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How To Get It Right

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How To Get It Right

Remember the days when social media was a “maybe” or a nice-to-have for businesses? When the brands most active on social media were early adopters and trailblazers?

Well, those days are over.

Today, social media is a necessary requirement for any business.

Your social profiles are often the first touchpoint customers have with your organization – and as such, social media is a potent branding tool that affects brand perception, sentiment, authority, and trust.

But social media branding doesn’t just happen by accident; it takes careful consideration, consistency, and long-term commitment.

In this comprehensive guide, we will examine what social media branding is, why it matters, and how it’s done before sharing useful tips for improving your social media branding.

What Is Social Media Branding?

As always, let’s start with the foundational question: What exactly is social media branding?

The term is somewhat self-explanatory. It is the practice of using social media to convey your brand’s identity, mission, and messaging to existing and potential customers.

Just as you have an overarching branding strategy for your organization, you should also have one for your social media brand.

It should function as a component of your company’s larger brand strategy – and an extension of it – but will inevitably differ in some areas based on factors exclusive to social media.

Some of the most important elements of your social media branding strategy include:

  • Brand Identity: How your brand shows up across social media platforms. Visual elements include logos, color palettes, fonts, and an overarching visual approach.
  • Brand Voice: Your tone of voice should align with your brand values and messaging, and speak to your target audience. You should tailor it based on the social platform, but the heart of your brand voice should feel consistent and recognizable.
  • Content Strategy: The content you share on social media plays an important role in your branding. Developing a content strategy will help you define what content types, formats, and topics make the most sense for your voice, tone, and message.
  • Audience Engagement: Good social branding is multi-faceted and includes engaging with your audience. You should be interacting with them to nurture an emotional connection – and making sure to do so in your brand tone and voice.

Above all, consistency is key when it comes to social media branding.

From your visual identity, voice, and tone to how you interact with your followers and the stories you tell, it’s vital that you build a cohesive brand presence that your audience can recognize and trust.

Why Does Your Social Media Branding Matter?

As we mentioned earlier, social media marketing is a fundamental part of an effective marketing strategy – and branding is the cornerstone for how you show up on social.

Think of how often you have come across a brand for the first time on social media and “done some digging” on its profiles before deciding whether to follow or visit its website.

Your social media presence can have a major impact on shaping perceptions and sentiment toward your brand, attracting and converting new customers, building brand loyalty, recruiting new employees, and ultimately boosting your bottom line.

But it’s also a super competitive landscape, and standing out requires getting your branding right.

Your customers (and prospects) should be able to understand who your brand is, what your values are, what your message is, and why they should trust you – and this can be achieved through social media branding.

Good, consistent social media branding is among the most powerful tools for fostering brand recognition and awareness – which can be the difference between somebody choosing to buy with your brand or your competitors.

It’s key to an effective social strategy and also supports your larger marketing efforts.

How To Build Your Brand On Social Media

Building your brand on social media is a multi-layered effort that requires you to take many things into account.

Here are some of the basic steps to building a brand on social:

Know Your Audience

It may seem obvious, but knowing the ins and outs of who you’re speaking to is foundational to building a brand on social media.

You should strive to understand their demographics, interests, desires, and problems, as this will help inform how you connect with them and the type of content you should create.

Outline Your Brand Identity

As we have discussed, you should have a clear and consistent visual identity on social media. Look to your existing brand materials to help build this, but feel free to make changes where necessary.

Your social branding should be tailored to the platforms themselves and the behaviors and preferences of social media users. It will also inform what content you make and how it comes to life.

Find The Right Tone Of Voice

How does your brand communicate with those around it? Is it friendly and casual? Is its tone more professional or formal?

Does your brand use snark? Does it crack jokes? Is it focused more on entertaining customers, or keeping them informed and educated?

These are all questions you should ask yourself when defining your brand’s tone of voice on social media.

Once you’ve landed on your ideal brand tone of voice, make sure you’re infusing it in everything you do on social media – from your content to your comments.

Choose Your Platforms Wisely

It’s unlikely your audience will be active on every single social media platform, especially considering how many are out there in this day and age.

Be thoughtful about which platforms you want to leverage for your social media presence.

Once you know where your audience is most active, ask yourself whether the platform itself aligns with your brand values, story, identity, and tone of voice.

Craft A Content Strategy

Working from what you know about your audience’s interests and pain points, along with your brand identity and voice, develop a plan for the types of content you will make.

Ensure that each piece of content you create reflects the branding decisions and parameters you have set out for yourself.

I recommend experimenting with a variety of content types and formats to keep things fresh and see what resonates with your audience.

Monitor And Adjust

Speaking of resonating with your audience, building a brand on social media is a continuous process, so make sure you monitor your performance and how people react to your social media presence.

Continually analyze metrics like engagement rate, along with more qualitative indicators such as audience comments, and adjust your approach accordingly.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that a particular type of storytelling is engaging your audience best, or that one of your brand fonts isn’t legible enough on social.

Be sure to optimize your branding based on what’s working best.

8 Tips To Improve Your Social Media Branding

Now that we’ve covered the essentials, let’s dive into some tips for improving your social media branding.

1. Stay On Top Of Trends

Keeping up-to-date with the latest trends, formats, and features is key to effective social media branding.

Make sure you’re aware of the latest algorithm changes and what social audiences are focused on at any given time.

By tapping into what’s trending on social media, you can show audiences that your brand is trustworthy, authoritative, and in the know.

And by understanding how the algorithm works, you’ll ensure that people actually see your content – and engage with your brand.

2. Be Human

Here’s another suggestion that might sound obvious but is all too often overlooked: Lean into humanizing your brand.

Social is a noisy place with plenty of competition, and users aren’t interested in having their experience disrupted by unrelatable brands trying to sell them things.

By showing the human side of your brand, you’ll make it easier for your customers to build an authentic connection with you.

Some ways you can do this include commenting on trending topics, celebrating employee stories, showing behind-the-scenes content on social media, or even adjusting your tone of voice to be more conversational and natural.

3. Create A Style Guide

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: When it comes to social media branding, consistency is key – and that goes for everything from your visuals to your copy to your tone.

One incredibly helpful method for ensuring consistency across your team is by creating a social media style guide.

In your style guide, you can outline all the important need-to-knows about what you do and don’t do on social. Examples of items you might include are preferred brand fonts, brand color palette and how you should use it, words or terms you do and do not use, etc.

Once you have the first version, share it with the relevant team members so everyone is up to speed. Make sure to continue viewing it as a living document that is updated based on learnings and pivots in your branding strategy.

4. Actively Engage Your Network

The most charismatic people are those who engage those around them, ask questions, and nurture relationships – and the same is true for brands.

If you’re looking to improve your social media branding, focus on improving how you engage and expanding your social network. There are many ways to do this.

Start with your audience, customers, and prospects. Respond to their comments and questions, and proactively engage with their content where relevant.

Similarly, identify influencers in your industry or niche that are well-aligned with your brand’s values, and start engaging with them.

You can also do this with other brands for some fun social interaction – though I don’t typically encourage engaging too much with your competitors.

5. Focus On Unique Storytelling

Great social media content, like all great marketing content, is all about storytelling. So, to enhance your social media branding, focus on telling unique stories that only your brand can tell.

Try sharing content highlighting the backstory of your company, its mission and values, or the real people behind the brand.

Make sure the stories are authentic, as that’s what will resonate most with social audiences.

6. Optimize By Platform

As we discussed earlier, you likely won’t be on every single social platform – and each platform has its own audience demographics and expectations, content types, and nuances.

By honing in on what works on each platform and optimizing your strategy accordingly, you’ll naturally upgrade your social media branding.

Perhaps you lean into telling more employee or company stories on LinkedIn, sharing educational carousels or eye-catching images on Instagram, and focusing your video storytelling efforts on TikTok.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’re putting the platform and its audience first, and success will follow.

7. Leverage UGC

Sometimes, the most powerful branding moments don’t come from your brand.

User-generated content (UGC) has become extremely popular with brands on social media for a very good reason: It’s often more influential than your own branding. At the very least, it’s a forceful companion.

While telling your own stories is essential, testimonials from real-life customers are an incredible way to show your brand walks the walk.

If your customers are creating content about your company and its products or services, you should consider amplifying it – especially if what they’re saying is strongly aligned with your values and messaging.

8. Revisit The Data

It always comes back to the data.

If you want to improve your social media branding, you must absolutely take time to gauge where you are at now, what’s working, and what isn’t.

You should be monitoring your performance on a regular basis, but perhaps you need to take a little more time to pause and do a deeper dive.

Consider A/B testing different visual or messaging approaches to see what really works, and then ask yourself whether you need to reassess your branding and tone of voice.

It’s crucial you get this right, so don’t be afraid to take the time to ask the right questions.

In Conclusion

Social media branding is a vital component of any marketing strategy – and it’s not just about the content you post, but so much more than that.

Just like your brand, your social media branding strategy should be constantly evolving to match your audience, and the current landscape of your industry.

By leveraging some of the tips we have talked about – remaining focused on your audience, maintaining a well-defined brand identity and voice, and prioritizing consistency – you can supercharge your social media branding and drive long-term success for your business.

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Google’s Web Crawler Fakes Being “Idle” To Render JavaScript

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Google's Web Crawler Fakes Being "Idle" To Render JavaScript

In a recent episode of the Search Off The Record podcast, it was revealed that Google’s rendering system now pretends to be “idle” to trigger certain JavaScript events and improve webpage rendering.

The podcast features Zoe Clifford from Google’s rendering team, who discussed how the company’s web crawlers deal with JavaScript-based sites.

This revelation is insightful for web developers who use such methods to defer content loading.

Google’s “Idle” Trick

Googlebot simulates “idle” states during rendering, which triggers JavaScript events like requestIdleCallback.

Developers use this function to defer loading less critical content until the browser is free from other tasks.

Before this change, Google’s rendering process was so efficient that the browser was always active, causing some websites to fail to load important content.

Clifford explained:

“There was a certain popular video website which I won’t name…which deferred loading any of the page contents until after requestIdleCallback was fired.”

Since the browser was never idle, this event wouldn’t fire, preventing much of the page from loading properly.

Faking Idle Time To Improve Rendering

Google implemented a system where the browser pretends to be idle periodically, even when it’s busy rendering pages.

This tweak ensures that idle callbacks are triggered correctly, allowing pages to fully load their content for indexing.

Importance Of Error Handling

Clifford emphasized the importance of developers implementing graceful error handling in their JavaScript code.

Unhandled errors can lead to blank pages, redirects, or missing content, negatively impacting indexing.

She advised:

“If there is an error, I just try and handle it as gracefully as possible…web development is hard stuff.”

What Does This Mean?

Implications For Web Developers

  • Graceful Error Handling: Implementing graceful error handling ensures pages load as intended, even if certain code elements fail.
  • Cautious Use of Idle Callbacks: While Google has adapted to handle idle callbacks, be wary of over-relying on these functions.

Implications For SEO Professionals

  • Monitoring & Testing: Implement regular website monitoring and testing to identify rendering issues that may impact search visibility.
  • Developer Collaboration: Collaborate with your development team to create user-friendly and search engine-friendly websites.
  • Continuous Learning: Stay updated with the latest developments and best practices in how search engines handle JavaScript, render web pages, and evaluate content.

See also: Google Renders All Pages For Search, Including JavaScript-Heavy Sites

Other Rendering-Related Topics Discussed

The discussion also touched on other rendering-related topics, such as the challenges posed by user agent detection and the handling of JavaScript redirects.

The whole podcast provides valuable insights into web rendering and the steps Google takes to assess pages accurately.

See also: Google Renders All Pages For Search, Including JavaScript-Heavy Sites


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Google’s Indifference To Site Publishers Explained

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Google inadvertently reveals reasons that explain their seeming indifference to publishers hurt by algorithm updates

A publisher named Brandon Saltalamacchia interviewed Google’s SearchLiaison in which he offered hope that quality sites hit by Google’s algorithms may soon see their traffic levels bounce back. But that interview and a recent Google podcast reveal deeper issues that may explain why Google seems indifferent to publishers with every update.

Google Search Relations

Google has a team whose job is to communicate how site owners can do well on Google. So it’s not that Googlers themselves are indifferent to site publishers and creatives. Google provides a lot of feedback to publishers, especially through Google Search Console. The area in which Google is indifferent to publishers is directly in search at its most fundamental level.

Google’s algorithms are built on the premise that it has to provide a good user experience and is internally evaluated to that standard. This creates the situation where from Google’s perspective the algorithm is working the way it should. But from the perspective of website publishers Google’s ranking algorithms are failing. Putting a finger on why that’s happening is what this article is about.

Publishers Are Not Even An Afterthought To Google

The interview by Brandon Saltalamacchia comes against the background of many websites having lost traffic due to Google’s recent algorithm updates. From Google’s point of view their algorithms are working fine for users. But the steady feedback from website publishers is no, it’s not working. Google’s response for the past month is that they’re investigating how to improve.

What all of this reveals is that there is a real disconnect between how Google measures how their algorithms are working and how website publishers experience it in the real world. It may surprise most people to learn that that this disconnect begins with Google’s mission statement to make information “universally accessible and useful”  and ends with the rollout of an algorithm that is tested for metrics that take into account how users experience it but is 100% blind to how publishers experience it.

Some of the complaints about Google’s algorithms:

  • Ranking algorithms for reviews, travel and other topics are favoring big brands over smaller publishers.
  • Google’s decision to firehose traffic at Reddit contributes to the dismantling of the website publishing ecosystem.
  • AI Overviews summarizes web pages and deprives websites of search traffic.

The stated goal for Google’s algorithm decisions is to increase user satisfaction but the problem with that approach is that website publishers are left out of that equation.  Consider this: Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines says nothing about checking if big brands are dominating the search results. Zero.

Website publishers aren’t even an afterthought for Google. Publishers are not not considered at any stage of the creation, testing and rollout of ranking algorithms.

Google Historically Doesn’t Focus On Publishers

A remark by Gary Illyes in a recent Search Off The Record indicated that in Gary’s opinion Google is all about the user experience because if search is good for the user then that’ll trickle down to the publishers and will be good for them too.

In the context of Gary explaining whether Google will announce that something is broken in search, Gary emphasized that search relations is focused on the search users and not the publishers who may be suffering from whatever is broken.

John Mueller asked:

“So, is the focus more on what users would see or what site owners would see? Because, as a Search Relations team, we would focus more on site owners. But it sounds like you’re saying, for these issues, we would look at what users would experience.”

Gary Illyes answered:

“So it’s Search Relations, not Site Owners Relations, from Search perspective.”

Google’s Indifference To Publishers

Google’s focus on satisfying search users can in practice turn into indifference toward publishers.  If you read all the Google patents and research papers related to information retrieval (search technology) the one thing that becomes apparent is that the measure of success is always about the users. The impact to site publishers are consistently ignored. That’s why Google Search is perceived as indifferent to site publishers, because publishers have never been a part of the search satisfaction equation.

This is something that publishers and Google may not have wrapped their minds around just yet.

Later on, in the Search Off The Record  podcast, the Googlers specifically discuss how an update is deemed to be working well regardless if a (relatively) small amount of publishers are complaining that Google Search is broken, because what matters is if Google perceives that they are doing the right thing from Google’s perspective.

John said:

“…Sometimes we get feedback after big ranking updates, like core updates, where people are like, “Oh, everything is broken.”

At the 12:06 minute mark of the podcast Gary made light of that kind of feedback:

“Do we? We get feedback like that?”

Mueller responded:

“Well, yeah.”

Then Mueller completed his thought:

“I feel bad for them. I kind of understand that. I think those are the kind of situations where we would look at the examples and be like, “Oh, I see some sites are unhappy with this, but overall we’re doing the right thing from our perspective.”

And Gary responded:

“Right.”

And John asks:

“And then we wouldn’t see it as an issue, right?”

Gary affirmed that Google wouldn’t see it as an issue if a legit publisher loses traffic when overall the algorithm is working as they feel it should.

“Yeah.”

It is precisely that shrugging indifference that a website publisher, Brandon Saltalamacchia, is concerned about and discussed with SearchLiaison in a recent blog post.

Lots of Questions

SearchLiaison asked many questions about how Google could better support content creators, which is notable because Google has a long history of focusing on their user experience but seemingly not also considering what the impact on businesses with an online presence.

That’s a good sign from SearchLiaison but not entirely a surprise because unlike most Googlers, SearchLiaison (aka Danny Sullivan) has decades of experience as a publisher so he knows what it’s like on our side of the search box.

It will be interesting if SearchLiaison’s concern for publishers makes it back to Google in a more profound way so that there’s a better understanding that the Search Ecosystem is greater than Google’s users and encompasses website publishers, too. Algorithm updates should be about more than how they impact users, the updates should also be about how they impact publishers.

Hope For Sites That Lost Traffic

Perhaps the most important news from the interview is that SearchLiaison expressed that there may be changes coming over the next few months that will benefit the publishers who have lost rankings over the past few months of updates.

Brandon wrote:

“One main take away from my conversation with Danny is that he did say to hang on, to keep doing what we are doing and that he’s hopeful that those of us building great websites will see some signs of recovery over the coming months.”

Yet despite those promises from Danny, Brandon didn’t come away with hope.

Brandon wrote:

“I got the sense things won’t change fast, nor anytime soon. “

Read the entire interview:

A Brief Meeting With Google After The Apocalypse

Listen to the Search Off The Record Podcast

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20 Confirmed Facts About YouTube’s Algorithm

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20 Confirmed Facts About YouTube's Algorithm

Instead of counting the number of clicks or views a video gets, YouTube’s algorithms focus on ensuring viewers are happy with what they watch.

This article examines how YouTube’s algorithms work to help users find videos they like and keep them watching for longer.

We’ll explain how YouTube selects videos for different parts of its site, such as the home page and the “up next” suggestions.

We’ll also discuss what makes some videos appear more than others and how YouTube matches videos to each person’s interests.

By breaking this down, we hope to help marketers and YouTubers understand how to work better with YouTube’s system.

A summary of all facts is listed at the end.

Prioritizing Viewer Satisfaction

Early on, YouTube ranked videos based on watch time data, assuming longer view durations correlated with audience satisfaction.

However, they realized that total watch time alone was an incomplete measure, as viewers could still be left unsatisfied.

So, beginning in the early 2010s, YouTube prioritized viewer satisfaction metrics for ranking content across the site.

The algorithms consider signals like:

  • Survey responses directly asking viewers about their satisfaction with recommended videos.
  • Clicks on the “like,” “dislike,” or “not interested” buttons which indicate satisfaction.
  • Overall audience retention metrics like the percentage of videos viewed.
  • User behavior metrics, including what users have watched before (watch history) and what they watch after a video (watch next).

The recommendation algorithms continuously learn from user behavior patterns and explicit satisfaction inputs to identify the best videos to recommend.

How Videos Rank On The Homepage

The YouTube homepage curates and ranks a selection of videos a viewer will most likely watch.

The ranking factors include:

Performance Data

This covers metrics like click-through rates from impressions and average view duration. When shown on its homepages, YouTube uses these traditional viewer behavioral signals to gauge how compelling a video is for other viewers.

Personalized Relevance

Besides performance data, YouTube relies heavily on personalized relevance to customize the homepage feed for each viewer’s unique interests. This personalization is based on insights from their viewing history, subscriptions, and engagement patterns with specific topics or creators.

How YouTube Ranks Suggested Video Recommendations

The suggested videos column is designed to keep viewers engaged by identifying other videos relevant to what they’re currently watching and aligned with their interests.

The ranking factors include:

Video Co-Viewing

YouTube analyzes viewing patterns to understand which videos are frequently watched together or sequentially by the same audience segments. This allows them to recommend related content the viewer will likely watch next.

Topic/Category Matching

The algorithm looks for videos covering topics or categories similar to the video being watched currently to provide tightly relevant suggestions.

Personal Watch History

A viewer’s viewing patterns and history are a strong signal for suggesting videos they’ll likely want to watch again.

Channel Subscriptions

Videos from channels that viewers frequently watch and engage with are prioritized as suggestions to keep them connected to favored creators.

External Ranking Variables

YouTube has acknowledged the following external variables can impact video performance:

  • The overall popularity and competition level for different topics and content categories.
  • Shifting viewer behavior patterns and interest trends in what content they consume.
  • Seasonal effects can influence what types of videos people watch during different times of the year.

Being a small or emerging creator can also be a positive factor, as YouTube tries to get them discovered through recommendations.

The company says it closely monitors success rates for new creators and is working on further advancements like:

  • Leveraging advanced AI language models to better understand content topics and viewer interests.
  • Optimizing the discovery experience with improved layouts and content pathways to reduce “choice paralysis.”

Strategies For Creators

With viewer satisfaction as the overarching goal, this is how creators can maximize the potential of having their videos recommended:

  • Focus on creating content that drives high viewer satisfaction through strong audience retention, positive survey responses, likes/engagement, and low abandon rates.
  • Develop consistent series or sequel videos to increase chances of being suggested for related/sequence views.
  • Utilize playlists, end screens, and linked video prompts to connect your content for extended viewing sessions.
  • Explore creating content in newer formats, such as Shorts, live streams, or podcasts, that may align with changing viewer interests.
  • Monitor performance overall, specifically from your existing subscriber base as a baseline.
  • Don’t get discouraged by initial metrics. YouTube allows videos to continuously find relevant audience segments over time.
  • Pay attention to seasonality trends, competition, and evolving viewer interests, which can all impact recommendations.

In Summary – 20 Key Facts About YouTube’s Algorithm

  1. YouTube has multiple algorithms for different sections (homepage, suggested videos, search, etc.).
  2. The recommendation system powers the homepage and suggested video sections.
  3. The system pulls in videos that are relevant for each viewer.
  4. Maximizing viewer satisfaction is the top priority for rankings.
  5. YouTube uses survey responses, likes, dislikes, and “not interested” clicks to measure satisfaction.
  6. High audience retention percentages signal positive satisfaction.
  7. Homepage rankings combine performance data and personalized relevance.
  8. Performance is based on click-through rates and average view duration.
  9. Personalized relevance factors include watch history, interests, and subscriptions.
  10. Suggested videos prioritize content that is co-viewed by the same audiences.
  11. Videos from subscribed channels are prioritized for suggestions.
  12. Consistent series and sequential videos increase suggestions for related viewing.
  13. Playlists, end screens, and linked videos can extend viewing sessions.
  14. Creating engaging, satisfying content is the core strategy for recommendations.
  15. External factors like competition, trends, and seasonality impact recommendations.
  16. YouTube aims to help new/smaller creators get discovered through recommendations.
  17. AI language models are improving content understanding and personalization.
  18. YouTube optimizes the discovery experience to reduce “choice paralysis.”
  19. Videos can find audiences over time, even if initial metrics are discouraging.
  20. The algorithm focuses on delivering long-term, satisfying experiences for viewer retention.

Insight From Industry Experts

While putting together this article, I reached out to industry experts to ask about their take on YouTube’s algorithms and what’s currently working for them.

Greg Jarboe, the president and co-founder of SEO-PR and author of YouTube and Video Marketing, says:

“The goals of YouTube’s search and discovery system are twofold: to help viewers find the videos they want to watch, and to maximize long-term viewer engagement and satisfaction. So, to optimize your videos for discovery, you should write optimized titles, tags, and descriptions. This has been true since July 2011, when the YouTube Creator Playbook became available to the public for the first time.

However, YouTube changed its algorithm in October 2012 – replacing ‘view count’ with ‘watch time.’ That’s why you need to go beyond optimizing your video’s metadata. You also need to keep viewers watching with a variety of techniques. For starters, you need to create a compelling opening to your videos and then use effective editing techniques to maintain and build interest through the video.

There are other ranking factors, of course, but these are the two most important ones. I’ve used these video SEO best practices to help the Travel Magazine channel increase from just 1,510 to 8.7 million views. And these video SEO techniques help the SonoSite channel grow from 99,529 views to 22.7 million views.

The biggest recent trend is the advent of YouTube Shorts, which is discoverable on the YouTube homepage (in the new Shorts shelf), as well as across other parts of the app. For more details, read “Can YouTube Shorts Be Monetized? Spoiler Alert: Some Already Are!

Brie E. Anderson, an SEO and digital marketing consultant, says:

“In my experience, there are a few things that are really critical when it comes to optimizing for YouTube, most of which won’t be much of a surprise. The first is obviously the keyword you choose to target. It’s really hard to beat out really large and high authority channels, much like it is on Google. That being said, using tools like TubeBuddy can help you get a sense of the keywords you can compete for.

Another big thing is focusing on the SERP for YouTube Search. Your thumbnail has to be attention-grabbing – this is honestly what we test the most and one of the most impactful tests we run. More times than not, you’re looking at a large face, and max four words. But the amount of contrast happening in the thumbnail and how well it explains the topic of the video is the main concern.

Also, adding the ‘chapters’ timestamps can be really helpful. YouTube actually shows these in the SERP, as mentioned in this article.

Lastly, providing your own .srt file with captions can really help YouTube understand what your video is about.

Aside from actual on-video optimizations, I usually encourage people to write blog posts and embed their videos or, at the very least, link to them. This just helps with indexing and building some authority. It also increases the chance that the video will help YOUR SITE rank (as opposed to YouTube).”

Sources: YouTube’s Creator Insider Channel (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), How YouTube Works

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