Video SEO Deep Dive: How to Get Your Videos to Rank [Transcript]
LILY BOND: Welcome everyone, and thank you for joining this webinar entitled “Video SEO Deep Dive– How to Get Your Videos to Rank.”
I’m Lily Bond from 3Play Media and I’ll be moderating today. I’m joined by Tim Schmoyer, a YouTube-certified consultant and the founder of Video Creators. You may recognize him from his YouTube channel, Video Creators TV, where he helps train other creators to master the YouTube platform.
His presentation should take about 40 minutes, and we’ll leave 15 minutes for Q&A at the end. And with that, I’m going to hand it off to Tim, who has a great presentation prepared for you.
TIM SCHMOYER: Hey guys, good to see you, or you can see me, but it’s good to hang out with you. Let me get my slides up here and hit Play. Cool.
So I was looking at the list of a lot of you guys who are here right now, and it’s awesome because there’s a lot of friendly, fun people here. Some of you guys know a lot about SEO, so this is going to be a lot of fun to talk to you guys about this as we go through it together.
So let me first of all, for those of you guys– I know a lot of people have no idea who I am and why we’re talking about this. My name is Tim Schmoyer, and these are my kids– my daughter, my two sons, and my two daughters. And we didn’t know it when this picture was taken, but we actually had twin girls in this picture, also. We just wouldn’t find out for another week or two later after this.
So we’re really excited about identical twin girls coming in the fall– well, probably closer to Christmastime. That’s a whole complicated story. But anyway, they’re coming. We’re excited to meet them.
And basically, how my wife and I got started on YouTube actually we were dating at the time, and this was back in 2006. March 2, 2006, I uploaded my very first video to YouTube. It was a quick little 30-second video. I called it “Test Video,” so you’d know a lot of creative juice went into this video.
I just wanted to see how easy is it to post videos on YouTube. And at that time, me and this girl here, we were just dating. This was pre-Facebook days. We just started posting videos of us out on dates, hanging out, doing fun things together. I had to share it with our family and friends. And I was in grad school in a different part of the country and stuff, so we just made videos kind of like the way a lot of people use Facebook now.
And it just kept growing, and we just kept making videos. We weren’t really consistent. There’s a lot of things we did wrong and missed at the beginning, but today I personally have created and published over 3,000 YouTube videos across various channels.
And a few years ago, YouTube invited to become YouTube certified in audience growth because they saw some of the training stuff I was doing with other creators and liked it. And so now my business, Video Creators, trains and teaches people how to grow their audience on YouTube and most importantly, how to spread a message that changes lives because that’s what my wife and I get really excited about.
I’m starting to hear stories of marriages that were healed as a result of a video we made, or someone who didn’t commit suicide because of a message that they really gravitated towards, and that was like, man, we got to train other people how to have these types of stories.
So Video Creators, my company’s all about doing that, and one of the things I work and address a lot is video SEO– how do we get people to find and discover our videos and our content organically through a search? If someone wants to find like, how do I do this, or why is this that way, or I need to fix whatever problem they’re searching for the solution, we want to help you guys, and that’s what we’re going to do here today is help you guys make it easy for your solution and your videos to be found.
So what we’re going to do, as Lily mentioned, is we’re going to take a lot of questions. I know I’ve talked about video SEO enough to know that there’s always special use scenarios or cases that people want to talk about, so definitely ask them in the chat. Lily’s going to be recording all those and we’ll talk about them at the end of this, so definitely put down your questions.
So usually there– we’ll start with this. We’re talking about what ranks first. So there’s three things that will rank in search results, and usually people think about the videos, right? That one’s easy– well, how do I get my videos to rank?
But there’s two other things a lot of people don’t also consider is that channel or playlists can rank in search. So you see at the top here at number one and number three, we have playlists that are ranking in search results. And also channels themselves can also rank in search results, as well.
There’s a couple different places where those things can rank, and you guys are probably– a lot of people think about YouTube search. That one makes sense, right? A lot of people also think about Google search. We want our videos to show up here at the top of Google.
But another one that people don’t often think about, which is actually more likely the highest driver of traffic for an average channel on YouTube, is actually the related, the suggested videos down here at the side. Typically, those will drive far more views and traffic and discoverability to your channel than being listed for an actual search result. And maybe we’ll get to talk a little bit about that here, also, but I know what a lot of you guys are thinking about, though, is the YouTube search and the Google search.
So let’s talk about how that works. There’s two factors that are really important with video SEO, and usually when people think about this, they’re thinking about just the metadata, right? They’re thinking about titles, they’re thinking about tags, descriptions, captions, thumbnails, and the assumption that we often make is that, my video is awesome. I make really good content, therefore the video should just rank well.
And so we make the video often thinking about SEO after the video is created. But, as we’ll talk about here today, usually– not usually, but always now– it used to be different, but now on YouTube, videos, how they rank, is determined more on how viewers interact and engage with your content.
So viewers actually end up determining how your video is going to rank, and so the title, the metadata, the description stuff– that stuff’s important, but most people, that’s all they think about. So the two aspects that we’re going to talk about here today are both the content, which is arguably the more important part of a video SEO because that has the highest impact on how your videos will perform in search. And then the second thing we’ll talk about here is the metadata because that is important probably not as much as you might think it is, and we’ll talk a little bit about that here.
So when people think about the content, a lot of people will make their video, they’ll slap a title on it, and they’ll research their titles and their tags perfectly and have all these keywords, [? image. ?] And then time goes by and they’ll be like, why is my video ranking– I did the keyword research perfectly, and that’s a great [? tag. ?] Why is it not ranking?
But the way Google thinks about this is they use that data initially, but they are really good at finding out what videos do people find to be valuable, and then ranking videos according to that. So Google wants to reward videos that actually keep viewers engaged, as opposed to something [INAUDIBLE] just merely [INAUDIBLE] click through but didn’t entice viewers to stay, that type of thing. So that’s why it’s really important to have really solid content.
And the main way that Google measures this– the number one biggest way to optimize, to dominate on YouTube and in video SEO in general, is to optimize your videos for people, not for robots. As we said, Google will look and they’ll say, how are people responding? They’re looking for different user signals that the video is giving them from the people that are watching more so than the title, the tags, and the descriptions and the captions and things like that.
So if you can make awesome content that is really highly valuable to people, it does a good job at doing certain things we’re going to talk about a little bit, those things are really, really, really important. So think about this in terms of how do I deliver solid value to somebody in a way that’s really easy for them to consume, instead of I want to make a video about this, and then the way it makes you perform is to have good metadata about it.
So the number one way that Google determines how the number one signal that they take into consideration about how they’re going to rank a video in search is watch time. And so watch time is simply the total amount of time that is spent watching a video. And so a lot of people think this is a percentage. We could debate that a little bit, but most people agree that it’s not the percentage of the time watched, but it’s the actual total accumulated time spent watching that video, which is a statistic you can see [? in your ?] YouTube Analytics, Google doesn’t hide it. You can see exactly how much watch time each video and your channel overall is accumulating.
So the more time people spend watching your videos, there’s a really the strongest indicator to Google that your video is valuable to these people, as opposed to if they just watch [INAUDIBLE]. So the reason why the percentage thing doesn’t work because you got a lot of videos are different lengths on YouTube, right?
So let’s say I made a video that was 10 minutes long and people watched 50% of it, so they watched five minutes of the video. So that video on average per viewer got five minutes of watch time compared to, let’s say, all other things considered equal– it’s not quite this simple, but let’s say all other things considered equal– that you have a three-minute video that people watch 100% of that video.
Now, you would think, well, this got 100% audience retention. No one clicked away. This video is super valuable. It’s three minutes long, and you would think that that would be that one that outranks.
But it’s actually because even though only 50% of the people finished the longer video, it was getting five minutes, and so that got two extra minutes of watch time per person. So again, it’s not quite that simple, and basically there’s other factors and variables to consider, but all other things being considered equal, the one that got 50% audience retention with five minutes of watch time will outrank the one that’s getting three minutes of watch time with 100% completion.
So hopefully that makes sense, and so metadata’s important because it gives Google some initial information to learn about what your video’s about, then it collects all that data. But then looking at signals like watch time and other things, and the metadata starts to play a lesser role.
So one of the reasons why this is important for you guys to understand this because I’m sure none of you do this, but people actually lie in their metadata all the time. It’s a really untrusted source for Google because let’s say you have a video you want to make. Let’s use this example. Let’s say you’ve made a video about dogs, but all the metadata you wrote is about cats.
So Google can and will eventually figure out that this video is not about dogs, it’s about cats, even though you gave them, like, a dog thumbnail because– for example, let’s say OK, this video is about cats. So you told– forget what I just said about my example.
Let’s say that you said that this video is about cats, but it’s actually about dogs. So they’re ranking with cats, and they’re saying, there’s not a lot of click-throughs happening here with cats, but when this video’s displayed next to dogs, it’s having higher audience retention. People who are searching for dogs tend to watch this video longer. So maybe this video is actually more about dogs even though they told us it’s about cats. So they’ll eventually figure that out based on the user signals and data points that they’re getting.
So watch time is the number one biggest thing to consider. But there’s also a close second, and that is session watch time, which is how a video contributes to a viewing session overall. So this is measured by if someone watches your video, do they abandon YouTube at that point and that ends their viewing session, or do they go on to watch maybe another two or three videos as a result of watching this video?
Google will start to learn, hey, if we position this video here, typically, when someone’s done watching this video, they’ll watch another five videos, as opposed to this one. They’ll watch just one more video. They leave. So Google’s objective is to get people to spend more time on their platform watching more content, seeing more ads, being exposed to other channels and more content. So videos that help them achieve that goal they actually favor and rank higher.
So this is really important because I know a lot of marketers, what they are really interested in is get someone to my video and then get them off YouTube and to my website. And maybe now you see why that’s not such a good idea because say your video’s super successful at that. That means that you are ending someone’s viewing session time every time it happens, and that also means that your video is not going to rank as well anymore.
So I think that it’s a good idea to send people away from your video and their viewing session. Send them to your website when it makes good business sense for you do so. But don’t do that in every video.
So for me, the way I do it is at the end of all my videos, part my end card is I show my free ebook. It’s called The Secret to Building Your YouTube Channel. And people can click the annotation. They click the link in the description, the interactive card, whatever they want to click, and go over and sign up for my email list.
So I send everyone away from YouTube once, but that’s the only time that I’m sending them away because once they’ve signed up and they’ve gotten that ebook, now they can keep watching videos on my channel as much as they want because there’s no other reason for them to leave, again, because they already signed up for that. But once they’re on my email list, then I can send them to wherever I want. Then I can send them to my website. Then I can send them to my Facebook page. Then I can send them to wherever. So find ways to get people into a list or something that’s valuable to you, but don’t try to make every single video a call to action to send someone off of YouTube. That will hurt your video SEO.
Another way to increase session watch time is playlists. Playlists are really important. And we can talk more about this in the questions if you want. But the way I think of a playlist is don’t put every video on the same playlist. Have a lot of different playlists that are maybe five videos, probably no longer than six videos because the goal is to get them to watch more videos.
So if someone comes to a playlist and they say, wow, there’s 120 videos in this playlist, there’s no way. They’re not even going to sit and watch them. But if they see, oh, it’s only five videos. I can watch all these. That’s easier. That’s more consumable for them.
So have a lot of different playlists. We’ll talk a little bit more about playlists here, too. But sending people on the playlist mode. So when you share your videos, that’s really important. So when you share your videos, instead of just sharing the YouTube URL, actually go to the playlist, click on the video inside the playlist, and it’ll start playing. But what you’ll see there is now on the right side or underneath the video, depending on which viewing mode you have on YouTube, you’ll see a list of all the other videos that are in that playlist.
So share that URL instead that has a playlist attached to it so then you’re always sending people into playlist mode to potentially watch more of your videos. And thus, you’re increasing the session watch time, which is really important. So that’s how that works. We can answer questions if you guys want to dig into that further. But watch time, session watch time, the two biggest signals that Google looks for from viewers who are watching your video.
So another factor comes to consider is the recency factor. So you guys see here, under each of these videos there’s this New little tag. Maybe you’ll notice that in search results. So the way this works is after you publish your video, Google takes about a week, around seven days, to boost your video in search results, not like the way you boost a post on Facebook, but they’ll experiment with it a lot more. And they’ll try to collect a lot of data points and signals from users about your video so they can learn better what your video’s about, how do people respond to it, how does it impact viewing session, things like that.
And so that’s why you get this New tag. So that first week is really important for your metadata because when you first publish the video, Google knows nothing about your video other than what you tell it through the title, the tags, the description, those things primarily. And so it’ll trust you. It’ll experiment, try some things out. So it’ll probably boost you, get you a little higher, give you some more exposure than you might normally get.
And then after a week, it’ll say, OK, we experimented with it. It totally flopped. We’re not posting this anywhere in the search. Or they say, we experimented with this video. We actually got some really good signals about it, strong signals. We’re going to push this up higher. So after a week, it’ll rank accordingly.
So when you guys see maybe other SEO people say, hey, I can get any video to rank number one on YouTube in only 24 hours, um, OK, yeah. I mean, one, it could be because they’re using super long tail queries almost no one is searching for. But two, the recency factor is playing a big key there. So the question is, can you keep it there even after three months from now? Is it still going to be there? So the recency factor is really important. That’s when your metadata plays the biggest role. And after a week, they’ll rank it accordingly based on the signals they got.
Another big thing to keep in mind is user intent. Google focuses more on the intent that the person has, or what they’re searching for, more than the actual one to one keyword matches, which I know is how a lot of people think about it. And that’s kind of old school. It doesn’t quite work that way anymore. I’m going to give you a couple examples.
So here’s a video of mine. If you search Google “How to get more views on YouTube,” and then you look right down here, here’s my video. Look at the title. “How to Grow with Zero Views and Zero Subscribers.” So “get more views” isn’t even in my title. I got “views,” but “get more,” that’s not in there. “Subscribers” is here. That’s not here.
So you can see Google kind of understands when someone’s searching for “how to get more views on YouTube,” they understand that this video serves that person well. So even though it’s not a direct correlation between keywords, Google and YouTube understand that this video serves the intent of what someone is searching for. And so based on all the user signals that they’ve collected and the data that they’ve gotten from people, this video will work really well. So they’ll display that.
Here’s another example. Someone searched YouTube for “top music videos,” one of your top results here is “Billboard Top Songs 2015.” So we’ve got “top” in here. “Music” is not in here. “Videos” aren’t in here. But still, that’s the second search result.
So don’t think of your metadata exactly as I’ve got to do perfect keyword research and get it exactly to line up. It’s more important, going back to the principle that we said, optimize your videos for people, not for robots. So write a good, compelling title that pitches the value that you want to deliver, but it’s also something that someone who’s searching maybe for the keywords that you’re looking for would say, oh, that video looks like it will answer my question as well.
So I’m not really a big fan of doing a lot of hardcore keyword research. I think it’s helpful and valuable for giving you some ideas of, you know, what are people generally searching for, ideas for content, things like that. But trying to copy exact phrase type of stuff isn’t really exactly how it works anymore.
So there’s a couple tools that might be helpful for you guys. A lot of you might know what these are already. But Google Trends, google.com/trends. You can see, on average, how is a certain query performing? Is it getting more traffic, less traffic than it did a year ago? Is it on the rise? Is it on the way down? So that will give you a lot of ideas there.
Auto complete. Just start typing into Google or into YouTube and see what it auto completes. Generally speaking, the first suggestion it gives you as you start typing will be the most searched for query for the letters that you’re typing in. And then keywordtool.io is another one you can use. Again, mostly get ideas you type in your words and it’ll give you a whole bunch of different ideas around that keyword. So intent is really important.
So how do you actually improve the content, your actual video, for SEO? I’m going to give you guys some really tangible examples here. First thing you need to do is it has to hook the viewer, and it has to hook them really well– 15 seconds. So your first 15 seconds have to tie in very well with the title and the thumbnail because the title and the thumbnail is the reason why someone clicked in the first place.
So if you start teasing your value 30 seconds into the video, you’ve probably already lost most of your audience. They’ve probably already abandoned the video and clicked away. So the first 15 seconds of the video have to be designed and crafted to interact and support the title and the thumbnail, which is what people clicked. So you want to affirm for them that the value that they clicked expecting to get is the value that you are going to deliver. Make them feel like, yes, I’m in the right place. I need to keep watching this video because what I’m looking for is going to come in this video.
So often, if it’s a how to video, just say, hey, guys. Today, we’re going to talk about how to rebuild your car engine of a Ford Mustang, maybe something like that. So don’t copy exactly what you wrote in the title, but complement it in some way in that first 15 seconds.
Or if you’re doing DIY, make sure you start by showing the end product of what someone clicked on. I want to learn how to make this. So you start by showing you, we’re going to show you how to make this. That’s everything. So the hook is really important.
Keep an eye on your audience retention scores and your personal YouTube analytics. That will show you a lot of engagement and how your audience is responding to your content. And if you look across a lot of videos and you see a lot of dips.
As a friend of mine, actually, perfect example. A friend of mine said that whenever he said the word “module” in his videos, he noticed there’d be a dip in the audience retention. He’d be like, what’s up with that? So he stopped using the word “module,” and instantly his audience retention went up. So I don’t know if you’ll find something as clear as that, but you will start to see patterns as you analyze each video you do going forward. So that’s really important.
Engagement is also important, looking at, how is the community reacting to your videos? Are they leaving comments? Are they favoriting? Are they thumbs up? Are they giving likes? Again, those things don’t necessarily have much influence on video SEO, but they do give you a strong signal as to how well your content is performing with the people that you’re trying to reach.
For titles. This goes without saying. Use really good, enticing titles and thumbnails. And I know, guys, we could spend a series talking about each one of these things. That’s kind of outside the scope here, but that’s important.
Human connection is also really important, building human connection with the viewer so that they feel like they like you, they feel they can hang out with you, that they can trust you. That’s really important.
Six. Obviously, clearly deliver the value in the video that you say you want to deliver. If you have a five minute idea, take five minutes to explain it. Don’t take a second longer. Don’t try to cram a five minute idea into two minutes just to artificially get it down to two minutes. Just deliver the value that you can.
Seven. Direct viewers to other videos when appropriate to increase their session time. So that could be interactive cards. That could be using annotations, links in the description of the video, playlists, a lot of those types of things.
Playlists. I just said this. Put videos in your playlist. We talked about that. That helps increase the likelihood that they keep going.
Subscribers are arguably really important for SEO because they are going to give you a lot of watch time within that seven days after your video is first published. So one of the best things you can do for your video SEO is to grow your subscriber base so you can give Google a lot of really positive signals and data points about your video right when you first publish it. That is really, really, really helpful. And subscribers will give, generally speaking, more positive signals to Google about your video than a random person who just found it through your search or something. So your subscribers are really important from an SEO perspective.
And then, 10, post on a regular schedule so that your viewers know when to come back and so they know when to expect another video from you. You want them to make your channel part of their weekly rhythm, just like Survivor and Biggest Loser and all the TV shows do as well.
So that’s the content side. Now I’ll shift in our remaining time and talk about the metadata side which, as I’ve said, the actual way the video is structured, that’s the most important thing as far as video SEO, the actual video content itself and how it’s presented and how engaging it is and how valuable it is and all that type of stuff. That’s the most important. But metadata, like I said, does play a big role, especially within the first seven days after the video is published.
So it plays a big role in that way right after your video is published. But it also plays a big role from a human perspective because the title is what people are going to click on. So even if it’s not exactly keyword matching, they don’t really care. But they say, that video looks valuable to me and I want to click it. Or they search, or it’s related or suggested or whatever the thing is.
So here’s a video that I did. This was back in last year now. That was a year ago. And let’s go through each of these points. So first of all, we have the title. You want to write your title thinking about people first, not robots, not Google. Think about people first. Make it enticing. Tease the story. Pitch the value. In this case, I said, “You won’t believe this trick for getting YouTube views,” which sounds really clickbaity, but it’s a video about clickbait. So it’s kind of like meta, which is also a meta use of the word “meta” now, way of using the title. Wow. That was really deep.
So think about optimizing these for people first, and Google on their own, they’ll figure out what your video is actually about. You can see, as of last year, this video had 51,000 views in a relatively short amount of time. So I don’t remember exactly when I took a screenshot. But the title is really important.
Second is the description right here below. So pay careful attention to the first few sentences here. That’s really important. That’s the snippet of text that will show up in Google search results and in YouTube when people search. A lot of people want to cram their URL in there. I personally advise against that. I say, entice someone to click first before you try to get them to leave the video and go to your website. So use that as prime SEO real estate. Use that to give Google better information about your video and to entice someone to click. That is the most important use of that.
Then you have your tags. So tags, they’re just words you would use to describe your video to a friend. So don’t overthink it. Don’t try to hack it. There’s no tricks or anything. If you were going to describe in one word, or maybe compound words or something, two words or something, how would you describe this? So how to, trick, YouTube, views, YouTube creator, YouTube views, Hank Green, because I was reporting on an article that Hank Green wrote about this very thing, so I put him in here. Vlog brothers, videos, appropriate, legitimate, tactic, strategy, grow, YouTube tip, Tim Schmoyer video.
So just describe it. Don’t overthink it. It’s not rocket science. I would say put at least eight to 10 in there, and don’t use the same tags in every video. I see a lot of people doing that.
Again, all things considered equal, it’s more complicated than this. But all other things considered equal, you’re essentially telling Google that all your videos are the same. You have the same descriptions, same tags. You’re like, hey, I just uploaded this same video 13 times with a different time code on it. Again, it’s more complicated than that. Google will figure it out. But it’s best if you give Google the best information you can since they were asking for it.
Over here then you have ratings. And these aren’t related to search directly, but they could lead to discoveries, for example. So there’s a lot of people liking your video. Let’s say someone with a high subscriber count likes your video. If that channel is sharing their activity on YouTube with their subscribers, that could then push your video to the What to Watch page and say, hey, this person you subscribed to liked this video. Maybe you will, too. And that, then, gets more views. That gets more watch time on your video.
So there’s not a direct correlation between likes and dislikes. Google sees them both as forms of engagement. So if you’re getting a lot of dislikes, that’s fine. Google just wants to see, did this video entice or elicit a reaction from somebody? So they see both as the same.
Comments also, again, don’t directly influence the SEO, but those things can lead to more exposure in the What to Watch feed or people sharing it to Google+ or to Twitter. If they like the video, sometimes it’ll auto tweet for them. So that could potentially– so there’s a lot of indirect ways, but it doesn’t directly influence.
Then you have the actual thumbnail itself. I would make the argument that the title and the thumbnail are the most important thing for getting someone to watch your video in the first place. So we talked about crafting enticing titles that are designed for people. And the thumbnail also has to be really good. Now, this doesn’t influence search directly, but it is the representation of your video that shows up in search results. And that can definitely make a difference on leading to a higher click-through rate for your video, which then, in turn, gets you more views, but more importantly, gets you more watch time. So thumbnails and titles, super, super important for getting more watch time. I feel like I’m just breezing over all this for you guys. I’m sorry, but really important.
So let’s talk about captions. And I know these guys at 3Play Media. That’s who I use, actually, for all my captions, and they do a great job at it. And playlists. Those are both important, too. So let’s talk about captions.
So Lily could talk about this probably better than I can, but I learned a lot of the stuff about captions from these guys at 3Play Media. I’ve done a lot of other interviews with them. So from what I’ve learned from them and other sources is that captions influence what your video can rank for, but not necessarily how high in the ranks it goes.
So again, breaking down super fundamental, more variables to consider than this, but all other things being considered equal, if one video has captions and another doesn’t, the one that does gives Google more information about your video. So they know maybe a little more confidently what to rank it for and what breadth of queries it might be relevant for rather than just the metadata that you gave them. Because Google can read at about a sixth grade reading level. So they can understand with captions pretty clearly what your video is about.
But the main reason why it’s important is because– and I actually learned this straight from Lily, I think. In fact, it was definitely straight from Lily. Is that captions actually influence people’s watch time and the retention on the video because 80% of people who watch captions don’t do it because they’re hard of hearing, because they’re in a library, they forgot their headphones or something. It’s because they want to follow along with the person speaking in the video. And that helps them understand. That helps them retain the information better. And that helps them watch the video longer, thus giving your video more watch time when you have the captions on it.
So again, captions don’t directly, like, hey, I’m going to cram my keyword into my captions file 14 times so that Google really knows that this video is about video SEO. Doesn’t really work that way. It’s more about giving the viewer a good experience, making it easier for them to watch more of your video. So we can talk more about captions if you want, and Lily can help you guys a lot with that.
Playlists are really important. There’s a playlist I do of my family channel. You have the title right up here. So that’s really important. Crafts for kids. I’ve got keywords in it. And then here, you’ve got the description of the playlist right here as well so that we’re giving more information to Google about two things.
One, this playlist now has a better potential to rank in search results because we showed you how playlists can rank. Here’s the thumbnail. This is the thumbnail that’s going to take, which is this first video down here. But you can set the thumbnail for the playlist to be any video in your playlist. So this is the thumbnail that will show for this playlist. And this is the keyword, so to speak, that it would rank for. And here’s the description. That will be the snippet text for this playlist in the search. So your playlist can search well.
There’s also another reason why playlists are important. It’s because what I’ve also done by placing each of these videos into this playlist, I’ve given Google more information about each of these videos. So I have “Crafts for Kids” number one, two, three, four at the end. I don’t know that I recommend that. You can see I stopped doing it. I don’t know that that was really important. In fact, I would probably go back and take that out.
But these top two, for example, I made this video, how to make a [INAUDIBLE] cake, or how to make a New York style cheesecake from scratch. And I put it in this playlist “Crafts for Kids.” This title and description gives more context to Google about these videos now as a whole. So now Google has more information about what these videos are about, what to rank them, who these videos are valuable for and everything because I put them in an optimized crafted playlist. So all that is really important, too.
So that’s a quick overview, guys, like super quick. I feel like I’ve been talking a mile a minute. Maybe you feel that way too. I’m sorry. Let’s dive into some Q&A, but if you guys want to find me, here’s where I’m at. @TimSchmoyer on Twitter. You can subscribe to my YouTube channel, youtube.com/videocreators. This is where I train the three videos a week, just helping creators know how can they master the platform called YouTube and use it as a place to grow their audience and their subscriber base and their views so that their message that they’re spreading can reach more people and change lives. And here’s my email address, email@example.com.
So let’s do questions. Lily, what have you got?
LILY BOND: Awesome. Thank you, Tim. That was an awesome presentation. People have been asking a lot of questions. So I think we should just get right into it. Feel free to continue to ask questions while we’re going through Q&A. We’ll get to as many as we can.
So Tim, the first question here is, I’ve heard that too many tags cause keyword dilution where each tag has less power if you write too many. Is there any truth to this?
TIM SCHMOYER: I don’t think so. I mean, I think there’s a point where you’re writing keywords that don’t really help. It sounds to me what the person’s saying is let’s say you put one tag in your field there, that that will get 100% of the weight for that query or what Google considers, whereas if you put 10 tags, now each tag is only weighted 10%.
It doesn’t work that way. Don’t think about it in terms of numbers and how many. Think of it as if I was going to describe this from a friend. This is exactly how Google themselves says to do this, by the way. So it’s not like something I made up. They say, how would you describe this to a friend– again, putting the people element first, and just put those in there.
And don’t put one or two. Think creatively. Give them a bunch. About eight, 10 is good. More is fine, too. But as far as what order they’re in, Google actually did say officially that the order doesn’t matter either. It used to a year or two ago. It doesn’t now.
So when you start thinking about it in those types of terms, I feel like are getting back into the robot phase, which there’s some value to that because at the end of the day, it’s still a robot that’s looking at the video. But Google is getting better at just discovering what people are wanting. If you can do that well, then Google is going to make you do well.
LILY BOND: Thanks, Tim.
TIM SCHMOYER: That was a long answer. Sorry.
LILY BOND: No. Feel free to elaborate as much as you want.
TIM SCHMOYER: Elaborate.
LILY BOND: Another question here is, does opening a link in a new tab end the watch time on your YouTube video?
TIM SCHMOYER: You know, I don’t know. That’s a good question. So if this is being watched in the background– for example, let’s say there’s an hour long video. You open it up in the background, start doing other stuff on your computer. I don’t know how that one affects session watch time or watch time. It’s still getting watch time, but I don’t know the exact way that impacts. Was that the question, how it impacts watch time?
LILY BOND: Yeah.
TIM SCHMOYER: OK. Sorry. I don’t know that one.
LILY BOND: Fair enough. Another question here. Does changing metadata long after a video has been debuted actually affect it that much, or does Google pay the most attention to how you first tagged it?
TIM SCHMOYER: Good question. So let’s say you make a video that you feel like should be performing very well on search and it’s not. Definitely go give it new tags, give it a new title, give it a new thumbnail, rewrite the description. And that does seem to kind of reset what Google thinks about that video. It doesn’t boost it a brand new video again, but it will experiment with it differently again.
I’ve certainly seen this many times. Even my own videos, I will go back and give different titles, different descriptions, write better metadata for it, and then test that and see how that performs. And there’s several times where doing that has actually taken a video that was dormant and now it’s getting tens of thousands of views a week and days and stuff like that. So that can certainly make a big difference.
What I wouldn’t do is change it every day or every week. I would change it and I’d wait another three months or so. Is it doing better? Is it not? Or if you have a video that’s doing well and you want to see if you can make it do better, I would not mess with it.
Because more times than not, if it’s already doing well– in fact, that video I showed you that’s showing up for how to get more views on YouTube. That’s actually not really that good of a thumbnail. I think I could make a much better one. But because it’s over a million views and it’s doing really well, I’m not going to mess with it. I do not want to reset in any way what Google thinks about that video. So update older videos, but don’t do it for ones that are performing well.
LILY BOND: Sorry, Tim. You cut out for just a second at the last little bit of that. Do you mind just repeating the last two sentences or so?
TIM SCHMOYER: Yeah. I said if the video’s doing well, don’t reset what Google thinks about it. Just leave it alone. Even if you think you could do better and you think, I could get more views on it if I tweak this, don’t mess with it. Leave that go. If you have videos that aren’t performing, there’s nothing lost in updating it, resetting, so to speak– doesn’t completely reset– what Google thinks about your video. That can definitely help videos start performing well that otherwise haven’t been.
LILY BOND: Awesome. Thank you.
TIM SCHMOYER: I think that’s what I said.
LILY BOND: So another question here. How many playlists should one video be added to?
TIM SCHMOYER: Hm. I would say maybe five or six. There’s not like it needs to be a minimum of this or a maximum of that. If you have a playlist that appropriately fits within, add it to that one. But don’t go artificially making playlists with 16 different combinations of the same keywords. Again, now we’re not thinking correctly about how Google approaches SEO anymore. So add it to the playlists that are appropriate, but don’t artificially make a bunch of them just so that it’s in a certain number of playlists. Does that make sense?
LILY BOND: Yeah. Thank you. Another question here. How does live streaming on YouTube affect SEO, if at all?
TIM SCHMOYER: It does. Huge. So live streaming triggers something in an algorithm that just makes it go bonkers in a good way. And I think what it is is because when you’re live streaming, you’re giving Google a ton of really good signals about your video. So when you’re live streaming, you’re getting a ton of watch time because people are watching live and they have a different experience, a different motivation to want to watch. You’re getting a ton of watch time on a video.
You’re getting tons of engagement– comments and interaction and engagement all throughout the duration of the video. And you’re really good for building a human connection with people, kind of like we are right now. We’re live, so there’s maybe a different connection with people than people who watch the replay later. So it can be a really good thing for your channel from an SEO perspective.
LILY BOND: Awesome. Thanks. Another question here is, my show may have bad language at some points. Will adding this in captions make YouTube disable monetization for them because of adult content with the bad language?
TIM SCHMOYER: No.
LILY BOND: Cool. Another question. Does Google rank the videos higher up, especially in non-English speaking countries, if it has translated captions?
TIM SCHMOYER: I think you would know better than me about that, Lily. What do you think?
LILY BOND: My instinct would be yes, because the subtitles would be ranking in the language that they’re searching in.
TIM SCHMOYER: OK, well there you go. Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, my inclination was to say no, because that would be more consistent with how Google treats captions overall from what I understand. But you guys know more about that part than I do.
LILY BOND: Yeah, I think– Sorry, sorry. I would think mainly that if the person is searching in a language other than English, then results on YouTube that have metadata and caption files in that language would rank higher than English files.
TIM SCHMOYER: Yeah. Yeah, I have heard people who put different tags in different languages on their videos, and so that they’ll end up getting a lot more of a Spanish audience or Chinese audience, or whatever the case may be, by using tags in other languages. I haven’t tested that or do anything with that myself though.
LILY BOND: Great, thanks. Someone else is asking, do people with longer videos have an advantage?
TIM SCHMOYER: Only if their content more valuable than yours. So it’s not like an advantage or disadvantage. Again, it’s about how do I best deliver value to people? And so if you have like a two minute idea, don’t try to cram it into five minutes because people can tell that, and now your video is less valuable to them.
So the same thing, like I said, if you have a five minute idea, don’t try to cram into two minutes. Because people– that’s not serving them well either. So think less about the length and how do I get more watch time, and think more about how do I give Google really good signals that this video is valuable to them by serving them really well? And they’ll pick up on that.
LILY BOND: Great. Another question. Does your video still have a chance if it doesn’t perform well in the first week?
TIM SCHMOYER: Yes. It does. And I’ve seen this happen many, many times. It’s a little bit harder– actually, I would say it’s impossible to predict. So after the first week, I’ve seen many times– you guys have heard these stories too I’m sure– where it’s like videos sit dormant for a year, and then all a sudden it’s just like, big impact.
I was talking with a guy yesterday. He has a video about he’d given his son a dog. He posted it on YouTube. It’s the only video on the channel. Posted on YouTube to share with their grandparents. And then he forgot about it. And like a year later, he got contacted from someone wanting to license the video. And he was like, what? I forgot about the video. He went and he had over a million views.
So sometimes videos will sit dormant for a long time, and then they’ll do better. But that’s really hard to predict when that happens. Often the reason that happens is because someone else did a video that’s performing really well, and your video just happened to be the perfect follow up video for that one. And so it’s less likely to be a search. More likely to be a related suggested videos thing that happens.
So I would be more likely, not over the first week, but after maybe three or four months, go back and update the title and the text and that stuff again.
LILY BOND: Cool. Along those lines, someone is asking, does changing a title months after publishing it mess up any URLs that I might be directing to the video?
TIM SCHMOYER: Nope. The URL stays the same.
LILY BOND: Great. So what’s the best approach for updating a video? Should you upload the new video and delete the old one?
TIM SCHMOYER: So if you’re uploading the exact same video, it’s kind of pointless because you’ve already proven to yourself that video is not going to work. So you could update the metadata on the old one, and see if that kind of helps it. But re-uploading the same video again is kind of like, it’s pointless. The content is not going to start performing well just because it has a different upload date or publish date.
So what I would do instead is learn from the video that’s not performing well, look at your audience retention graph, look at all the analytics, and say how can we improve this idea, this value we’re trying to deliver in this video? How can we do that better based on what we learned from this video? And then go make a new video and do it better, and then try again. I wouldn’t upload the same video twice.
LILY BOND: Great, thanks. Another question. Do embedded videos improve SEO?
TIM SCHMOYER: Good question. Kind of, not really. So watch time for embedded views is not weighed as equally or as heavily as watch time from the watch page on YouTube. And the reason for that is because it’s two different viewing experiences.
So if someone’s watching on the watch page on YouTube, YouTube can compare data from that viewer’s session, and compare apples to apples across all other viewers on YouTube. But as soon as someone’s watching it in a different viewing experience–
For example, theoretically let’s say that you embedded your video in a blank web page, no other ads, no other suggested videos, no comments, no nothing, just the video, and you sent someone to that page, that’s a different viewing experience, and you’re going to get different signals from that person than if they’re on the watch page on YouTube where there are opportunities to click away and do other things.
So it’s kind of like an apples to oranges comparison at that point when they’re comparing watch time from embedded plays to watch time from the watch page on YouTube.
So it still counts. It’s not neglected like, oh that person doesn’t exist. But it’s not weighed as heavily. So that’s why I personally– since I do care about SEO– I send everyone to the watch page on YouTube. And I don’t embed them. I mean, I embed them on my blog, but I never send anyone to those.
LILY BOND: Makes sense, thanks. So someone else is asking, should tags also be included in the description text to boost the SEO for that video?
TIM SCHMOYER: No, definitely. YouTube actually removes videos that do that. They consider it keyword stuffing and spam is how it violates their terms of service. So I have many friends who have tried to game the system by doing these little hacks and things, and it always bites them in the butt.
I have one friend, they have 60 videos removed from their channel because they were just listing keywords in the description text. They put it at the very bottom, the very end. But Google’s– there has been channels with millions of subscribers that Google has shut down for that too. So definitely do not do that.
LILY BOND: Wow, really good to know. Someone else is asking, does it help to have more channels, and have them point to each other?
TIM SCHMOYER: What do you mean by point to each other? Like annotations and stuff like that?
LILY BOND: Yeah, I think probably like linked to the other channels?
TIM SCHMOYER: Not really. I don’t see any benefit to that. If anything, you’re spreading out your audience. And audience fragmentation is terrible because now you’ve got like 100 subscribers on each channel rather than 1,000 subscribers on one channel.
So now you’ve just cut the watch time and the signals you would have gotten in 10. Like, you’re only getting 10% of it than you otherwise would have. So I’m a big fan of keeping all the audience in one place, and really learning to mobilize them. So I don’t think there’s any advantage of having multiple channels, and cross-promoting or anything like that.
I mean, the only way would be session watch time. But you can just do that with your videos on your same channel. It doesn’t really matter if it’s on a different channel.
LILY BOND: Great, thanks. Another question here. Does the automatic transcription text help SEO YouTube videos?
TIM SCHMOYER: No. Well, from my understanding, it doesn’t. Is that what you understand too?
LILY BOND: Yeah, YouTube and Google don’t index the auto captions on YouTube because they’re too inaccurate.
TIM SCHMOYER: They don’t index them at all? Or they just don’t use them for ranking factors?
LILY BOND: They only index captioned files that have been uploaded. So if you download that and clean it up and upload it again, it would index that. Or if you post an accurate caption file yourself, that would be indexed as well.
TIM SCHMOYER: Cool. You heard it from the source.
LILY BOND: Another question here. I think we probably have time for one last question. I’ve heard that publishing too many videos in a short time span can cause subscriber burn, whereby if they don’t watch daily, they’re less likely to be served your videos. Is that true?
TIM SCHMOYER: Subscriber burn. So let’s call subscriber burn what it is, a theory that someone had who’s disappointed of why they’re not getting as many views from their subscribers as they want. That’s where it originated.
Now, I have talked to some other people that I know and trust in the industry about that because I get that question so often. And they’re like, well, we don’t know. There might be some truth. And they’re kind of thinking about it because of the way the Facebook newsfeed algorithm works.
But I don’t know. I don’t have any evidence either way. That would be very unGoogle-ish to me, if I can make a word. That’s not typically how they think and operate. But I don’t have any conclusive evidence that says that that’s false.
LILY BOND: Great. Well–
TIM SCHMOYER: I would say, as soon as we start focusing on stuff like that, we’re kind of getting distracted from just, well, let’s just serve people really well. If there’s a group of people that stopped watching because we were posting too many videos, well, then maybe we weren’t serving them very well.
Or [INAUDIBLE] channels that do very well. Like SourceFed posts five videos a day. And so it’s not about the frequency. It’s how well you’re serving people. And if you’re just posting too much content that’s kind of only mediocre, it’s probably not serving people that well. And then, yes, you’re just going to get people to stop watching you.
LILY BOND: That’s a good point. Well, it’s 3 o’clock on the dot. Tim, I know you have to run. But thank you so much for this presentation. It was really, really informative. And thank you so much for providing your expertise.
TIM SCHMOYER: Yeah, thanks for having me. Good to hang out with you guys.
LILY BOND: Yeah, and thank you to everyone who joined us. Your questions were awesome. Maybe you’ll see some of your unanswered ones in a video from Tim someday. Thanks, everyone. Bye.
TIM SCHMOYER: Bye.