YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. Therefore, keyword optimization of your videos on the platform is just as important as keyword optimization of your blog posts for Google.
Even if you’ve just made the next “Charlie Bit My Finger” video, remember that an algorithm dictates which videos YouTube will make available to its audience – and which will not.
One of the best ways to keyword-optimize your videos for YouTube is to use tags. Below we’ve put together a guide that explains exactly what YouTube tags are, why they are important, and what best practices to follow.
What are tags for YouTube?
YouTube tags are words and phrases that you can include in the description of your YouTube videos. They let your viewers and YouTube know what your videos are about and can help them rank higher in the platform’s search results.
Why are YouTube tags important?
YouTube tags help YouTube understand the content and context of your video. This allows YouTube to understand the subject and category of your video and associate it with similar content, increasing the reach of your video. The rise in semantic search has made YouTube tags less important over time, but they’re still a strategic element that you can use to your advantage.
Although YouTube websites have a title, thumbnail, and description that are more important to video SEO on their platform, studies suggest that there is a slightly positive relationship between keyword-optimized tags and ranking (backlinko). Your neglect isn’t a deal breaker, but it can definitely help.
They’re even more important in cases where your target keyword is misspelled a lot because you can flag the misspellings without including them in your title and description.
As a secondary benefit, tags even help you organize and find your own content when creating self-reference tags (e.g. “Ireland trip 2019”).
YouTube tags best practices
Read these tips and tricks to get the most out of YouTube tags.
1. Make your first day your target keyword and rank the rest by importance.
YouTube takes the first few tags of your video into consideration when ranking content in search results, especially the first day. So make sure that your first day is exactly the keyword that you want to target.
2. Use some general keywords that describe the high-level topic your video falls under as other tags.
By using common keywords rather than other tags, YouTube can better understand the context of your video. For example, if you’re creating a video titled “How to Beat a Baseball,” you might want to add “Baseball” as a wide tag to indicate to YouTube that the overarching topic of your video is Baseball.
3. Use certain keywords that describe the topics covered in your video as other tags.
By using certain keywords that describe the topics you are covering in your video as other tags, YouTube can better understand the content of your video. For example, in the same “How to Hit a Baseball” video, if you add the addition of “Teeing Off” or “Hitting Hitting Practice” as specific tags, YouTube will see the exact topics covered in your video.
4. Keep most of your tags between 2-3 words.
While you should definitely include long-tail keywords and some broad match variations, YouTube seems to prefer 2-4 word phrases (Briggsby).
5. Don’t go overboard with tags.
The purpose of tags is to help the algorithm understand what your video is about so that it can be displayed to users looking for a video like yours. Using too many keywords can lead to confusion about what your video is actually about. Research suggests that the optimal number of tags is between 31 and 40 (if used correctly, of course). More than that dilutes their power.
6. Get inspiration from videos that are currently in the ranking.
When you know what you want to rank for, take notes from those who already rank the topic. Your keyword tags may be a great starting point for research and inspiration.
7. Get inspiration from YouTube Auto-Suggest.
Auto-suggest is a feature that helps users find what they need. YouTube doesn’t easily come up with these suggestions. There is a possibility that these keywords will be suggested. So don’t be afraid to go straight to the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and be inspired.
Best YouTube Tag Generators
Below are three of the best YouTube tag generators that you can try to identify the keywords to tag on your videos and get them ranked in YouTube search results.
After you have inserted your target keyword into the YouTube search bar, Keywordtool.io will give you suggestions for keywords, their search volume, the development over the last 12 months as well as questions, prepositions and hashtags that also contain your target keyword.
2. Rapid days
Typing a startup keyword into Rapidtags and then clicking the button will generate a number of related tags for your YouTube video. Best of all, a copy button allows you to easily get the text without having to type it in manually.
3. YTube tool
You can use this tool to extract the tags from a competitor’s YouTube video. All you have to do is enter the url and the tool will then return your results.
4. Keyword barrel
Keyword Keg lets you put your target keyword in the tool and it will get the search volume, cost per click, competition, on-page difficulty, off-page difficulty, SEO difficulty, CTR range , Keyword Performance, etc. Trends and Suggested Keywords. You can also filter your results by country and language.
VidIQ shows the associated keywords, the associated result, the search volume, the search result, the competition result and the overall result of your target keyword. This is a combination of the associated result, the search result and the competition result of a keyword.
With these tools and types for generating YouTube optimized tags for SEO, you will be well on your way to finding your content on YouTube. Optimize other elements of the video as well and monitor the growth of your channel.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2019 and has been updated for completeness.