Posting videos on YouTube is becoming one of the most popular forms of conveying media to a huge audience, both for companies seeking to broaden awareness of their brand and for amateurs buoyed by the prospect of their short films achieving ‘viral status’ and earning them a small fortune in the process.
However, YouTube is by no means a guarantee of instant success. With millions of other videos jostling for attention, making your video seen – let alone navigating it towards the top of the leader board – is a real challenge.
Fortunately there are some simple steps that can be taken to help your YouTube video soar towards the precious number one spot, exposing your brand to millions of customers:
Step 1: Pick keywords carefully
As with Google searches, selecting the right keywords in YouTube can make a considerable difference to whether your video is featured highly in the SERPS. The further down the lists of matching videos, the less likely your media will be viewed and the smaller your audience will be.
Unlike a regular web page, a video won’t have keywords automatically detected, so you’ll need to choose and add them to your video description to give YouTube a helping hand in promoting your video above your competitors’. Selecting less common keywords will help to eliminate a lot of competition; the YouTube Keyword Tool will help you to find out which words and phrases are worth using.
Longtail keywords – longer, more precise keywords than single words or short phrases – can also result in more accurate searching. ‘Funny cat flushing toilet’, for example, should return exactly the videos a user is searching for.
Step 2: Use keywords in your video title
When you purchase a can of baked beans, you expect the label to tell you precisely what is inside. Similarly, the average YouTube browser will enter keywords that describe exactly what they’re searching for. Your video title, therefore, should incorporate the keywords that you have already identified to achieve the optimum position in the SERPs.
Aim to use no more than 70 characters in your title, as longer titles may be truncated and users won’t necessarily be able to gain a full understanding of your video’s content. Aim to combine brevity with interest: ‘My cat’ lacks the wow factor to grab anyone’s attention, whereas ‘My funny cat flushing the toilet’, is immediately engaging and likely to gain a significant advantage: it draws the attention of users who might not have viewed your video in the first place, thus increasing the chance of your video soaring into the viral stratosphere.
A keyword phrase at the start of your title can also help to narrow down the search results. ‘Swans, pelicans and hedgehogs’ could be greatly enhanced if changed to ‘Kids’ origami: swans, pelicans and hedgehogs’.
Step 3: Create a video thumbnail
Like the lead photograph on your daily newspaper, the video thumbnail is critical to your video’s success. YouTube can select a screenshot from your video for you, but it’s unlikely to always hit the mark.
Instead, invest some time in creating your own custom thumbnail, preferably in a 1280 x 720 resolution. Don’t simply lift a frame from your video and assume that will do the trick. It won’t. Instead, regard the task as akin to creating a front cover for a new novel. Choose a high quality photograph that is directly relevant to the subject of the video and add a title in an attractive font, remembering that it needs to be legible in a reduced size thumbnail.
By choosing accurate keywords, using these in your title, description and tags and creating a unique and attractive video thumbnail, you can be confident of achieving a much higher position in YouTube search results, increasing your audience share and propelling your video to the top of the chart.