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SEO Best Practices for YouTube

Posted on Thursday, October 22nd, 2009 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - SEO, Video

Last week I authored an article entitled 10 SEO Tips For YouTube that was published on iMediaConnection, a great publication for digital marketers. In the article, I address the often overlooked potential of optimizing YouTube videos for organic search results on major search engines and on YouTube itself.

Many content producers are intimidated by the huge volume of videos on YouTube.  YouTube streams more than 1.2 billion videos a day, which leaves many marketers feeling like they have little to no chance of standing out from the crowd.  The reality is that the majority of this content on YouTube isn’t worth watching (no surprise), but the content that is good is rarely optimized. With a few easy steps, you can easily distinguish your videos and improve their rankings in both YouTube and traditional organic search:

  • Remember that videos posted on YouTube are, for all practical purposes, invisible to search engines. The big guys (Google, Bing and Yahoo) have a difficult time deciphering Flash (the format of all YouTube videos), so optimizing the surrounding content is vital.
  • Include appropriate keywords in the title of the video (assuming that those keywords are relevant), and use the word “video” whenever appropriate. The title is aguably the most important piece of information search engines have about your video. Since many search queires include the world “video” when searching for a video, this addition gives you an obvious but often-overlooked advantage.
  • For each video, write a unique keyword-rich description that includes a URL. Put the URL at the beginning so that the user will see the link even if the “more info” option is collapsed.
  • Include links to other social media profiles like Facebook or Twitter. This will not only extend the social media experience, but can also drive traffic to a customized landing page that is part of your larger campaign.
  • Encourage participation. YouTube is a search engine, but it is also a social media channel. Open your video to commenting and embedding whenever possible, but keep in mind that you might have to weed out some inappropriate comments. On the other hand, some negative feedback is good because it makes the user experience more genuine.
  • Make sure to use YouTube Insights, which can provide great information about demographics and view experiences. This data can help you improve your future videos.

The fact that YouTube is the second largest search engine makes it an attractive vehicle for online marketing.  Making sure your customers can find your videos through search requires adapting traditional SEO best practices and keeping in mind that search engines do not explicitly understand the Flash content of videos.

For a more thorough explanation on SEO and YouTube and additional tips for improving your YouTube search results, make sure to check out the original article on iMediaConnection.

About Drew Hubbard

Drew has over 8 years experience in the Internet space, including hands-on web development, technical support, online marketing and all aspects of SEO, SEM, social media, email marketing, lead generation and affiliate marketing programs. Originally from Kansas City, Missouri and a graduate of The University of Missouri, Drew moved to Los Angeles in 2003 to continue a marketing career in film and television. He soon transitioned exclusively to online marketing and in the spring of 2008 joined The Search Agency where he manages innovative promotions and social media programs. Most recently, Drew has spoken about video optimization at SMX West and ad:tech.

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90 Responses to “SEO Best Practices for YouTube”

  1. Richard says:

    Good stuff, Drew!

  2. Thanks a ton for posting this man. I’m going to have to try some of that. :)


  3. SEO Wanna Be says:

    Hi your post is amazing, It’s incredible, I learned a lot about SEO and Man, this thing’s getting better and better as I learn more about internet marketing. Also as part of my ongoing mission to find the absolute best tools to make money, this is without a doubt at the top of my list. Everything happened so fast!

  4. Zack says:

    Thanks for the useful article. How about getting backlinks from related SEO youtube comments?

  5. Alan says:

    Good piece and thanks.
    What do you consider differences between SEO for YouTube vs SEO for websites.

    Specifically, difference in building Title Tags, Description Tags?

    Are tags important in YouTube… seem to be less important now for traditional websites.



  6. Drew Hubbard says:

    @Alan: There is very little difference between the two in the sense that SEO “rules” remain more or less constant regardless of the site/page onto which they are applied. Therefore we follow similar methods when optimizing on YouTube that we follow elsewhere.

  7. Mark says:

    Nice post. In addition to the tips you mentioned, what do you think of the videos that place a discreet footer on every frame that includes a URL to their site? Is that obnoxious? clever? :-)

  8. Drew Hubbard says:

    @Mark: If you are talking about a watermark, I would always do this. This is especially important for videos that you expect to be embedded.

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  9. mark says:

    Drew, good article. I like your idea of posting links to other social media profiles. Just one question for ya. With regard to youTube itself – users rarely type in a query with the words video or videos as they know that they are already on a video destination website. With Google as well, I would guess that they know videos from YouTube are in fact videos, so a search in google for video would more than likely trigger a universal search result. Curious why you think that it helps to add “video”.

  10. Drew Hubbard says:

    @Mark: The suggestion to add the word “video” to titles would probably be most effective as an experiment rather than a general best practice. But it comes down to the intent of a search. While I would agree that most (and hopefully all) people searching on YouTube expect videos to be returned, I don’t agree that it’s the same on Google and other non-video search engines. I would argue that most internet users are not familiar with the concept of universal results. Furthermore, it depends on the content/subject-matter of the video itself. For example, a Google query for “diet coke and mentos” triggers slightly different results than “diet coke and mentos video.” But a query for “corvette” triggers completely different results than “corvette video.” By including the word “video” (only when appropriate of course), you can potentially capture a largely ignored query. Plus, if your title matches the searcher’s query, they are far likelier to click your result.

    • mark says:

      point well taken. I guess what I meant is that if a user in Google, for example, searches with the querey “video, videos” my guess is that such a querey would already trigger, in many cases, a universal search result, which often pulls from YouTube. I do totally agree with you that the way in which folks search on YouTube vs. the search engines is much different. In any case, great post and thanks for responding.

  11. i love this article. wow.. i just post my first youtube video to help me in my seo. thanks a lot.

  12. i love this article. wow.. i just post my first youtube video to help me in my seo. thanks a lot. it needs more brains now in graphics and also video editing. nice one

  13. David says:

    I have heard something about posting responses or comments and that helping with seo–any info about that? thanks

    • Drew Hubbard says:

      @David: It depends on if you mean SEO for YouTube (as a search engine) or SEO for other search engines. Comment count is clearly a ranking factor for YouTube, so more engagement is certainly better.

  14. Marcel Ranck says:

    I love youtube but yeah it can have some bad things on it. Like with copyright and stuff.

  15. Thanks for this read mate. Well, this is my first visit to your blog! But I admire the precious time and effort you put into it, especially into interesting articles you share here!

  16. Jenn Giraldi says:

    Great article Drew! I have always been curious how SEO is related to youtube videos and you pretty much answered my questions!

  17. Watch Saw 3D says:

    It was very interesting to read. And do you own an account on Twitter? I failed to find it on your site.

  18. Kampanya says:

    Are tags important in YouTube.

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    So much to think about, but the checklist helps. Thanks.

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    I bet a lot of this has changed since 2009, no? With Google owning Youtube now, I bet it’s a FULLY integrated SEO ranking factor.

    Or else they’re JUST in it to ruin everyone’s video streaming experience playing the same commercial 20x in a row. Surely that couldn’t be the plan!

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