Search engines. We use them every day, more times than we can even count. They scan billions of bits of content and evaluate numerous factors to determine which bit of content will most likely answer your query. They do this through a process of "crawling and indexing" and order their results on the search engine results page - or SERP - by how well they match your query in a process called "ranking."
SEO is the practice of increasing your website's traffic through search engine results. This type of traffic is often referred to as "organic traffic."
SEO, however, is just as much about people as it is about search engine algorithms. SEO means understanding what people are looking for when they go on a search engine and enter a query. The words they're using, the questions they have, and ultimately, the content they wish to consume. Knowing what people want will allow you to connect between the things they want to see and the content you can show them.
Growing your audience base on YouTube takes much more work than merely making awesome videos. As you may know, YouTube is a lot more than a video sharing social media platform. It's also the world's second-largest search engine! So, when it comes to discoverability on the platform's SERP, you have to do some YouTube-compatible SEO. Much like "regular" SEO, this practice will also help you direct organic traffic from the platform's search engine onto your channel and video. You can do this by keyword optimizing your playlists, your videos, and your channel.
Both Backlinko's Brian Dean and Neil Patel suggest using Google to find relevant keywords for your video content. Doing keyword research for your YouTube videos is crucial. You can start by generating a list of keyword ideas and then typing them in Google's (or directly in YouTube's) search bar to look at the suggestions that come up. Videos that are optimized around popular keywords perform better than others and are much more discoverable on the SERP.
Thumbnails are more than just a tiny "preview" of your video. They are usually the first thing a user sees when looking through the SERP, and they have to make a great first impression on your potential viewers. Choosing the right video thumbnail image can make all the difference when it comes to CTR (click-through rate). The more clicks your video gets, the more views it gets. Furthermore, the higher your CTR is, the better your chances are of YouTube suggesting and recommending your videos to other users on the platform. To create a great title, all you have to do is keep it short (under 50 characters) and use your keyword in it.
Even YouTube says that using keywords can boost your views and retention because they help your video show up in relevant search results. A study by Briggsby revealed that 75% of the top 20 search results used a broad match variant in their description text. The key, it seems, is to use your target keyword both in the title and in the description. When it comes to the description, however, it's also highly recommended to include related keywords, as well.
Meta-data helps search engines find you. Could you imagine what a shame it would be to put in all this work on creating great content, only to have search engines not see you? YouTube video meta-data is primarily information about the video you uploaded and shared on the platform. Ultimately, it helps search engines find and expose your videos to targeted audiences using search queries, and - yes, you guessed it - keywords!
Don't just rely on YouTube's automated closed-captioning tool to do the work right, instead. Although it was never proved to be accurate, some believe that YouTube's algorithm reads CC files to have a better understanding of the video's context. If you script your videos (which you should, anyway, no matter what), this bit is the most natural step to go over - you have your script ready, after all.