YouTube SEO: How to Optimize Videos for YouTube Search

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When I was just a wee lass and HubSpot was first starting to make a name for itself, inbound marketing was a brand new idea. Marketers were learning that they couldn’t just publish a high volume of content — it also had to be high-quality and optimized in ways that made it as discoverable as possible through search engines.

And once upon a time, that content was largely limited to the written word. Eleven years later, that’s no longer the case — a comprehensive content strategy includes written work like blogs and ebooks, as well as media like podcasts, visual assets, and videos.

That last part — video — continues to be on the rise. According to the 2017 State of Inbound, marketers named video as a huge disruptor. “I mostly write content right now,” one respondent said, “but I’m afraid it may begin to diminish more and more with video.” Check out our interactive guide to creating high-quality videos for social  media here.

And with the rise of other content formats comes the need to optimize them for search. One increasingly important place to do that is on YouTube, which is a video distribution website used by the masses (HubSpot included).

But how does that work? What are the steps you need to take to optimize your YouTube channel for search? We’ve outlined some major tips below. And if you’re short on time, no problem — check out the video summary here.

7 YouTube Search Optimization Tips

1) Title

When we search for videos, one of the first things that our eyes are drawn to is the title. That’s often what determines whether or not the viewer will click to watch your video, so the title should not only be compelling, but also, clear and concise.

It also helps if the title closely matches what the viewer is searching for. Research conducted by Backlinko found that videos with an exact keyword match in the title have a slight advantage over those that don’t. Here’s a linear representation of those findings:

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Source: Backlinko

So while “using your target keyword in your title may help you rank for that term,” report author Brian Dean explains, “the relationship between keyword-rich video titles and rankings is” weak, at best.

Finally, make sure to keep your title fairly short — HubSpot Content Strategist Alicia Collins recommends limiting it to 60 characters to help keep it from getting cut off in results pages.

2) Description

First things first: According to Google, the official character limit for YouTube video descriptions is 1,000 characters. And while it’s okay to use all of that space, remember that your viewer most likely came here to watch a video, not to read a story.

If you do choose to write a longer description, keep in mind that YouTube only displays the first two or three lines of text — that amounts to about 100 characters. After that point, viewers have to click “show more” to see the full description. That’s why we suggest front-loading the description with the most important information, like CTAs or crucial links.

As for optimizing the video itself, it doesn’t hurt to add a transcript of the video, especially for those who have to watch it without volume. That said, Backlinko’s research also found no correlation between descriptions that were optimized for a certain keyword and the rankings for that term.

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Source: Backlinko

Dean is careful not to encourage ditching an optimized description altogether, though. “An optimized description helps you show up in the suggested videos sidebar,” he writes, “which is a significant source of views for most channels.”

3) Tags

YouTube’s official Creator Academy suggests using tags to let viewers know what your video is about. But you’re not just informing your viewers — you’re also informing YouTube itself. Dean explains that the platform uses tags “to understand the content and context of your video.”

That way, YouTube figures out how to associate your video with similar videos, which can broaden your content’s reach. But choose your tags widely. Don’t use an irrelevant tag because you think it’ll get you more views — in fact, Google might penalize you for that. And similar to your description, lead with the most important keywords, including a good mix of those that are common and more long-tail (as in, those that answer a question like “how do I?”).

4) Category

Once you upload a video, you can categorize it under “Advanced settings.” Choosing a category is another way to group your video with similar content on YouTube.

It might not be as simple as it looks. In fact, YouTube’s Creator Academy suggests that marketers go through a comprehensive process to determine which category each video belongs in. It’s helpful, the guide writes, “to think about what is working well for each category” you’re considering by answering questions like:

  • Who are the top creators within the category? What are they known for, and what do they do well?
  • Are there any patterns between the audiences of similar channels within a given category?
  • Do the videos within a similar category have share qualities like production value, length, or format?

5) Thumbnail

Your video thumbnail is the main image viewers see when scrolling through a list of video results. Along with the video’s title, that thumbnail sends a signal to the viewer about the video’s content, so it can impact the number of clicks and views your video receives.

While you can always pick one of the thumbnail options auto-generated by YouTube, we highly recommend uploading a custom thumbnail. The Creator Academy reports that “90% of the best performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails,” recommending the use of images that are 1280×720 pixels — representing a 16:9 ratio — that are saved as 2MB or smaller .jpg, .gif, .bmp, or .png files. If you follow those parameters, it can help to ensure that your thumbnail appears with equally high quality across multiple viewing platforms.

It’s important to note that your YouTube account has to be verified in order to upload a custom thumbnail image. To do that, visit youtube.com/verify and follow the instructions listed there.

6) SRT Files (Subtitles & Closed Captions)

Like much of the other text we’ve discussed here, subtitles and closed captions can boost YouTube search optimization by highlighting important keywords.

In order to add subtitles or closed captions to your video, you’ll have to upload a supported text transcript or timed subtitles file. For the former, you can also directly enter transcript text for a video so that it auto-syncs with the video.

Adding subtitles follows a similar process, however, you can limit the amount of text you want displayed. For either, head to your video manager then click on “Videos” under “Video Manager.” Find the video you want to add subtitles or closed captioning to, and click the drop-down arrow next to the edit button. Then, choose “Subtitles/CC.” You can then select how you’d like to add subtitles or closed captioning.

Google has provided great instructions on how to do that here, as well as in the video below.

7) Cards and End Screens

Cards

When you’re watching a video, have you ever seen a small white, circular icon with an “i” in the center appear in the corner, or a translucent bar of text asking you to subscribe? Those are Cards, which Creator Academy describes as “preformatted notifications that appear on desktop and mobile which you can set up to promote your brand and other videos on your channel.”

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Source: Google

You can add up to five cards to a single video, and there are six types:

  1. Channel cards that direct viewers to another channel.
  2. Donation cards to encourage fundraising on behalf of U.S. nonprofit organizations.
  3. Fan funding to ask your viewers to help support the creation of your video content.
  4. Link cards, which direct viewers to an external site, approved crowdfunding platform, or an approved merchandise selling platform.
  5. Poll cards, which pose a question to viewers and allow them to vote for a response.
  6. Video or playlist cards, which link to other YouTube content of this kind.

For detailed steps on adding a card to your video, follow these official steps from Google, or check out the video below.

End Screens

End screens display similar information as cards, but as you may have guessed, they don’t display until a video is over, and are a bit more visually detailed in nature. A good example is the overlay with a book image and a visual link to view more on the video below:

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Source: Jamie Oliver on YouTube

There are a number of detailed instructions for adding end screens depending on what kind of platform you want to design them for, as well as different types of content allowed for them by YouTube. Google outlines the details for how to optimize for all of those considerations here.

It’s important to note that YouTube is always testing end screens to try to optimize the viewer experience, so there are times when “your end screen, as designated by you, may not appear.” Take these factors into account as you decide between using either cards or end screens.

It’s Worth It to Optimize

These factors may seem a bit complicated and time-consuming, but remember: The time people spend watching YouTube on their TV has more than doubled year over year. There’s an audience to be discovered there, and when you optimize for YouTube, your chances of being discovered increase.

Of course, it all begins with good content, so make sure your viewers have something high-quality and relevant to watch when they find you.

How have you optimized for YouTube search? Let us know in the comments.

seo myths 2017

Source: YouTube SEO: How to Optimize Videos for YouTube Search
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

9 of the Biggest Google I/O Keynote Announcements

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Each year, bonafide tech geeks and enthusiasts gather or tune in for one of the biggest events of the year: Google I/O, the search giant’s annual developer conference.

It’s a learning opportunity for many, with sessions and talks creating what Google describes as “an immersive experience focused on exploring the next generation of tech.”

But it’s the annual opening keynote that really has everyone paying the most attention. That’s when the company’s leadership, from the CEO to various VPs, unveils and describes the newest technologies, devices, and product features released by Google. Download our guide on how to advertise on Google for free now.

If you missed this year’s opening keynote, fear not: We’ve got you covered with the nine biggest announcements from it. And each month, we’ll continue to bring you a digest of what big Google news you may have missed. So read on — and stay tuned.

What You Missed From the Google I/O Opening Keynote

1) Google Lens

Anyone else remember this video from July 2015?

As “La Bamba” plays in the background, mobile device cameras hover over various words that are then translated into another language. It was a preview of something huge — something that’s finally come to fruition: Google Lens.

There are those moments when you see something that you don’t recognize — like a bird or plant, or perhaps a new cafe somewhere — but can’t identify specifically what it is. Now, with Google Lens, all you have to do is point your camera at it to get the details you want. Check out this super short video to see how that works with a storefront:

Source: Google

But it doesn’t stop with plant species and restaurant information. With this technology, you can also join a home WiFi network by hovering the camera over the name and password. From there, you’ll be prompted with the option to automatically connect.

According to TechCrunch, Lens will be integrated with Google Assistant — “users will be able to launch Lens and insert a photo into the conversation with the Assistant, where it can process the data the photo contains.” That’s a pretty concise summary of what the Lens technology is able to do: understand what a photo means. During the keynote, Google’s VP of Engineering, Scott Huffman, used the example of being able to add concert information to your calendar by taking a Lens photo of the marquee.

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Source: TechCrunch

2) Google for Jobs

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Source: TechCrunch

Anyone who’s ever undertaken a job search knows that there’s an overwhelming number of outlets where openings are listed. “Wouldn’t it be nice,” many job seekers asked, “if all of this information were readily available in one, central place?”

Ask, and ye shall receive. Google set out to synthesize job listings from a number of posting sites — as it’s wont to do, after all — and display it within search results. From there, writes Jessica Guynn for USA Today, “job hunters will be able to explore the listings across experience and wage levels by industry, category and location, refining these searches to find full or part-time roles or accessibility to public transportation.”

Google for Jobs addresses “the challenge,” said Google CEO Sundar Pichai during the keynote, “of connecting job seekers to better information on job availability.” It helps to make the application process that much more seamless, by pulling listings from both third-party boards and employers, and sending users who find a listing that interests them directly to the site where they can apply for it.

3) Google.ai

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Source: Google

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of those inevitably cool areas of technology that’s talked about by many, but thoroughly understood by — or available to — few. That was part of the motivation behind the launch of Google.ai, or what TechCrunch describes as an “initiative to democratize the benefits of the latest in machine learning research.”

In a way, the site serves as a centralized resource for much of Google’s work in the realm of AI, from news and documentation on its latest projects and research, to opportunities to “play with” some of the experimental technology. Much like the open source software TensorFlow, which allows aspiring AI developers to create new applications, a major point of Google.ai is open access to the documentation that helps professionals from a variety of industries — like medicine and education — use AI to improve the work they do.

4) Google Assistant Is Coming to the iPhone

Some of the features announced during the I/O opening keynote either require or are heavily enhanced by Google Assistant — technology that previously wasn’t available to iPhone users. Now, that’s all changed. Google Assistant is, in fact, at the disposal of iPhone users, and available for download in the iTunes store.

Many are comparing the iOS version of Google Assistant to a slightly better, but underwhelming version of Siri. We took it for a spin, and here’s how it went:

Not bad, but it might also require a bit more tinkering with to discover all of the features. Its biggest advantage over Siri, writes Romain Dillet for TechCrunch, is its ability to let users “ask more complicated queries,” as well as its third-party integrations and connected device control capabilities.

5) New Google Home Features

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Source:

CNET

A number of new features available on Google Home were also unveiled during the I/O opening keynote — here are the ones that stood out.

Hands-free calling

Recently, it was announced that the Google Home had new voice recognition capabilities that could distinguish one user’s commands from another. That technology is now aiding its new hands-free calling feature, which allows you to call any U.S. or Canadian landline or mobile phone, by linking your mobile phone to your Google Home profile and asking the device to make the call. And, because of that voice recognition, it knows whose mother to call with the command, “Call Mom.”

Proactive Assistance

Like the best human personal assistance, Google Home can now proactively bring important things to your attention, without having to be asked. For example, if your next meeting requires a commute and traffic is bad, the device will suggest leaving a bit earlier. (Google Calendar users might recognize this feature from the more primitive “leave at X:00 to arrive on time” mobile alerts.)

Visual Responses

They say that “a picture is worth a thousand words” — because sometimes, information is better explained visually than verbally. Now, Google Home can do that, by redirecting a visual response to your mobile device or TV (via Chromecast). So if you ask the device for directions, for example, they’ll be sent directly to your phone.

6) Android O

Android O is a new version of the Android operating system which, while nothing too fancy, “focuses mostly on the nuts and bolts of making the software work better, faster and save battery,” according to CNET.

The publication does a nice job of breaking down the most important features of the new operating system, but to us, there’s one major highlight: picture-in-picture. We’ve all had those moments when we’re watching a video on YouTube and realize that there’s something else you’re supposed to be doing. Now, with Android O, instead of having to exit out of the app, just press the home button and the video will collapse into a smaller, movable window, but continue playing while you attend to the other task you have to complete.

7) From GPS to VPS

When you’re lost, or can’t figure out how to get somewhere, GPS has been there to save dozens of us. But what about misplaced objects — like when we’ve misplaced our keys, headphones, or sunglasses?

Now, there’s technology for that: the Visual Positioning Service, or VPS. Using Google’s Tango augmented reality (AR) platform, it’s a “mapping system that uses augmented reality on phones and tablets to help navigate indoor locations,” writes Raymond Wong for Mashable, using the example of holding up a Tango-enabled phone in a large warehouse store to locate a specific product.

One of the best parts of the VPS, Google noted, is its potential use to individuals who are visually impaired to help them find their way around places that are historically difficult to navigate.

8) Smart Replies Come to Gmail

When we return from vacation, one of the most daunting tasks is sifting through and responding to the deluge of emails that came in while we were out. Of course, there’s always the option of indicating to senders via auto-response that you’ll be deleting everything when you come back. But for those occasional urgent emails that arrive during our time of leave, many of us long for a more automated way to address them.

Now, there’s Smart Reply for that: a new Gmail feature that uses smart technology to suggests quick responses based on the text of the email you received. Here’s a look at how it works:

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Source:

Google

Right now, it’s only available in Inbox by Gmail and Allo, but according to Google’s official blog, the technology is slated to “roll out globally on Android and iOS in English first, and Spanish will follow in the coming weeks.”

9) Standalone VR Headsets

Google is no stranger to the world of VR. It started with Cardboard, some might say, and expanded into more advanced and expensive headsets. Now, in partnership with HTC and Lenovo, Google is developing its first standalone VR headset.

What does that mean, exactly? Previously, becoming fully immersed in Google’s VR experiences required the power of a computer or smartphone. Now, using something called WorldSense technology, these new standalone headsets can “track your precise movements in space,” according to VRScout, “without any external sensors to install.”

Until Next Time

We’ll be keeping an eye on all things Google, including the rest of the big announcements from I/O 2017. Next month, we’ll bring you those top news items, algorithm updates, and other trends that can aid your marketing.

Until then, enjoy those May flowers — we’ll see you in June.

Which I/O announcements are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: 9 of the Biggest Google I/O Keynote Announcements
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

Here’s the State of Digital Marketing [Infographic]

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Digital marketing is one of those areas that’s become, in a way, all-encompassing. There’s social media, there’s SEO, and there are the analytics that come with both. And with the rapid pace at which digital marketing evolves, it can be difficult and confusing to prioritize which parts deserve your attention.

That’s why the Search Engine Journal launched the 2017 State of Digital Marketing.
To find out where digital marketers focus their time and budgets, and how they set parameters of success, over 200 industry professionals were surveyed, filling roles within SEO, paid search, and content marketing.

Some of the most interesting findings were broken down into the handy infographic below. Among them were statistics on PPC spending — which ranges from $50 to $5,000 — and data showing that Facebook is still the preferred social media channel for 62% of marketers.

Want to know where things stand in other areas of digital marketing? Read on to learn more.


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Source: Here’s the 2017 State of Digital Marketing [Infographic]
blog.hubspot.com/marketing