How to Use YouTube to Boost Your SEO – Jessica Stansberry

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How to Use YouTube to Boost Your SEO – Jessica Stansberry

Too often, business owners think they need to be everywhere to get ahead. But in reality, it can be a real waste of time, money and resources to chase your audience where they’re not even searching or hanging out. By niching down to a specific area of expertise, Jessica Stansberry found success and grew her business through video marketing,  specifically, YouTube.

And then once she learned that video marketing was her “thing”, she created a way to let her affection for YouTube actually work to her advantage where her business marketing plan was basically on autopilot and still translating to growth and success.

Rich: My guest today is a content marketing strategist for rock star business owners who are ready to up level and start using content to market their business so they don’t have to chase sales. She throws down knowledge bombs with weekly free blog content, a YouTube channel, The Grit podcast, and daily shenanigans on Instagram Stories. I’m excited to introduce, Jessica Stansberry.

Jessica: Thank you so much, Rich. I’m so excited to be here. Also, I just re-wrote that intro and it’s like the best one ever. I may have you read it for me all the time.

Rich: Really? Like I said before we started recording, I’ve got this terrible head cold right now so to me it just sounds like it’s echoing around. But I’m glad it sounds good to you.

Jessica: Yeah, it does!

Rich: So Jessica, you describe yourself as a content marketing strategist. What does that mean to you, and how do you help people?

Jessica: So I think a lot of times as entrepreneurs we get stuck in this, “Oh I have a lot of clients and customers right now”, and then we get in a phase where we don’t have a lot so we’re scrambling for those. And so a few years ago in my business I discovered how to put out evergreen content and have that sell for me. So I was never in that phase of, what am I doing, how am I going to get the next client.

So essentially what I do is I teach entrepreneurs how to use content – whether that’s blog content, YouTube content, podcast content – it can also be social content, but that’s not as good as the evergreen methods, to be able to put things out into the world that stay there forever but then drive sales into their business. So they’re kind of not having to sell on the everyday.

Rich: Ok. Now I noticed you put “blogs, podcasts, and YouTube” into the same category. Why is that?

Jessica: Because it’s all good, searchable, SEO driven content. That’s basically the reason. And the thing is, YouTube and blogging work together just as well as podcasting and blogging does. And so for most of us, we don’t think about how to make ourselves different than a lot of other business owners. Even though YouTube seems like it’s really saturated – because it is – it’s not as saturated as blogging is. So it’s still one of those things, you can be one of the first people there, and that can be content that massively drives sales to your business. 

Rich: Now I’m sure a lot of our listeners are thinking now I have no desire to be a “YouTuber” and spend all my time trying to get more subscriptions, comments, and reviews. I don’t care about making a few pennies on stuff that shows before my videos, should they tune out right now or should they continue to listen in?

Jessica: No, definitely continue to listen. So that’s actually one of my big messaging pieces in my business is, I don’t want to be a YouTuber either. Actually I don’t think that any business owner should focus on being a YouTuber. Because what we think about that, I don’t know about anybody else that’s listening, but my kids watch YouTubers and they’re unboxing toys and asking to hit the “thumbs up”, and all the things that we think of when we think of YouTubers. And that’s not what business owners need to be doing. Business owners need to be using it as an asset to their business and as a way to drive sales. They can completely do that without having to be that weird YouTuber.

Rich: Alright. And for those of you out there who don’t have kids and maybe you’ve never heard the term “YouTuber”, correct me if I’m wrong Jessica but when I think of a YouTuber it’s somebody who their business model is YouTube. They’re there to get as many views as possible and basically to sell ads off of that content which then they split with YouTube. Not that they’ve got a “real job” or a “real business” that they’re just trying to raise awareness or drive traffic to. Is that a good way of splitting it down between a YouTuber and a non-YouTuber?

Jessica: That’s perfect. And it’s very similar to an influencer on any platform. So there’s Instagram influencers, and all they do is post things on Instagram and get paid for sponsorships. It’s very similar on the YouTube track. So yes, absolutely.

Rich: Ok. So for those of us who are not looking to be the next cutie pie, how do we use YouTube as an asset and not as a YouTuber?

Jessica: So a couple of tricks here. First and foremost, YouTube is owned by Google. So if you’re listening and you did not know that, Google actually owns YouTube and favors content that uses their platform.

So what I always tell people is the biggest way to use this as an asset is, if you’re already putting our weekly or monthly or whatever blog posts that attract your ideal client and get you out into the SEO worlds of Google, if you will create a YouTube video that hits on those same keywords that is good content and you put it up on YouTube and embed it in your blog post. You’re telling Google just by that simple embed that you’re using both of their platforms.

And so a couple things are going to happen. One, your blog post will likely rank higher in Google than it would have without that YouTube video, because they see that you’re using both of their platforms and they love that. But two, not only do you have a blog post now out into the Google-verse to show up in the searches, so if someone searches for something you have that blog post. But also because they own YouTube, return videos from YouTube in the top of the search results in Google as well.

So there’s a lot of content that I have put out, and a lot of my clients, that we’ve put out into the world. The blog post did ok, maybe at the bottom of page one or the top of page two on Google. But we were the only video that was on that topic and ranked really well on YouTube, and it was showing up in the top rankings.

So that is the big piece. Using it as an asset to boost your SEO, so that when people search for the thing you talk about, you’re there regardless of how they find you.

Rich: Ok, so walk me through this process. I know obviously you help your clients with this. Can you give me an example of a client business and how you help them determine the content that they should be creating and then posting to YouTube?

Jessica: So it’s really easy for us to come up with examples when the business is like evergreen core space, because it’s simple to be like, just do a bunch of content around what your courses are about.

But I have one particular client who took my course about a year ago now, and she is a systems setup specialist, so she does a lot of work with Dubsado, and HoneyBook, and all of these systems that we use in our business to drive the whole business. So she put out very strategic content hitting the pain points that people that would then hire her have. So it’s like “how to set up Dubsado”, “how to use Calendly to book your calendar”, she was specifically going out and creating content that was hitting on the words that people were searching. And then they were coming to her blog to read what the help article was – aka watch the video – and then they’re on her website and she sells this as a service. She’s like, you don’t actually have to figure this out on your own, I can do it for you.

And within about a month of starting to implement my strategy with YouTube and the blog post, she had gotten about 4 clients who had found her just from a simple Google search, because she started putting out content that was hitting on the keywords that they were searching when they wanted the help.

Rich: And she was doing this both in a video and embedding that video in the blog back on her website.

Jessica: The thing about her especially is she had been doing just blog posts for months before this. So she knows for sure it was the video that either drove the blog post up, or they were finding the video on Google, or they were searching on YouTube because the second largest search engine in the world is YouTube.

So if you’re just relying on Google to return based on what people searched there, you’re completely ignoring the people that are going over to YouTube first to find something. And because she’s a systems strategist, she could easily have a lot of screen tutorials and things like that, that house themselves really well on YouTube.

And so yes, they were finding her because of that, the two paired together.

Rich: So what type of content should we be creating? You mentioned that she did a lot of screen casting type work. Is there some content that’s just better suited for video, or can anything work?

Jessica: Really anything can work. When I first started I was doing a lot of screencasts as well because I did a lot of tech tutorials. Still one of my most popular videos on YouTube is how to use Trello, which is a project management system. So I was doing a lot of screencast tutorials and then my business shifted to more advice and that kind of thing, on what to do with your blog, and it wasn’t as much tactical as it was just “here’s 5 things you need to know”.

So now all my video are talking head videos. And what I mean by that is it’s just me sitting down talking about a subject. And so I have not found a business yet that I don’t think would benefit from doing this, with the exception of possibly businesses that are very location specific. Because YouTube is very national, if your business is super location-specific, it may not be the best strategy because you may be attracting people who couldn’t actually purchase from you.

Rich: I see, ok. Well you mentioned screencast, you mentioned talking head videos. I know a lot of people have a fear of getting in front of the camera, what do you say to those people?

Jessica: I say you’ve got to make like Nike and just do it. So a lot of times we get stuck in our own heads of, “I don’t want to be on video”, “I don’t want to do that”, and I can promise you that the more you do something the better you’re going to get at it, It’s just that way with everything in life.

Me personally, I’ve been trying to get better at running, so I’ve been doing it more, And the more I do it the quicker I get and the less I feel like my legs are going to fall off. So it’s the same thing with video.

But you can also have a very successful YouTube channel in business without having to put your face on video. A really good example of this is the planner industry, so paper planners. Almost everybody in that space is literally just filming videos with their hands in their planner that’s in an overhead shot.

There’s a lot of people that do screen tutorials and that’s it. Especially if you’re using the videos to boost your SEO, you do not have to be this big personality inside your videos. There’s ways to get around that.

Rich: Ok, alright. So let’s say that we’re ready to start making some videos. Either we’re going to create new videos or blog posts around them, or maybe we’re going to take some old blog posts and just add video to them. What’s the process? Do we need to do anything special while we’re uploading videos to help with discoverability, or maybe after the videos are already up on YouTube to increase that discoverability?

Jessica: Ok, so there’s a couple of things. First and foremost you have to know what keyword you’re trying to target. So my favorite tool for this is called ‘Keywords Everywhere’. It’s a Chrome extension, I think it’s on Firefox and all the other things, but it basically pulls in Google keyword analytics to any search bar. So you can go in Google, or YouTube and start searching for something and it will return how many searches a month that is, how we’re going to rank this on the keyword scale – is it a good one or is it a bad one.

And so you have to know what you want to talk about what you want to address, how you want to help people, what problems you want to solve. And then you want to use a tool like ‘Keywords Everywhere’ to see what the best way to do that is, what the best way to say that is.

So for instance for me, there’s a video that I recently put out on digital planners that has nothing to do with my business and it’s quite hysterical because it went viral.

Rich: Isn’t that always the case, right?

Jessica: It really is. But basically it was a planner on an iPad, so a paper planner replication on an iPad. And I did this video and I did research, I could have easily said “how to use a planner on your iPad”, but the return of the keywords was better for “digital planner”, just that phrase. So basically that’s what I used and it really did go viral very quickly in the first week or so of it being on YouTube.

So first and foremost, know what you want to address. Second of all, make sure you’re using a keyword that’s actually going to perform well. And just for the listeners, a keyword is not just one word it’s definitely a phrase, make sure you find the phrase that people are searching for.

Then on the upload to YouTube, you really want to focus on the tags. I have a system that I call the “tag tree”, but that’s actually probably not a very good word for it. I say that everytime I say it because it’s really an upside down tree, it’s like a funnel.

And what you want to do is, say the title of your video is, “How to use Trello” – because that’s one of the ones on my channel – so the first tag on my video is going to be, “how to use Trello”. Then I’m going to think about all of the other ways that someone might search for this, and I’m going to start to cut words out of that title. So “how to use Trello” you might just say, “Trello tutorial”, or “Trello”, or “how to use Trello project management”.

So you want to think about all the ways that they could possibly search for it even though they’re not the most popular keywords, and use those as tags in your video. And I call it that upside down tree  because normally your first tag is really long because it matches your video title, and then you start to cut out words and make shorter and shorter tags throughout the process. And that’s going to help you get found in YouTube because you’re putting out as many possible keywords as you can to tell YouTube what your video is about and who might possibly want to see it.

Rich: Ok. Now once the video goes up, what are we doing to promote it, or is there anything we need to do to promote it, or does YouTube just take care of it?

Jessica: So I always recommend, just with anything, like anytime a podcast launches or a YouTube video or a blog post, or anything like that, I always recommend to share it in all the places. Because a lot of times people think that if someone is following me they’re going to know. And they don’t, necessarily. So share it everywhere, but that’s really all you need to do.

As far as what I tell my in-depth clients is we need to be sending an email every single time a new YouTube video goes live, if that’s something you want to be growing. But let’s say you’re using as an asset like we talked about earlier then you need to be sending an email to the blog post, because that’s what you’re trying to get people to. And the more traffic a blog post gets, the higher it’s going to rank in Google. And the more views a video gets, it’s going to rank in YouTube. So you can kind of kill two birds with one stone by sending them to the blog post, especially if you have no desire to grow on the YouTube platform as a whole.

Rich: Ok, so that was going to be my next question. Should we focus on promoting the blog post or the YouTube channel. But you’re telling us we definitely want to focus on the blog post.

Jessica: Yeah, I would. For the first year of being on YouTube I still would send everybody to my blog post, I still did all of that, I let YouTube just kind of run on autopilot. It got a lot of views to some videos that ranked really well on the platform that would then send traffic.

But I’ll also tell you  something really interesting. I don’t ever send anyone to my website anymore, unless I’m sending them to a specific opt-in page or something like that. I’m always sending them to YouTube, I’m always saying, “Go to YouTube and see this video”, because YouTube was a platform that I wanted to grow on.

Even though I never send anyone to my website, my visitors and pageviews have grown by 10x just because my YouTube channel is sending people there because I do what I need to do on YouTube to make sure that people are going from the video to my website.

Rich: Wait, so I guess I’m confused. So you’re telling people to go to your YouTube channel not your blog post?

Jessica: I am now, but that’s just because I’ve been focusing on growing subscribers on YouTube as a whole. If you’re not worried about YouTube subscribers as a whole, you definitely need to be sending them to your blog post.

But what I was just mentioning is it’s kind of a double edged sword. If you send them to the blog, the views on your videos are automatically going to go up because they’re going to see it embedded in the blog post. If you send them to YouTube your views on your website are going to go up automatically because they’re going to want to know more about you because you helped them in a video. It’s kind of one of those things where you have to pick which one is the most important to you, but the other one will grow by proxy.

Rich: So you mentioned as we’re uploading this video, you talked about the title, you talked about the tags. I don’t know that we talked about the description. How much energy should we be putting in towards creating a really good description for our YouTube video, and do you have any tips around those?

Jessica: Yeah, I do. And honestly, the description is really important but it’s probably the easiest thing to do as far as figuring out what you should do there. So in your description you can actually in YouTube set up a default description, and in that you want to have a link to subscribe to your channel even though they can do it from the video. It’s also one of those best practice things. 

Then you want to have a link to sign up for some kind of offer that you have like an opt-in, a free webinar, something like that. If you’re talking about anything specific in the video, those links can go there as well.

And then you need to have links to your social channels, anything that seems relevant to your audience. So a lot of times I was getting questions even though at the time I wasn’t talking about it, on what kind of camera I was using or what lens I was using, or wht lighting. Something in that range. So now on all my videos it says, “camera used in this video is …”, and it’s an affiliate link to Amazon.

So basically you want to put all of your links there in every video. But then, in the very top of the description, the very first thing you need to do is you need to write a couple of sentences – and that’s all – describing the video using as many of the tags that you used on the upload as possible. Because that’s just getting those tags out there again.

A really interesting fact to know is that the YouTube algorithm – well, not the algorithm, but the YouTube robot – the thing that scans videos to see what they’re about, can actually read at about a 6th grade reading level. So what that means is that when we upload a video it’s looking at the transcription and seeing what words we use and that kind of thing. If we have similar verbiage in that video, then we have our tags that are also saying the same words, then e have our title that’s saying the same words and they’re in the description, YouTube is going to be like, “Ok, this video must be about what it says it’s about”, so then it’s going to rank higher.

So the description is really easy because you can set up that default to have all your social links, and really just the first two sentences – just make up a couple of sentences –  that describe your video and uses as many keywords as possible. So usually I just reiterate my title and say, “In today’s video we’re going to talk about x”.

Rich: Ok. Now Jessica, should we have a strong call to action within the video, or is the assumption that most people are going to be seeing this video on our blog?

Jessica: So I would have the call to action just to kind of cover your booty. So that if someone is finding you on YouTube, because if you’re using your keywords correctly, then there’s a good chance they’re going to find you on YouTube just organically. That’s where they searched so they would have never found your blog post so you might as well do what you can to get them.

So I would have the call to action, but for someone that’s using YouTube as an asset rather than to be a YouTuber, the call to action is hardly never going to be, “subscribe to my channel”. That’s not important. What’s important is getting them to sign up for the opt-in that you offered them, or to get them down a funnel, or get them to your website. So at the end of the video – or wherever in the video – you would want to say, “Hey, by the way, I created a free PDF to go along with this. All you have to do is go to xyz.com to grab that.” And so that would be your call to action.

Rich: Alright. Well this has been great information, and I’m sure people want to check out your YouTube channel and you mentioned you had some other offerings as well. Where can we find you online, Jessica?

Jessica: So the best place to find me, my favorite place to hang out besides YouTube – which by the way is just my name, Jessica Stanberry – is on Instagram. I love to hang out there and find everybody on Instagram and get to know each other. But also I just created a new podcast that launched not long ago at all called, Grit. I’d love for you guys to come search for that and find it and give it a listen.

Rich: Very cool. Thanks so much for stopping by today.

Jessica: Yeah. Thank you for having me. 

Show Notes:

Jessica Stansberry created a “set it and forget it” business plan that markets itself and sells on autopilot. Connect with her on Instagram, and absolutely make sure you check out her YouTube channel, her favorite place to hang out and teach others how to find similar success.

Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.