How to Boost your YouTube SEO

Elsewhere on this site we’ve discussed how when fans search your artist name it’s possible to curate their experience by ensuring the question they’ve posed is answered in the search results. If you’ve not read these articles we recommend you start herehere and here before reading on further.

Caught up? Great!

Curating the search experience for your fans extends to delivering video results in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) so that a potential new fan, or existing fan can engage, discover and explore your music and video content.

In our earlier articles we used the artist Dillon Francis as our search term example. We’re going to continue to use the Dillon Francis example again, and will search only by his artist name (i.e a broad search), the below is a returned SERP featuring a number of his well-known videos.

Let’s take the first song - his collaboration with DJ Snake ‘Get Low’ and see how the SERP changes as we move deeper into the mid-tail keyword ‘Dillon Francis Get Low’.

You can see how the YouTube video is embedded, the artist names, track names and words ‘Official Music Video’ are all clearly displayed. There’s more ways to listen and additional tracks listed under the Knowledge panel section. All of this information appears because the video has been optimized for SEO.

Optimizing your videos for SEO is the specific practice of properly tagging your videos (i.e the title, keywords, tags, and description, etc) for the search engines, so that YouTube knows what your video content is about, and therefore also knows to bring it up in the search engines when a fan types a related keyword into the search.

How YouTube Ranks Videos

There are 5 main items that YouTube takes into consideration in order to rank videos:

  • Title - It seems obvious, but include your band name and music video title in the YouTube video title so that it shows up in search engine results. An example might be: 

           [Your Band Name]  [Song Title] [Content type] or Olivia Rodrigo - Drivers License (Official Music Video)

  • Description - A portion of your video is displayed before the person searching clicks a drop down menu for more information, so describe your video in the ‘description’ ensuring it both evokes curiosity (i.e a desire to click on the video link) as well as being functional (i.e the important information at the top). It’s good practice here to also include links to your website, as well as direct link to your artist page on DSP’s. Putting the full lyrics, or the chorus or hook lyrics to your song will also ensure the video is returned in any lyric searches a fan might conduct. The more descriptive you can be, the better!
  • Tags - Tags support searching rankings, which means the stronger and more relevant your tags are then the better visibility potential your video has. Tags are short phrases or descriptive keywords, and while YouTube will auto-generate some based on the title of your video, you’ll want to ensure you go a step further - add your band name, the name of your video and any lyrics people use to search for the song, as well as any key genres, playlists or description of the content which are relevant.
  • Views - Initially, you may not have views or ratings, so you’ll be focused primarily on the items above. However, while your thumbnail doesn’t directly impact your placement in search results, it can impact how many views you receive on your video, which will help drive how your video is returned in search results over time. The number of views (or plays) your video has helps Google to understand how authoritative your video is. Therefore, it’s important to choose a thumbnail that best visually illustrates and helps “sell” your video.
  • Ratings - See above. Focus on Titles, Descriptions and Tags to improve your SEO.

Additional Best Practices

  • Annotations & Call-to-Actions: An additional purpose of your videos (beyond views, and engagement and awareness of your artist brand is for fans to take an action. Such actions can include visiting your website, buying your song or tour related merchandise, or listening to you on a streaming service. Therefore you should include a CTA (Call-to-Action) in every video you post. It’s best to limit this to one CTA so that you direct the viewer to the action you most want them to take for example “Follow us on Instagram” or “Visit our Website”.
  • End screens: An end screen is a template inserted into your video which plays automatically at the end. They are useful because they suggest to viewers what you’d like them to watch next, and provide ‘subscribe’ opportunities for your channel (allowing you to build an audience of subscribers who will be notified anytime you post new content). They’re easy to create: before you upload your video, go to the video editor and add your end screen (typically chosen from a selection of templates you can easily insert).
  • Create a Playlist: While not crucial to SEO, a common best practice for improving your SERP profile is to create playlists. Whether you have singles, an EP or albums - create playlists for those groups of songs which help organize them, and then promote those playlists in the same way you would a Spotify playlist in order to drive traffic to your channel and potentially pick up views and subscribers.
  • Community Management: Community management is the practice of connecting with your audience. Many artists often overlook engaging with their fans on YouTube, preferring to prioritize replying to comments in Instagram or Retweeting on Twitter. However, continuing to actively talk with your followers on this platform (by utilizing the community tab within your channel where you can post messages, and share photos amongst other things) is a great way to engage with your fans and keep them active within your channel.
  • Host from your website: It seems obvious, but when you embed your YouTube videos into your owned domain and website you’re providing an additional opportunity for fans to view them, engage with the content and potentially subscribe to your channel. Video is also a key way of sharing your unique artist story with fans. Further by hosting the content on your owned domain you have the potential to increase the traffic to your website and your page content views. As we’ve touched on: your website is an important piece of your SEO eco-system, and by embedding your video on your site you’re helping to improve the overall performance of your website’s SEO.

Bonus Tip: 

Monetize your videos: Did you know that if you own the rights to the music in your video (or have a license for the song you have covered) that you can monetize your video by allowing companies to run ads against your content? YouTube has a great guide on what is and is not allowed here. We recommend reviewing YouTube’s Guide on monetizing your videos to ensure that you are legally allowed to collect income for your content.

Author Bio: Dayna Young has 15+ years of global experience in music, entertainment, and leading creative teams to success. She is the Founder of Fred & Augustus and an expert in music marketing and digital artist development. Ultimately, what gets her up in the morning is the knowledge that she’s creating opportunities for artists.

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