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YouTube is a powerhouse, which is why millions of content creators flock to it. It’s the second most visited site and search engine globally. Over 1.9 billion logged-in users visit YouTube each month, and people watch over a billion hours of video daily. Regarding earnings and subscribers, YouTube reports the following:
- The number of channels earning five figures per year grew more than 50 percent year-over-year (y/y).
- The number of channels earning six figures per year grew more than 40 percent y/y.
- The number of channels with more than one million subscribers grew by more than 75 percent y/y.
Given those statistics, uploading videos to YouTube is a promising way to make money online. Although I prefer to create written content, I periodically upload videos to my channel to entertain a different audience. My efforts yield regular AdSense payments, which is one of many ways to earn money on YouTube.
Many YouTubers understand the importance of appearing on the first page of search results. Page-one click-through rates (CTRs) are higher than any other page (many people don’t navigate past page-one for search results. Do you?). Naturally, being on the first page increases a video’s visibility and discoverability.
To consistently rank high in search results requires an understanding of video and search engine optimization techniques. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of influencing the online visibility of a website or web page in a search engine’s unpaid results, which is also referred to as “natural,” “organic,” and “earned” results. At a high level, YouTube SEO is divided into two parts, i.e., pre and post publishing factors.
Pre-publishing SEO factors:
- Length of video
- Video and channel content categories
- Target audience, for example, everyone, adults, or children
- Publish date (“freshness” and relevance)
- Video/film location
- Video and thumbnail file names
- Closed captioning
Post-publishing SEO factors:
- Click-through rates from search results
- Click-through rates from recommended and related videos
- Total views
- Total watch time
- Average watch time per user
- Like/dislike rating
- Video subscriber conversion rates
- Card and end screen activity
- Comment activity
- Social media engagement
- Playlist inclusion
- Overall channel performance
SEO-focused YouTubers research keywords to use as metadata for their titles, descriptions, and tags. They might also add popular and trending hashtags to improve discoverability. After they hit publish, the second set of factors kick in such as CTRs, views, watch time, and so on. YouTube’s search algorithm assesses all those factors to rank videos. As YouTube states,
Like Google’s search engine, search on YouTube strives to surface the most relevant results according to keyword queries. Videos are ranked based on a variety of factors, including how well the title, description, and video content match the viewer’s query. Beyond that, we look at which videos have driven the most engagement for a query. Search results are not a list of the most-viewed videos for a given query.
Video tags are a critical piece of the YouTube SEO equation. Tags are descriptive keywords that help YouTube to understand, rank, and position your videos. They also help people to find your content and broaden your reach. For example, your video could appear in the “Up next” section because of its metadata. You can see the tags for a video by right-clicking, selecting view page source, and scrolling to \”keywords\. However, there are tools to simplify the process.
YouTube limits tags to roughly 400 to 500 characters including spaces (it’s 500 on Creator Studio Classic). Most creators keep adding terms until they see a notification that reads, “Your tags exceed the allowed character count.” When you exceed the limit, you won’t be able to save your edits until you reduce your character count.
Do your best to add relevant keywords. Secondly, don’t input misleading tags or metadata because its against YouTube’s spam, deceptive practices, and scams policies. Too much bad behavior could lead to channel suspension or termination. Lastly, copying the exact tags from your other videos or competitors won’t necessarily benefit you. To outrank others, originality helps.
Types of Tools
Keyword tools/apps, like the Google Ads Keyword Planner, are excellent for conducting research. Their objectives are to provide semantic word lists, ideas, statistics, and insights. However, many of these apps don’t interact with YouTube directly or make managing tags easy.
Tag management apps offer multiple features to improve search engine and tag optimization. For instance, users can get analytics, copy keywords from any video, and create centralized lists. Some of these apps integrate with YouTube directly, for example, TubeBuddy and VidIQ.
Most tag generators have a single-purpose, which is to help users find, copy, and export tags easily. Secondarily, they may provide keyword insights. What you’ll want to avoid are generators that provide tags but no insights such as TagsYouTube, BetterWaytoWeb, and YTubeTool.
TubeBuddy is a powerful browser extension and mobile app that provides amazing features on top of YouTube’s website. The YouTube Certified app gives creators and YouTubers everything they need to develop and manage their channels. It offers tools for channel optimization, video SEO, keyword research, tag management, analytics, productivity, bulk processing, marketing, and more to achieve success. TubeBuddy is free with plans starting at $9 monthly. Its tags features include:
- Discover the best tags by relevancy and score to increase views and subs
- Find long-tail search terms to better target what people are looking for on YouTube
- Explore trending tags to keep your videos relevant long after they are published
- Reorder your video tags on any video quickly and easily
- Find, view, extract, and copy tags from any video
- Create and manage centralized tag lists
VidIQ offers a suite of tools to help creators and marketers grow their channels and brand awareness. Its browser extension features video scoring, video SEO, keyword research, tag management, analytics, and more. VidIQ is a YouTube Certified app, and it’s free with plans starting at $7.50 monthly.
- Discover how well tags are performing
- Get tag suggestions and recommendations
- See what tags your competitors are using
- Discover how many tags a video is using
- Find, view, extract, and copy tags from any video
- Export keywords for future use
Rapidtags offers tools to grow your channel. Its tag generator yields high ranking search terms. Its tag analyzer helps with keyword research and monitoring traffic. Rapidtags is free with plans starting at $3.99 monthly.
- Generate enough tags to meet YouTube’s character limit
- Edit tags before adding them to your videos
- Use filters to meet your goals
Kparser helps you find new ideas, generate long-tail keywords, and use high-ranking keywords for video titles, descriptions, and tags. Kparser is free with plans starting at $4.99 monthly.
- Generate tags by country and language
- Use advanced search settings to refine results
- Export keywords to Excel
Keyword Tool helps you find search terms that people are looking for on YouTube. It uses YouTube’s autocomplete feature to generate relevant long-tail keywords about a topic. Plans start at $38 monthly.
- Generate hundreds of tags in different languages
- Get keywords with commas for easy copying and pasting
- Export keywords to Excel and CSV file formats
Mobile Tag Apps
On Google Play, there are a few YouTube tag apps for activities on the go. Here are six with review ratings above four.
- Tag You
- YouTags Pro
- Tags for Youtubers
- YT Trending Tags
- Get Tags