Basically, when you upload a video, youtube has no idea what it’s about.
Videos aren’t like text – robots can’t read them and suss out the topic easily.
So youtube relies on you to actually give it that information. That’s where ‘metadata’ – the title, description, and tags, come in.
I’m going to do a post on each type of metadata, but in this post I’m concentrating on how to tag videos on youtube – because I find that when I tag my videos properly, I always reach more people.
WHY TAGGING IS IMPORTANT
Youtube uses tags to rank your video in search when your video first uploads.
One of the main ways you can build your subscribers is through searches – so you want to give youtube literally as much opportunity as possible to help people find you through search.
WHY ENGAGEMENT IS MORE IMPORTANT
Youtube uses tags (and your other metadata) to rank videos in their searches right after you upload (as we’ve established).
So if you upload a healthy vegan snacks video, tag it with ‘easy vegan snacks’, it might go on the first page of the search for that right after you upload. Then a few people will do a search on that phrase, and click on your video.
Youtube ‘crawlers’ pay attention to how long those first few people stay on your video – whether they like, comment or subscribe.
If your video is keeping people engaged, you’ll stay ranked. If not, your video will drop to the last pages of the search (or just disappear all together).
So, for sure, tag your videos well – and pay attention to that metadata, because it can make a difference.
But keep in mind that putting all of your focus on metadata won’t get you a heap of new viewers.
Putting your focus on creating engaging videos, and a little bit of focus on meta data, will.
THE BASIC TAG FORMULA
This is the basic tag formula that I’m going to recommend, based on experience and the little bit of knowledge shared by youtube
[Repeat your title keywords tag] [Variations of Your Title] [Long tail phrases] [Related words] [Standard tags]
In that order.
I’m going to use an example of uploading a ‘Easy Vegan Lunch Ideas 2015’, video to explain what the tag types mean.
1. [Repeat Your Title Keywords Tag]
This is exactly what it sounds like. Just repeat your title keywords in the tags section. First thing.
Since your title should be a phrase that you want to rank for (and ideally the most relevant phrase to describe your video), repeat your title keyword to emphasise the phrase and topic of your video to crawlers.
2. [Variations of your Title – Phrases Directly Relating to Your Video]
Full phrases that relate directly to your video are tags that almost just reword / rework your title tag in alternate ways.
They’re all super similar to your video title, they just might have a word or two different.
These phrases cater for all of the different ways that people might search for the kind of video you’ve uploaded.
3. [Long Tail Phrases]
People search for way more specific things than just ‘Vegan Lunches 2015’.
They search for weird, long tail phrases like ‘healthy easy vegan snacks coconut oil summer 2015’, because hey, maybe it’s summer and they’ve just bought coconut oil and want to find easy ways they can incorporate it into their vegan diet.
While you definitely want to list for those more generic, searched on phrases – you can do really well by targeting the weird, more specific (long tail) tags too.
Remember that every youtuber is targeting the generic, popular phrases (which it totally makes sense to do) – but it also means that it’s friggin difficult to rank for those phrases.
That’s why it’s smart to try and rank for the Long Tail – they’re not that hard to sit #1 for.
And when you rank well for like, 10 more specific phrases, rather than 1 generic, you’ll be reaching new people ASAP.
4. [Related Words]
This is where you just want use related, one word tags for your video. They can be specific (to clarify exactly what your video should be ranked for) or generic (to allow youtube to rank you for more unexpected tags)
5. [Standard Tags]
In the Creator Playbook for Brands, they tell to you to have a few standard tags that you use on every video.
Your standard tags should relate to the topic / theme of your channel (and they should also include your channel name, to make sure your channel is searchable).
Adding standard tags help get more of the ‘related videos’ that pop up to be videos of your own, because your videos will have the same tags in common (making them related).
So when newer people are watching your video, rather than clicking on to someone else’s channel in the suggested videos, they’ll click on to another video of yours.
THINGS TO NOTE
Only use Relevant Tags
If you’re uploading a vegan lunches video and tag it with ‘periods’ or ‘what’s on my iphone’ (I’ve legitimately seen people do this), you’re wasting tags.
If someone actually typed in ‘what’s on my iphone’, and then saw your video titled ‘Vegan Lunches 2015’, they’re not going to click on it, or if they do, they’ll hit the back button quickly and your video will be dropped from the search.
I’m not 100% sure how the youtube crawlers work, but it’s obvious that they look at your metadata as a whole when they rank you. If they can see there’s no correlation between the tag you’ve used and the title / description, they probably won’t rank you at all.
Don’t List Tags in your Description (Interweave Them)
Your video can be removed if you list tags in your description rather than in the ‘tags’ section.
Rather than listing tags, fill your description with information relating to the video, and interweave your tags naturally. (I’ll definitely do a more in depth post on descriptions in the future)
Don’t Pay Attention to Popular Channels
Popular Channels don’t have to try so hard with their youtube metadata to rank for a video.
Youtube takes into account the age of their channel, the amount of videos they’ve uploaded, their engagement rates and subscriber number when they rank them. It’s basically a matter of youtube being like ‘yeah, I trust this channel, people like videos from this channel, they’re consistent, it’s legit’ and bumping them up.
So if a popular youtuber uses no tags, but a relevant video title and ranks #1 – don’t copy their method – as a small youtuber, you have to work a little harder (and eventually get to where they are).
Top Tags First
Youtube has said that you should list tags in the order of relevance – indicating that your first few tags hold the most weight.
Since your first few tags will be your title keywords repeated, and variations of your title directly related to your video, you’re all good.
FINDING TAG IDEAS
Sometimes it’s a serious chore / struggle to think up tag ideas – so here are a few tools and ideas to help.
- Use the Google Keyword Planner (you have to sign up for an account – but it’s free and v useful)
- Look at the tags of related videos by using the free Vid IQ Chrome Extension. This lets you see all of the hidden details of youtube videos.
- Use Forums and Yahoo Answer Threads – so if you’re doing a Easy Vegan Lunches video, look it up in yahoo answers – has someone asked ‘what are some quick and easy vegan lunch ideas’? Tag those keywords and use ‘quick and easy vegan lunch ideas’ as a tag.
FINDING TAG IDEAS
So that’s how to tag on youtube. If you use the tagging method I’ve given, and your video is engaging, I promise it will help. If you want to give it a try but don’t have a video to upload, try changing your old videos metadata and seeing what happens.
Do you have any extra tips on how to tag your videos? Youtube keeps this stuff on the d/l, so if you have anything to share, please leave it in the comments below.
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