Using YouTube Metrics To Boost Videos and SEO: Analytics Corner

Consumers love video, enough as to position YouTube to overtake Facebook in terms of volume of traffic according to CNBC via a poll from SimilarLabs.  This news comes on top of YouTube’s current status as the second largest search engine by volume behind Google.

Despite these assets, many marketers do not recognize how to leverage YouTube to enhance their content strategy. Nevertheless, marketers should adopt YouTube tactics to boost SEO, and to gain online attention for a product, service, or brand message.

Better video engagement starts with examining how content is labeled.

Inserting keywords into text is a SEO staple, but many people overlook inserting keywords for a website into YouTube video titles and descriptions.  Because YouTube results can appear in a search query, it is a good strategy to insert keywords into the video title and description, as well as into the metatags that explain video content to users.  Keep important keywords in mind for this step: limited space exists. YouTube allows up to 100 characters for the title text box and 500 characters for the description text box.

 Once keywords are added, marketers should turn to a few more details that address visibility for search engines.   Adding captions to the video widens the potential audience, such as hearing impaired viewers or those who speak another language.  A caption can be added for each video by selecting the edit button for the video within the channel manager. An aside: captions are usually not perfectly translated, so be prepare to review videos for captions edits, which can take time depending on video length and number of videos involved.

Next comes setting analytics to capture the desired metrics.  A good approach is to use YouTube Analytics to review performance of individual videos, and use a YouTube integration with Google Analytics to view the channel against other media in a given campaign.

Useful YouTube analytics reports

In YouTube Analytics marketers can monitor likes, dislikes, and comments — the basic signals of a how a video’ will respond to a Google search query.

Another factor to monitor in YouTube Analytics is the watch time metric, the aggregate amount of time that people spend watching a video in your channel.

Watch time is similar in value to the advertising metric, dwell time — the amount of time a customer remains in a venue, or in a specific area within a venue.  Dwell time is typically a television-related metric, but because YouTube videos can be seen on multiple channels, monitoring watch time is a meaningful proxy for auditing how video content and its associated media are being consumed. That can be a particularly useful value signifier for a set of search terms that brought people to view video content (You can learn more about the value of watch time and YouTube as a platform in my earlier article).

Finally marketers can use End Screen reports, which show what interactions are taking place with end screens – five to 20 seconds trailers that appear at the end of a video used to promote other videos, encourage viewers to subscribe, and other activity.  Marketers can track the number of times end screen elements are clicks, and how many clicks per screen occurred.   It is also possible to learn how elements influence conversion activity, such as call to action and custom messages.

Useful Google Analytics reports

There are two ways into integrate YouTube with Google Analytics.  First, you can merge the accounts by adding the Google Analytics ID to the YouTube account. That enables the YouTube channel and its videos to appear as dimensions in the Google Analytics reports.   This allows for standard analysis approaches, such as ranking traffic sources that lead to conversion, confirming how many new customers are potentially coming to the site through YouTube, or determining which geolocation is sending video viewers.  

The second is a YouTube video integration for Google Tag Manager that allows Google Analytics users to measure visitor engagement with videos embedded into websites or apps.   

A developer can implement the Google Tag Manager script for a web app or website.  Managers without programming experience can then manage user interface setting to create the trigger. 

The manager can select YouTube Video as the trigger type, then choose one of the following video behaviors as the initiators that fires the tag.

  • Start: Triggered when the video begins to play
  • Complete: Triggered when the video finishes
  • Pause, seeking and buffering: Triggered when the video is paused, the scrub bar is moved, or the video buffers
  • Progress: Triggered when the video playback reaches progress points, defined by amount of seconds elapsed or as a percentage of playback time.

The Event reports display these engagements as dimension. Marketers should note that triggers must have clear labels – the labels appear in the reports. Creating robust descriptions allow other managers to analyze the kind of playback that is occurring, and better understand if a set of search parameters is linked to repeat views or conversion behavior.

Google Analytics reporting should ultimately connect basic search behavior metrics to the videos that influence conversion goals.  These are great starting points for more complex attribution ideas that can be displayed in a larger reporting plan.   If more nuanced detail of an online customer journey is needed, you can use other options such as Google Data Studio, or another dashboard.

As video takes an ever larger share of mobile traffic, marketers must adjust their SEO and content strategy. Doing so creates  robust analytics reporting that ties customer engagement to sales.

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