How to Help Ukraine by Optimizing YouTube Videos
Incorporate video SEO best practices into YouTube videos to #standwithukraine. Learn how to do keyword research, create custom thumbnails, and more.
SE Ranking’s marketing team in Kyiv, Ukraine, requested me to deliver an online presentation about my Search Engine Journal article “Video SEO: 10 Steps to Optimizing Videos for Search and Discovery” on Feb. 11, 2022.
I readily agreed.
After several days of not hearing from them, I discovered via Svetlana Shchehel, an editor at SE Ranking and another SEJ contributor:
“Some of us have spent days on the road striving to bring our families to a safer place. Some are still in Kyiv and other cities of Ukraine, trying to do their daily routine to the sounds of air raid sirens.
All of us feel scared and devastated, but also hopeful and strong.”
That’s when I decided to deliver my Search Engine Journal essay in more than just a PowerPoint form.
That’s why, on April 14, I began my presentation at their webinar with a picture of “The Real Cost of War.”
“Ukrainians make up a large component of the SE Ranking team,” I explained. Tatiana Perebeinis, the chief accountant of SE Ranking, and her two children, Mykyta, 18, and Alisa, 9, as well as a church volunteer who was assisting them, Anatoly Berezhnyi, were killed on March 6 while attempting to evacuate to Kyiv across the concrete remnants of a damaged bridge in their town of Irpin.
As I previously stated, I am unable to assist Ukraine in producing more YouTube videos that Europeans would watch and share.
But I can show you how to optimize films that convey the truth about the conflict so that they are found when people use YouTube, the world’s second-largest search engine, to do relevant searches.
The YouTube Algorithm in Action
The YouTube algorithm attempts to match each user with videos that they are most likely to watch and love.
This is quite a problem, with over 500 hours of video footage being uploaded per minute.
YouTube’s search and discovery systems approach this Herculean undertaking by focusing on users rather than videos.
The YouTube algorithm “follows the audience” by observing things like what they view.
- What they don’t pay attention to.
- What percentage of their time is spent viewing.
- Their loves and dislikes are all shared.
- Feedback and satisfaction questionnaires that say “I’m not interested.”
I then went on to say that YouTube has a variety of algorithms, including ones for:
- YouTube Search: Videos are sorted based on how well the title, description, and video content fit the viewer’s search, as well as which videos generate the most engagement.
- Up Next: Videos are ordered in order to provide viewers with the most probable videos to watch next. These videos are frequently relevant to the video being seen by the viewer, but they can also be tailored depending on previous viewing habits.
- Your homepage: Videos are chosen based on how effectively they have piqued the interest and satisfaction of comparable viewers, how frequently users watch a channel or subject, and how many times each video has previously been displayed on YouTube.
- Short Videos on YouTube: YouTube wants both short and long videos to be successful. So, for short films, relative watch time is more significant, whereas absolute watch time is more relevant for longer videos.
To be successful, though, you do not need to be an expert in YouTube’s algorithms. Instead, you concentrate on getting to know your target audience.
The search and discovery function on YouTube does not “market” content to your viewers. It ‘finds’ videos based on the preferences of each viewer.
The idea is to encourage individuals to view more videos that they like so that they will return to YouTube regularly.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, for example, made an emotive appeal to members of the US Congress for further assistance in protecting Ukraine against Russian invasion.
His 18-minute speech featured a dramatic film set to mournful violin music that juxtaposed pre-invasion joy and beauty with gruesome pictures of the war’s death and destruction, bringing several parliamentarians to tears.
174 users posted 217 videos about the event to YouTube, resulting in 5.3 million views and 130,000 engagements (e.g., likes, comments).
The majority were published in the News & Politics category, while “Trump Dials Back Putin Praise, Russia Sanctions Prominent Americans & Zelensky Addresses Congress,” which was uploaded in the Comedy category by Jimmy Kimmel Live!, had the most views and engagements.
The 14:06-long monologue by Jimmy Kimmel had 1.6 million views and 28,500 interactions.
WION, a New Delhi-based global English language news station, posted a 48:13-long news report that received 561,000 views and fewer than 7,800 interactions.
In the meantime, CNN’s 6:06 news item had 371,000 views and 13,400 interactions. These findings are, in my opinion, counter-intuitive.
Following this backdrop, I offered an update to the ten video optimization processes.
Step 1: Conduct YouTube Keyword Research
Conducting keyword research is the initial step.
Rather of trying to review all ten of the top YouTube keyword tool alternatives, I concentrated on four:
- Predictions for search: In the YouTube search box, type a phrase. The autocomplete tool will show you a list of search suggestions based on what you’ve previously entered and what other people are looking for.
- YouTube’s Keyword Tool: By appending and prepending the phrase you provide with letters and digits, the Keyword Tool for YouTube extracts more than 750 long-tail search term possibilities from YouTube’s search forecasts.
- Google Trends: By default, Google Trends displays “web search” interest. However, if you select the Web Search button, a drop-down menu will appear with more possibilities, including YouTube Search Trends dating back to 2008.
- VidIQ: When you search for a term or phrase on YouTube, vidIQ shows you how hot (or not) it is based on search traffic and competition. It’s also worth mentioning that the majority of vidIQ’s employees are Ukrainians.
Step 2: Create YouTube-specific Video Optimizations
The second stage is to optimize your videos for YouTube Search, which focuses on the following criteria:
- Relevance: YouTube considers a variety of parameters, including how closely the title, description, hashtags, and video content match the search query of the viewer.
- Engagement: YouTube looks at how long a video has been watched for a certain query to see if it is regarded as relevant to the query by other users.
- Quality: YouTube’s systems are built to detect signals that can aid in determining which channels demonstrate expertise, authority, and trustworthiness on a given topic.”
I also gave the following recommendations for title optimization:
- Make appealing video titles that appropriately reflect the content.
- Keep your titles around 50 characters long.
- Put the most critical information first, followed by your hashtags, branding, and episode numbers.
- Avoid names that are deceptive, clickbait, or sensational, since they will reduce the likelihood of your video being suggested to visitors.
Step 3: Make Video Descriptions More Effective
The final step is to optimize both portions of your descriptions: what readers see before and after they click Show more.
YouTube released Video Chapters in June 2020, which provide context to each segment of the video.
YouTube also debuted a new search results page in January 2021 that shows when users search for videos using a hashtag.
So, here’s how to make your descriptions more optimized:
- Use search-friendly keywords and natural language in the opening few lines of text to convey what the video is about.
- Use the remaining text (what appears after they click Show more) to add 200 to 350 words of more information.
- Add Video Chapters, which allow viewers to watch or revisit a specified segment of a video using timestamps.
- Use relevant hashtags (#) to help visitors locate your video on YouTube when they’re looking for something specific.
Step 4: Make Video Thumbnails Look Better
Optimizing your thumbnails is the fourth stage.
“Video thumbnails allow visitors to see a fast glimpse of your video while exploring YouTube,” I said. If your account is authenticated, you can create a custom thumbnail after uploading your video, or select one of the three thumbnail alternatives YouTube provides automatically.”
“Your unique thumbnail image should be as big as feasible,” I said.
Custom thumbnails should:
- Have a 1280×720 resolution (with a minimum width of 640 pixels).
- JPG, GIF, or PNG image formats are acceptable.
- Keep your file size under 2MB.
- Use a 16:9 aspect ratio whenever possible, as this is the most common in YouTube players and previews.
But I also issued a warning:
- Check that your thumbnail complies with YouTube’s thumbnail guidelines.
- Make thumbnails that portray your content appropriately.
Step 5: Make Your Videos Recommendable on YouTube
The final stage is to optimize your videos for YouTube’s recommendation system, which accounts for a larger percentage of overall YouTube viewing than channel subscriptions or searches.
The “Up Next” section and a viewer’s homepage are where YouTube’s recommendation algorithm is used.
The “Up Next” section proposes extra content based on what a viewer is seeing right now, as well as other videos YouTube believes the user might enjoy.