When marketers talk about “Search Engine Optimization” (SEO), usually we’re referring to the basic web-based search engines that everyone is familiar with.  SEO experts need to know the ins and outs of ranking content on Google, Bing, Yahoo and the rest.

But there’s another realm of optimization that’s invaluable to boosting web traffic, and little understood by many marketers: Youtube SEO.  While it may sound counterintuitive since the platform only handles video content, Youtube is the second largest search engine in the world behind Google.

Which means that as a digital marketer looking for new places to gain traffic, you need to know the basics of optimizing content published on the internet giant’s domain.  Here’re some Youtube SEO basics to help you unlock this search engine’s huge potential.

1.  Keywords Matter, Bigtime

SEO marketing for platforms like Google starts with good keyword research, and the same rings true for optimizing content based on Youtube’s search algorithms.

Just like building an SEO plan for Google visibility, it’s a great idea to start your research with Google’s proprietary Adwords tool.  Enter a term that’s related to the content of your Youtube video, and you’ll see a long list of related keywords and their relevance to your video.

Once you’ve got a list on Adwords with keywords to choose from that relate to your content, there’re a couple things you should keep in mind when narrowing down your selection for SEO purposes:

  • Choose keywords that are most relevant to your video.  The more closely your keywords describe your content, the better.

  • Look for keywords that have a good number of searches per month.  Mixing in lower competition keywords isn’t a bad idea either, but stay away from keywords with very few searches.

  • Look for keywords that are more than one word long.

Once you’ve selected a list of keywords that you plan on targeting for Youtube optimization, it’s time to put that research into action.

2.  Get Strategic With your Titles and Descriptions

Just like when you’re crafting SEO friendly headlines for Google rankings, it’s important to put some thought into video titles and video descriptions for everything you upload to YouTube.  Luckily, you’ve already completed the first step in your strategic approach by researching relevant keywords.

From the list of keywords you’ve narrowed down, you’ll want to craft a video title that’s about eight words long or less.  Ideally, you want your video title to accomplish the following:

  • Answer a “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” or “why” question that a member of your target audience might enter into their search bar.

  • Incorporate keywords with a high number of monthly searches, as well as some keywords that are less competitive.

  • Read as simple and to the point.

If you’re having a hard time coming up with good titles, bounce some ideas off of a colleague.  Remember that simplicity is the goal, but incorporating those keywords you researched is essential.

When filling out the “description” section, keep the same principles in mind.  You’ll have a lot more room to work with, and to an extent, long is good.  But just like with your titles, simplicity is key.

Your video descriptions should consist of tight, professional sentences with no spelling mistakes.  Include as many keywords as you can naturally, and you’re on your way to mastering Youtube SEO.

3.  Use Tags That Are Already Working for the Competition

Tags are incredibly important in ranking Youtube content, and there’s an easy way to borrow tags from other videos that are already optimized for the platform.  Here’re 4 steps to getting ahead of the competition by using their own keywords against them:

  1. Enter your content’s targeted keywords in Youtube’s search bar and note the top three video results.

  2. Visit each of the videos.  On the video page, press “Ctrl + u” to bring up the source code for the page.

  3. Press “Ctrl + f” to start a search, and search for “keywords.” You’ll see a list of tags, separated by commas.

  4. Copy and past those tags into your own video’s “tags” section, making sure terms are still separated by commas.

You’ll want to include additional tags based around the keywords you’ve selected, but borrowing tags from other successfully optimized content is a great place to start.  Doing so will increase the chances that your video is listed as “related content,” and will also place your content higher in Youtube’s search results.

The Bottom Line?

There’s a lot to learn about Youtube SEO, and it’s best to think of the platform as its own search engine with its own nuances to master.  But every digital marketer needs to have a basic understanding of how optimization on Youtube works, and the three fundamentals above will point you in the right direction to rank your content and see your traffic soar.