As the most popular video-hosting site on the web, YouTube is critical in setting content creators’ and businesses’ standards as far as video strategy goes. Whether used to promote, educate, or close a sale, a social video strategy on the platform is essential for anyone who wants to make a lasting impact nowadays.
That said, let’s get something straight: you can take pride in having a recognized brand, an optimized channel, even the best animation style for your videos, that’s great. But if you aren’t implementing an effective keyword strategy to ensure that your content will reach new and wider audiences, you are wasting potential.
Defining and using the best keywords for your videos can be tricky business for the uninitiated, though, but you don’t need to be an SEO specialist to immerse yourself in the subject.
With this guide, we’ll help you identify and leverage your keywords to bring more visibility to your videos.
The ABC’s of Keyword Research
Using the right keywords involves more than jumbling up the most popular search terms among your users. In essence, you need to approach this task by putting yourself in your targets’ shoes, trying to think and search for content just like they would.
As such, the keywords you will eventually end up using in your videos should reflect two basic aspects:
- Keywords should have user-intent. As much as possible, your keywords should capture similar terms to those your audience searches for. For instance, very few people look for “Greek yogurt” in isolation, but rather to discover its nutritional facts or recipes.
- You should prioritize long-tail keywords. User-intent should be translated into short but complete sentences. Instead of simply using keywords separately (e.g., “workout,” “iPad”), you will be better off combining those with more specific keyphrases (e.g., “at-home workout routine,” “how to update your iPad”).
Thinking like your future viewers is the first step in selecting your best keywords. But it’s just as essential to compare your choices with those of your competitors.
Great Sources to Find the Right Keywords
While it’s true that your video is unique in both content and approach, you shouldn’t aim at merely copying the keywords used by popular users. Not only can your video get lost among your competitors’ content, but you will also fail to convey what makes your piece special.
Nonetheless, conducting detailed research on the keywords featured in videos like yours is essential. Using this information as an indication of what works and is loved by your target audience, you will have a better idea of how to create your content strategy.
The best place to start looking for keywords for your video is through the same channel your future viewers will most likely encounter your content: the YouTube search bar. By simply typing in a few key terms, you’ll get dozens of suggestions that audiences actually search for.
The trick here is to approach YouTube searches from zero—just as a curious user would! Instead of going for the first results thrown at you, try running several searches at a time, keeping a record of the most frequent keywords and formulations that appear.
By following this strategy, you will have a wider range of keywords to eventually incorporate into your video.
Top Search Results
Another list worth tracking and compiling is the top videos that show up after a specific search. Seeing how other users use keywords (primarily) in their titles and descriptions will give you a clear idea of the best terms to use in your content.
Again, don’t forget to perform several searches simultaneously, as the slightest change in wording can yield very different results.
Once you’ve done some general research on the best keywords for your piece, take the time to review in detail the tags that other users have used with similar videos.
Since you do not have direct access to your competitors’ tags, you may be tempted to hire services to help you with this. But these services can be costly, and you can discover those keywords yourself by following these steps:
- Right-click on the video’s page and select “view page source.”
- With the help of the “find” shortcut (Ctrl + F), you can search for the keywords used in the video.
- By producing a list of at least five keywords (simple and long-tail), you will have a more detailed idea of how other videos are customized.
Google’s free tool gives you a unique chance to observe and analyze consumer search behavior in real-time. This is a very useful resource for corporate video creators, who need to identify the relative popularity of certain search terms and integrate them into their content.
What makes Google Trends a truly special tool is that you can obtain valuable insights to target specific audiences by using its different options. For example, the service lets you review:
- Seasonal trends. Knowing a topic’s popularity on specific dates, holidays, and seasons allows you to schedule out and prioritize your content for maximum benefit.
- Topical trends by region. Understanding how a topic is received in certain regions and areas helps you plan hyper-local strategies.
- Various search types. Looking at both standard Google searches and YouTube searches is great for both generating content ideas and assessing their popularity on both platforms.
YouTube Keywords’ Effective Implementation
Once you’ve taken the time to collect and compare keywords for your piece, you need to make sure you add them in every place you have available. That way, you’ll make it easier for users to find your content, as well as for YouTube to categorize it.
Your titles are the most visible place where users will first get relevant information about your video’s content. Therefore, you should give a lot of thought to selecting a heading that is not only memorable and eye-catching but also features useful keywords.
To add keywords successfully, you need to make your title distinctive. It’s very likely that other videos already feature the most appropriate long-tail keywords in a short formulation. But this isn’t a problem for you: instead of naming your video, say, “5 great ideas for a romantic dinner,” try to incorporate a contrasting but informative element such as “at little cost to you.”
YouTube’s search engine bots are set up so that no element of your video is wasted. Whatever you end up writing in your description box will also end up affecting how your piece ranks in users’ searches.
To make the most of your video’s description, you need to focus on two crucial aspects:
- The text should be read naturally. Rather than adding isolated words or tags, the copy should be legible as consistent text.
- Top-load your main keywords in the first two lines. Since users need to click on the “show more” button to read the complete description, you want to reserve the first lines to feature your most relevant keywords.
When uploading and customizing your video, YouTube allows you to create between five and eight tags to classify your piece. This is a unique opportunity to implement your keywords, where you directly inform the platform’s algorithms about your content, which will help them better categorize it.
The best strategy for tagging your video is to find a good balance of keywords. First, you want to use very general tags to identify your content; usually, single words like “Canva” will do here.
Then you will want to use a variety of keywords to narrow down your specific content. Alternative formulations like “How-to-create-Canva-presentation” or “Canva-tutorial” will ensure greater visibility.
Uploading custom transcripts for your video’s script is an extra step that many content creators don’t bother to take. This is unfortunate as they miss out on the myriad SEO benefits that personalized captions can bring.
Through formats like SRT or TXT files, transcripts can greatly expand the number of keywords your video features. You can think of transcripts as insurance to your SEO efforts: if for some reason your title or tags do not stand out from the rest of the videos, you will still be giving YouTube more than enough information about your content.
Having reviewed all the aspects involved in effective keyword implementation, you now have a clearer vision of how to customize your videos for better results.
It’s important not to see keyword research as a mystery, as a matter of finding the one “perfect” keyword.” On the contrary, you need to experiment with different formulas and tools to categorize and name your content.
Only through trial and error will you progressively develop an ideal keyword strategy for your videos.
Victor Blasco is an audiovisual designer, video marketing expert, and founder/CEO of the explainer video production company Yum Yum Videos. Besides running the business, he’s a lifelong student of Chinese philosophy and a passionate geek for all things sci-fi.