How to Optimize Your YouTube Videos for Google Search Visibility in 2021

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optimize your YouTube videos

Are you using YouTube to grow your business? Wondering how to get your videos in front of more people?

In this article, you’ll discover how to optimize your YouTube videos for more visibility in Google search results.

Why Do You Need To Optimize Your YouTube Videos for Google and YouTube Search?

YouTube is the world’s most popular video sharing site and the second most visited website. On its own, the platform presents a massive opportunity for video creators to reach global audiences. Combined with the power of YouTube’s parent company, Google, that opportunity increases exponentially.

The relationship between Google and YouTube started in November 2006 when Google acquired the video sharing platform. Since then, YouTube has grown to become one of the world’s largest search engines, second in size only to its parent, Google.

Today, both YouTube’s and Google’s algorithms present content according to relevance and importance. This means that just as Google finds a page with lots of visitors desirable, YouTube prefers videos with lots of viewers. Whenever possible, Google serves video results from YouTube before serving video from other host websites.

By focusing on getting ranked on both Google and YouTube—meaning your videos appear in relevant searches on both platforms—you have the opportunity to make a bigger impact with your video marketing efforts.

Read on for a step-by-step process for creating content that focuses on SEO and improves the chances of appearing as embedded video on Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

#1: Develop Your YouTube Video

Not every video posted on YouTube has the potential to rank high on Google but video results are more likely for certain queries, particularly how-to queries.

To increase the likelihood that your YouTube video will attract lots of viewers and rank on SERPs, it should be based on a topic that people are searching for. After all, if no one is searching for it, no one will click on the video—even if Google does rank it.

Additionally, choose a topic that users will prefer to consume via video rather than text.

In my experience, longer videos stand a better chance of being ranked than shorter ones because YouTube wants to keep active users on the platform as long as possible. For this reason, I recommend making lengthier videos (as long as they’re engaging) to increase your watch time which will inevitably increase your chance of ranking.

If your video satisfies these criteria, it stands a good chance of ranking high on Google SERPs.

Conduct Keyword Research to Identify a Viable Video Topic

To find potential topics for your YouTube video, use your preferred keyword research tool and/or YouTube’s autosuggest. Conduct keyword research for your YouTube SEO just as you would for your normal SEO.

Research Similar Videos

After you choose a potential video topic, check Google and YouTube to see the results for that search term. For example, if “how to draw a rose” is your search term, this is the first result that comes up for Google:

However, YouTube shows a different result in the top spot:

How to Optimize Your YouTube Videos for Google Search Visibility

Google seems to crawl and embed videos more slowly in the main SERP while YouTube is generally faster. So watch the top three videos on YouTube (not Google because Google is usually delayed) and note their lengths; see if the video creator is doing anything to keep viewers engaged to the end of the video. Make a note of the tactics the creator used.

Produce Your Video

Use what you’ve learned to create a video of a similar or longer length in your style. Focus on making it more engaging than competing YouTube videos.

#2: Optimize Your YouTube Video for Google SERPs

When it comes to video SEO, there are a lot of details you need to focus on including titles, tags, descriptions, thumbnails, captions, and everything that makes up the video metadata. YouTube takes into consideration all of these factors when ranking videos so reliable data is paramount.

Tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Keywords Everywhere, and vidIQ are extremely useful for gathering information and gaining insights to help you rank higher in search engines.

Optimize Your YouTube Video for Google’s Key Moments

Google has added “key moments” to videos on the SERPs. Key moments are designed to make it easier for users to quickly jump to the specific points in the video that best fulfill the search query. This feature is particularly helpful with long documentaries, speeches, or how-to videos with multiple steps.

To improve the chance that your YouTube videos will be included in key moments, be sure to add timestamps to your content. When adding timestamps, keep these points in mind:

  • Don’t place timestamps in a pinned comment; add them to the video description.
  • List timestamps in chronological order.
  • Add each timestamp on a new line and specify the label on that same line.
  • Don’t add too many timestamps; about 10 per video is a good practice.

#3: Measure the Impact of Google SERPs as a Traffic Source

After you post your video to YouTube, monitor the SERP. Be patient; SERP results of video embeds will usually update within 2–3 weeks.

For my YouTube channel, the Google SERP is the number-one source of external traffic. YouTube search is at the forefront, followed by suggested videos, and external traffic sources comes in third.

How to Optimize Your YouTube Videos for Google Search Visibility

The Google SERP brings in over half of my external traffic on YouTube and will keep growing as Google continues to embed videos in the SERP.

How to Optimize Your YouTube Videos for Google Search Visibility

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Here’s how you can find out how much traffic the Google SERP contributes to your YouTube channel.

Start by opening YouTube Studio for your channel and navigating to the Analytics section.

Next, click on the Reach tab at the top of the screen.

Scroll down and find the Traffic Source Types module and click See More.

How to Optimize Your YouTube Videos for Google Search Visibility

On the Traffic Source tab, scroll down to the list of traffic sources and select the External checkbox to filter your data.

From here, you’ll see Google Search with the associated metrics. This data reveals how much external traffic is coming to your YouTube channel from Google.

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