YouTube isn’t just a video site, but a massive search engine for finding videos. That’s why it’s so important for you to master YouTube SEO for churches.
Much like you optimize your website to rank higher on Google, you also need to optimize your YouTube videos. This ensures all the hard work you put into creating amazing church videos doesn’t go to waste.
Once you know a few simple tactics, you’ll start seeing your videos ranking higher. This means more views and bigger online audience for your church.
Table of contents
- Use Keywords For Your Videos
- Use Clear, Descriptive Titles
- Pick A Category
- Optimize Your Video Description
- Check Out Keywords From The Competition
- Use At Least 10 Relevant Tags
- Get Added Benefits From Closed Captions
- Focus On A Great Thumbnail
- Optimize Your Video File Title
- Pay Attention To Analytics
- Create Playlists
- Share Your Videos
- Guest On Another YouTube Channel
- Create Content Regularly
- Ensure Videos Look Good
- Add Cards To Your Video
- Further Reading On YouTube SEO For Churches
Use Keywords For Your Videos
Just like with blog posts, your videos need one or two keywords or keyphrases that people would search for. For instance, if someone was searching for “what does the Bible say about debt,” you might use the keyword “debt in the Bible” or even the entire “what does the Bible say about debt.”
You need keywords throughout various parts of your YouTube video. This helps optimize it to not only show up in YouTube searches, but Google searches as well. You can use free SEO tools to help you uncover the best keywords for your church. Also remember that you’re free to use local keywords as well. This is especially useful if you’re trying to reach a local audience and not just global.
Use Clear, Descriptive Titles
There are two things to remember when it comes to creating great YouTube titles. First, use a relevant keyword. Second, keep titles clear and descriptive.
Let’s go back to the previous example about debt. You could name your video – XYZ Church Video #27. But, that doesn’t tell anyone what the video is about. While your members might click on it, most other people won’t.
A better name would be XYZ Church – What Does The Bible Say About Debt. You optimize both for your church name (if someone may just be looking for your church) and the topic of the video (for keyword searches). Not only does this help more people find your videos, but it gives them an immediate idea of what the video is about.
If you don’t do anything else on this list, your title is one of the most important factors when it comes to YouTube SEO for churches. After all, the right title gets people to click. Think of it as the front door to your church’s videos. Get people in the front door and it’s much easier to engage them.
Pick A Category
When you’re in a hurry, you might not think about categorizing your YouTube videos. For people who are just browsing YouTube, they may use categories to start their search. A popular category for churches is often Nonprofits & Activism, but you’re not limited to that. For instance, if you have Bible study videos, you might add them to Education instead.
Choosing a category isn’t the most vital YouTube SEO tactic, but it is beneficial. After all, the goal is to help people find your videos easier. Every step you take to do this helps you gain viewers.
Optimize Your Video Description
Outside of your title, your video description is probably the second most important part of your video to optimize. Much like your title, you want to make use of your keyword(s). Try to place the keyword as close to the beginning of the description as possible, but use it naturally.
When people search for videos, they see your title and the beginning of your description. While you can have long descriptions (around 800 words), it’s not all going to show up in a search. Try to keep your most important keyword in the first sentence of your description. This ensures people searching for your video instantly see that your video is about what they’re searching for.
Of course, feel free to get as descriptive as you want in the full description. You can even include links back to your church website and social media accounts if you want. Hootsuite has a great guide, along with examples, on how to write better YouTube descriptions, both for videos and your entire church’s channel.
Check Out Keywords From The Competition
As you’ve probably guessed, keywords are a core part of mastering YouTube SEO for churches. If you’re struggling to find the right keywords, don’t worry. Check out what your fellow churches and Christian leaders are doing on YouTube. Pay close attention to titles, descriptions, tags (more on that in a moment) and other details.
It’s a good idea to check out channels with a large number of subscribers. Those with thousands of subscribers are definitely doing something right. While you might not get the same results overnight, incorporating optimization techniques helps you start gaining more subscribers much faster than if you didn’t optimize at all.
Use At Least 10 Relevant Tags
Your keywords in your title and description are the most important things to focus on. However, there’s a secondary SEO technique that’s been proven to help too – tagging. If you tag your church videos using relevant tags, it’s much easier for viewers to find similar videos they might like.
For instance, let’s take the generic “church” tag. If someone is looking for more church videos and clicks the #church tag under a video, they’ll see other similarly tagged videos. This means your video gets another chance for people to find it.
The optimal number is still up for debate. In HubSpot’s guide to YouTube tags, research suggests using 31-40 tags, but that’s a lot of tags to deal with. Using at least 10, though is a good idea. Once again, check out other church YouTube channels to see what tags are being used. You can also use YouTube’s auto-fill search feature to see what’s trending. HubSpot’s guide also lists several great tag generators to use.
Get Added Benefits From Closed Captions
It might seem like extra work, but closed captions and subtitles are actually extremely beneficial for YouTube SEO for churches. First of all, they ensure anyone who’s hard of hearing can still engage with your church’s videos. If you’re using auto-translation, people can also check out your videos even if they speak a different language. So, you’re increasing the potential audience for each video.
Then, there’s the second benefit, which is more SEO-related. If you upload a file with the text of your video, it gives search engines even more text to crawl. Search engines typically only pick up your title and description to determine your rank (this is just your basic rank and doesn’t take into account any other ranking factors). With closed captions, it’s similar to having an entire blog post for search engines to view. This helps you rank for several keywords if you want and gives search engines a better idea of what your video is about.
Focus On A Great Thumbnail
In our Ultimate Guide To YouTube For Churches, we focused on the importance of creating a great thumbnail. Part of how YouTube and Google rank videos is based on interactions. The more people who click on your video and view it, the higher you rank. A thumbnail that helps showcase what your video is about makes people want to click on it.
A blurry screenshot from your video doesn’t work. It’s okay to create a custom thumbnail for each video. You can use free tools to help create a thumbnail or just focus on picking a clear screenshot from your video.
Optimize Your Video File Title
So far, we’ve talked about the title that YouTube viewers see. However, there’s a second title that can help take YouTube SEO for churches to the next level. This is the title of the video file itself.
It’s difficult for search engines to tell what a video or image is about without some text to describe it. For example, if you’re uploading images to your church website, every image needs a descriptive name. Instead of “b8wamgimg.jpg,” you might name a blog post’s featured image as “blog-post-title-church-name.jpg.” It’s more descriptive and gives search engines a way to know what the image is about.
The same thing works for your YouTube videos. Rename the file to your video’s title or something similar that includes your main keyword. Some churches even opt to just use the keyword and their church name. Some include their church’s city or state too.
Pay Attention To Analytics
As you’re trying to master YouTube SEO for churches, pay attention to the built-in analytics YouTube provides. Did you try something different on a new video and it’s getting more clicks? This is a sign your change is working. Are certain videos performing much better than others? See what you did differently. Anytime you’re not sure, try different things to see what works best.
Does your church create video series? Instead of having viewers simply search for each video, create a playlist. YouTube doesn’t only bring up results for individual videos, but playlists too. This gives you a chance to get an entire set of videos in front of a viewer versus just one. More views and interactions, the better you’ll rank and the more viewers you’ll get.
Share Your Videos
It’s an extremely simple technique that’s beneficial no matter how you look at it. More engagement with your videos helps with your search rank. An easy way to do this is to share your YouTube videos with others. Create a blog post around each video and embed it on your church website. Or, share links on all your church’s social media platforms.
If you have a church newsletter, include links to your latest YouTube videos too. All of these shared links are also shareable by members and your online audience. You could share your video on just one other platform and instantly increase your audience.
Guest On Another YouTube Channel
This is a more advanced SEO technique. It works similarly to guest blogging. The idea is you partner with another YouTube channel to be a guest on one of their videos or even create a video for their channel. As a result, the video description includes your church’s name and a mention about your YouTube channel.
It’s a good way to quickly expand your reach. But, it’s not always easy to find channels to guest on. Focus on other SEO tactics first and then consider this if you find the right channel.
Create Content Regularly
If you want people to keep coming back, you have to create more content. Just like with blogging, consider releasing new videos on a regular basis. It could be once a week or once a month. Do what works best for your church. If people know your church is actively creating content, they’re more likely to subscribe, which also tells YouTube that your channel is getting more popular. This can help boost your rank in search results.
Ensure Videos Look Good
When it comes to mastering YouTube SEO for churches, video quality is a secondary SEO technique, but still important. Other techniques get people to click your video. However, the video quality affects how long people view the video, which affects your ranking.
In our Budget-Friendly To Live Streaming For Small Churches, we talk about how to film quality videos without ruining your church’s budget. Smartphones are amazing now. If you want your church’s YouTube channel to succeed, try to improve your quality. Avoid grainy videos and hard to heard audio. This also makes your videos more enjoyable and impactful.
Add Cards To Your Video
Cards can be added through your YouTube videos. Use them to direct viewers to your church website, an event registration and even other videos. You’re also able to encourage people to subscribe and comment. Comments increase engagement, while subscribers help increase your channels popularity. Both aid in boosting your search rank. Try adding a few cards to the end of your videos to increase commenting, subscribers and traffic to your church website and other videos.
Mastering YouTube SEO for churches isn’t much different than SEO for your church website. We can help with the latter. Find out how our church website services help you reach a larger audience online.