So you started publishing videos on YouTube. But are you truly optimizing your videos for organic reach as you painstakingly optimize every piece of written content that you publish for your website?
Video SEO is what I'm going to be discussing today with a man who is always on the lookout for the next great place to devour a delicious ribeye steak and maybe even a glass of whiskey too. He is a sought-after speaker, online educator, and brand strategist who believes that video is the most genuine and engaging way to grow your audience and personal brands. A warm welcome to the In Search SEO podcast, the producer of Dre TV, the SEO Video Show, and head of growth at Twingate, Dre De Vera.
In this episode, Dre will be sharing five steps to boost your video SEO, including:
Dre: David, my man. How are you doing today?
DB: I'm very good. You can find Dre over at dre.tv. But the key question that everyone wants to know the answer to is, how long does it take to do your hair?
DV: Oh, man, this is a question I get quite a lot. But you know what, it takes me about less than five minutes. That may be long for some people, but my people thought it would take a lot longer. Right out of the shower, all I do is blow dry it and put something on called Boldify. It's kind of a saline solution and I just blow dry it up, pat it down a little bit to get the little round edges, and I'm done.
DB: So today you’ll be sharing the five stages to level up your video SEO. Starting off with number one, pre-publishing.
DV: When you first do any type of optimization, you have to research your topic. You got to research the landscape. When we do regular SEO with Google, we look at Google itself. If you want to optimize on YouTube, observe the landscape. You can see that YouTube has different types of algorithms. They have the hashtag algorithm, the search algorithm, the suggested algorithm, and the People Also Watch algorithm. You observe what you can optimize, those are the key things you should look at.
And when you want to do some research on the content you want to produce, look at the landscape. Do a search of the topic and see what kind of content comes up. Are they How To-s? Are they vlogs? Are they tutorials? The same way you would look at Google. Oh, these are listicles, maybe you do a listicle type of post. That's the very first part of the research when it comes to optimization.
DB: Yeah, I love it. Because any great SEO, when you're doing a bit of keyword research, deciding what to write about will say to have a look at the SERP and see what currently ranks for those kinds of terms. Is it long pieces, short pieces, pieces with lots of images, video answers, or snippets? What kind of answers are being produced for those kinds of queries? So do the same for YouTube. See the length of the video, see the quality of the video, how they're going about answering, and perhaps how they're missing out on certain things where you can actually provide more value. Superb advice. So that's number one, pre-publishing. This brings us up to number two, establishing expertise.
2. Establishing Expertise
DV: It all goes back to how you do SEO. Think of your tactics for how you do SEO for a regular website. You want to make sure you have the ranking factors that we all know about. CTR, average view duration, social signals, or video interactions like rewinding. These are typical ranking factors on YouTube.
So how do you actually optimize for these things? Number one, let's say for CTR, the thumbnail. You want a thumbnail that can stop that user when they're scrolling. Think of the journey where someone's coming from. You want a thumbnail that can stop the user. Whether it's creative and having your keyword on there… As we all know, YouTube can actually read what's in the thumbnail. You can throw it into Cloud Vision, you can put your keywords in there. No matter what size, Cloud Vision can extract those keywords. So these are things that you want to make sure you include in your thumbnail. Make sure it's compelling, colorful, bright, whatever you can do to stop that person and grab their attention.
Another thing you want to do is optimize your title. You can have your keyword on there, but you have to have a compelling title, something with a hook. When you have your thumbnail, how can you have that person look at your title? And once they look at your title how can you make them look at your video? And from your video how can you make them look at your description? These are things that you have to optimize, like with your description, it can also include your keywords.
I talked about hashtags earlier and there's a hashtag algorithm, make sure you include hashtags in your descriptions. As you notice, when you include a hashtag in your descriptions, they're clickable. And it takes you to this whole new type of search engine, the hashtag search engine. That's one of the things that you should be able to include within your descriptions.
Another thing that you should do when you optimize your video, is to have closed captioning. People say that YouTube can actually do this automatically. There's one thing about that, if you upload your own closed captioning, you get a little icon. That stands out. Anything that can make you stand out in the SERPs like YouTube, whether it's on the homepage, or within search, any little thing that can stick you out like a sore thumb, use it. I can go on. Even time stamps.
DB: You started with thumbnails. And thumbnails are something that many people starting with YouTube just won't even consider or even entertain. They'll just pick an image that is fixed from the video itself and then just go on and think of other things to optimize. But thumbnails are absolutely key for click-through rates and for brand recognition. I see from your thumbnails that you've got a fairly consistent format. You've got your branding in there, the guest, but you've also got something that the regular viewer, or at least someone who's viewed a video of yours before, will stop in their tracks and recognize the fact that it’s you and hopefully be more likely to click through to the video itself because of it.
DV: Yes. And let’s take it back to thumbnails. There's a reason behind how I created my thumbnails. I wanted to create videos within the SEO industry. So I looked at all the thumbnails and saw what kind of color scheme is common if there was any. And some of them were doing darker colors. So if you search now where videos pop up, mine pop. They're bright compared to other colors. I mean, there are other YouTubers that have maybe some greens, so I stay away from greens because you see more greens. When you do your research, pop out and contrast so you can stand out.
DB: Yeah, I’m looking at your video that used to have a thumbnail with some ferns behind it. That's the image that I see when I see your video and I recognize branding because of it as well. There are loads of things that can be done and experimented with. Let's go on to number three, which is establishing authoritativeness.
3. Establishing Authoratativensess
DV: When you optimize for Google, you think of authoritativeness as getting backlinks. On YouTube, authoritativeness revolves around how you can gain subscribers. The way you can gain subscribers is by having a call to action to invite them but there are some hacks where you can add a special parameter at the end of the URL to have someone automatically subscribe to your channel when they share it. There's also the like button and one thing you have to do within your video to gain a like is to ask for it. But you also have to create compelling content for someone to even like it.
When you create authority, and people are consuming your content, you are creating your authority. You're making them nod their head. You're making them say, "Yes!” Yeah. This is where they would maybe say, "Oh, yeah, I like this.” And this is something you want them to even share. You have the social signals. YouTube puts out these icons to share on different platforms. There's a reason for that right? They want you to share these videos on different platforms. You can see that you can share on Twitter, Blogger, Redditt, etc. There are so many. I'm sure they added a few more. Those are one of the things that you want to do too.
Look at all the other things that you can also add in there like embeds. Embeds allow people to embed your video on their blog because they see that you're an authority, they trust you. You want them to gain engagement. If you see someone stopping the video and rewinding it because you said something then that's another kind of engagement within the video. But if you look at your Google Analytics you'll see spikes in certain areas, and that's done because someone's rewinding to re-listen to what you just said.
DB: Interesting. So that's actually a positive signal in YouTube's algorithm if you pause the video and stay on it, and then carry on after that. I'm thinking it might be worthwhile to incorporate as part of a video to say that here's some key information, pause your video at the moment and look through that. Is it worthwhile doing that as part of a YouTube show as well?
DV: Yes, and this is something where I want to make sure that when you do that you want them to engage on the site. It’s one of those things where even when you look at your Google Analytics and you can see how many clicks and actions they get, these aren't actions on the page, but the video player. And there are patents that are written about this. I don't have the exact numbers or anything like that. But you can search for these interaction patents for YouTube that will tell you about them, and that they look at them.
DB: Talking about signals, how about frequency? Do you have any thoughts on an ideal frequency for publishing videos on YouTube?
DV: For me, it all depends on yourself. If you don't have the time to publish every day, you can't publish every day, but the one thing that you should do is be consistent when you publish. You can remind people to come back at a certain time. If they know you publish on Tuesdays and Thursdays, let them know that new content is coming out during those times. It’s important they know when it’s coming out so when your video comes out you get the most engagement, the most views. And that's all part of the algorithm, to win all the engagement you can get within the first 24 hours. So you want to make sure that they know about it and they have that notification bell ticked so they can get that notification. That's something I look more into, letting them know your publishing times than the number of times you're publishing.
DB: Now, the fourth element is establishing trust. What's the difference between trust and authority?
4. Establishing Trust
DV: How can YouTube trust you as a person? This is where you can connect your YouTube channel to the Google Knowledge Graph, their whole ecosystem. One of the things to establish trust is to get your first 100 subscribers when you can actually change the URL. And you can connect your Google Ads account to YouTube. That shows that this guy is a real person. YouTube can sync that, you're tying this all together. You can actually tie your Google My Business into your YouTube, where you click the location button of your video, and then you search, and if you have a Google My Business account, you can find your business and use that as your location to tie that in. So you're developing this trust like this that this is a real person, you're putting out content. So the trust is more within the ecosystem of YouTube.
DB: Interesting. So you're talking about establishing trust with YouTube, as opposed to establishing trust with your viewers.
DV: Yes, it kind of gets mixed in with authoritativeness and trust where that can come in with the viewers. People would share your stuff if they trust you and you have that authority and convey that trust.
DB: And number five is post publishing. What has to be done post publishing to try and ensure the success of each video that you publish?
5. Post Publishing
DV: Marketing. You have to push out in any way you can share your video. If you create your content you have to share it, you have to do your traditional marketing. You have to go out there and one of the things I do in video marketing, especially for some of my videos which I can trigger other algorithms, which I mentioned earlier there’s the suggestive video algorithm, is when you publish your video, have it unlisted, and send it some traffic. Buy placement traffic of videos related to your video, and use your Google Ads account to send some traffic to it and have it shown on videos that are related to your video. Then it can get suggested when you go live. Train the algorithm to know that people are watching this video when they watch this video. Put that out there and you can market that, and then when you go live you have this sense of what your video is about.
DB: I think it's a great idea. As soon as you've published a video, email your list about it and say to check out the video that I've just published because it sends signals to YouTube that people are watching it. And hopefully, because people know you, they're more likely to watch it all the way through, engage with it, and send positive signals about the video itself to YouTube.
Another source of traffic that I used to love for sending traffic to YouTube was Stumble Upon, but that doesn't exist anymore. And that was absolutely brilliant. Stumble Upon advertising as soon as a YouTube video went live. And it really drove a lot of organic signals because it drove loads of people to watch the video.
What are other external sources of traffic to YouTube that you recommend?
DB: I use LinkedIn a lot. I use Reddit. I use Quora. You can actually share your video unlisted and you can still show it in an embed. The reason I like the tactic of having more views while it's unlisted is that when you go live, these views are there. And then when you go out to the public, you have that perception that this video was just released in only an hour and it already has a few hundred views. There’s that psychology of FOMO, what's this about? So you get that click.
DB: Let's finish off with the Pareto Pickle. Pareto says that you can get 80% of your results from 20% of your efforts. What's one SEO activity that you would recommend that provides incredible results for moderate levels of effort?
The Pareto Pickle - Write Compelling Video Titles
DV: My Pareto Pickle is video titles. And not just writing and talking about this is what you should learn but put your copyright hat on. You want that hook. You want to be able to hook the searcher with a hook point. In a blog, you want to have a compelling headline that can have them read the sub-headline, and the sub-headline to read the blog. Within YouTube, you want to have a compelling tagline within your thumbnail to read your title. And then to actually watch the video and in the first three seconds, you have a hook in your video because that will define whether they watch your video or not.