[GUIDE] YouTube Video Optimization for Dummies

According to the 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends research report by the Content Marketing Institute, 58% of B2B marketers rate videos as the most effective content marketing tactic. In fact, use of video has risen from 52% in 2011 to 70% in 2012. If video marketing is something new you would like to pursue, or if you’re a seasoned YouTube user looking for a few tips, the following guide will help ensure that your videos get found, watched and shared!

Why YouTube is Best

One decision you need to make early on in your video marketing efforts is where you should host your video. Despite the host of video hosting platforms available, YouTube is your best bet. Here’s why:

Google Approved. YouTube is owned by Google. Google says they aren’t biased, but let’s get real: If you’re serious about getting your videos indexed within Google, get a YouTube account.

Internal Search. YouTube has a sophisticated internal search algorithm, so participants can rank for specific keywords or phrases just like they would within a regular search engine. This means there are things you can do to optimize your videos within YouTube. YAY!

Visibility. According to YouTube, they have hundreds of millions of users from around the world using their video platform. That’s a lot of users–and potential customers.

Valued Content. YouTube says that up to 72 hours of video are uploaded every minute to their platform, resulting in nearly 12 years of content that’s uploaded every day. Either that’s a lot of cat videos, or users find real value in using this service. It also speaks to the popularity of video media in general: people like YouTube and they expect brands to have videos. It’s not rocket science.

Hopefully, you’ve decided to use YouTube as your video hosting platform. If so, pat yourself on the back! You’ve just joined the 61% of B2B marketers who use YouTube to distribute content.

After taking the time to ideate and create a quality video and upload it to YouTube, it’s time to optimize those videos within the YouTube platform.

YouTube Optimization

These best practices can ensure your video:

  • ranks well within YouTube’s internal search
  • has a greater likelihood ranking in Google SERPs as a rich media element, and
  • is optimized correctly for when you embed the video on your website

Taking the time to optimize your video on the YouTube platform will save you some on-page optimization time, so make sure you get this right the first time! Pay attention to these elements of your video:

Title: Do some keyword research around your video’s content, then craft a title that incorporates relevant keyword usage, program name, product, and/or brand mention. Choose a catchy, relevant title, and make sure it’s not keyword stuffed. SEOs might consider this their <h1> tag, and they should optimize it appropriately. That way, when a user searches for something related to the title of your video, it has a better likelihood of showing up in the SERP.

Description: Craft a description that illustrates both the purpose of the video, as well as the desired result after the user watches it. Giving these directives is your chance to place a call to action on your video to generate popularity around your video and to provide a link to a particular portion of your product offering or simply to related information on your site. Some examples include:

  • Share
  • Comment and/or Like
  • Visit a particular portion of the website

3 More Practices

Category: Pick an appropriate category for the video that correlates to its subject matter. Categories are shown within the video module, so users can see this when they watch a video. This is also used for YouTube’s internal search, so make sure you are accurate.

Tags: Make sure to create tags for each video. YouTube uses these tags for internal video search. Note: this has recently changed – viewers used to be able to see these tags.

Length: For new users, YouTube videos can’t be longer than 15 minutes (you can apply to have the limit removed). As a rule of thumb, shorter videos (90 seconds or less) keep the viewer engaged and are shared socially more. Obviously, these factors depend on the quality of the video’s content!

The worst thing you can do is to place this rich media element on your site and not have search engines give you credit for it. But there are a few on-page optimization steps that will ensure Google, and other search engines, find your videos.

On-Page Optimization – 5 Best Practices

Embed Code: Make sure that your YouTube video is optimized within the YouTube platform prior to embedding the video on-page. See the above tips for Title, Description, Category, Tags and Length. YouTube allows many customization options for an embedded player. You can view all of the custom code parameters here.

Surrounding Content: Making sure that the on-page content surrounding the embedded video is as explanatory as possible. Be sure to provide a short synopsis of the video and highlight any key takeaways. Providing detailed on-page content allows search engines to make sense of certain rich media elements like videos, so it’s important to craft this copy with attention to keyword usage.

Transcript: Create a transcript if there are audible elements within a video. Transcriptions serve two purposes:They make video content universal to visually impaired visitors, and they allow search engines to fully digest the contents of a video. Even pulling key quotes from a video and placing them on-page can provide extra information to search engines.

Video Sitemaps: Prepare a video sitemap and submit to Google Webmaster Tools (GWT). This will help the videos become indexed.

Guidelines for Video Sitemap Creation:

  1. Create a video sitemap entry for each URL that contains video content. If Google can’t find video content at the URLs provided, those URLs will simply be ignored by Googlebot.
  2. Each URL entry must contain the following information: title, description, play page URL, thumbnail URL, raw video file location and/or the player URL (SWF). Many of these sitemap elements are optional, but they can all provide useful metadata that can enhance your video results should Google choose to showcase your video within the SERPs.
  3. Once your complete video sitemap has been created, submit it to Google using Webmaster Tools. It can be submitted just like a regular sitemap. Note: Each video sitemap uploaded can have no more than 50,000 entires, just incase you are blowing video out of the water, you may need to upload more than one to account for all your videos.

For more detailed instructions, check out Google’s resource on the topic: Google Support

Final Tips

Call to Share (CTS): (I think I made up this acronym…I should trademark it!) Make sure you have a call to share your video on-page. This can be done by providing social share buttons around your video, or providing a textual CTS within the surrounding copy. It’s as important to create social signals around video elements as it is to generate social signals around the brand in general. If the video goes viral, your brand has the potential to reach the hundreds of millions of YouTube viewers and beyond.

Social engagement also generates positive signals to search engines. It demonstrates that a brand has created popular content around a particular subject. These signals can get your video to rank more quickly than you thought possible. So, promoting the URL across your social platforms is a good idea. Promoting the URL can increase a visitor’s time on your site and also expose the visitor to real CTSs. This can increase conversions.

Following these simple steps will ensure proper on-page optimization for embedded video.

Still have YouTube questions? Ask it, or comment in the section below.