YouTube SEO: Tips, Checklist and Best Practices

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YouTube SEO for B2B digital marketing

YouTube is basically the most popular video hosting platform in the world and has many opportunities for marketing products and services on it. However, it’s unusual to see YouTube in the digital marketing strategies for B2B companies. It happens because YouTube marketing is meant to be expensive and mostly focused on brand awareness and not on traffic or lead generation.

However, I managed to find several successful best practices on how B2B businesses can benefit from their YouTube channel. Instead of doing the direct advertising on YouTube businesses can generate leads from YouTube search engine optimization. In this post I would like to uncover some ways to optimize and put your video on the top of YouTube search results.

Why doing YouTube SEO?

In the current online marketing landscape there are not so many advertising platforms that generate the predictable and stable amount of traffic and leads. Basically B2B businesses can use Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, review websites and referrals (Quora, ReddIt, etc) for such purposes. The platforms with a huge amount of traffic like Google, Facebook or LinkedIn are expensive and their cost-per-click sometimes can’t be acceptable from the unit economy’s point of view.

Other smaller platforms are good but present the “long-tail” of advertising systems and setting them all up is a huge time investment with unpredictable result. YouTube is a platform where you can benefit from both huge audience and the ability to generate leads from it and scale this lead source with much less time and effort. 

Additionally, SEO on YouTube search results page can not only generate more viewers of your video but also initiate more impressions of the video in the regular Google’s text search results which also drives you leads and traffic.

Tip 1 – How to collect target keywords for YouTube SEO?

It is important understand what exact keywords you need to promote your videos on. If you will choose wrong keywords with small search popularity you will not get any viewers. On the contrary, with popular keywords your videos will get more views and this will also facilitate better rankings in YouTube search engine. The common method of collecting keywords is through using the special tools or Google Ad Planner but the problem is that these tools present the regular Google text search data. It can be relevant, but can be not – the search patterns on Google and on YouTube are different. You can’t always tell that keywords that are popular in Google are equally popular on YouTube. 

One of the more reliable ways to do YouTube SEO keyword research is to look for the most searchable keywords through Youtube autocompletion analysis. You’re choosing one of the main search terms related to your niche and then just add one letter to that search query (for example, you can type “marketing strategy” and then just add one space and one random letter to see which search results pop up higher in the list).

Here is the first step:

search results with a “marketing strategy” keyword

Here is the second step:

example of a YouTube autocompletion analysis

With the knowledge of your target keywords you can start working on your own videos. Its quite similar to the text SEO when you’re collecting keywords, analyze search intent and based on this create the landing pages, blogs or any other page types for your website. On YouTube you also need to analyze what type of videos rank better for your particular keyword: 

  • Long or short?
  • Commercial or informational?
  • Popular or not (likes, dislikes and comments)?
  • From popular channels or not (number of subscribers)?
  • And so on.

It’s you who is analyzing all this data and understands what kind of video do you need to prepare to succeed.

Tip 2 – Promoting playlists in YouTube SEO

The collected keywords may even form clusters (groups) for keywords that are similar to each other. For example, in the above example this could be: 

  • marketing strategy development;
  • marketing strategy development process;
  • marketing strategy development steps;
  • marketing strategy development new product.

All these keywords are taken from autocompletion analysis. Not only the videos, but also the playlists rank in YouTube search results. Sometimes it’s even better to put a playlist on the SERP of YouTube, because it looks bigger visually and probably will have higher CTR and more clicks. You don’t have to create a video for every single keyword you’ll find, but making at least one playlist for each group of similar keywords is a good practice. Created playlists can be edited and optimized by changing their titles, descriptions and other fields to include target keywords.

Tip 3 – YouTube SEO ranking factors

Let’s talk about ranking factors of YouTube videos. There are several things you can optimize to make your videos look more SEO-friendly, including:

  • Video title;
  • Video description;
  • Video tags;
  • Playlist title;
  • Playlist description;
  • Keywords in video’s subtitles (transcripts);
  • Number of comments and keywords in them;
  • Video likes;
  • Channel subscribers;
  • Effectiveness metrics of each video (average watch time, watch-to-end time);
  • Number of video player insertions to various websites (shares).

Tip 4 – How to optimize the YouTube video’s meta data?

Video title

Obviously, the video title needs to be short (60 symbols, the longer ones are cut in search results) and include the main keyword. It should be placed close to the beginning of the title. Do not use clickbait titles, it is not going to work. Instead, use call-to-action messaging and keep the title relevant to the video.

Video description

Video description allows more symbols than title, so you can use the keywords several times and add synonyms. Always insert timestamps related to your video, add the URL of your main website & helpful reources and don’t forget about hashtags. Remember, the more engaging description you write the bigger CTR is and hence the better rankings you will get.

Playlist title and description

The same principles can be applied not only to the videos, but also to playlists.

Tip 5 – How to boost engagement metrics of your YouTube video?

There’s a variety of services available online that allow you to buy either views or likes or comments for your videos but I’d not recommend using them. The process of getting a sufficient amount of views, comments and likes should have the necessary duration and if you’ll do this in 2-3 days, you’ll be in trouble and likely will never get where you want. The same about bots and automation – this is not going to work.  Here are some things you could do to boost the number of likes: 

  • Create video transcripts incl. target keywords;
  • Invite guest YouTube bloggers;
  • Use cards and end screens;
  • Set autoplay when videos are embedded (and do more embeds);
  • Reply to comments with target keywords;
  • Spread the video in relevant Facebook and LinkedIn groups.

How to use YouTube Analytics for SEO?

YouTube’s analytical capabilities are quite extensive and allow to boost SEO results. There is a separate section for that in YouTube Creator Studio. The main page of analytics section shows you the visual and numerical stats of your channel for the chosen timeframe.

various KPIs in YouTube Creator Studio dashboard

There’s an option to lookup KPIs for each video and sort them using certain characteristics like views, likes, subscribers or unsubscribers.

subscriber gain and loss per video

The report above shows the video generating the most subscriber churn. It’s even possible to figure out what exact time of the video generates the biggest churn with the usage of the viewer retention report below.

viewer retention graph

If you see your churn growing abnormally at a very specific particular moment of the video, you can think on how to change the video to avoid viewer loss.

YouTube SEO checklist

Here’s a relatively short YouTube SEO checklist:

  1. Get a Google account and create channel with it;
  2. If necessary: change channel type to “Business” and provide an appropriate channel name;
  3. Fill in channel description and tags;
  4. Customize the look of the channel’s primary page:
    1. Custom banner at the top of the page;
    2. Links to the other social networks accounts;
    3. Channel trailer for new viewers.
    4. Video for returning viewers.
    5. Create and optimize playlists:
      1. For each playlist
        1. Provide description and keywords based on autocompletion analysis;
        2. Choose the playlist watching sequence;
  5. When uploading a video keep in mind the following guidelines:
    1. File type should be .MP4;
    2. Audio codec is AAC-LC;
    3. Video codec is H.264;
    4. Resolution is 2160p, 1440p, 1080p, 720p.
  6. When uploading a video optimize the following:
    1. Publicity settings;
    2. Description and tags;
    3. Video thumbnail;
    4. Add royalty-free audio;
    5. Add subtitles in non-english languages;
  7. Embed video into your own website and work on its metrics afterwards with friends and family (views, likes and comments);
  8. After some time access YouTube Analytics and take a look at the following for this particular video:
    1. Number of subscribers
    2. Number of unsubscribers;
    3. Viewer sources;
    4. Average view percentage.
  9. Optimize video content in a targeted manner based on the information above. 

You can also get the YouTube SEO checklist in a PDF file and a free 30-minute consultation with me if you’ll fill in this form.

Andrei Iunisov is a lead generation and SEO expert with 15 years of worldwide experience. Since 2006, Andrei has been involved with digital marketing and SEO in the rapidly growing software development company Parallels in Seattle, Washington. In 2009, Andrei founded the first web analysis agency in Russia. The list of Andrei customers includes TOP-100 Russian and international companies from all industries. In 2014, the business was sold to the largest independent online advertising holding company in Russia - iConText Group. Andrei has been offering lead generation, digital marketing and SEO services for various companies from all economic sectors worldwide since 2016. Andrei regularly shares his expertise and case studies in his personal blog.

Clutch recognizes Andrei Iunisov as a digital marketing expert and industry leader.

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YouTube SEO: Tips, Checklist and Best Practices YouTube is basically the most popular video hosting platform in the world and has many opportunities for marketing products and services on it. However, it’s unusual to see YouTube in the digital marketing strategies for small and medium businesses and for B2B companies. It happens because YouTube marketing is meant to be expansive and mostly focused on brand awareness and not on traffic or lead generation. 2021-09-02
Andrei Iunisov - Digital Marketing & SEO Consultant
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