YouTube SEO: 9 Actionable Tips for Ranking Videos (2019)

June 18, 2019

Today you’re going to learn how to rank your videos number one in YouTube in fact the YouTube SEO tips are about to share with you have helped me rank for hundreds of different keywords and thanks to these nine strategies I even ranked in the top three for the keyword video SEO now I should warn you I’m not gonna give you generic advice like use video tags you already know that stuff instead you’re gonna see little-known SEO tips that are working right now i’m brian dean the founder of backlinko and let’s dive right in when i launched my youtube channel a few years ago i felt great and to get ready i watched dozens of videos from so-called youtube SEO experts so i was super excited when my channel finally went live I thought to myself self it’s only a matter of time before your videos rank in YouTube and get lots of views there was only one problem it never happened in fact despite working really hard on my videos my views barely budged and one day I decided to stop following the advice from so called YouTube experts so I slapped on my lab coat and set out to figure this whole YouTube SEO thing out myself let’s do this and trust me I tested everything I tested different combinations of keywords video lengths introductions tags and more it took months of almost non-stop testing for me to figure things out but in the end I developed a formula for ranking videos that actually worked in this formula quickly grew my rankings views subscribers in traffic and now it’s time for me to show you the nine most powerful strategies that I used so without further ado let’s kick things off with strategy number one front-load your keyword everyone and their mom knows you should use your target keyword in your video title but what you might not know is that YouTube puts more weight on words that appear in the beginning of your title for example let’s say you want to rank your video for cold brew coffee most people would use a title like this now that title isn’t horrible or anything but you can easily make that title even more SEO friendly by front-loading your keyword a title with a front-loader keyword would look something like this in fact this little tip works so well that it tend to front-load keywords and almost all of my titles and with that it’s time for our second strategy boost video engagement signals last year I conducted the largest YouTube ranking factor study ever specifically we analyzed 1.3 million YouTube search results to figure out what makes certain videos rank higher than others so what are we fine we found that videos with lots of engagement signals outrank videos that didn’t get a lot of engagement so what our engagement signals exactly engagement signals are things like shares likes comments and subscribes basically whenever someone engages with your video it tells YouTube people are loving this video and our data found that comments correlated with rankings more than any other engagement signal the question is how can you get more people to comment on your videos from lots of testing I’ve found that putting a hyper specific call to action at the end of your video works best you see most youtubers use a generic call-to-action like leave a comment or let me know what you think but I’ve found that hyper specific call to actions work much better so instead of a generic leave a comment give your viewer something specific to comment on for example at the end of this video I asked my viewers which of the two strategies from the video they’re gonna try first and because I make commenting insanely easy that video has racked up hundreds of comments our third strategy is to use the tab formula for video tags here’s the deal with video tags on YouTube according to a ranking factor study tags are as important as they used to be that said tags still make a difference so it’s worthwhile to spend some time in them unfortunately most people on YouTube used tags completely wrong remember your video tags are designed to help YouTube understand the content of your video which means you don’t need a lot of tags to get the job done in fact if you use lots of tags you’re just gonna confuse YouTube and Google and they’ll have no idea what your video is actually about for example take a look at this video it has a whopping 17 tags imagine for a second that your YouTube what these tags tell you well they tell you that the video is about 17 different topics and if YouTube doesn’t understand what your video is about they’re not gonna rank it for anything that’s why I recommend using a small number of highly specific tags I call my approach the tab formula the tab stands for target alternative and broad here’s exactly how it works first make sure that your first tag is your target keyword just like with your title YouTube puts more weight on tags that appear early on especially your first tag so if your keyword is green smoothie recipes you’d make your first tag green smoothie recipes simple next create two to three tags that are alternative versions of your main keyword for example you’d use variations of green smoothie recipes like green smoothie recipes for breakfast and easy green smoothie recipes you can easily find these variations by popping a target keyword into the YouTube search field and seeing what YouTube suggests these suggestions make perfect alternative versions of your main keyword to use as tags finally include one or two broad terms as your last set of tags these tags should describe your videos overall topic or industry the goal of these broad tags is just to give YouTube more context about your video for example broad keywords for green smoothie recipes would be things like nutrition and smoothies next up we have CTR magnet thumbnails you probably already know that click-through rate is an important YouTube ranking factor in other words if your video gets an above average amount of clicks in the search results YouTube’s going to give you a rankings bump the question is how can you get more clicks use CTR magnet thumbnails so what are CTR magnet thumbnails they’re thumbnails that are strategically designed to get more clicks from YouTube searchers here’s the step by step process first use non youtube colors in your thumbnail what do I mean by non youtube colors well the main colors on youtubes website are white red and black so if you use those same colors in your thumbnail you’re gonna blend in instead I recommend using colors that contrast with YouTube’s color scheme like green blue purple gray and orange for example I use green blue and gray in most of my thumbnails and these colors help Myra’s I’ll stand out from the others which brings me more clicks next use big bold text in your thumbnail my experiments have taught me that thumbnails with text get more clicks and thumbnails without any text that said your thumbnail is pretty small so you don’t have a lot of room to work with that’s why I recommend using 30 characters of text max for example the thumbnail of my video that ranks number one for e-commerce SEO has a grand total of 23 characters our fifth youtube SEO tip is to write mini blog posts for your video descriptions when I first started my youtube channel I put 0 thought into my video descriptions this video is awesome and description done and it turns out this was a huge mistake from lots of testing I’ve found that long descriptions help videos rank better in YouTube because longer descriptions help YouTube better understand what your video is all about that’s why I recommend making your descriptions between 100 and 200 words for example check out this video of mine that’s done really well the description for this video is a hundred and forty-two words and that long description has helped that video make its way to the top of YouTube for competitive keywords like SEO you might be wondering what do I actually write in my description well you want to outline the content of your video without giving away the farm for example here’s a description for my ecommerce SEO video as you can see I describe the content of the video but I don’t get into the meaty details that way even if someone reads a description they still need to watch the video to see the actual content let’s jump right into our next strategy boost video length when it comes to video SEO what works better long videos or short videos well when we analyzed 1.3 million YouTube videos we discovered that longer videos tended to outrank short videos in fact our data showed that the average video on the first page of YouTube is 14 minutes 50 seconds long what’s going on here well a few years ago YouTube said we focus on those videos that increase the amount of time that the viewer will spend watching videos on YouTube in other words YouTube loves videos that keep but watching for long periods of time for example check out this video from my channel it’s almost 14 minutes long because that video is on the longer side it racks up lots of watch time automatically and that simply wouldn’t be possible if my video was only 2 minutes bottom line whenever it makes sense make your videos between 8 and 15 minutes long in my experience that’s the sweet spot for ranking in YouTube search results moving right along to our next strategy strategy number seven which is to use brackets and parentheses in your video title like I mentioned earlier YouTube uses click the rate as a ranking factor and yes your thumbnail is a big part of the equation but don’t forget about your title it’s huge in fact YouTube themselves state that well-written titles can be the difference between someone watching and sharing your video or scrolling right past it and one of the easiest ways to increase your click-through rate is to add brackets or parentheses to your video title in fact a study commissioned by HubSpot discovered that simply adding brackets and parentheses to titles boosts the click-through rate by up to 38% for example let’s say you just published a video that outlined 10 video marketing tips and your original title look like this well according to hub spots research by changing your title to this you can increase your clicks by more than a third actually parentheses works so well that I tend to use them in almost all of my video titles and here are some examples of things that you can include in brackets or parentheses that work really well and now it’s time for strategy number 8 ranked and suggested video here’s the deal youtube SEO is more than just ranking in the search results in fact you can get just as many views if not more by getting your video to appear as a suggestive video suggestive video is when your video shows up next to another video in the sidebar so if you can get your video to show up next to a really popular video you’ll steal some of their views and the best way to show up as to suggest a video use the same tags that video uses when YouTube sees that some of your tags match the tags from a popular video they’ll understand that your video is about the same topic which means they’ll likely rank your video as a suggestive video for example let’s say you wanted to rank as a suggestive video next to this video first check out the tags that video uses to see if videos tags you need to look at the source code of the page to do this with Google Chrome just right-click on the page and click view page source then look at the keywords section of the page the keywords that appear here are the tags for that video you can also use a tool like to buddy or vidiq you which will show you a videos tags without needing to look through the source code next use a few of the tags that video uses on your video and make sure to copy the tags exactly word for word if your video is high-quality and closely related to the popular video YouTube will start to rank you as a suggestive video with that let’s dive into our last strategy turn donkeys into unicorns the fact is this whether you’re a small Channel or have a million subscribers we all have videos that do better than others why is that well there are a lot of reasons behind this but from analyzing millions of videos I found the videos that do well tend to have one thing in common lots of watch time we talked about watch time a little bit before it’s the total amount of time that people spend watching your video and I’ve recently discovered a great way to increase my watch time turning donkeys into unicorns here’s how it works first log into your YouTube analytics and click on audience retention this report shows you how much of a video people watch and where they tend to drop off then search for a video you’ve published on your channel that’s done really well finally keep an eye out for audience retention peaks peaks are sections of your video that have above-average audience retention then just watch that section of your video to figure out what kept people watching that part did you put a graphic on screen say something funny or maybe you did something simple like change the camera angle take note of that then apply what you learned to future videos for example here’s an audience retention report from a video I published a while back see that peak right there in that section of the video I outlined a real-life example of how someone increased their Google rankings so I made sure to use real-life examples in the beginning of all of my future videos and it helped those videos go from potential donkeys to amazing unicorns okay so I know I said I’d show you nine video SEO strategies but I recently came across a cool little hack that’s working really well for me and I wanted to share it with you and that hack is include the current year in your video title YouTube users want to see content that’s current and relevant I know thanks Captain Obvious but here’s the thing how do you actually demonstrate that your content is useful today include the current year in your video title when you include the current year in your video title your result instantly stands out in the search results and in the suggested video sidebar which means you’ll get more clicks and views Plus as a bonus lots of people search for keyword plus year in Google and YouTube so when you add the year to your video title and description you’ll rank higher for these keyword plus year keywords for example if your title look like this just add the current year and you instantly have a title that’s gonna get you a higher click-through rate so did you learn something new from today’s video and make sure to subscribe to my youtube channel right now just click on the subscribe button below this video also if you want exclusive SEO strategies that I only share with subscribers head over Rebecca link accom and sign up for the newsletter it’s free now I want to turn it over to you which of the youtube SEO tips from this video are you gonna use first are you gonna try front-loading your keywords or maybe you’re ready to turn donkeys into unicorns either way let me know by leaving a comment below right now I’m rollin yeah I really don’t want to say that do you hear that okay yeah it’s possible because when I you know I didn’t mean what button goggles

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