A Guide to SEO for YouTube Channels

Understanding the Opportunity

With an average of over 30 million daily visits and an estimated 92 billion views a month, YouTube presents a unique marketing opportunity for video based businesses to thrive. This brief guide to SEO strategy for YouTube provides solutions for improving Google and YouTube channel rankings.

YouTube Engagement APIs

Views  Core metric for total number of views a video received.
View Duration  Core retention metric for avg number of minutes’ users viewed video.
Shares  Core metric for number of times video was shared.
Subscribers  Core metric for channel subscribers gained after viewing a video.
Comments  Core metric for number of users that showed verbal engagement with a video.
CTR  Core metric for average rate of clicks on a video.
Likes/Dislikes  Number of times user indicated they liked or disliked a video.
View Percentage  Explains what portion of the total video was viewed.

Video Title and Description Keywords

A high portion of first page results in Google are reserved for video. Using free tools like Google Trends or Keyword Planner to find keywords with a minimum volume of 300 searches a month can drastically improve the SEO of a channel. How-to, review or sporting activity terms are a few of the popular keywords used in video titles. The first few lines of a description can also be vital to ranking high in search engines. Metadata descriptions are another area for placing keywords relevant to your video.

Engaging & High Quality Production

Posting high quality videos with appealing graphics, professional editing & good length are key to building loyal channel viewers. Tags present another chance for strategic keyword placement during the upload process. Unless it’s an ad, longer videos on YouTube tend to outperform shorter ones.

Leveraging Your Network

As a part of Google’s ad & search network, YT channels easily link to Google + profiles so videos can appear in results for both platforms. Viewers enjoy destination videos that direct them towards new content. Similar to the impact of a landing page, linking the channel to a website will increase viewer engagement.

Ranking in “Recommended”, “Suggested” and “Up Next” Columns

YouTube’s “watch time” algorithm for internal rankings also factors in viewer engagement, topic relevancy and CTA’s encouraging your users to engage with your video. Connecting videos to playlists can lengthen user sessions & total view times. Posting videos on popular topics is another way to boost internal & search rankings. Instructional and testimonials are topics that generate massive user engagement.

Why you can’t ignore Google Plus anymore

Google Plus is often times considered the red-headed step child of social media platforms. With only around 300 million of its 2.5 billion accounts still alive and kicking, it is a shock that the social media network made it to its fifth birthday.

The +1 on Google Plus is similar to Facebook and Twitter likes.
The +1 on Google Plus is similar to Facebook and Twitter likes.

But despite its lack of hype, the platform holds the key to one sector that all other networks lack: search engine optimization (SEO). With a parent like Google, the king of all search engines, local businesses ought to adopt Google Plus account if it means increasing organic ranking on search engine results. By increasing this ranking, your business will stand out among your competitors.

Here, we highlight five ways that Google Plus can help strengthen a local business’ online presence.

1. Google Plus has a strong influence on SEO.

Building a strong network, or “circle,” on Google Plus has a stronger impact on search engine results than your Facebook or Twitter presence. According to one metric, Google +1s (comparable to Facebook and Twitter likes) had the single highest correlation with Google search rankings compared to other social signals. In other words, it takes more Twitter and Facebook likes to have the same impact on SEO as Google Plus interactions.

Building support on Google Plus may be easier than it sounds. Although there is a limited amount of activity on the platform, there’s a pretty good chance that your loyal customers and employees already have a Google Plus account. Gmail, the most popular free email service in the world, can be easily linked to a Google Plus account without the need to fill out a separate account set-up form.

If you, a family member, friend or loyal customer already have a personal Gmail account, you can easily build a circle and start generating +1’s on your company’s content.

2. Google Plus can amplify your Google My Business account.

Want to increase the visibility of your Google My Business account? Utilize Google Plus, an already built-in tool that allows you to post updates in the same way as a Facebook status or tweet.

If you create an individual account for your business, Google will automatically create a default account. You want to make sure to post to the "brand" account, linked to Google My Business.
The “Brand Account” is linked to Google My Business.

As a local business trying to attract people searching for services in your area, it is important to stand out among your local competitors. One way you can amplify your Google presence is to begin building an active Google Plus presence. And there’s a good chance your competitors are not already tapping into this useful tool.

The tricky part with this is you want to make sure that you’re posting to your “brand” account rather than the default account provided by Google. The “brand” account is linked to your Google My Business account, rather than the default account provided when signing up for any Google services account.

3. Google Plus pairs well with other Google services.

Along with platforms such as Gmail and Google My Business, the Google family also includes YouTube which reaches more 18- to 49-year-olds than any cable network in the United States.

Your Google Plus account will strengthen your presence across all Google platforms. Already have an active Youtube presence? Strengthen your web presence by creating a Google Plus page for your channel or videos.

Another way you can utilize your Google Plus account is to provide a strong social presence. Want to respond to a positive or negative review about your business? Create accountability by interacting through your Google Plus account.

4. You can recycle content from Facebook for more visibility.

Google Plus operates a lot like a Facebook page. There are no limits on the number of characters to use and your website links will create a visual preview. To amplify your reach, posting to more than one social network will attract different users. Not to mention, Google Plus posts are more likely to show up in search engine results than Facebook posts.

If you want to maximize the number of keyword searches that drive traffic to your website, cross-posting content to Google Plus is a great way to increase the visibility of your content.

5. The more routes you create to your website, the better it is for your web performance and Google ranking.

Like mentioned before, social signals are likely to increase your Google ranking, along with organic website visits. Google Plus may not be the most popular social network out there, but it does serve as a useful tool for increasing your web presence. The service is also free if you already have a Google My Business account.

Interested in using this tool to increase your web traffic and improve your online image? Follow this quick guide for getting started. 

The Basics Part One: Targeted Display and Retargeting

Year after year, digital remains the fastest-growing category in U.S. advertising spending. eMarketer predicts that in 2017, digital advertising will surpass television advertising for the first time in history.

In Part One of our Digital Advertising basics series, we break down the banner ad. Learn what your options are and how to get started reaching your potential customers online.

Digital Advertising Gold Standard: Targeted Display

Targeted display advertising, also known as programmatic advertising, refers to what you may know as “banner ads.”

A CMG-designed display ad: A 728x90, one of the most common sizes.
A CMG-designed display ad: A 728×90, one of the most common sizes.

Think of targeted display as your Internet billboard. But, instead of paying for views of every driver on a highway, your digital “billboard” will only be shown to a specified audience who meet highly granular demographic and geographic criteria.

For example: if your primary customers are wealthy women who live in Columbia and have children between the ages of 13-18, then you can run a targeted display campaign that will:

  • Show ads only to people in Columbia, MO
  • Run on websites where wealthy women with teenage children frequent (an Ad Network)
  • Show ads to wealthy women who have recently visited relevant websites (Behavioral Targeting)
  • Show ads to wealthy women who have recently searched online for relevant terms (Keyword Targeting)

Display ads can be a variety of sizes, and they typically appear at the top, bottom, or sides of a website. Small sizes also appear on mobile apps. You’ve seen them – check out MSN.com, CNN.com, HGTV.com, and thousands of others to see examples of display advertising.

A 300x250 display ad on MSN.com
A 300×250 display ad on MSN.com

How to Get Started

Targeted display campaigns are typically run by agencies, so you’ll need to find a partner you trust. You’ll pay by impressions, which are views of your ads.



Expect a minimum campaign length – usually three months. Digital campaigns are cumulative; once people begin responding to your display ads, then your campaign will grow. Depending on your product and the customer’s purchase journey, longer campaigns may make sense.  Make sure you have a digital expert planning your strategy.

Roark Aluminum display ad
A CMG-designed skyscraper display ad (160×600)

Concept and Creative

Will the agency you hire to launch you targeted display campaign also create your display ads?  Will there be an extra fee?  Do they have a proven track record of success? Ask to see samples of effective display ads they’ve designed.

How often can creative be changed?

If you have a new promotion, how nimble can the agency be in revising your display ads? Will there be a fee every time? Your ads are a very important factor in the success of your campaign, so know your options before committing.

Where is traffic being driven?

If your website is up-to-date, fantastic (see note below about the critical importance of your website). But you also may want to create a landing page on your website designed specifically to convince people who clicked on your ad to take another action (usually, filling out a form). A digital expert can help you optimize a landing page and maximize return on investment.

How do I know if the campaign is successful?

Your agency should provide you a regular report. The beauty of your digital billboard, as opposed to a real billboard, is that you’ll know exactly how many people saw it, clicked on it, and then took another action when they arrived at your website.

The “Click Through Rate,” or the rate of people clicking on the ad who saw it, is a metric you can measure against industry benchmarks. The national average CTR is 0.07%, so if you achieve higher than that, you’re doing well.

Impressions build your brand. Clicks are a measure of interest; conversions are a measure of strong interest/intent to buy. You should also track your sales and any other metric you set at the beginning of the campaign as an indicator of success.

Animated Ads: The Latest in Catching Attention

Ask your ad designers about animating your ads with HTML5. Motion and multiple frames are all options – but expect an additional fee. It can be worth it to catch attention and drive up clicks.

Digital Advertising MUST HAVE for 2017: Retargeting

Smart phone ownership is skyrocketing. Consumers have an unlimited amount of resources available for product research in the palm of their hand – and they’re doing their homework.

Over 95% of people who visit a landing page do not fill out a form or take an action on the first visit. So how do you get them back? Retargeting.

Also known as remarketing – retargeting is showing display (banner) ads to people who visited your website but then left.

It may seem a little “big brother,” but retargeting is highly effective at returning people to your website, driving action, and nurturing them toward a sale.

Note: Facebook Retargeting Is Different

If you look at a book on Amazon and then see that same book in an ad on a Washington Post article you’re reading – that is traditional, display retargeting.

I viewed this fireplace insert two days ago. Amazon is retargeting me.
I viewed this fireplace insert two days ago. Amazon is retargeting me.

You may also see that book from Amazon in your Facebook feed. That is also retargeting, but it would not be included in your display retargeting budget. Facebook retargeting will need to be purchased as a separate campaign.

Recap: BARK

Ready to try display advertising? Remember BARK:

  • Behavioral Targeting
  • Ad Network
  • Retargeting
  • Keyword Targeting

With a combination of those digital targeting strategies, stellar creative, and the right digital media buying partner – you’ll join thousands of other advertisers finding ROI with targeted display.

First Thing’s First: Pretty Up Your Website

A CMG designed and developed website which has been highly effective in converting leads.
A CMG designed and developed website which has been highly effective in converting leads.

Internet ads drive traffic to your website (as do all other forms of advertising). If you’re spending money on digital advertising, make sure you’re driving traffic to a website that is top notch.

Your website needs:

  • Responsive design, meaning that it adapts to fit any screen size. In 2017, this will essentially mandatory for success
  • A modern design overall
  • Clear calls to action and easy ways that potential customers can request more information.
  • Clean, high resolution branding elements (your logo, photography)
  • Simple navigation
  • Content optimized for the digital experience (brief, visually spaced text, with headline usage, bullet points, etc).
  • If you sell products on your website, your e-commerce process needs to be streamlined and easy to navigate.

Although other more minute factors affect website success, those seven items are the basic web elements we recommend addressing before beginning a digital ad campaign.