It’s time to get real about SEO. If you don’t know what SEO is, let me tell you. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This refers to how high your video will be ranked on a result page in reference to how relevant your video is to a users search. In other words, it’s how Youtube knows to show the Vevo version of Sia’s Chandelier first, and not Sarah from Florida covering the song. We can all thank Youtube for making it easier to watch Maddie show off your incredible moves. However, when it comes to your videos you do need to be aware of how Youtube picks the top videos so you can get the most views possible.

Step One: Metadata

One of the first things you should be doing to optimize your videos for search engines is have strong metadata. This includes your title, description and keywords all being properly synced together to best depict your video’s content. However, that is not the only thing you should be cautious of. Youtube uses metadata as more of a first step to determining if your video is of high quality. The second step Youtube takes is to look at how large your channel is, how large your viewership is, and how people react to your videos.

Step Two: Watch Time

Youtube weighs heavily on the number of views your video has. They also take into account your watch time. This tracks how long your viewers watch your videos. Are the majority of people abandoning your video in the first 30 seconds? If this is the case you may need to consider rethinking your metadata. It may not be accurately reflecting the content of your video. If you don’t know how to tell if people are watching your entire videos check out your Youtube analytics. It will show you everything you need to know about your videos. Youtube can also process how many comments, likes, dislikes, and shares your videos get. It processes all of this information and uses it to determine which videos are going to best satisfy the search.

One of the largest weighing factors for Youtube SEO is how long people watch your video. So you must be thinking, “How can I ensure that people are watching my video in it’s entirety?” Of course nothing is a safe bet, but there are some tricks you can be thinking about when making your videos.

The first thing you can do to increase watch time is put call-to-actions in almost all your videos. Encourage people to watch your next video. Steer them toward your channel’s playlists. You want them to watch as many videos as possible in one sitting. While you have their attention make you keep it! The second thing you can do is encourage comments. Let your viewers know that you want to hear form them. Invite them to leave their thoughts on your video. You want them to share and like your video as well. Youtube recognizes when a video has 2,000 thumbs up and 50 thumbs down. They will be more likely to recommend a video that people have proven to like.

The third and most important factor to increase your video’s watch time is to optimize it for PEOPLE. Youtube is smart, they know that there is person behind the computer so they program computers to think like people. Youtube programs with people in mind so you should be creating with people in mind. Do not think that because you have all of your keywords and thumbnails matching that you will be put to the top of the list. Watch time can only truly be increased if your viewers enjoy your content. If your content is not of high quality, people are not going to stick around. You need to be original and cautious of your editing. Don’t rush your videos, but rather take the time to make them the highest quality you can. Make your thumbnail attractive to your viewers, and your titles intriguing. Be subjective, imagine yourself as a viewer who knows nothing about your video. Ask yourself, “Would I click on this video?”

Be smart with your videos. Remember that watch time is important and it should be on your mind when you are creating your video as well as during your post production, while you prepare for upload. Most importantly remember that your viewers are what count. Make sure you are interacting with them as much as possible and you are sure to see your watch time numbers rise.