Lifetimes are littered with evidence that opportunities to “make it big” really do come and go. For some, the moment never passes by without a solid effort to capitalize on what may be a life-changing trend, technology, or service for which the world is willing to pay handsomely. The sad fact is, however, most of us sit on the sideline, awaiting more proof that would eventually motivate us to jump in.
An equally substantial number of us will simply watch and shake our heads. We wonder why such chances to convert our existence into one of perpetual surplus is just out of reach. The last group usually peeks around the curtain of financial desperation all-too late, reaching out timidly for encouragement with questions like, “Is making money on YouTube still possible? If so, can SEO for YouTube help?”
It’s like asking if there is another bus coming after the last one of the day has been missed.
The answer is, “Sure. Tomorrow.”
Is There Still a Chance?
The next ride to everlasting prosperity may not come tomorrow, or even in one’s lifetime. Some would-be passengers will go home. Many others will recognize their mistake and make a futile run after the bus, already headed miles down the road. They may exhaust all energy within their depleted reserves, trying to catch the last opportunity that could carry them to the great new city of abundance. They are usually the ones who can least afford such a gamble of life-preserving resources, but once the vision is fixed in one’s heart, it can be terminally disheartening to abort it.
If there is one consolation to the aging salmon of the entrepreneurial world, it is that they are not alone. Many will join them on their quest for a destiny of fortune, and most will fail. There will be others to offer comfort in that regard, and a few who will manage to swim through the intense current of denial. These will throw themselves upstream with abandon, preserving the light of hope in many behind them who cannot turn back, but whose efforts will be fruitless, nonetheless.
The Cold, Hard Truth
Chris Stokel-Walker, an internet culture writer who also authored the book, YouTubers, has said, “The vast majority of people who start a YouTube channel, or engage in any career as an influencer, won’t make it.” Yet the volume of this pursuit does not wane.[bctt tweet=”All the best SEO for YouTube will not put a Porsche in your garage if you do not qualify to monetize your videos.” username=”ThatCompanycom”]
Is it a foregone conclusion, then, that any chance of financial success via YouTube distribution has evaporated? Apparently not. YouTube’s statistics1 indicates the players that are cashing-in are on the rise.
- The total number of channels earning six figures per year on YouTube grew more than 40% y/y.
- The number of channels earning five figures per year on YouTube grew more than 50% y/y.
- Total channels with more than one million subscribers grew by more than 65% y/y.
With increases of this magnitude, it would appear the participants entering the forum for video monetization are not just getting more active, they must be getting smarter at how they manage their channels. Enter SEO for YouTube.
What is SEO for YouTube?
SEO (search engine optimization) is the practice of structuring web content is such a way as to maximize its relevance to a given search term submitted on Google, YouTube, Bing or others, with the desired goal of achieving the highest ranking possible to attract the maximum number of browsers who would be satisfied visiting the given page or site. In the case of SEO for YouTube, the same philosophy is present, but some of the efforts involved in maximizing search results for videos or channels are unique to the YouTube platform itself.
Some SEO for YouTube Best Practices
Like most webpreneurs, there is so little time to waste. Let’s get right to it!
1. Make your introduction a good one.
Begin by assuring browsers know your channel’s focus by writing a solid “About” page description. You may want to add details like who the host or hosts are, how often new videos are added—general information that remains consistent. While you are doing this, consider the esthetics, too. Make beneficial use of the opportunity to design (or hire someone to create) an eye-catching graphic for your page. Also, generate a channel icon derived from some strong elements of the page graphic. A good image should capture the eye and be quickly recognizable on a search result.
2. Use good SEO sense in choosing your channel’s focus.
Build upon successful or popular keywords. Use YouTube’s autocomplete search bar to find search terms that have been sought before—in high volumes. You are going to create a great channel, using the best SEO for YouTube practices, why waste the effort on something in which relatively few people have an interest?
3. Strategically plan your videos.
This step is critical. Most of your time will be spent creating videos and investing time. In the beginning, organize and plan a solid strategy; it will reward you later. It makes sense to work toward building a formula—a recipe if you will—for your video productions. Consider a schedule, or calendarize the production and upload dates you want to maintain. Very much like a television producer, you can use the calendar to keep your preproduction work on-task. Responsibilities that need planning, like obtaining products, guests, B-roll, site-releases, production equipment, and the like, are not easy to gather at the last minute. Make life easier: plan ahead.
Each video should be planned as well. A script or an outline of key talking points are far better than impromptu performances, in most videos. In this writer’s experience, a script is less efficient because the performer usually gets frustrated if just one point is skipped, causing a cascade of retakes of declining accuracy up to the point of exhaustion. Keep the subject’s primary elements visible and be real with the dialogue—my two cents.
4. Each video needs SEO.
For each video, you should identify a good keyword with good search volume. Use that keyword in the video title (exact order, toward the front of the title, please). Keep the title under 50 characters and make it attention-grabbing. Limit the description to under 150 words and plant the keyword into it a few times. I suggest it belongs near the beginning, the end, and perhaps once more in the body. Be efficient with your words here! Keep in mind that the keyword can be a phrase, and the order of how the terms are presented can make an enormous difference in search volume. Use a search volume tool like Moz or SEMRush to get the data.
5. Plant fields for future harvesting of comments.
This ranking-enhancer is simply a good business practice. Comments from viewers feed the YouTube furnace for your ranking engine to keep chugging along. If you hear crickets on your video page, you missed out. How do you get comments? You ask. Be clever and genuine at the same time. Invite feedback by giving viewers a simple choice to make. The option of giving a one-word response is far more inviting than an open-ended “call to all creative authors,” most of whom do not have time to write long opinion pieces. Better yet, state your opinion in the video and ask if viewers agree or not.
The point is, try to involve the viewer. This will not just boost rankings on YouTube, but also subscribers. If you receive a homerun comment—not just a positive comment, but one that will engage others—you may want to pin it at the top. Finally, you aren’t the only one who enjoys the response. Try to reply to comments quickly and keep their loyalty level stoked.
6. Generate more invested eyeballs.
This is essential to your success. In fact, without having enough subscribers, you won’t make your first dime. All the best SEO for YouTube will not put a Porsche in your garage if you do not qualify to monetize your videos by meeting the following criteria:
- A minimum of 1,000 subscribers.
- A minimum of 4,000 hours of what YouTube refers to as “watch time” on the site.
- Must meet both requirements in a single 12-month period.
Think like a viewer for a moment. What would make you subscribe to a YouTube channel? Like most YouTube addicts, it’s great content that catches your interest. Your video does not require a big budget or innovative special effects—that’s not what YouTube is all about—but it should be better than average, at least. A well-scripted video that conveys a sense of pre-planning, a host (and voice) that keeps your interest and excellent production values are minimum entry points for a monetized video today.
7. Make videos worth watching.
A word about “production values” to those who might contest this point. Unless one is creating a channel of avant-garde videos targeting viewers of humor or the exclusively the sublimely odd, it is this writer’s opinion that fundamental production values include the following:
- Proper audio levels that are consistent and undistorted supplied by microphones NOT mounted on a camera, but rather, near the talent
- Steady camera work that includes the use of good shot composition
- Supporting audio tracks that are included to complement, not detract, from the video
- Graphic elements that add to the information, entertainment, or identification of content—not merely an exhibition of unnecessary colors and images
One more detail about obtaining subscribers…You need to ask for it! Build this into every video you create—no exceptions. Make an end screen on your videos that request the viewer to subscribe. Make it easy for them by showing a duplicate of the big red button found below the video. Be grateful and friendly.
7. Encourage your viewers to stick around.
We all lead busy lives, but YouTube viewers are voracious consumers of online content. Keep them happy by feeding them multiple courses of your content without giving them a reason to go anywhere else. Launch your videos with a compelling opening and then employ proven techniques of good storytelling to hold their interest. At the end of the day, YouTube values minutes watched much more than the number of views received. Remember this if nothing else.
Tease their appetite for more throughout the video and promote the “NEXT” video in your playlist by showing a scene or image during your end screen. In fact, you may want to order your playlist carefully to feed the content in an order that makes sense. You wouldn’t serve dessert before the soup, after all.
The playlist can be a powerful factor in viewer retention, and you should include it in your planning. Creating a playlist that not only has a logical progression of content but is named right can make a massive difference in viewer retention. Make it clear to the viewer what will be gained by watching your playlist by giving it a name that makes it obvious.
8. Review and refine your plan consistently.
Pay close attention to how your SEO for YouTube efforts are being received. Review your YouTube Analytics data regularly to see who is watching. This is where you can monitor viewer gender, age, location, and the all-important Average Viewer Duration. Spend time here to understand which videos you create are more successful and try to revise your efforts to mimic those more often. You should take notice of other factors that result in more significant viewership, like view velocity, that is, how quickly your video is “picked up” and viewed by the masses.
There are hundreds of various sources of guidance for improving your SEO on YouTube, and as an entrepreneur who is undeniably in pursuit of financial success on YouTube, I would encourage you to consume as many as you can—and stay current. Things change all the time in SEO, and you should be on the leading edge of the practice, not reacting months later.
How Else Can SEO for YouTube Help My Channel?
Aside from the YouTube channel benefits SEO for YouTube can provide, other bonus fruits are waiting to be harvested. If you have the time to devote to the following side tasks, you could be realizing a second factor of success from your efforts.
1. Plug your website to viewers.
Do not stop with YouTube compensation for viewership; add your website as a destination for higher performance. YouTube can drive traffic to your site, blog posts, or social media. What a fantastic way to generate more clicks, increase sales, and boost conversion rates!
Promote your website boldly in the video description, linking it early in the text. It should be simple for your audience to easily find and access your website through your amazing YouTube channel. Do not forget to consider adding it to your channel art banner and include it in the end screens of each video on your channel.
Don’t be shy about calls to action. Your viewership has committed to you, and it isn’t such a reach to make the “ask” for them to connect on your website, too.
2. “Up” your offer.
In return for the loyalty of your subscribed viewers, you could offer upgraded content or services. With a growing audience and brand, you can begin to pitch content you create outside of YouTube. Exclusive services, downloadable products, unpublished videos, educational services — this could be content that people pay for.
There are more online seminars, courses, and consulting services than you can count online. The fact remains, there is no end to the demand. This can earn you considerable money over time. Your channel could be your “loss leader,” even if you get a check from YouTube. Continue to build your viewership and provide them with value. At the same time, why not provide them with opportunities for something extra?
3. Sell your own products
You have used SEO for YouTube to grow your audience, and you have become a “personality.” Leverage that to brand yourself deeper and even sell your brand in the form of products. Get creative and start with third-party made-to-order hats, coffee mugs, bags, and any other money-making item you can dream up.
4. Sell others’ products
Affiliate marketing is not difficult to set up, and you may be surprised by the success it can deliver. This is true, especially when you have thousands of subscribers. One percent of 50,000 subscribers clicking a link where you receive 5% of each $100 item bought would result in $2500.
5. Sponsorships and naming rights
Adding a sponsor to your YouTube channel is a sure sign you are doing something right. You could attract sponsorship by creating content that has a sensible tie-in with the sponsor’s products or services. It could be one that you have been introduced to by a third-party sponsorship service like FameBit. Either way, you do not have to wait for a click and purchase to be paid in this scenario.
Where are you headed now?
You have the motivation, and now you have another reliable source of advice that should launch you in the right direction. What will you choose to do now? Will you act toward your goals, or will you postpone the very success you seek due to doubt, fear of failure, or other excuses like “not enough money” or “not enough time” right now? How many times have you moaned with regret because someone else had the same great idea you had, but they acted upon it and hit it big? That is not an opportunity for you to feel envy; it should be motivation to take definitive action the next time. That time is now.
1 “Investing in creators,” https://www.youtube.com/about/press/