One of the many ways to increase your YouTube channel’s viewership is to optimize tags ascribed to your content. If done properly, tagging will help listing your videos properly in search results, therefore increasing your channel’s exposure. Tag is a relatively new term, it is usually intuitively understood as synonymous with keyword. While this is correct in general, as keywords can indeed be used as tags, it is important to remember that tags will be used for specific videos, while keywords are applied to the channel itself. An appropriate use of both tags and keywords is one of the most vital things to master, if you want a successful record on a platform like YouTube.
YouTube tags: generic, specific and others
On YouTube, tags are a part of video metadata that is used to optimize search results, which for a content creator like you means they can be used to increase your exposure and visibility. To explain how to choose the best tags for your content, first we should differentiate between generic tags and specific tags. The former is supposed to identify what the video is – the latter should relate to the content of that video. Some people also note that there are things like “compound tags” or “self-reference tags”, but those are secondary types, not as vital for our goals. We will briefly explain those later.
First, let us take a closer look at generic tags. Most importantly, these will identify the category or genre of the video. For example, a video guide on how to finely chop an onion will be categorised within the “Cooking & Health” for YouTube. As such, it should be tagged with words like “guide”, “recipe” to match the video’s type. It is important to have a default set of tags used for every video of the same type uploaded to your channel. This helps with listing those videos together in search results. Other often used generic tags are: “vlog”, “DIY”, “fail”, “compilation” etc.
The same, onion-chopping video, should be tagged with some specific tags, to help identifying its content within the broader category. So, in this case words like “chopping” and “onion” should make an appearance. This is also a good moment to use a compound tag if you would like, for example “how, finely, chop, onion”. Tags like this can be made simply by copying the title of your video, but it is important to exclude propositions, as those are ignored by the search engine. There is a limit of 500 characters for tags, so better not to waste them. For other videos, specific tags often include things like location, venue name, brand or activity.
Too much is no good!
While it is usually a good idea to make the most use of that 500-character limit, it is important not to tag endlessly with clickbait-like keywords in hopes for a few more views. It really does not work in a long term. We should also keep in mind to put the most relevant and important tags first, as those are prioritized by YouTube’s search engine.
For example, let’s say we recorded a video of our son playing football for his school in a state tournament and want to upload it to YouTube. Generic tags should include: “sport”, “competition”, “school”, “teenager”, “game” and possibly some others referring to the type of video, like “entertainment” for YouTube Category purposes. For specific tags, we would be looking for things like “football”, “school name”, “state”, “competition name” and more detailed location.
Put it all together
If you wanted to, this would be a good time to use those compound and self-reference tags we mentioned earlier. After all, we want everyone to know that it is our son playing, right? So, we will include phrases like “my son playing football” or “my son competing”. While these won’t necessarily increase our exposure and viewership by significant margin, they should help with sharing the video through the social network.
Remember that there is no shame in trying to learn by imitating others. If your browser allows you to inspect the page source, you can see how other videos are tagged. For Chrome simply right click anywhere on the video page and select “View page source”. From there open a search window and type “keywords”. For the most popular onion-chopping video we mentioned earlier tags are: “Gordon”, “Ramsay”, “healthy”, “Gordon Ramsay (Brand)”, “Health (Broadcast Genre)”, “Recipe”, “Cook”, “Restaurant”, “Recipes”, “michelin star”, “gordon ramsey”, “Hotel”, “Hell”, “Hotel Hell” ,”How to, Chop, Onion”. As you will notice those differ a bit from what we have advised, but this is the luxury you can afford if you are Gordon Ramsey – use tags for your brand rather than the content. This is also a great way to increase your exposure, but if you don’t have a couple of those Michelin stars we suggest you stick with the basics.