May 11

SEO for YouTube : Advanced Tricks

1-2-3, That's How Elementary It's Gonna Be

Last week we covered the basics of SEO for YouTube – this week we will run through some of the more advanced techniques I came across when researching this topic.

Advanced trick #1:  Name your raw file after the keyword you are targeting.

If the keyword you are targeting is [saint patrick’s day shamrock] then rename the file saint-patricks-day-shamrock.mpg” before uploading it to YouTube.  Just as in organic search, Google likely uses the filename as a relevance signal and you may get a slight ranking edge from this trick.

Advanced trick #2:  Place a URL to your website early in the description of your video.

Hat tip to Wil Reynolds for this trick.  This will help drive clickthroughs to your main website and promote your brand.  Should the keyword you’re trying to optimize for come very first, or this URL?  I tend to think the URL should come very first – Google likely will strip it out when examining it and will use the keywords after it for relevance purposes. Note – you must Use “http://” or it will not  appear as a link.

Advanced Trick #3:  Change the category or tags after a video succeeds for awhile.

If you have a video that already has been experiencing plenty of traffic, some believe that if you select a different category, or select different tags, you will start ranking for the new topics based on the strength of your existing performance.  But it seems to me you would be likely to lose some of the existing traffic, so I’m not sold on this technique – comments below appreciated.

Advanced trick #4: Use non-ascii characters in your title.

This involves either surrounding your title (by hearts for instance), or drawing a picture using non-ASCII characters and so on – it may promote a higher clickthrough rate, but don’t use up your title on much of this at the expense of your keywords.  You can go into Microsoft Word and select the ‘Insert Symbol’ menu item if you’d like to find a good character to paste in, or look at some of the tables available online.

Advanced trick #5: Sign up for YouTube’s partner program.

YouTube normally allows you to choose from a few preselected set of thumbnails grabbed from your video; if you join their partner program, you can choose any frame, not just the preselected ones.  It’s unclear how much traffic or followers is necessary for the YouTube partner folks to bother with you, but it doesn’t hurt to apply, and you can always reapply later after you build a larger following if they reject you.

Advanced trick #6: Generate an interactive transcript for your video.

An interactive transcript is essentially a closed-caption file.  YouTube will use the text as a signal for its indexing process, and some users may prefer to see the captioning withing the video by clicking the CC button.  YouTube also shows a “transcript” option the users can click to read the entire transcript.   CaptionTube is a great application that can help you with this process.

Advanced trick #7: Interlink videos by making annotations within them.

If you have multiple videos, you can create links between them by making annotations within them that reference each other, such as at the end of the video encouraging viewers to view another specific video, or another video in a series.  Some folks have even made “choose your own adventure” style videos where people can select different paths, which is creative and highly engaging (check out the Hunter Shoots a Bear video [warning – NSFW] for ideas).  Unfortunately you can’t link outside of YouTube (apparently there is some process for nonprofits to be approved for this capability though).

Advanced trick #8: Sign up for YouTube Insight.

YouTube Insight is like Google Analytics for YouTube – it can help figure out where your traffic is coming from,  and then you can capitalize on that knowledge.  For instance, if you’re getting some viral traffic from StumbleUpon, but haven’t put any marketing efforts into building your StumbleUpon friend base, maybe doing so would reap dividends.

Advanced trick #9:  Add video times in the description.

You can add video times (such as 01:30 etc) in the description.  You don’t need to do anything crazy, just put the time in, like 03:20, 01:20, etc.  This will automatically become a hyperlink to that section of the video – you can leverage this to make the video portions more accessible and engaging to your users.

Advanced trick #10: Put your URL at the end of your video.

Most video editing tools allow you to place text in the video, this is relatively straightforward.  You might even consider showing your URL at the bottom of the video; you have an opportunity to brand yourself with this and drive clickthrough traffic.  I wouldn’t suggest putting it at the beginning though, your content should get right to it and start satisfying the viewer’s needs instead.


  1. Awesome youtube tips. I learned a few new steps here, great job 🙂

  2. Ryan says:

    Also if you revert to the old style profile format you will get a dofollow link back to your site.

  3. Koh Chang says:

    Thanks I just started doing videos and needed some extra tips.

  4. Chase says:

    Captioning your YouTube videos is definitely one of the best and also most popular ways to increase SEO. If you don’t have the time to caption them yourself, you can always outsource them to a transcription service, which is really affordable nowadays. There’s a service called DirectCaption.com which charges only $1 per minute to get your captioning done and they’re really reliable too.

  5. I did not know that spending twenty seconds in naming raw file before uploading could be such a strong SEO boost. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Great post as always. Just starting a new you tube link building campaign. Thanks for sharing

  7. Thank you very much for these information. I’ll start right away referencing my site on youtube

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