If you use YouTube for marketing purposes you may want to take note of the new changes which came into effect last week. In a quiet Tweet, and little more than a mumble on the YouTube creators Google+ page, Google announced that they would be making the search tags invisible to users.
This is part of an on-going battle against video spam. you may remember earlier this year when Google cracked down on ‘reply girls’ who were cashing in on the success of viral videos by posting meaningless responses that would then show up in the ‘related videos’ feed. Google also attempted to rid YouTube of comment trolls by asking users to disclose their real names.
Their latest move is to make tags private, this seems to be a move that will stop spammers from being able to look at popular search terms. Although one eagle-eyed Google nerd pointed out that the search terms will still be visible in the watch page source code.
While this may be a good move for weeding out spam, it could spell disaster for those using YouTube for marketing purposes. The tag function provided a good area for keyword research to ensure your videos are showing up in the most relevant area. Although users may not have been clicking on the tags for content discovery purposes, those uploading the videos use the tags to research the most relevant keywords to apply to their videos.
On the comment thread following the official announcement, one user pointed out that content discover is a big problem for YouTube, so removing these tags could be counter-productive to their aims. This user also points out that the reason users don’t use the tags to find new content is simply because the tags are hidden; if they were placed in a more prominent place their role would become integral to the YouTube experience.
So, How do I optimise my videos now?
The advice from YouTube is that you should still be tagging your content, even if your viewers can’t see the tags. Although it may seem pointless, these are still keywords that will be associated with your content and should therefore be paid due attention.
Likewise, make sure the video file name, the title, and the description are all an accurate representation of the content.
Establish internal links by building playlists that feature your content alongside other relevant videos.
By enouraging likes, comments and shares you’ll also help your YouTube optimisation efforts as your videos will rank higher in searches.
There is also an argument for uploading your videos in 4:3 ratio over widescreen, as a larger portion of your thumbnail will be visible and this will encourage more clicks.