SEO your YouTube videos – How to use AdWords Keyword Planner

The reason why you need to SEO your videos

There are two ways for your YouTube videos to become viral. Number one, you have to be lucky enough that people get to like at least one of your videos very much and it gets high watch time. A video with high watch time is considered to be having quality content and thus will be suggested to even more YouTube users. And once one of your videos becomes popular, it will make your whole channel popular as well with just course of time, that’s for sure. The second way your YouTube videos could become viral is through proper SEO.

proper SEO can boost your YouTube channel's growth

Although in most of the cases this actually is ‘semi viral’, which means that your ‘Search Engine Optimized’ videos will be presented before the right (interested) audience to watch them. If they find the content to be relevant and valuable or entertaining, they will give positive feedback. In that case, these videos will be presented to even more YouTube users. If 80%-90% of them give positive feedback again, then chances are that your SEO videos are finally going to be all viral. If not ‘fully viral’ compared to the videos of the most successful channels on YouTube, then they will at least fetch you handsome earnings, rest assured about that.

Similarities between SEO a YouTube video and SEO a blog

Many people think that SEOing YouTube videos is a lot different than SEOing a blog article. Well, there are some differences indeed. But they have 80%-90% features in common. Let’s discuss the common things first.

In order to SEO an article or a YouTube video, you have to choose a focus keyword. For example for this particular article, the focus keyword I have chosen is SEO itself. I surely could have chosen another word or phrase for focus keyword like ‘keyword planner’ in this case. I actually had done a little bit of keyword research to choose the optimum keyword. And I did that using Google AdWords. I’m going to teach you guys how to do that in a latter part of this article.

Now once you have chosen your focus keyword, you should start writing the article or the video description. You have to maintain a proper keyword density throughout your writing copy. A keyword density of 0.7%-2% is good, in my view. A keyword density less than 0.5% is not effective, whereas a density over 2.5% can actually damage the SEO status of your article or video description.

Other points to remember while doing SEO

You have to use the focus keyword in the title of your article or video: preferably in the beginning. Another thing is that you have to divide the copy in several paragraphs. The first paragraph must contain the focus keyword. Try to insert headings and subheadings in your copy. In case of an article it’s a must and in case of YouTube video, this is kind of optional. If subheadings are used, then try to put the focus keyword in them.

Also keyword should vary from video to video or article from article. You must not use the same keyword in multiple videos on your YouTube channel or multiple articles of your blog. A good length of your article or video description is must for good SEO score. A minimum length of 300 words is good here. Also outbound links play an important role when it comes to SEO. In your video description you can put links to your social media pages and your websites, if any. In case of a blog, you can provide outbound links to your YouTube videos (like I do); also the ads shown here probably serve the same purpose.

Differences between YouTube videos and blog articles in the context of SEO

The number one difference is that the length of your video description should vary from 250 to 300 words. It shouldn’t be more than 300 words, whereas you can have an article length of as many words as you like. In fact, the lengthier your article is, the better; provided that it doesn’t contain any unnecessary ‘gibberish’.

You should provide one or more images on your blog article and they should contain title attribute too. But there is no way you can insert an image in a YouTube video description. I believe the thumbnail used on a video serves the purpose of it’s SEO.

In case of a blog article, you should provide a meta description which has to contain the focus keyword. But there is no such option on a YouTube video (the metadata of a YouTube video is a lot different scenario. Below is the link to an article which describes what metadata is for a YouTube video and also how it can be misleading).

Metadata: When it becomes misleading and leads your YouTube account to termination

The focus keyword should be present in the url of the blog article, which doesn’t apply for a YouTube video. Again, in case of a blog article you should provide internal links, like those to other articles on your blog. Whereas, you shouldn’t possibly put links to other videos of your channel in the video description. This should be done by using cards.

Use AdWords to find suitable keywords and tags

Although there are other tools and web services to find suitable keywords and tags for your YouTube videos and blog articles, but I would strongly suggest you to use ‘Google AdWords’ instead. It is the best keyword finding tool not only in my view, but also to most other SEO experts. Let us now learn how to use it.

First you have to sign in to your AdWords account. Recently they have made changes in the dashboard interface. You should go to the portion with three vertical dots and click on it. A menu will open where you’ll be clicking on ‘Keyword planner’, then a page will open in a new tab.

A portion of AdWords dashboard to do SEO
Can you see the three vertical dots?

Now you need to click on the link saying ‘Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category’. You’ll be provided with a few blank spaces, where you need to type your options. In most cases, typing the title of your YouTube video or blog article is just enough. And you have to do it in the box that says ‘Your product or service’.

You're about to enter your desired keywords for SEO purpose

After that you have to hit the blue ‘Get ideas’ button below, and you will have some search results. You could be using some of the results as tags in your YouTube video or blog article (I’m going to do the same for this article). Also when I’ll be preparing a YouTube video with the same title and content, I’ll be using some of these tags – the most popular ones.

Choose the best and the most popular keywords to serve SEO

Now that you know how to find keywords related to your particular YouTube video or blog article, you have to choose the best and the popular related keywords. Out of these, choose one as your SEO keyword (aka focus keyword) which you are going to focus in video description or article copy. The rest popular keywords could be used as tags.

For your information, I previously ran a search on AdWords using keywords like SEO and keyword planner. I had some results out of which I chose SEO as the focus keyword. Now after selecting my article title and running a search with that, I’m going to use a few results as tags on this article. If you’re a YouTuber, you could use such keywords as tags on your video, as I previously mentioned.

The keywords with most search numbers like 10K-100K or 1K-10K are supposed to be the most popular ones. Nevertheless, keywords which have low search frequency but are very close to your particular theme, could be selected as well. Besides the search frequency, there is another option which shows competition: low, medium or high. In ideal situation, you should be selecting keywords with low or medium competition, for reasons I’ll be describing may be in a future article. (FYI, I prefer to cover the first three pages of search results)

list of SEO keywords showing search frequency and competition level

SEO keywords you shouldn’t choose

In my opinion, you shouldn’t choose more than 15 tags for a YouTube video and 20/25 keywords to use as tags for a blog article. Also once you have the search results on AdWords, you might see some mouth watering and frequently searched keywords which are remotely related with your copy (article or video description). You shouldn’t choose these as tags for your copy, because choosing so may harm the SEO status of your article and lead your YouTube channel to termination.

For example, upon running  an AdWords search on the title of this article, I too found some mouth watering keywords as ‘youtube hot videos 2016’ with search frequency of 10k-100k. But I didn’t select this as a tag, because this search keyword is no way related with my current article. Also I found another keyword name ‘youtube generator’ with a good search frequency. But I didn’t accept this as a tag either, because I was not sure whether this one was relevant to my article or not. You should keep these points in your head while selecting keywords/tags for your YouTube channel/blog article.

That’s all for this article. If you have properly gone through this, then I believe you should be able to learn to SEO both your YouTube videos and blog articles correctly.

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YouTube analytics: Dig into the details of your channel

What are YouTube analytics?

In simple terms, analytics are the details and numbers of a website. A YouTube channel can be considered as a website from a logical point of view (just visit the homepage of a channel and look at the url). So your YouTube channel can be described in terms of numbers; like how many subscribers it has, the total number of views, which videos are getting more views, average watch time etc. Obvious as it is, analytics of a website or a YouTube channel are always changing. These data are sometimes ascending and other times are descending. If they are going down all of a sudden, then you have to find out the reason behind this.

If you never followed these data, you would never know whether or not your channel is going down. Then the only way you could know about this is your reduced AdSense earnings on a particular month. Frankly, when I first started YouTubing, I didn’t know anything about analytics for the first few months. But I was lucky, my channel only ascended in that period of time. Once I learned to observe these data, I could track the ups and downs of my channel.

Channel Dashboard: the gateway to YouTube analytics

Most new YouTubers only know how to upload videos, they don’t have a clue to what YouTube analytics are. The very first time they get to see some numbers on their channel, is through their channel dashboard. When they have uploaded a couple of videos which start to get views, they see a few numbers on the ‘Dashboard’ page of their channel. These numbers tend to increase on a daily basis and are accompanied by graphs. In most cases, the graphs are zigzag; which indicates that the numbers don’t increase steadily. Sometimes they increase, sometimes decrease. Even if the numbers increase only, the increment is not the same every day.

Part of YouTube dashboard shows analytics for the last 28 days
Part of YouTube dashboard shows analytics for the last 28 days

The above image shows part of a YouTube channel’s dashboard which is the summary of analytics for the last 28 days. It is obvious from the graphs that for a long period (almost 15-16 days) the condition of the channel only deteriorated. And then suddenly it seems to recover. So through the analysis of your dashboard or analytics page, if you realize that your channel is going down, then you can attempt to stop such decline.  That’s why analytics are so important to run a YouTube channel successfully.

Here we need to clarify the ambiguity the dashboard data creates for most new YouTubers. As you can see in the above image that views have values of 64k and 35k, which are different from each other. Well, 35k means the number of views the channel got in last 28 days; whereas 64k means the total number of views the channel got since it’s inception.

Dashboard leads to analytics page

At the lower end of this demo-analytics presentation known as dashboard, lies the blue link ‘View all’. You need to click on that to see the full-fledged analytics of your channel. The page with url where you arrive on shows these data for the last 28 days by default. Well, you can see your channel analytics for any time-frame, except for today and yesterday. Because it takes a little bit of time for the YouTube officials to process and verify a day’s data for a YouTube account and then to put it for display. In order to have analytics for any time-frame of your choice, you need to go to the upper-right corner of the screen and then select one from a drop-down list.

Select a time-frame to observe the analytics of your channel
Select a time-frame to observe the analytics of your channel

Upon selection, you get to see four main sections in the upper-middle portion of the page, namely: Watch time, Views, Average view duration and Your estimated revenue. Each section are summarized by a number and a graph. If you want to see the details of any section, you need to click on it; you’ll be directed to that specific page. Below these prominent four sections are a few small sections which depict how many Likes, Dislikes, Comments, Shares, Videos in playlists and Subscribers you got in your selected time-period.

Top 10 videos are listed with varying earnings on them

Below the sections and subsections mentioned above are listed top 10 videos of your chosen time-frame. They are ranked on the basis of watch time. So between two videos the one with higher watch time will be placed higher. But the irony is that a top video may not have earned more compared to a lower-ranking video. That’s why it is often seen that a video has acquired a lot of views and watch time, but the earnings on it is very little to zero; whereas an average video has earned handsome amount for you compared to the previous one.

The probable reasons for this are content and selection by advertisers. If the content of a video is not advertiser friendly, then it may not earn you any money, no matter how many views and watch time it has accumulated. Also the advertisers may not select all your videos to put ads on, even if all of them have good content and are advertiser-friendly. Here’s an article for you detailing how you can make your YouTube videos advertiser friendly:

Make your videos YouTube advertiser friendly

The top 10 videos’ list shows every piece of data both in actual figure and percentage. This clearly demonstrates how much importance google/youtube puts on percentage values when it comes to analytics and ranking. That’s why it is better to upload 5-minutes videos onto your channel instead of 10-minutes videos, if you knew for sure that your average watch time would remain within 3-4 minutes. Here’s the link to an article of this blog which describes the importance of percentage watch time in the context of your YouTube channel’s ranking and growth.

Watch-time and percentage watch-time: Know the importance

Top geographies of viewers on a channel

Your Youtube videos are watched by people from around the world, unless its content is based on a language and/or culture that is too much localized. If your videos are above average standard, they are supposed to get viewers and subscribers from every corner of the globe. This is more applicable for videos described in English. Previously it was said that most YouTube viewers were from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. That is, people from these two countries watched YouTube videos more than any other country. But in the last couple of years this scenario entirely changed.

Upon finding about the success and earnings of YouTubers more people are being interested in this profession day by day, specially from developing countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc. While they create contents, they also stay updated about their fellow YouTubers’ and competitor’s activities. Thus they become bound to watch others’ videos, interested or not. This practice makes them kind of addicted to YouTube gradually. There are people now who watch YouTube videos, not because they are bound to, but because they feel interested and entertained. However the top geographies of a channel are depicted in percentage on YouTube analytics page.

Top geographies depicted in percentage on YouTube analytics page
Top geographies depicted in percentage on YouTube analytics page

Traffic sources: Where your videos are being watched

As you can see in the above pic, most views of the channel under consideration are from suggestions on YouTube’s watch-page and homepage. This is applicable for all channels that are not new anymore. The homepage suggestions are often referred as ‘Features’. That means when your videos are suggested by YouTube on a viewer’s YouTube homepage on their browser, then those videos are said to be featured by YouTube.

Second biggest traffic source is external websites, like social media platforms as facebook, twitter, google plus etc. Your YouTube videos might be embedded on other websites as well. People watching your videos on those websites and social medias are said to generate traffic for your channel which is termed as ‘External’. While your channel is still new, you might get most of your traffic from this particular source.

Now there might be a question as to what mean ‘Direct or unknown’. Someone watching your videos on your channel’s homepage or videos page creates traffic that is said to be ‘Direct’. Again, someone watching your videos from their browser’s history creates ‘Direct’ traffic for you. Apart from top geographies and traffic sources, another aspect to note here is the analytics of gender distribution among viewers. In all my channels, I have seen almost 94% male and the rest 6% female viewers. Nevertheless the percentage of female viewers might be a lot greater than 6%, if the majority of the traffic comes from developed counties like US, UK, Canada etc.

Gender and Playback locations of YouTube analytics page
Gender and Playback locations of YouTube analytics page

Also let’s analyze ‘Playback locations’ a little bit. Wherever viewers might have clicked on your videos (YouTube’s homepage/watch-page or channel’s homepage/videos-page/playlists-page), in 95% to 98% of the cases, they’ll be played back on YouTube watch page. In some rare cases (2%-5%) the videos will be played back on external websites and apps. Also the videos that are featured to new visitors on channel’s homepage are played back on nowhere else but the homepage itself. The percentage amount of these views is negligible compared to total views of the channel.

Average watch duration or audience retention in details

You surely remember about ‘average view duration’ which was mentioned earlier and described a little. Now let’s scrutinize this particular section for a channel. When you click on the ‘average view duration’ section of YouTube analytics page, you’re directed to another detailed page, where the graph might look somewhat like below:

Average view duration graph of YouTube analytics
Average view duration graph of YouTube analytics

As obvious from the above image, the channel’s condition is not exactly good, it’s kind of struggling. With an average watch duration of 56 seconds, this channel is not likely to grow and shine in near future. The most important fact is that the duration is not increasing either, it’s pretty much stuck near a steady value, or even degrading. If your channel’s condition is like this, then you have to take some drastic measures. The number one thing that you should try is uploading different sort of content. Like you can try tutorial or life hack videos, if you previously were uploading only funny videos. Surely you can upload videos based on multiple niches onto your channel and this practice isn’t going to harm the channel in any way.

The next things you should emphasize on are SEO and sharing of your YouTube videos. If your videos’ SEO scores are good, they are likely to be found by many new viewers and potential subscribers. And you have to constantly upload new videos and share them on different platforms as well. People who don’t upload regularly may lose views and watch time in a great scale. Regular upload doesn’t necessarily mean daily uploads; you can upload a video every alternate day, no problem. But the thing is that you should upload at least two videos per day while your channel is still new or struggling to sustain in a competition with others’ new channels. Once your channel is fairly established, you don’t need to share your newly uploaded or old videos on social media platforms, nor you need to upload on a strictly regular basis.