We are aware that Google is the most powerful search engine, and when it comes to SEO, Google is the first thing that comes to mind. That said, is there an alternative that we can explore to get great results? Should we rely only on Google or is there any other website that can match the sheer size of Google? I'd say the answer is YouTube.
YouTube is the second most popular search engine, which is all the more reason for marketers to explore this option. You might be wondering why YouTube is called a search engine. If you think about it, that’s exactly what it is. You can say it’s a search engine for videos.
Like Google, YouTube has its SEO practices- just like how you aim to rank higher on Google SERP page, you’d want to rank your videos high on YouTube SERP’s. That said, YouTube SEO is different as compared to regular SEO.
I’m listing out a few techniques that will help you rank #1 on YouTube’s SERP. These techniques can put you on the road to success.
● Become an Authority for a Specific Niche- YouTube doesn’t have an EAT algorithm like Google; however, it is very similar. Videos/channels that tend to focus on one particular niche usually do well as compared to channels that speak about everything under the sun. The simple reason is the niche-focused channels tend to keep people or viewers longer on that particular channel. Google wants to rank authoritative channels who are experts on a particular subject, rather than some random channels whose focus is all over. Focusing on one particular niche helps you rank better the YouTube SERP page.
● Keyword Research- Do your keyword research, but focus on the value of your content. Always keep in mind that YouTube values retention. YouTube measures two factors- how long someone watches your video and how long someone spent on YouTube. The longer you manage to keep someone on YouTube, the better your chances of ranking higher as it gives YouTube a lot of ad income. You can go after keywords and optimize title tags and repeat keywords numerous times for YouTube to pick up, but good content keeps them hooked to channel longer. Always target keywords with good search volumes, if not you’re not going to get search traffic. Although YouTube doesn’t have an official keyword search tool, you can use tools like Ubersuggest to figure out competitive keywords.
● Keep an eye out for What’s Working within your Market - Your audience is not just watching your channel and content, there are many competitors within your niche. Analyze your competitors’ videos and content and see what’s working for them, try and emulate their concepts and ideas- emulating doesn’t mean you copy their content word to word but have your take on the topic that they are talking on. By doing this, you can edge your competitors.
● Add Eye-Catching Thumbnails – Video thumbnail isn’t a ranking factor that YouTube considers but it has a positive impact on your SEO. A good thumbnail gets your video more clicks and more clicks mean better SEO. Many people click on your videos by looking at the thumbnails but ensure you don’t mislead your viewers as it may lead to a quick bounce rate. Make sure your thumbnail stands out from the rest, tell your viewers what your video is all about.
● Encourage People to Subscribe – You may wonder why this is important but getting subscribers is a big deal on YouTube and it is one the key factors for YouTube’s algorithm to rank videos. You must understand that liking, and commenting is one time-action, but subscribing means people can view your posts and content regularly. This tells YouTube that you are providing value-added content to your viewers and plays as a huge ranking factor for your channel.
● Long format Videos – Ensure you have long and engaging videos. If you’re not emoting well in your videos or if your videos are not long enough, then you’re not going to do well. If you have short videos, YouTube doesn’t give your videos much clout and all of your videos won't rank as high as you expect it to be. In the worst case, you might not get more suggestions for your videos. The key time duration for YouTube can be 5 min and above, anything less than that can be really difficult to rank high unless you are going after terms that aren’t competitive, which means it's not going to generate traffic or subscribers.
● Add closed captions – A simple hack that gives you a huge edge over your competitors, YouTube videos support closed captions. The best part about closed captions is it's crawlable by search engines. Meaning you will get a good boost for SEO if you enable closed captions, although YouTube supports automatic captions it doesn’t add value as it isn’t perfect.
Written by Pradeep Kumaar, CEO Neil Patel Digital & Stan Ventures