YouTube has been around for more than a deade now, but the fact that it changes so regularly means there is no shame in still looking for the most up to date techniques for optimising your video. One of the most important tools you have to optimise is the tags, the way of listing the relevant keywords for your video.
The Purpose of Tags
Tagging isn’t just a nice little extra way to categorise your video, it is a vital way of communicating what your video is. What the content is and what it relates to cannot be communicated with a website. As AI improves then perhaps one day YouTube will be able to scour your video and understand it, but for now, tags are one of the key ways the site works it out. These tags feed into the algorithms that decide which related video shows up on the sidebar, how high up you show on YouTube searches and even Google searches, so getting them right can make a massive impact whether you are running a local business or just trying to create a successful channel.
Use SEO Tools and “Autofill” on YouTube Search
Let’s say for instance your video talks about the way to kick a football. The first things that creep into your head will likely be the keyword itself “how to kick a football”, next up broader keywords like “sports”, “football” and even “soccer”. However, using the search autofill can show you what else people are searching for. These are called “long tail keywords” as they contain more words.
For our original “how to kick a football” search you might get suggestions such as “how to kick a football that is moving” or “how to kick a football for beginners”. If your video features information on these, consider adding these tags to your video.
These aren’t the only ways to generate terms you may not have thought of. Google’s very own “Keyword Planner” tool allows you to put in a few buzz words and it will generate similar terms people are actually looking for. If your video fits the bill, use the tags.
There is a myth which seems to circulate, perhaps based on the first versions of the site. The false belief is that simply putting any popular tag in will somehow see you show up for searches on that subject. It doesn’t work, and I’m sure YouTube is wise to it. The best bet is to be genuine and actually use terms which fit your video. If anything, the idea of adding irrelevant keywords just for popularity is likely to see your videos penalised.
Sure, we’d all love to put the keywords “Drake video, Kim Kardashian and Cute Kittens” into our tags and suddenly be thrust to the top of the searches, but it doesn’t work and, even if it did, sooner or later I’m sure YouTube would cotton on.
This does take a small amount of expertise, but once you have done it once it becomes easy. There isn’t a way to see the tags listed under the video on YouTube, but every major browser gives you the option to right click and then ‘view source’. This will show you the actual code of the page, and it includes a section called “tags” under the “meta” category. This is usually near the top of the page (conveniently) and means you can see what similar or competing videos are using as their tags.
If you generate a few different videos you will quickly be able to see which keywords seem to be working and even get inspiration for keywords you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.
Use all the Tagging Space (If You Can)
The fact that YouTube provides 500 characters means that they will be perfectly happy for you to fill these characters, just as long as the content you are filling them with is relevant. This gives you the option to put lots of different keywords in there including variations, the brands of any products featured and even your own personal brand.
Not every video will be easy to come up with 500 characters worth of tags for, but you certainly shouldn’t be afraid to do so.
Combine with a Description
The best use of tags is usually combined with full and detailed descriptions. This is another way YouTube can start to understand your content. The description should follow similar rules to those mentioned above. Don’t needlessly stuff it full of keywords, but a detailed and accurate description of your video or further communication based on your video can help.
You can spend all the time you want on your tags, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the description. Use all of the tools available to you.
Use Online Tools
Many tools out there will help you to generate new keywords. Though Google (owners of YouTube) do have some of their own, many people have found success with external products which can generate additional tags based on a few keywords, competitor videos or by analysing the tagging you already have in place. Many of these tools use the official Google search data which means you will be suggested terms people are actually searching for, too.
People will always look for ways to game the system and rise to the top of the lists of search engines. The truth is that with YouTube, none of the ‘hacks’ are likely to work and, if they do, it will only be temporary. The two best things to remember are to be thorough (ensure every keyword possible is used), and accurate (actually true to the content of the video). The YouTube algorithm is immensely complex and running off a lot of data. Don’t be afraid to experiment and tweak yours until you find something that is working for you and your channel, whether you’re running a funny cat video channel or a serious corporate business channel.