Good metadata is the foundation?of a successful YouTube channel.
With optimal Tags in place not only will your individual videos rank higher in Search and be surfaced more in Suggested Videos but you’ll create a relationship between your videos that lead to longer session times where people watch a number of your videos.
There are many myths surrounding Tags (some of which I’ve already debunked) but if you follow my 10 step guide below you?ll be safe in the knowledge that you’re creating Tags in a way that is optimized for YouTube’s algorithm.
10 Steps To Create?Optimal Tags For YouTube?Videos
- Create default channel Tags
In the Creator Playbook it suggest that you should “include a mix of video-specific and more general (but still relevant) tags,”?these default tags take care of the latter part (for the first part see point 2).
Default tags are present on the Basic Info tab of a video?s General Settings page and are auto populated for all new uploads, meaning that you don’t have to keep adding tags that you use regularly.
There?s a reason for using default Tags beyond convenience and that is that consistent Tags that are present in all videos on your channel creates a relationship between your videos.
This relationship is invaluable to Creators as it means that more of your videos will be served in the Suggested Videos sidebar, which is a huge source of views.
For your default tags you want to include:
- Channel Keywords ? keywords that relate to your brand such as channel name, tagline, talent names etc. and
- Subject Keywords ? What topics do you cover? What categories? What keywords do you want your channel to rank for?
I?d suggest aiming for about 4-8 default Tags (see point 3 for more on the ideal number of Tags).
As an example here are my channel default tags:
Default tags can be set by navigating to?in Creator Studio> Channel> Upload Defaults and for some reason need to be separated in quotation marks instead of commas:
- Use video specific Tags
Now that you have channel default Tags in place you’ll see them on every new upload. You can place your video specific tags after them safe in the knowledge that Tag placement doesn?t affect ranking.
You want to use Tags that succinctly sum up the topic of your video and are not covered in your channel defaults.
These can be things like topics covered, names mentioned, themes looked at and formats used.
Here?s a short video of my own with the tags listed underneath as an example:
- Use as many tags as necessary
Many people ask me what the ideal length of a YouTube video should be and I always answer, ?It should be as long as it?s still interesting.?
The same can be said about the amount of Tags to be used.
Use the amount of tags needed to convey your major keywords without becoming spammy. If this is 8 tags, fine. If you fill up the box, so be it.
Think about it like instant Coffee – stay with me here. You want to add enough hot water so that it isn’t too strong but not so much water that it becomes diluted or weak.
Like many things on YouTube it?s an art and a science.
- Don’t?use misleading Tags
I’ve seen numerous people advocating the use of popular channel names and other misleading keywords to create a false association between channels and rank for popular but unrelated keywords.
Do NOT do this.
In the short term you may see a boost in views but your watch time (arguably the biggest ranking factor for YouTube?s algorithm) will suffer when people click expecting one thing but receive something very different.
Stay honest and keep a long-term view of your channel?s success as you?ll get deeper engagement for delivering what you promise via accurate metadata.
It may be a slower route to the top of search rankings but it?s legitimate and more importantly, sustainable.
- Keyword research
This is such an important technique and is vital when tagging your videos.
It?s probably also the most underused weapon in the arsenal of a YouTube channel manager.
I expect keyword research is overlooked because it?s not easy and YouTube have just made it harder by announcing that the YouTube Keyword Suggestion?Tool will be disabled on September 1st 2014.
Bad news for all YouTube channel managers.
Keyword research techniques are beyond the scope of this article but I?ll be creating a dedicated resource on YouTube keyword research soon so make sure to subscribe to my weekly newsletter so you don?t miss that when it goes live.
In the mean time my video on using Google trends will help you cover the absolute basics:
- Don?t split up terms into separate tags
If you have a keyword or key phrase that you want to rank for that contains multiple words don?t split them up.
For example if you are trying to rank for ?Best BBQ Sauce Recipe? I would include that as a single tag.
What I would suggest however for very important terms within key phrases is to spin them out into their own tag.
For example in my Sauce Recipe video I would definitely want to rank for the term ?BBQ Sauce? and as ?Recipe? is also a general category I would probably include that too if it wasn’t already in my defaults:
Use these duplicate tags sparingly as you don?t want to dilute your tags.
- Forget misspellings and synonyms
Don’t waste valuable tags by including misspellings of keywords in an attempt to mop up rogue search traffic.
Google powers YouTube?s algorithm and they use the same search conventions as their flagship search engine so your videos will also be found by misspellings and synonyms.
If you have the choice of two similar words but don?t want to tag them both, use a Google Trends search to see which word gets more search traffic and use that as a tag. See how to do this in the video below:
- Use YouTube’s auto suggested Tags
Once you?ve entered a title and started to enter your own video specific Tags YouTube will start to provide commonly used suggestions that you can add to your Tags with a single click.
They are recommended because other people are using them for similar videos and they?re formatted in a consistent way so that people are using the same exact tag for the same keyword or key phrase across the platform.
Let?s look at this logically:
- People are already using these tags
- They will be formatted in exactly the same way as other Creator?s tags
This will mean it?s much more likely that our video will be associated with other Creator?s videos and be served as a Suggested Video as they play.
It?s this relationship that we as channel managers strive for and YouTube are giving us a big helping hand here. Don?t overlook it.
Once you’ve saved the video, refresh the page as some more suggestions may have been generated.
- Look at your competitor’s Tags
This tip is so useful and gets such good results that I’ve dedicated a whole article to it.
Install this free tool and get an insight into how your competitors are tagging their videos and use this as inspiration and leverage for your own tagging.
It?s very important to keep point 4 in mind when using this technique.
?10.?Refresh tags for new trends
The great thing about YouTube is how you can adjust things even after they go live and refreshing your Tags is a perfect example of this.
If you’re keeping your eyes open for YouTube trends you may notice that a trending topic is relevant to one of your older videos. Add tags to the existing video that relate to the trending topic and hopefully it will be swept up in the search traffic and Suggested videos.
If you need some help finding trends before it?s too late I’ve written a dedicated guide on how to find YouTube trends and act on them:
We’ve established that Tags do two things:-
- Help videos to rank in Search for certain keywords and
- Create relationships between two videos,
Both of which are the bread and butter of a YouTube channel manager.
Follow all of the above steps for new videos and revisit videos that you’ve already published to make sure they live up to the same standard and you should be able to see a measurable uplift in your analytics.
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