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This topic doesn’t really need a fluffed introduction or lead in – video SEO is important. According to YouTube, its users watch 1 billion hours of video each day, which generates many billions of views. With so much competition and clutter, you need to make sure you’re optimizing videos so users can actually discover them. Keep these video SEO tips and best practices in mind as you build out your YouTube video library or upload directly to your website.

Name the video file descriptively with keyword-rich text before uploading.

Let’s say I create a video about baking the most delicious chocolate cake. Instead of leaving the file name as IMG_001.MOV, which means absolutely nothing and which might already exist 10,000 times over on the web, I would rename it to something like

Use keywords and descriptive words in the video title.

Put keyword phrases closer to the beginning of the title as front-loaded titles tend to rank better. Include your brand name if it makes sense; I usually append it on the tail end. Also, keep your titles to 65-70 characters to avoid truncation. For my chocolate cake example, my title could be “How to Bake a Delicious Chocolate Cake | Tips From Scrumptious Bakery.”

Write a long, keyword-rich description.

YouTube relies heavily on the text surrounding the video to understand the video’s topic and context, so longer descriptions really help enhance YouTube video SEO. Key elements should include:

  • Description of 3+ sentences. Write about what users will discover when they watch. Don’t stuff in keywords, but include them so copy reads naturally.
  • A “Learn More” link back to your website.
  • A subscribe call to action to make it easy to follow your channel. *BONUS: Read the snippet at the end of the article to learn how to do this!
  • Boilerplate, or an “about us” statement for your brand.

Whole Foods’ video about pitting an avocado has a well-optimized description.

whole foods youtube video

Include tags to help users find your video when they search directly within YouTube.

List specific tags first (your main keywords), followed by more general tags, and include common misspellings. The ideal amount of tags is however many you think you need to get discovered, but not so many that important tags become diluted. I might use “how to bake a chocolate cake” and “chocolate cake recipe,” but “cake” on its own is too general. Also, NEVER use tags that are misleading. This may help you get traffic in the short term, but users will quickly figure out they’ve been duped and your watch time will plummet. Once that happens, say goodbye to your place in YouTube’s algorithms.

Include a transcript to provide keyword richness.

Yes, this tip is more time consuming, but the SEO value is high. Search engines obviously can’t watch video or hear audio, so they only know what’s included when you tell them through text that can be indexed. You can upload your own transcript or have YouTube auto-generate one for your video. An auto-generated transcript saves a lot of time but it’ll most likely include errors, so absolutely proofread.

Need more help with video SEO, SEO in general, or creating videos? We work with our clients on all of that, so get in touch with us!

*BONUS: Here’s how to add a subscribe link right into your video description.

This can also be used anywhere you want to promote subscribing to your YouTube channel.

Melissa Slack

Author Melissa Slack

Melissa is a Digital Content Specialist at InQuest Marketing. She creates and manages social media content for a variety of clients, and she also has experience in SEO, SEM and public relations. Her favorite things about InQuest are the people. Melissa loves her rescue dog and tackling home renovation projects, and she could eat tacos everyday.

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