Are you using marketing videos in your social media strategy?
Interested in getting them ranked higher on the most popular video search engine?
In this article, I’ll show you first-hand pieces of advice to grow your reach on YouTube by optimizing your video content, your SEO efforts and your channel.
I’ll start by stating a few facts: videos have become marketer’s no. 1 choice because they’re visually compelling, great for wrapping up complex ideas and also easily shareable. Besides, they’re perfect to use to increase audience retention and conversion rates.
Now, when dealing with video content, I think we all know that YouTube is without a doubt the best place to host your videos. YouTube is the world’s second largest social media site and search engine (right behind Google, who actually owns it). So I don’t need to tell you why you have to host your videos there.
However, getting to YouTube’s front page (the one that matters) is not easy as pie: you’ll need to carefully optimize your videos and everything around them.
With that goal in mind, let me give you 12 useful tips to increase your YouTube ranking position, using a real case study in this short animated explainer video that now ranks no. 1 under its main industry keywords:
1. Make it short
When I first started working on video marketing I realized that there’s a commonly known golden rule: your marketing videos shouldn’t be over three minutes long.
Why is that? Well, because video engagement is strictly linked to video length. And so is the possibility for your potential customers to watch the whole video and understand what you’re trying to sell to them.
This graph (made by video marketing experts Wistia) gives you a quick glance at this problem:
As you can see, average video views drop drastically after the first 2.5 minutes. The first tip is then to craft a neat cut-to-the-chase marketing video. Otherwise, you won’t get anywhere near the first YouTube pages with a boring lengthy video.
Explainer videos are the best types in the engagement field: they use a short introduction to present the problem during the first few seconds, then they offer a possible solution to that problem and finally introduce the brand and explain why people should choose this product among the competition to solve their problem.
2. Make it highly educational
Let me give you a second golden rule: you won’t stand out with a ‘salesy’ marketing video on YouTube. You need to be educational and help your potential customers solve their problem, because educational and how-to videos are among the best types of videos to be shared in social media.
People are looking for a solution to their problems on the web, so it’s always a great idea to craft a useful educational video about the problem your business is solving instead of a simple promotional video about your product or service. This way, people will be more attracted to your proposal and so will YouTube’s search algorithm.
3. Aim for the highest quality
Your marketing video needs to be a quality one to beat the competition in the race towards YouTube’s front page.
People run away from crappy and poorly-crafted videos, especially if they’re looking to spend their money on that video company, in the form of buying a product or service. That’s a real problem, because YouTube really cares about complete video views in order to rank its video search results.
Bear in mind that most of the time these marketing videos are the first encounter between your potential customers and your brand (they probably haven’t visited your website or Facebook page yet), so you need to look sharp. That’s why you should probably consider a video production company that can help you create a high-quality video and add some top-of-the-line storytelling techniques.
4. Keep your headline relevant
Now for the video production tips; let me take you through some SEO advice.
The headline of your YouTube video has to present your video’s message in only a few words, so be extremely careful. Make sure to include your most relevant keywords in it. You can take our case study as a clear example:
Also, you need to keep your headline short: that means no more than 55 characters. Any headline longer than that number will be truncated in any search, especially for mobile searches.
And please be careful to avoid misleading headlines! It might seem like a good idea at first, but it’ll damage your rates eventually. Any headline that tricks the viewer into watching a video results in an inevitable drop-off that negatively impacts your video’s performance in YouTube’s results pages.
5. Write your description accurately
The YouTube video’s description box is the best spot for using your main keywords and climb up to the top search results.
Always be accurate and precise in what you write in your description. Write down the basic information included in your video and, just as with the headline, keep it short (under two or three lines tops).
Don’t forget to include a link to your website and to your other social media sites.
You can also add a transcription of the video script below. This will give you the space to place more relevant keywords to aim for your potential customers.
6. Add an eye-catching thumbnail
Apart from the headline, the other key element to making your video stand out on any YouTube search is the thumbnail, which also has to be chosen carefully.
Make sure your thumbnail accurately represents the content of your marketing video. As with the headline, if the image displayed on the thumbnail is a blatant click-bait, you’ll see how viewers drop off from the very beginning of your video.
Always use high-res images in your thumbnails (ideally 1280×720px). You already know what happens if videos are perceived as a low quality productions: people just won’t play them.
Also, the foreground must stand out from the background! Don’t choose a thumbnail where the background blends in with the foreground, because you may confuse your potential customers.
Here are four different high-quality thumbnail options from our case study. The current thumbnail on YouTube is the first one:
Thumbnails must look good everywhere you see them, both in small and large sizes: mobile phones, TVs, tablets, and desktop computers. Bear in mind that thumbnails are also the preview image shown in the embedded YouTube player.
7. Add a few long-tail keywords
As a marketer, I found out that it’s really hard to fight to get to the top using the most popular keywords of a particular industry on YouTube and Google. The solution? Use long-tail keywords instead.
Long-tail keywords, as their name implies, contain longer phrases including your main keyword. By using long-tail keywords, they can drive specific search terms from potential customers in a more accurate way and, at the same time, help your video to rank under your main keyword too.
In our case study, instead of just using “explainer video” (which is the main keyword of this particular niche), the long-tail keywords “best explainer videos,” “animated explainer videos,” and “explainer video production company.”
Once you find your business’s long-tail keywords (you may use Google Keyword Planner to do that) apply them in your YouTube titles, descriptions, tags, etc.
8. Don’t forget a clear call-to-action
Ok, new let’s leave SEO tips aside for a bit to focus on the benefits of video marketing.
After your potential customers watch your video, you need them to take an action that leads to actual marketing results, such as downloading an app, subscribing to a newsletter, visiting a landing page, etc.
The thing is, most of them won’t do that unless you ask them to. And that’s why you need to encourage them to perform that action by adding a call-to-action in your video.
YouTube offers three interactive features (each with a different type of call-to-action) to choose from, according to your marketing goal. You have overlays, end screens and cards, which is the feature of choice in our case study:
9. Use paid promotion (only after checking all of the above)
The folks at YouTube say: “video advertising on YouTube works.” That’s true, but let me add something to that statement: it will work if your video passes the quality, engagement, and SEO controls. Otherwise, they would surely have a mild performance in the search engine results.
Advertising your marketing video is the best way to prove if your video works at a large scale by exposing it to a wider audience.
The great news is that YouTube offers all the goodies for hungry advertisers: they have built-in Analytics to track your videos’ performance, they allow you to customize your target audience, and also to run video A/B tests.
10. Optimize your YouTube channel
Your YouTube channel is a part of your brand’s ecosystem and plays a major role in the search engine rankings.
Tune up your channel profile and description in each one of your videos. Carefully choose your colors, layout, profile pic, and background. Your channel needs to be a consistent extension of your brand, such as your website or your Facebook and Twitter pages.
Don’t take your YouTube channel for granted as it’ll definitely help you boost all your video marketing efforts.
11. Encourage your audience to engage
Don’t ever forget that YouTube is, first and foremost, a social network. That means you need to be social to grow your online presence, and consequently your videos’ YouTube position.
Be active with your YouTube videos and also with other people’s videos. Ask people to like and comment on your video and subscribe to your channel. Then, take the time to write genuine replies and moderate those comments.
Help others promote their videos and channels and you’ll see how they, and others, will promote yours.
12. Share it everywhere you can
Finally, don’t hesitate to share your video in other online communities, like Linkedin, Reddit, and Quora. Use your videos in blog posts, guest articles and, when available, on any type of branded content.
Also, it’s pretty effortless and always helpful to add a link to your YouTube channel on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, on your website and in your email signature.
Ranking higher in the YouTube search results with your marketing videos can be a daunting task, but applying these 12 tips to your strategy will definitely smooth the way and clear a few things up.
It’s all about crafting a brief quality video, tuning up your YouTube SEO strategy (paying special attention to headlines, thumbnails, descriptions, keywords and branding assets on your channel), adding a few marketing tactics (such as call-to-actions and advertising) and then be social about it.
What do you think? Are you already following some of these tips? Do you have an extra piece of advice for video marketing and YouTube optimization? Let us know in the comments!
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