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Man, I’ve gotten really good at these Buzzfeed titles! Next up: 13 things you never knew about SEO, number 7 will shock you!
So anyway, sit your ass the down, you’re about to learn some shit.
So first off, what does SEO stand for? Well, it stands for “Search Engine Optimization”. Most probably associate this with Google, since it is most commonly used when optimizing websites to rank higher in the Google search results. But it doesn’t need to be about Google (or YouTube) at all.
SEO simply means to optimize anything, in any way, that appears in any form of search results.
So take a step back, and read that last bit again.
Anything that have ever returned a search result to you (whether that is on an app store, Steam, Google, YouTube, whatever), has based those results on an algorithm.
The job of that algorithm, is to show what is (algorithmically) considered the most relevant content, within the database of things it has to choose from, based on what you search for.
A simple search algorithm (just as an example) for a blog, would look at whether the exact match (exact match means that “this nice cheeseburger” searches for exactly all those words, in that exact order, without any form of deviation) of the search, appears in the title of a blog post.
If it appears in more than 2 blog posts, it would show the one with the word(s) earlier in the title first, and the other last.
In the example above, figuring out what people on your blog search for (by going into your Google Analytics, for instance), putting those words in an important blog post, and putting those words first in the title, would be “search engine optimizing” that specific blog post.
But of course, the search algorithm on Google and YouTube (and Bing, and Vimeo, and Baidu, and you get the point!) is FAR more complicated than this, taking into account dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of different factors – and we’ll move onto those now!
First, it’s important to realize that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different search algorithms. Google runs on one, Bing another, YouTube a third, and so on.
So the way you optimize a YouTube video, is NOT the way you optimize a website for Google!
The most obvious difference, is video-specific algorithms on YouTube, such as “Watch Time”. Watch Time is the total amount of time (often counted in minutes) that a video has been seen – if 3 people watch 100% of a 1-minute video, it has a watch time of 3 minutes.
Naturally, this is something that is not only relevant for YouTube and not for other sites, but that specific data isn’t even available on other search engines.
So if you’re structuring your video to achieve a higher total watch time (such as making your videos 3 minutes, instead of 30 seconds), that is also SEO – you are optimizing your video, with the aim of achieving a higher ranking in the search results within YouTube.
As above, the same can be said for aiming to get a higher interaction ratio, better viewer retention, and so forth. Anything you do, that you do with the aim of pleasing the search algorithm, is SEO!
Next up is my pet peeve; “I’ve optimized my video!”, but really all you’ve done is add some tags.
The tags of your video is important, but very very far from being the by-all-end-all of optimizing a video. Perhaps the misconception comes from the fact, that some people call optimizing a video “tagging” (where this comes from, I have no idea).
Now, just off the top of my head, I can list the following areas of optimization (that you can do after uploading a video): the title, the description (big one), tags, annotations, subtitles, playlist names, playlist descriptions, playlist content and playlist notes. Under each of those, I can be much more specific about how you want to optimize them.
So obviously, tagging is just a small part of the big picture – and we’ve even completely skipped keyword research at this point! Also, as I noted above, it’s just not “oh, OK, I’ll add X keyword in my description then”, no, it’s how you optimize that description, title, and so forth!
Granted, I suppose purely technically, simply adding a single keyword in your tags is ‘search engine optimization’, but it would be incredibly simplified and bad optimization.
Sure, you could ask “why do you care?!”, and you’d be right, perhaps I shouldn’t. But when people misinterpret what optimizing a YouTube video is all about, it creates a few problems down the road:
1) They might “SEO” their video, and see no change, and as such assume it’s all a bunch of bollocks not to be wasted time on. They might even tell others this.
2) Some write “guides”, but put a lot of completely incorrect information in it.
Both of these 2 issues, creates a repeating circle, where people try it, and then either it works by accident (and they tell others “This is what SEO is!”), or it doesn’t work (and they tell others “SEO is a bunch of bollocks!”).
I suppose here at the end, this has become a post not only about what SEO is overall, but also a slightly personal ‘rant’ about bad SEO advice.
I hope you learned something, and stick around, some super cool stuff is coming in the near future!
(You’ll never guess number 9!)