YouTube Optimization for Small Business SEO Doesn’t Have to be Scary
There’s no doubt that YouTube is a powerful platform to grow awareness for your business through education, entertainment, and fun promotions. However, if you’re running a small business it can be intimidating to get started on any video platform, nonetheless the largest and most popular one in the world!
It doesn’t have to be though – let us break down some things you can do to optimize your YouTube videos in order to accomplish your small business SEO goals.
Demystifying How YouTube Ranks Your Videos
YouTube looks at a number of factors when it ranks videos on its platform. Here’s a quick overview of how that works:
- Watch Time and Habits – How long are users engaged with your content? Do they click on it only to bounce immediately, are they skipping through, or are they watching diligently and clicking links?
- Titles and Descriptions – Descriptions give context to your video(s) and give the search engine something to scan. Make sure to choose your keywords wisely.
- Number of Subscribers – Your content looks more authoritative the more subscribers you have.
- Reactions – Likes, dislikes, and comments all count towards your ranking. Encourage people to like and comment on your videos beginning and at the end.
Let’s take these ranking factors and see how we can use them for your small business SEO.
How to Optimize your YouTube Videos for Watch Time
Develop a Broader Content Strategy
While keyword optimization can help the YouTube search engine (yes, YouTube is a search engine, and it’s actually the #2 search engine in the world behind Google, which also owns YouTube) find your video, it won’t rank highly if you’re not creating content that’s being engaged with on the platform. A high bounce rate or low average viewing time is a negative ranking signal that prevents your video(s) from landing on the first page of search results.
So the first step towards YouTube search engine optimization isn’t in your copy – it’s in your content strategy.
As a part of your broader digital content strategy, the videos you develop for YouTube should reflect your buyer personas and what stage of the buyer journey they’re in. Knowing who your customers are, and what they need at each stage of the buyer’s journey, informs the kind of content you should be creating.
Don’t worry if you haven’t spent much time developing a persona or are unsure what kind of content to create for the different buyer journey stages. There’s a wealth of resources online to help you get started. We’re partial to Hubspot – here’s their easy-to-use persona generator and an article on creating for the buyer’s journey.
Once you feel comfortable with your persona and what users are looking for in the buyer’s journey, you can:
- Brainstorm topics your persona would be interested in and create a list for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
- Realistically, think about how many videos your business can produce in a year.
- Start researching keyword phrases related to your topics – SEMrush has a great article on how to choose YouTube keywords.
Don’t worry too much about the production value; put your priority on delivering valuable information in an engaging way.
Use YouTube’s Features to Reach the Right People at the Right Time
Another way to improve viewer retention and reduce bounce rate is to use the whole suite of YouTube SEO tools to target the right people. Here are a few of them to start you off:
- Thumbnails – Create a custom thumbnail that catches people’s attention. Canva thumbnail templates are a great tool for this. Avoid using clickbait thumbnails as they could create bounce that negatively affects your ranking.
- Categories – YouTube’s recommendation system is powerful, so using its native categorization features helps YouTube to understand who to show your video.
- Location Tagging – This is especially important if your business relies on local traffic! It’s another identifier YouTube can reference when it recommends content.
- Create YouTube Ad Campaigns – If you have the budget, promoting your videos can get them in front of people who otherwise would never have found it. Here are some best practices.
It’s also important that you don’t leave your videos sitting on YouTube. Share them to increase the power of your small business SEO!
Embed the videos on your website, link to them in your email newsletters, and share them on your other social channels for small business SEO growth across ALL platforms. People who are already engaged with your business are more likely to view and interact with your videos!
Optimize the User Experience for Your YouTube Video Viewers
User experience is also crucial for viewer retention. One key feature that was rolled out in 2020 was YouTube “Chapters.” This is a tool you can use to segment your video through headings in the progress bar.
Why is this important? Well, consider the way people read emails – they skim for the information most relevant to them. Chapters let viewers skim videos to find exactly what they’re looking for. An alternative you can use for Chapters is timestamps.
If you have the time and the resources, uploading your own subtitles and captions can also be great for user accessibility. While YouTube’s automated captions do an okay job, this is the best way to ensure your message gets across clearly and accurately.
It also counts towards your keyword optimization! Edit your SRT file name to include your main keyword, and include additional supportive keywords throughout your video. YouTube’s search engine crawls through all of this.
Additionally, YouTube offers CTA tools with “Cards” and “End Screens.” These hyperlinked text boxes and thumbnails lead to other videos of yours, encouraging viewers to continue engaging with your content.
How to Approach Video Titles and Descriptions on YouTube
Let’s be honest: how often do you read the video description on YouTube? If you answered ” not often” you’re in the majority here. When it comes to getting your video seen on YouTube, a strong title and thumbnail usually go a lot further for optimization purposes.
However, that doesn’t mean we should ignore optimizing the description. While YouTube might not weigh it heavily during a search, where it does shine is getting your video in the Suggested Videos sidebar.
And as anybody who’s spent any time on YouTube knows, that sidebar gets you to jump down a rabbit hole where you mysteriously lose hours of time.
With your keyword phrase in mind, use these quick tips to get the most out of your copy:
- Use your keywords in the file title when you upload your video.
- Keep video titles within 60 characters; any more will be shortened.
- Your title should be organic – if your keyword doesn’t work naturally, use similar terms instead.
- Place CTA’s and important links within the first 100 words of your description. The rest is hidden until it’s clicked on.
- Use YouTube’s tag system to give people more ways to find your video.
If you want to improve your small business SEO on YouTube, it’s important that you use as many strategies available to you as you can.
How to Grow Subscribers and Increase Engagement on YouTube
The best thing you can do to gain more followers and increase engagement is to create valuable content for your viewers. It’s inbound marketing at its finest – build it and they will come. However, you can use a few helpful tips to remind viewers to subscribe and engage with your video content.
- Ask your audience to subscribe. If a user commonly engages with your content, YouTube’s recommendation system will continue to push your content to that user. This sometimes leads to a disconnect where users don’t realize they aren’t subscribed to your channel, so a gentle reminder goes a long way.
- Engage your audience in the comment section. Give them a prompt to respond to, reply to their comments, and use the pin feature. You can use the pin to emphasize a user’s comment, or even pin your own comment to provide additional information or a correction. The comments section is often read more than the description.
- Collaborate with accounts tackling similar topics. This opens you up to their audiences and vice versa. Even if you can’t line up a collaboration or don’t have the bandwidth, identify some of these similar accounts and leave comments on their videos.
Small Business SEO on YouTube is Easier than it Seems
SEO on YouTube is pretty different from the traditional approach, but it’s not totally alien. When you know what makes their search engine tick, it’s much more approachable. If you’re looking to optimize your YouTube videos or any other small business SEO services, reach out to us for a free consultation!