In our last blog post, we talked about thinking of YouTube as a video content search engine instead of another social media platform. This shift in perspective should also change the way you post videos to your YouTube channel. If YouTube operates as a search engine, the videos you post should be categorized with appropriate tags and keywords to make them more searchable. Here are three tips to keep in mind to optimize your YouTube videos:

  1. Use keywords when renaming your video file.
  2. Optimize your video title and description using applicable keywords.
  3. Categorize your video to make it easier to find.

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1. Use keywords when renaming your video file.

Keywords are the backbone of SEO, even when it comes to YouTube. Just as you optimize your website’s content for the highest possible SERP (search engine result pages) ranking, the same theory applies to your YouTube videos. You can use any one of the available YouTube SEO tools, including Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, vidIQ Vision, or TubeBuddy, to help identify the best keywords to use. And because there are so few places to add keywords to your video, adding appropriate keywords to your file name may seem excessive, but it shows YouTube that you’re optimizing your video right from the start.

 

2. Optimize your video title and description by using applicable keywords.

While your video file name might be an unexpected place to add a keyword or two, your video title and description are perhaps the most obvious places to add them. When conducting a search on YouTube, one of the first things we notice are video titles. Apart from trying to incorporate applicable keywords into the video title naturally — don’t throw them in there just to have them — the title should be a phrase or question viewers will likely use when searching. As with regular search terms, try to keep your title short — around 60 characters — to prevent it from being cut off on the SERP.

Similarly, when inputting the description for your video, try to keep it as clear and concise as possible. While the official character limit for video descriptions is 1,000 characters, YouTube only displays the first 2-3 lines — around 100 characters —  so be sure to include the most important information, such as your CTA or links you want viewers to check out, within the first couple of lines.

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3. Tag and categorize your video to make it easier to find.

When thinking about which tags to include in your video description, it’s important to keep in mind why YouTube and your target audience use tags: to better understand the content and context of your video. YouTube also uses them to better relate your video to similar videos, so choose your tags wisely. Just as you need to be discerning about which keywords to use, don’t include tags just to get more views — Google may actually penalize you for that. Instead, choose a good mix of tags — no more than 15 — and list the most important tags first. Be sure to include a couple of long-tail tags as well.

Categorizing your video is a great way to ensure it gets the best possible exposure to your target audience. To categorize your video, go to the Advanced Settings section of the YouTube Editor page and select a category from the list provided. Keep the following questions in mind when determining the best category for your video:

  • Who are the top creators in the category? What are they known for and what do their videos do well?
  • Do similar YouTube channels in the category have the same audience as your target audience?
  • Are the videos in the category of the same production quality as your video?