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YouTube Tags Optimization – How YouTube Tags Actually Work?

YouTube Tags Optimization – The Basics

Unfortunately, all the YouTube tools actually give you a wrong idea of how YouTube tags optimization work.
All the tools show you how high your videos are ranking. What they do is they take your tags, do a search, and show you at what spot the video is ranked. And this simple report is what gives you the wrong idea about tags. It just looks as if tags make your video rank higher. However, this is not what tags really do.
The question is, how do we get the actual search terms from? The right way to do that would be to go to YouTube Analytics and look up the Traffic Sources. Then you select your video and in the “YouTube search” category, you can see the search terms your video gets views from. These are the search terms needed to show you the search rankings for. But well, this traffic sources information is often impossible or difficult to access. So instead YouTube tools use the second best source of search terms: Your tags.

But Wait, How Important It Is To Make YouTube Tags Optimization?

Let me explain why tags do not help your video rank higher. And then we can also talk about how you need to choose the best tags for your video in order to get proper YouTube Video optimization and YouTube video SEO. To understand the purpose tags have, let’s switch perspective by looking through the eyes of YouTube. YouTube doesn’t tell us exactly how their algorithm works but what we do know is that tags only make up 1% – yes a single percent – of everything that makes your video rank higher. So what affect your rank and what boosts YouTube video SEO? First and foremost, higher watch times, or making people watch your videos for longer periods of time.

So why bother with tags if they barely have any power on your YouTube video SEO? Well, they have a different but significant purpose. YouTube asks us to order our tags by relevance. So more relevant tags are more important. And relevance means “the quality or state of being closely connected or appropriate,” a somewhat of a YouTube video optimization. “Closely connected” to what precisely? The video topic! YouTube wants us to create tags that describe the topic of our video. The primary purpose of tags is to help YouTube understand the topic of our video. YouTube needs a good understanding of the video topic to know where to rank your videos. Pay close attention to the subtle difference. Not how high to rank but instead WHERE to rank your videos. When a viewer types a search term into the search bar, then YouTube knows what topic the viewer is searching for.
On the other side, YouTube has all the uploaded videos and their topics YouTube thinks they are about. Now YouTube can match the topic that is searched with the topics of the videos and this way YouTube knows which videos could appear in the search results. At this point, tags served their purpose.

youtube tags optimization
youtube tags optimization


Now, How does YouTube decide which of the videos rank at the top?

One of the deciding factors are things like watch time. Ranking higher is a separate thing from choosing the best tags. We now know we should work on increasing, for example, our watch time to rank higher. It’s not the tags’ job to do that.
So how do we select the best possible tags for our video to boost your YouTube video optimization? As I explained earlier, their purpose is to describe the video topic. So how do you choose your tags to make this happen? Let me back up for a second. When you do keyword research, you choose a search term for your video. A search term you want your video to rank for. Also known as the ‘target keyword.’ What you do then is to put this target keyword into your title. This title that now contains the search term you want to rank for is like a job application. Your video is applying for the job to rank high for this particular search term. So what are tags in this job application analogy? Are they maybe additional job applications? That would mean that they apply for the job to rank for other search terms? Not precisely! If tags were actually able to rank your video higher, well then we could see tags as additional job applications. However, as we learned that’s not what they do. So this is now the key: Tags help YouTube understand the video topic. We represent our video topic with our target keyword.
Our target keyword is the video topic. But just having the target keyword in our video title, this alone may not be enough for YouTube to understand your video topic well enough. So tags are there to support the target keyword. They support by helping YouTube understand your video topic. So if the target keyword in the video title is like the job application, then the tags are the job references you attach to your job application. The job references support the job application. The job references plus the job application make clear that you are an excellent candidate for the job. The tags plus the video title make clear that your video is an excellent candidate to rank for the target keyword. So when you choose the tags for your video then add those that help YouTube understand your video topic.

Start with your target keyword – the search term you want to rank for. Let’s say it’s “how to get more views.” Your video title could then be “How to Get More Views | Top 10 Tricks!” As you see, it contains the target keyword “how to get more views.” Now add tags that use the same words as the target keyword and at the same time tell a little bit more. For example “how to get more views on youtube.” We have the full target keyword in here and, very important, the “on youtube” gives more information about the video topic. The video is not just about any views, it’s about views on youtube. You know, rather than views on Vidme or Twitch. This way YouTube can now understand the video topic much better. Also, add tags that explain the same topic in other words. For example “increase youtube views.” Of course, add many more tags like these. Some that use the same words and add extra information and some that describe the topic in other words. That’s giving YouTube a good understanding of the video topic. And that is the purpose of tags.

If you do it right and work on your YouTube video optimization by making proper YouTube tags optimization using targeted tags and keywords, YouTube will understand the topic precisely and consider your video ranking for all kinds of search terms that evolve around your video topic, therefore, your YouTube video SEO will get better. Not just those you put into your tags. There are so many more search terms that fit your video topic.

Mark Robinson

I'm a passionate video marketer with years of Youtube marketing experience. If you need help with your channel optimization, keyword analysis & research, channel optimization tips and tricks - feel free to leave me a message!