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  • Writer's pictureDiarmuid O'Loughlin

YouTube SEO, 8 Vital Hacks to Optimise for the Best Results.

When we think and talk about video marketing we normally refer to YouTube.


YouTube is the most popular video platform on the planet right! It outranks all other websites, bar Google itself, it’s also the second biggest search engine to Google. The reason it's so successful is due to the fact that Google bought the platform back in 2006 for a whopping $1.6 Billion. Today the platform's worth is estimated to between $200 - $300 Billion as a standalone company.

Google saw back then the power and future of marketing and communications through video. YouTube is a superpower when it comes to search engines, it uses highly sophisticated algorithms to push suggested video content pieces to users based on their previous search preferences...Clever Eh!

It’s this type of experience that keeps YouTube audiences hooked and addicted to watch more and more videos. Google introduced more options for advertisers to push brand ads to super engaged audiences throughout the video play cycle.

The relationship with SEO and Video is very important, video is seen as the true platform in demonstrating brand authenticity. Search Engines (mainly Google) recognises authenticity as a key element for good user experience. So hacking YouTube SEO gets the best from both!

YouTube SEO, 8 Vital Hacks to Optimise for the Best Results.

#1. Conduct Video Keyword research.

Like you would for Google search, conducting keyword research for Youtube has a fairly similar process. Although Youtube and Google are different search engines, they still operate very similarly in terms of how they pull relevant content for a user depending on their search queries. Just like you would apply an SEO process to rank high for SERPs, a similar approach would also apply for ranking your video content high on YouTube search as well.

As a use case example we've decided to use a Pizzeria based in the city who are struggling to drive more awareness about their restaurant and due to COVID restrictions are only able to deliver takeaway. The owners really need a marketing strategy that will connect them closer with their customers in these difficult times and the competition in this sector is fierce due to large Pizza chains like Dominos, Papa Johns and Pizza Hut.

So we’ve given them an olive branch idea to start using video content, demonstrating how to make their own homemade Gourmet Pizzas at home! Stupid right! - Not!

Its actually a really useful marketing activity to see what potential customers like with their Pizzas, toppings, recipes and sides etc.. Sometimes these feedback loops give great ideas for inspiration!

Conducting searches on YouTube are different to Google search, sometimes it's best to start with Google Keyword Planner first by getting some keyword ideas that are related to your niche. Remember that not all user journeys start with YouTube and often users will search on Google as a primary first step!

The screenshot above shows a number of keyword ideas, all showing search volumes for the last 12 months in Ireland. If you look at the average search volume column you can see they are between 1K - 10K which is pretty healthy, more importantly is the competition data, indicating that all these search terms have a low competition rating. (meaning its easier to rank high for them!) So in terms of what to use as keywords in video titles, meta descriptions and tags they provide a clear image for what users search for on Google.

#2. Create a Keyword Based Video Title.

From the keyword research above there is now a list of search term keywords that best describe video content in ‘How to make your own homemade Gourmet Pizza’

Don’t underestimate the power of YouTube's search engine, it can provide some really interesting search alternatives, providing ideas for future video content titles.

‘How to’ is the most popularly used search phrase on YouTube, users are looking for ways to do (or fix) things more than seeking basic product information.

Taking from the use case above, the Pizzeria have an opportunity to use the ‘How to’ phrase in their video content titles to maximise search relevancy. It also creates more fun in the brand and offers a huge opportunity to drive more YouTube channel subscriptions as a result.

Authenticity is also increased, users can reference and view video content alongside the Pizzeria’s business listing appearing in search results. Other brand awareness opportunities become available with video, leveraging the power of social media reach (in which video is the most engaging type of content) driving potential for more awareness and social follows.

Keep this in mind - YouTube search queries can be different to Google. Using YouTube suggestive search is another way to find what type of searches are relevant for your niche and also what YouTube Channels appear as your potential competitors.

#3. Add appropriate Tags to your Brand Videos.

Tags are a very useful hack to driving discovery traffic to your YouTube channel. They are descriptive keywords that best and most accurately describe your video content. They act as a secondary discovery trigger to your Video Title and Meta Description. They can easily be added to your videos when you are uploading by clicking the ‘more options’ link on the YouTube dashboard.

#4. Drive more subscriptions, incentivise!

More Subscriptions = Higher Ranking Video Content and that's the way YouTube algorithm works. Viewers might like or even comment on your video content but subscriptions are what really matter. Encourage subscriptions at the very most if not to like, comment or share. Incentivised subscriptions really work as well, in the case of the Pizzeria, offering a small lifetime loyalty discount for a subscription on their YouTube channel could well see their video content rank high quickly.

#5. Enable closed captions.

Closed captions increase engagement by up to 40% and up to 80% of viewers are more likely to watch videos till the end with them! They offer a really useful hack as they are also crawlable by search engines. Closed captions are an assistive technology feature for those that are hard of hearing allowing them to follow video content through captions & transcripts. These captions are search engine friendly so make sure you enable (or edit) them when uploading your video content.

#6 Share your videos on other Social Media channels.

Video content takes time to produce, so leverage it in the most useful way. This might be an obvious one but Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin have all shown higher rates of engagement and shares for video content than any other format. So Share, Share, Share! Utilise your social media channels and spread the word. Keep your keywords and social media copy aligned with the content of the video, use CTA’s and encourage followers to subscribe to your YouTube channel.

#7 Don’t forget email marketing as a distribution channel.

The most cost effective of all your marketing channels, email marketing campaigns add a high value option to your Video marketing efforts. Email Video Marketing is simply, embedding your video content into your email templates. (Try to avoid using links and mention video in the headline or subheading of your email)

Here are some facts about what video content can do for your email marketing.

  • Increase your open rates by up to 6%.

  • Increase your CTR by 65%.

  • 97% of users find videos on email very useful to understand more about a business's products or services.

  • 90% of users that watch video content on an email, make a decision to buy a product.

Types of YouTube videos that you can embed in your email campaigns.

I mentioned that a customer journey can begin through a search on a search engine like Google, videos very much form an important part of that customer journey, from discovery, consideration, to decision making and on to make a purchase. The following are types of YouTube videos that you can use in that customer journey and then embed into your email marketing templates.

  • Video demos.

  • Behind the scenes.

  • Case Studies & Testimonials.

  • Introduction to the team.

  • ‘How to’ videos.

  • Short Video Teasers.

#8 Review your analytics and audience engagement reports.

Take time to review your analytics on the YouTube Studio dashboard. See what engagement levels are like for each of your videos. What gets viewed and liked (or disliked) the most, what have comments left on them and if there is a need to follow up!.

There are other analytical metrics that are very useful, impressions, click-through rates and unique views all providing vital statistics on how your descriptions and keywords are performing. The engagement tab allows to view more data around duration sessions. The audience tab provides viewer insights like returning views VS unique views and the most important metric of subscriptions.

You can connect your YouTube Channel to Google Analytics as well (by adding your GA tracking ID), it might be worth doing if you heavily rely on YouTube video to convert on your eCommerce store or B2B SaaS platform.

Remember - Video is a very effective way of connecting with people who have questions to ask. Video allows you to answer those questions by telling your brand story. You don’t have to be rich and famous to use YouTube and either do your viewers! Videos take a bit of work to produce, but if you can help someone with yours then you’ve given them a unique purpose in your customer journey.

Social Media and Paid Search are over crowded with so many businesses trying to compete to win more customers. Video gives you a competitive edge, a more organic yet immediate reach to a more engaged audience. Hopefully the hacks I mentioned will make it easier for ye!

If you need any more advice on YouTube SEO or any other platform please reach to me at Look forward to hearing from you! :)

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