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Forcing YouTube to Give Your Video Some Respect

Video marketing is a huge and ever-growing part of the SEO world. YouTube bounces around the top 6 most visited websites in the world each month — for a while it even outranked Google and Facebook — and it’s possibly one of the most effective traffic-driving sites in the world. But when you’re an SEO guy, you don’t really have the opportunity to build a whole lot of channel authority or even a stable presence, because each of your clients is going to have their own place for their own videos, and most of them are going to be brand new to the biz.

So how do you get YouTube to pay attention to a newbie’s video marketing attempts? There are several factors that you can (ab)use — just be prepared to put the work in.

Create An Awesome Title: This is pure grunt work. You need enough understanding of the marketing to know what’s going to get a decent click-through rate (i.e. humor, impressiveness, functionality, etc.), and then you just need to power through a lot of crappy titles and find the gold. I sometimes write up to 100 titles and then choose the best. The only really important rule is not to promise something that the video doesn’t deliver.

Write An Accurate and Engaging Description
Videos wherein the description is obviously cut-and-pasted between every video on that channel (and is often a simple URL or, at best, a URL with a call-to-action) are missing a huge opportunity. Your description should have a fairly detailed accounting of what the audience can expect out of the video, and it needs to include a few keywords. The same keywords that you (hopefully) did high-quality research on and are using on your client’s website(s). Don’t be Spartan with it, either: write 300-500 words, like a marketing article attached to your video.

Tag The Hell Out Of It
There is no excuse for a video with zero tags. Every keyword you use in the description should appear as a tag — and because YouTube isn’t Google and doesn’t do Latent Semantic Indexing the way Google does, every major grammatical variant of your keywords should show up as a tag as well. That means plurals of nouns, past tense of verbs, adverbial forms of adjectives, and the passive voice of active phrases.

Take The Time To Transcribe
Not everyone realizes that YouTube has a transcription feature, and if you fill it out, the video will automagically become subtitled. Not only is that a good thing for the users (who sometimes have broken speakers or are watching from their cubicle at work), but it’s a good thing for your video’s SEO as well, because Google pays attention to your transcription. Obviously, you don’t want to use keywords in your transcription unless they actually appear in the sound of the video, but people have done tests and proven that — if and only if you have an accurate transcription — a video can appear in Google search results for terms that aren’t in the title, tags, or description. That’s worth the extra effort.

Do Your Off-Page SEO
Once you’ve done everything you can on the YouTube page itself, you’re going to have to resort to normal off-page SEO tactics if you need a further boost up the SERPs. Hopefully, you know (or you know someone who knows) what you need to do at this point. Get your unique-to-YouTube on-page SEO right, and the off-page should be SOP from there.

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