With over 3 billion searches every month, YouTube has surpassed Bing, Amazon, and others to become the 2nd largest search engine in the world.
And while this may not be much of a surprise considering Google owns YouTube, the video focused platform is quickly changing the SEO game.
With attention spans dwindling, young consumers are becoming less willing to consume content in the traditional fashion of reading blog posts.
Instead, they want simple and engaging videos. And they’re willing to watch hours upon hours of them if they’re good enough.
But, just as with traditional search engines, finding solid information on how to rank in YouTube can be a difficult task.
To help you with that, we’ve created this ultimate beginner’s guide that will walk you the basics of ranking on YouTube SEO in 2018.
Let’s dive in.
Keyword Research for YouTube
Just as with search engines like Google and Bing, keywords form the foundation of YouTube SEO.
If you’re someone that’s familiar with keyword research for traditional content, you’ll be relieved to know that the research process to rank videos on YouTube is very similar.
As far as the steps for YouTube keyword research, they include:
- Developing a list of potential keywords using keyword tools
- Determining keyword difficulty
- Knowing and spying on your competition
- Narrowing down your list
Using Keyword Tools to Develop a List of Potential Keywords
When you’re creating content for your YouTube channel, the last thing you want to do is waste several hours on content that doesn’t get any views.
Fortunately, keyword tools can save you a ton of time and guesswork.
Keysearch’s Youtube Keyword Tool was designed specifically for YouTube SEO and helps you develop a list of potential keywords that you can then investigate further to determine the best options.
To get started, all you’ll need is a general topic or keyword. For this example, we’ll plug in the keyword “YouTube SEO”.
YouTube Suggest results in KeySearch for “YouTube SEO”
As you can see, we’re quickly given keyword suggestions along with the monthly volume, cost per click (CPC), and pay per click (PPC) numbers.
If you want to dig down even further, you can choose the keywords that you believe have strong potential, save them to a list, and continue building your list by searching more topics and phrases.
We can now continue building our list of keyword ideas
Armed with our list of potential keywords, the next step is to check for YouTube keyword difficulty.
Determine Keyword Difficulty
Checking for keyword difficulty is an extremely easy process as the keyword difficulty score is provided directly alongside search volume, CPC, and PPC.Just click the “Check” box in order to generate a score if it’s not already provided.
The difficulty score is a complex algorithm we’ve created to judge how hard it will be rank a video no YouTube. We use many factors like views, comments, age, the content of the video etc.. to determine this difficulty score.
Keyword difficulty scores are color coded to the right of PPC
As far as what these scores mean:
- 60-80. Competition is very difficult.
- 50-59. Competition is fairly difficult.
- 40-49. Competition is moderate.
- 30-39. Competition is easy-moderate.
- 20-29. Competition is fairly easy.
- 0-19. Competition is very easy.
When you’re just starting your YouTube channel, your best bet is to narrow your list of potential keywords down to those that have fairly easy to moderate competition.
Going into the 50-80 difficulty range can make it extremely challenging to get search based views as you’ll be competing against many already established channels.
Within Keysearch, you can easily sort your list to keywords by their difficulty score.
From there, you can narrow down your list to keywords with difficulty scores that are easier to target. We recommend when starting out to aim for scores 30 and below. You’ll also want to mainly target keywords that have strong monthly search volumes as well.
Know Your Competition
Now that you have your list of low difficulty keywords, and the volume for each, the next step is to take a look at the competition for the keywords you may want to move forward with.
This is also incredibly easy through keysearch, as you’re given a detailed view of competition for each keyword that you enter through the Youtube Suggest tool.
Competition for the keyword “guide to youtube success”
The keyword we’re using in the example above is “guide to youtube success”, which has a difficulty score of 34 (competition is easy-moderate).
Based on the age of videos, views, likes, and comments of the current competition, this is actually a fairly strong keyword to target.
It’s also important to note that only one of the videos in the results has a title AND description match for our keyword “guide to youtube success”. And, as we can see, that video has only 3 views and is still listed on the first page of results.
This confirms our keyword as a strong candidate to be featured in our content.
Narrowing Down Your List
Narrowing down the list of potential keywords to target can be done by performing competition research for each of the keywords that we feel we can create strong content around.
And while it may seem like this would be a time consuming process, we can actually browse the competition and potential for each of our keyword ideas in less than 10 seconds with keysearch.
As you become consistent with creating and posting videos, you can use your narrowed down list of ideas to create a content calendar for YouTube.
Doing this research up front, and creating a consistent calendar, can save you a ton of time down the road.
For the purposes of this article, however, we’ll be focusing on how to perform YouTube SEO for our video that will be built around “guide to YouTube success”.
Creating Your Video
While this article isn’t about the actual process of creating a YouTube video (as there are already plenty of comprehensive resources on the topic), there are some important things you’ll need to know when it comes to SEO and video creation.
Some important ranking factors when it comes to YouTube search results, which include:
- High Retention. The amount of your video that people watch (you want to keep this as close to 100% as possible).
- Video Comments. The more engagement you’re getting, the higher YouTube will value your content.
- Subscribes After Watching Video. If viewers are subscribing directly after watching a video, that sends a major signal to YouTube that your video is high quality and engaging.
- Video Shares. The more shares your video gets, the more views it will get and the more people you’ll be bringing to YouTube.
- Click-Through-Rate (CTR). Just like with Google results, click-through-rate sends a strong signal to YouTube about where a video should rank in results.
As far as the actual process of creating an engaging video, here’s a great resources that can help you with that:
Optimizing Your YouTube Video for SEO
YouTube SEO optimization is actually quite a bit simpler than traditional SEO for content.
The four things you’ll need to focus on include:
- Say Your Target Keyword in Your Video. YouTube automatically transcribes your videos. By actually saying your keyword at relevant points in the video, it will be easier for YouTube to understand what it’s about.
- Place Keyword in Your Video Title. While this optimization tactic is obvious, you should know that it’s optimal to place your keyword at the beginning of your title whenever possible.
- Place Keyword in Description. It’s best practice to make your description between 250-300 words while including your keyword 2-4x (and once in the first 30 words).
- Utilize Tags. While you certainly don’t want to “tag stuff”, it’s a good idea to include tags of your exact target keyword and other relevant topics discussed in the content.
If you’re struggling to come up with ideas for additional tags to use, feel free to steal ideas from your competitors. You can quickly check tags for any YouTube video using vidIQ Vision for YouTube (a Google Chrome extension).
Promoting Your Videos
Just as with traditional content, the “if you build it, they will come” strategy doesn’t work (especially when you’re just starting out).
No matter how well you optimize your video for SEO, if you don’t promote your content, people won’t see it. And if people aren’t seeing it, YouTube has no reason to rank it higher in their search engines.
As far as methods for promoting your content, utilizing other social media platforms where you’ve already built a following is often the best way to start.
In addition, YouTube’s Creator Academy is a great resource for finding and implementing other promotion strategies.
Mastering SEO for YouTube
There’s little doubt that YouTube will continue to change and optimize their search engine.
The information outlined above, however, outlines evergreen strategies that will no doubt hold true for the foreseeable future.
As you begin building your channel, it’s important that you continue to build your knowledge of YouTube SEO and the factors that play a role in helping your channel grow.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use YouTube keyword tool that can help you along the way, we encourage you to signup for a free account. We offer a free, one-month trial with no credit card required.
Try it today and let us help save you time and money on your journey to mastering SEO for YouTube!