While online video fame does happen by chance every once in a blue moon, it’s quite rare when you consider 300 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every day. Though some people do get lucky, the bulk of YouTube’s highly viewed videos got there because they belong to a channel with a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
Many of you might be thinking, “Isn’t SEO is just for websites?” Nope! Everyone needs to think about SEO when it comes to an online presence. Why? SEO is how you optimize your content (whether it be within your website, posted to a social media platform, or uploaded to YouTube and other online spaces) so that your content appears nearer to the top in search engine results.
Now you’re thinking, “What does that have to do with a sharing site like YouTube?” You might want to sit down for this. Despite its reputation for being a social site, YouTube is actually the second-largest search engine in the world, falling only behind its parent company, Google.
So, how do you get organic views on YouTube? Simple. Optimize for search!
You know that old adage, “You’ve got to spend money to make money”? It works in this scenario too, but in this case it’s, “You’ve got to pay for views to get organic views.” This is true for two reasons:
- 1. Prospective viewers will see the view count as a trust signal. The more views you have, the more likely they are to click play.
- 2. YouTube sees view count as a sign of quality content and your video will work its way up the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Once you’ve gotten enough views, I suggest putting a halt to paid views and letting the video do the work on its own.
Develop a tagging strategy
We recommend using a minimum of 15 tags. If there is a lot of competition in your industry or a lot of online content surrounding the particular subject matter, choose long-tailed keywords. Long-tailed keywords are between two and five words and used for more specific search intent. By logging into your AdWords, you can access the “Keyword Planner” tool for a little help determining what people are searching for.
You should ask yourself the following questions:
- Are people likely to search this topic in other languages? If so, translate your tags.
- Are there common misspellings of the tags you used? If so, use those as well.
Develop a titling strategy
The title of your video should be relevant to the content in the video. Otherwise, when viewers click play, they will likely be disappointed and bounce to another video. This scenario could actually hurt your SEO efforts, because YouTube sees an unfinished video as content that is irrelevant to the topic being searched.
You already conducted keyword research when developing your tagging strategy, so you are in good shape for crafting a highly searchable title. Use your most relevant keyword (or keyword phrase) followed by a compelling reason to click and (when necessary), and then the name of the brand or series.
Create a custom thumbnail
While people are told time and time again, “Never judge a book by its cover,” it’s in their nature to do so. More often than not, they do so unknowingly. It’s their brain’s way of filtering information and making quick decisions based on past experiences.
As an individual scrolls through social news feeds and search results, they are scanning information until they see something that piques their interest. They will decide in a matter of seconds whether they are going to click. A compelling thumbnail image is your best bet for a click through. You put a lot of work into the content in your video, your keyword, and titling strategy, so don’t throw it away by letting YouTube choose your thumbnail image for you.
We recommend creating a branded thumbnail template to use specifically for your YouTube channel and then putting in a content-specific image that lures them in. The human brain likes consistency and is drawn to patterns. When they see your branded thumbnails over and over again in the suggested videos column, they will be more likely to stop scrolling and consider the click.