isn’t as painful as the former example, is to generate a vague title with few or no keywords.
I have seen many videos that don’t even include the artist or song name. How exactly do you expect to be found?
Google displays relevant YouTube videos in search results, so you should be taking advantage of that by placing pertinent keywords in your title.
Furthermore, avoid using keywords that are likely to be competitive. To a degree, this is unavoidable. But doing a quick YouTube search with the title you’re planning to use will give you an idea of what’s already out there. Then you can adjust as necessary.
Here are a few quick examples of a good title. Let’s say that I was doing an acoustic cover of Marianas Trench’s “Celebrity Status”. My title would look something like this:
- David Andrew Wiebe covers Marianas Trench’s Celebrity Status (acoustic)
- Marianas Trench – Celebrity Status (acoustic cover by David Andrew Wiebe)
- David Andrew Wiebe – Celebrity Status (Marianas Trench) Acoustic Cover
I’m covering all the bases here by including my name, the artist name and song title, as well as making use of “acoustic” and “cover” as keywords.
2. Optimize Your Description
Now that I’ve set the tone for this post, we’re going to go more rapid-fire with optimization tips. Here’s a quick list of do’s and don’ts for your description:
- Leave your description blank.
- Spam keywords or calls to action in your description.
- Bunch text together (i.e. use spaces).
- Include a link to your website in the first line with the http:// extension (i.e. http://mywebsite.com/).
- Include links to your music, relevant blog posts and articles, podcast episodes etc. if applicable.
- Link to others if they helped with your video or contributed in some way.
- Include one call to action (optional), such as “subscribe to our newsletter”, and include a link.
- Make your text readable by breaking it up.
- Create a summary for your video (but put it after relevant links and calls to action).
- Include relevant keywords and key phrases in your summary.
3. Optimize Your Tags
I’ll be the first to admit that tags can sometimes be a confusing concept. The purpose of tags for blogs is to bunch pieces of content together that address similar topics. YouTube tags are kind of similar but it’s okay to think of them as keywords.
But, just in case, I did some research to find out what the best practices are. Here are expert tips in summary.
- Use irrelevant keywords that have nothing to do with your video; it will hurt your ranking.
- Be too sparse with tag use.
- Prioritize your main keywords and enter them first.
- Use only relevant keywords
- Use common misspellings of your keywords.
- Use the same keywords in the title, description and tags.
When I originally wrote this post in 2013, getting seen on YouTube was a lot easier than it is today.
There are so many more factors YouTube takes into account when ranking videos now. This includes things like:
- Engagement on your video in the first 24 hours after publishing (i.e. the more the better).
- How you encourage viewers to stay on the platform to watch more videos.
- And more.
So, if you want to dominate on YouTube, you’ll want to keep digging into more valuable resources.
I still hold that it’s important to follow the above steps so that your videos can be easily discovered. But that isn’t enough.
And, honestly, YouTube is slowly going mainstream, and in my opinion, their censorship has reached the point of absurdity.
Many serious content creators are turning to LBRY as their solution.
I can’t tell you whether that’s the right decision for you. But it’s worth considering publishing your videos on LBRY and other social media sites in addition to YouTube if you want to maximize your viewership and earning potential.