Video is the best performing content type on all social platforms, and if you're looking to utilize video in your digital marketing approach, you also need to be considering YouTube, and building a YouTube presence.
The online video leader is now the second most-visited website in the world, and boasts an astonishing 1.9 billion active users. YouTube is also considered to be the web's second-largest search engine, behind parent company Google's main app, with a growing number of visitors seeking out videos to help them contextualize their various queries and questions.
Given these considerations, YouTube marketing will very likely be worth the effort - but if you want to maximize your YouTube performance, you need to ensure that your videos align with those search trends, and are 'findable' when users go looking for related content.
To that, you'll need the help of some tools. These apps and tips will help you optimize your YouTube videos for user search behaviors.
1. Find a topic with Google Trends
Nothing helps YouTube optimization quite as much as the audience’s genuine interest in the topics you cover. 'YouTube-able' content comes in all shapes and sizes - the trick is to find yours.
Start exploring with Google Trends. To do this, type in your focus topic, specify 'YouTube Search', then pick a geographical region, category, and time period at which to narrow down the results.
You can take this a step further by adding a topic to compare your focus topic to, in order to see how they compare against each other.
Google Trends also offers a list of related queries for each topic, as well as maps which highlight audience interest across regions. You can also download, embed and share all of this data if needed.
Side perk: Spot breakout trends as part of related queries to boost your videos ranking potential
Pricing: Absolutely free
2. Fetch keyword ideas from Google Ads
Taking the time to find the perfect keyword/s for your content is probably the best investment you can make while laying out your YouTube strategy.
While we’re on the free first-hand data sources, let’s turn to Google Ads’ Keyword Planner. With a topic in mind, you can run a raw keyword research in order to identify search terms and queries with the highest potential.
Keyword Planner fetches tons of keyword ideas based on your seed keyword/phrase, search settings and filters (if any) specified. You can take a closer look at the average monthly searches and competition to single out the best fits. You can then export your keyword list in one click, with all metrics included.
Side perk: Enter up to ten keywords at a time - putting in a URL also works
Pricing: The tool is free
3. Step up your keyword research with Rank Tracker
For next-level keyword research, you can also use YouTube autocomplete - either on the platform itself or via a designated keyword research and analysis tool such as Rank Tracker.
Rank Tracker lets you pull keyword ideas from YouTube’s suggestions, and highlights vital metrics, such as search volume, expected visits, competition, etc.
You can also use Rank Tracker to run a quick ranking check, and yield the keywords that deliver video results in featured snippets. Take note of the keywords with the highest search volume - those are most likely to help you rank in organic search.
Side perk: Set YouTube as the search engine to track your videos' rankings once they’re up and running
Pricing: Paid versions start at $124 (Professional) and $299 (Enterprise) - free version and trial available
4. Do your metadata homework with TubeBuddy
Optimizing your video content is just as essential as optimizing the content of your webpages - only that there’s no time to waste when it comes to YouTube SEO. Forty-eight hours after your video goes live is your metadata optimization deadline - once you miss that, the algorithm marks your content as less timely, which makes it extra hard to make a comeback.
Tool up with TubeBuddy, a browser extension which eases channel maintenance, and lends a helping hand with things like titles, descriptions, tags, annotations, cards and more.
Once integrated into YouTube, the tool will provide you with valuable insights on all the YouTube videos that you open. Maximize your organic reach by fetching any videos' tags, and save tons of time you’d spend looking for the best fits within the 500-character limit.
TubeBuddy also provides optimization tips, and suggestions for boosting your channel’s growth. Additionally, the tool can provide automated checks to ensure that your videos are set up correctly (i.e. meeting YouTube's recommendations).
Side perk: Utilize the 'Vid2Vid' feature to promote your older videos in the descriptions of new uploads
Pricing: Paid plans start at $9/mo (Pro), $19/mo (Star), $49/mo (Legend) - a free version is also available
5. Manage like a pro with VidIQ
VidIQ is another channel management toolkit which operates as a browser extension, displaying crucial stats for all the YouTube videos you open - which means effortless competitor research and advanced analytics for each and every video you can find.
The tool’s 'Most Viewed' feature lets you identify and match YouTube’s best performing videos against each other. For further intelligence, you can add specific competitor channels, and compare them against your own. With your own 24/7 channel audit on hand, you can see which practices you should consider implementing to boost performance.
You can take it a step further and set up email alerts to keep an eye on trending topics within your field (or your competitors’ channels). And for enhanced outreach, you can use the 'Facebook Syndication' feature, and share your video instantly across platforms (though you should exercise caution when cross-posting).
Side perk: Bulk copy cards and end screens, bulk edit end screens.
Pricing: Paid plans start at $7.50/mo (Pro), $39/mo (Boost); free and Enterprise versions available.
6. Introspect your channel with YouTube Analytics
YouTube Analytics is simply the best when it comes to identifying your channel’s strengths and weak points.
Learning more about your audience, the content that grabs their attention - and makes them stay - as well as the videos they want to share, gives you crucial insights for maintaining and growing your YouTube presence.
We know for a fact that longer videos perform better. We also know that all YouTube algorithms are focused on watch time, so it makes perfect sense to have a closer look at Watch Time and Realtime reports to examine your average view duration, average percentage viewed, as well as audience retention.
Being aware of which of your videos drive subscribes is also a must, since new subscribers give you a significant advantage in YouTube search. Encouraging your audience to subscribe, like and comment - when executed successfully - is a sure way to get a ranking boost.
Side perk: Study your Interaction reports from the last six months to spot patterns in likes, favorites, comments, or sharing
Pricing: The tool is absolutely free.
7. Track and grow user engagement with Awario
User engagement with the video remains number one ranking factor on YouTube. Therefore, keeping an eye on the kind of buzz that surrounds your YouTube content - on the platform itself and elsewhere - is a must.
With a social monitoring tool like Awario, fetching mentions of your video and keywords is made easy - you can simply enter your video’s URL to set up an alert, and collect linkless mentions that are already a ranking signal for Google.
For more specific queries, you can try a Boolean search - configure a targeted search to collect existing mentions and identify new link sources.
Add specific search operators, combine groups of keywords, apply additional language or country filters, and much more - whatever it is, Awario has you covered.
Views, likes, comment and subscriber counts, including new subscribers, are all ranking factors - some more than others. Comments, however, are of particular interest as they speak volumes of user engagement.
You can Like and comment directly from Awario’s dashboard to ensure that none of your audience’s feedback remains unaddressed.
Side perk: Use Awario to run competitor research by setting the tool to track YouTube results only
Pricing: Paid plans come at $29/mo (Starter), $89/mo (Pro), and $299/mo (Enterprise); free trial available.
8. Mix up your visuals with Canva
Channel art may not be the first thing on your mind when laying out the course of your YouTube optimization strategy. However, in a world of tools like Canva, getting creative has never been easier - so why miss out?
A freemium graphic design app, Canva is there to help you manifest your inner designer, via all sorts of visuals - be it a logo or a mind map. As part of your YouTube SEO efforts, expressing your artistic self can be done through developing channel art and thumbnails to increase your click-through rates.
You can start from scratch or browse through the categories and pick any of the templates the app has to offer: Canva’s drag-and-drop interface lets you use professionally designed layouts to further customize them, creating unique and compelling visuals, and re-inventing your channel’s looks.
Side perk: You can also use Canva’s mobile app to create designs and collaborate on projects while on the go
Pricing: Canva Pro comes at $12.95/mo, Enterprise is available on request. There's also a free plan.
With YouTubing now a universal pastime, and profitable line of work alike, video optimization is a skill for every marketer to acquire - and sooner rather than later. YouTube SEO is neither quick nor easy - however, when mastered, it can prove to be extremely rewarding.
Download the tools that look like the best fit for your process, and use this listing as a roadmap to make the most of the platform’s ever-growing potential.