Using Tags Correctly: YouTube Video Tags Best Practices

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With over a billion users and a billion hours of video content viewed every day, YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine.

Yep, sorry Bing.

Because of this, if you’re looking to increase your brand’s exposure to your target audience, having your videos show up in the YouTube search results for lucrative keywords is a must. There are many video search engine optimization (SEO) aspects to consider in this regard, but one of them that many overlook or misuse are video tags.

In this piece, we’re going to look at what video tags are and learn the best practices for using them on YouTube.

“What are YouTube video tags?”

In much the same way Google crawls websites to determine the relevancy of content, YouTube (a Google company) does the same with uploaded videos. Unfortunately, because videos aren’t as easily understood by robots as text, they require channel owners to help them determine relevancy.

When a channel uploads a new video, they’re asked to tell YouTube what the video’s all about. A lot of this process is covered by a title, description, and maybe a transcript for the video. There is also the option to “tag” the videos with descriptive terms. The right tags used in the right way have shown to boost video visibility. While this is true, there are also wrong ways to use tags.

How To Use Video Tags Responsibly

Though meta keywords tags aren’t used for websites any longer, they remain useful for YouTube videos...if not abused. While some YouTube channels continue to pile stacks of tags on their video pages in hopes of ranking for a variety of keywords, this is wishful thinking at best and detrimental at worst.

Using tags sparingly and intentionally adds weight to each tag. Video tags are used to tell YouTube precisely what your video is about. Adding less relevant keywords will only muddy the site’s understanding of your content. So, what kind of keywords should you be using as video tags?

The Three Types of Video Tags

Primary Keyword Tag: Your Keyword Out of The Gate

Your first video tag should always be the most relevant keyword phrase associated with your video’s content. A simple thinking exercise can help you get started figuring out what this keyword phrase may be. Let’s say that you created a video featuring keto-friendly recipes for pescetarians.

For the sake of this exercise, let’s say that this video has no title. Several months later, you are visiting a friend. They mention that they trying to eat more keto-friendly, but that their pescetarian diet limits their ability to do so. You mention you have a video on the subject. They pull out their laptop and ask what phrase they should type into YouTube in order to find your video.

Would you type in “easy keto diet recipes”, “pescetarian lifestyle tips” or “pescetarian keto recipes”? Due to the relevancy of the last selection, your primary keyword tag will probably be the final one.

Secondary Keyword Tags: The Relevant B-Team

You already have your primary keyword tag picked out. This will serve as the skeleton of your video tag structure. In order to put some meat on those bones, your next two to three tags will be secondary keyword tags — relevant runner-up alternatives to your primary keyword tag.

How To Find Secondary Keyword Tag Ideas

One of the best ways to determine what these tags should be is to open or and simply type your primary tag into the search bar. Instead of hitting enter, hit the space bar once and look at YouTube’s suggested additional search terms.

What you’ll probably see are query suggestions related to your primary keyword tag. These make great secondary keyword tags as long as they are relevant to the content of your video. It is important for your tags, especially the first few, to be as relevant to your content as possible.

For even more ideas, look up your primary keyword phrase, scroll to the very bottom of the search results page. There, you will find many more keyword ideas under the “Searches related to” section. This is a very simple source for additional keyword ideas. Pretty neat, right?

Auxiliary Keyword Tags: The Reason For The Search

Up to this point, you have the primary keyword tag selected as well as two or three secondary keyword tags. Now it is safe to pepper in one, maybe two auxiliary keyword tags. These tags help provide additional context for YouTube crawlers.

Think about why someone is looking for your video. If they’re looking for pescetarian keto recipes, what is the appeal of these recipes? Weight loss? Healthy eating? Maybe they’re looking to build a menu for eating nutritious meals at home. Some auxiliary keyword tags for this post may be “healthy menu” or “nutritious meals.”

The Video Tag Best Practices Wrap Up

In this piece, we looked at how to use video tags in a responsible manner to increase the relevant visibility of your YouTube videos.

  • Start with your primary keyword tag — the most relevant and search-friendly keyword phrase for the video.
  • Follow up with secondary keyword tags — two or three very solid runner-ups that are relevant to the content of your video.
  • Take it home with auxiliary keyword tags — an additional keyword to help frame the greater context as to why people are looking for a video of this nature.
  • Tags should always be relevant and never abused.

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