The truth of the matter is that Search Engine Optimization (also known as SEO) can be a convoluted topic. You could quite literally spend all of your time becoming an expert on the subject and keeping up-to-date with the latest changes without accomplishing anything productive. SEO best practices continue to change as Google applies new updates like Panda and Penguin.
So here's a much simpler breakdown of things you can do to make your videos more discoverable on YouTube.
1. Optimize Your Title
I have seen several instances where artists are failing to utilize their title to attract search traffic. What you have to keep in mind here is that although your fans and subscribers to your channel will likely find out about your latest uploads, you won't attract any search traffic without putting relevant keywords in your title.
The worst offenders are those who don't bother making any changes to their title after uploading their video. Their video appears on YouTube as I'm_Playing_Guitar.wmv or something equivalent. The only relevant keyword in that title is 'Guitar', and imagine how heavy the competition is likely to be for that keyword. You don't stand a chance.
Another thing not to do, although it isn't as painful as the former example, is to generate a vague title with few or no keywords. I have seen many videos that don't even include the artist or song name. How exactly do you expect to be found? Google displays relevant YouTube videos in search results so you should definitely be taking advantage of that by placing pertinent keywords in your title.
Furthermore, avoid using keywords that are likely to be competitive. To a degree, this is unavoidable. However, simply doing a quick YouTube search with the title you're planning on using will give you an idea of what's already out there. Then you can make adjustments as necessary.
Here are a few quick examples of a good title. Let's say that I was doing an acoustic cover of Marianas Trench's "Celebrity Status". My title would look something like this:
- David Andrew Wiebe covers Marianas Trench's Celebrity Status (acoustic)
- Marianas Trench - Celebrity Status (acoustic cover by David Andrew Wiebe)
- David Andrew Wiebe - Celebrity Status (Marianas Trench) Acoustic Cover
I'm covering all the bases here by including my name, the artist name and song title, as well as making use of 'acoustic' and 'cover' as keywords.
2. Optimize Your Description
Now that I've set the tone for this post, we're going to go more rapid-fire with optimization tips. Here's a quick list of do's and don'ts for your description:Don't:
- Leave your description blank
- Spam keywords or calls to action in your description
- Bunch text together
- Include a link to your website in the first line with the http:// extension (i.e. http://mywebsite.com/)
- Include links to your music, relevant blog posts and articles, podcast episodes etc. if applicable
- Link to others if they helped with your video or contributed in some way
- Include one call to action (optional), such as 'subscribe to our newsletter', and include a link
- Make your text readable by breaking it up
- Create a summary for your video (but put it after relevant links and calls to action)
- Include relevant keywords and key phrases in your summary
3. Optimize Your Tags
I'll be the first to admit that 'tags' can sometimes be a confusing concept. The purpose of tags for blogs is to bunch pieces of content together that address similar topics. YouTube tags are kind of similar, but it's okay to think of them as keywords.
But, just in case, I did some research to find out what the best practices are. Here are expert tips in summary.Don't:
- Use too many tags
- Use irrelevant keywords that have nothing to do with your video; it will hurt your ranking
- Be too sparse with tag use
- Prioritize your main keywords and enter them first
- Use relevant keywords
- Use only relevant keywords
- Use common misspellings of your keywords
- Use the same keywords in the title, description and tags