Top 10 Small Business SEO Tips for YouTube Videos

How important is YouTube video to your small business marketing strategy, and how can you use small business SEO to boost clicks on those videos? Consider these facts:

Google Instant, the recent feature that begins displaying search results while you’re still typing your query, has increased clicks to videos in search results by 28 percent, according to a panelist at the fall 2010 Search Marketing Expo (SMX) East conference in New York.

And, as if video needed any help getting attention, a panelist in another session at the SMX Expo East conference said that, regardless of Google Instant, search engine users were 50 percent more likely to click on videos in search results than on text-based results.

Still think that posting YouTube videos about your business is a waste of time?

Of course, there’s no guarantee your videos will go viral like Blendtec’s ‘Will it Blend?’ series or the Old Spice guy ads — or even Blendtec’s spoof of the Old Spice ads. But aside from creating great videos, there are steps you can take to help make sure your small business marketing videos are easily discovered.

10 Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips

1. Include a call to action at the end of each video.

What do you want your audience to do after watching the video? Take advantage of your product or service promotion? Visit your website? Call your toll-free number? Whatever it is, don’t forget to suggest a next step to your audience.

2. Shoot brief, high-definition, widescreen videos.

YouTube has evolved from the slightly grainy videos of yesterday. To put your best face forward, post high-definition videos in widescreen format. YouTube has a page explaining the best formatting options for video uploads. In a nutshell, here are some formatting recommendations to follow:

  • HD quality video with 16:9 aspect ratio

  • MP4 video file format with .H264 compression

  • MP3 or AAC audio compression

  • 30 frames per second

Also, keep videos to 2 minutes or less in length. Viewership tends to drop off in videos longer than that, unless they’re extremely compelling.

3. Find potential keywords for videos by typing them into YouTube’s search box.

As with Google’s keyword suggest tool, as soon as you begin typing a query in YouTube’s search box, YouTube (which Google owns) offers suggestions. Type “silly pet,” for instance, and YouTube will complete your query with suggestions such as “silly pets,” “silly pet tricks,” and “silly pet videos.”

YouTube’s suggestions give you an idea of which terms people use more frequently in video searches at the site. Though identifying popular keywords is important, keep in mind that there may be a lot more competition for these terms, too.

4. Perform a search using your intended keyword phrases on YouTube.

Once you have some keyword ideas, use them in searches on YouTube. This will give you an idea of what the competition is like for those terms. You can customize your search results to sort by relevance, upload date, view count and rating. Limit your searches to specific categories (such as People & Blogs).

5. Place your most important keyword phrase in your title, description and tags.

As with any SEO effort, make sure your target keyword phrase is included at the beginning of your video’s title, in the description, and in the tags. Use the entire allowed space for your description, too, and make it as compelling as possible. The goal is to get people to decide to view your video from among all the other choices in the search results.

Keep your video titles within 65 characters, if possible (including spaces and punctuation). Titles longer than that get clipped in search results.

While your YouTube video description can be up to about 5,000 characters, only the first 140 characters will be displayed in YouTube search results. Make sure to put your keyword phrase within the first 140 characters, to reinforce the phrase and encourage click-throughs. And try to fill the entire 5,000 character description with good, keyword-rich details (without resorting to keyword stuffing).

6. Check the analytics of videos similar to yours.

In many cases, you can see the keywords, URLs, and related videos viewers used to find a video, as well as view a graph showing viewership over time. You can also see which audience demographics the video is most popular with, though this being YouTube, it’s usually males aged 13 to 17. Bottom line: Other people’s video analytics may give you ideas for keywords to use for your own videos.

To view the analytics, click the button to the right of the thumbs down button under the video. Keep in mind some people who post videos to YouTube don’t allow their analytics to be viewed by others.

Of course, you should also monitor your own video’s analytics. If the metrics YouTube offers aren’t enough, consider third-party tools like VOOT (Video Online Optimization Tracker), a new service currently in private beta.

7. Add captions to your videos.

YouTube offers the option to add captions to videos. YouTube, Google and other search engines index captions and use them to help decide if a video is relevant to a query. As the video’s owner, you have the option of uploading your own caption or letting YouTube automatically generate one — though the results may not be completely accurate. Check out YouTube’s page on how to add and edit captions for more information.

8. Relate your videos to each other.

Research shows that YouTube users tend to watch batches of videos per visit. So make sure your videos are clearly linked, to encourage multiple viewings. Aside from using similar tags, you could also use a series title for multiple videos in the same vein, such as “Silly Pet Tricks: Dog vs. Cat Smackdown,” “Silly Pet Tricks: Dog Does Yoga, Drives Car,” and so on. You could also post a new video as a response to an older one.

9. Share your video socially as soon as it’s posted.

As soon as you post a new video, use YouTube’s Share option to add it to your Facebook profile or business page, tweet about it, and so on. Also embed the video on your blog with a post that describes it — and be sure to use your target keywords.

10. Develop a branded YouTube channel.

Branded channels give your YouTube presence a more professional look by incorporating your company’s logo, a custom background design, and so on. You can easily syndicate your channel to other websites, add gadgets and ads to your channel, and tie your channel to Google Analytics for more metrics.

More Small Business SEO and Video Articles

James A. Martin
is a San Francisco-based SEO copywriter and consultant, and he is the author of an SEO and social media marketing blog.

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