The latest short-form video format to enter the social media space, YouTube Shorts seems to be on many creators’ minds these days. From how the Shorts algorithm works, to how you can monetize Shorts, creators want to know what they’re supposed to do with it.
If you’ve decided to start posting on YouTube Shorts, you’re probably wondering how you can get the most out of this new format. How can you ensure that your content gets noticed? What can you do to boost your reach and get more views? Well, some of the answers to these questions lie in figuring out how YouTube Shorts SEO works.
Read on for six strategies that can help increase the discoverability of your Shorts content.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It is a practice that many marketers and content creators use to get their content to show up in search results. While SEO strategies are typically used for ranking content for Google Search, they can be adopted for any platform that has a search engine. That means your content can benefit from SEO, whether it lives on YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram.
What is SEO on YouTube Shorts?
Using SEO strategies for YouTube Shorts can help increase the visibility of your content, such as appearing in users’ recommended feeds and search results. Without practicing SEO, your Shorts could still be discovered by users and potentially get a lot of views. However, they won’t have as much of a chance as Shorts content that’s been optimized for search.
With a bit of prep work and strategic thinking, you can use YouTube Shorts SEO to get more views and grow your subscriber count.
6 tips to optimize your YouTube Shorts
1. Figure out how Shorts fits into your overall content strategy
If you want your Shorts content to show up in users’ feeds, you need to create them with a specific intent in mind. Since making Shorts is quicker and easier than creating long-form videos, you might be tempted to just upload a bunch of content. However, before you start experimenting with this new format, you should consider how Shorts can contribute to your YouTube channel’s overall growth.
In a video from Creator Insider, YouTube product manager Pierce Vollucci recommends that creators think about how Shorts can fit into their overall content strategy. For example, if you specialize in beauty content, you could use Shorts to create quick, bite-sized makeup tutorials.
You don’t need to stick to a specific plan if it doesn’t end up working well, but you should at least have a plan before you start posting Shorts content.
2. Anticipate what your audience wants to see
One of the biggest misconceptions about the YouTube algorithm is that it “chooses” to push some videos over others. However, in an interview with Creator Support, YouTube employee Rene Ritchie dispelled this myth: “People think, ‘I made a video, why isn’t the algorithm pushing it?’ When in reality, the algorithm pulls videos for users.”
In layman’s terms, instead of looking for ways to hack the algorithm, start by asking yourself what your audience would want to see. Take a look at your content and your channel. How can you turn your long-form content into bite-sized content ripe for Shorts? Should you be repurposing clips from your longer videos? Can you explore new types of content with Shorts to reach a wider audience?
Whatever you try, put yourself in your audience’s shoes. What do they want to see?
3. Research keywords and incorporate them in your Shorts
Here’s a technical SEO tip for you: do some keyword research. Marketers often use advanced tools like Semrush or Moz to find keywords for their content, see how their competitors are doing, and get ideas for new content. However, you don’t necessarily need these tools when doing research for your Shorts content.
You can simply go on YouTube to find out what creators in your niche are doing, and what kind of keywords they are using in their content. Additionally, you can use Google Trends to get a rough idea of how many people are searching for a given keyword.
Once you have a list of keywords, you’ll want to use them in a few ways. For example:
- Use your keywords as hashtags in your video’s title: Your keywords need to show up in that title. YouTube also recommends using the hashtag “#shorts” in the title, as it’ll help its system recommend your Shorts content across its platform.
- Mention the keywords in the video: If you’ll be talking in your video, make sure you mention your keywords at least once or twice.
- Include the keywords in your captions: Whether you’re trusting the automated captions or adding your own, you should make sure they feature your keywords.
- Insert keywords to your video’s description: Bet you didn’t know Shorts had descriptions? More on that in a minute.
4. Add a description to your Shorts
While you might not have noticed that Shorts have descriptions, they’re not hard to find. Simply tap the upright ellipses in the top right corner of a Short, and you’ll find the description.
The description is a great place for inserting the keywords you’ve found in your research. No need to go overboard here — just weave the keywords naturally into your description, and incorporate them as hashtags at the end.
5. Review your Shorts’ performance using analytics
Optimizing your Shorts content isn’t just about including keywords in your videos, you also need to adjust your strategy as time goes on.
With YouTube Analytics, you can review data on how many views your Shorts are getting, how much watch time you’ve accumulated, and how many subscribers your Shorts are bringing in. By checking in regularly, you can see what’s working and what isn’t. Are some hashtags driving more views than others? Maybe you should create more content targeting them. If a specific type of content isn’t working the way you thought it would, then it might be time to try something else.
6. Use SEO tools to optimize your strategy
While there are many SEO tools out there, some are built specifically for YouTube creators. For example, vidIQ uses AI to evaluate your channel’s performance, analyze your competitors, and give you actionable insights you can use to improve your videos’ reach. Many of these tools offer a free plan, meaning you test them out before investing in a subscription.
Keep things Short
With YouTube Shorts being relatively new, there isn’t a lot of information about how to get them to rank in search. However, some of the tried-and-true methods that work for long-form video will likely work for Shorts, too. As you get started, be sure to keep your audience in mind, don’t be afraid to experiment, and use the right keywords in your Shorts titles and descriptions. You’ll start getting traction in no time.
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