How important are tags on YouTube

What are YouTube tags and which should I add?

Are you looking for a simple but logical process to add tags to your YouTube videos?

There are two ways to add YouTube tags to your videos.

  1. Add tags that you think make sense and hope for the best;
  2. Use a logical process to add tags that make sense.

In this guide, we are going to explain the process we use to add tags to videos in 5–10 minutes.

But let's cover a few basics first.

YouTube tags are words and phrases that describe your video and provide further context to help people find your content.

Add tags to a YouTube video while it is uploading

Why are YouTube tags important?

Everything indicates that YouTube tags aren't that important.

Here's what YouTube is saying:

Your video title, thumbnail, and description are more important metadata for your video to be found. This key information will help viewers decide which videos to watch. Tags can be helpful if the content of your video is frequently misspelled. Otherwise, tags play a subordinate role in yours Video discoverability.

This is probably which is why most studies like Briggsby's show little positive relationship between the use of keywords in tags and the ranking position of a video.

The same study found that only ⅓ of the top-ranking videos used the keyword in their tags. As Justin Briggsby points out, this may "imply that keyword tags are less critical than titles and descriptions."

Of course, correlation ≠ means causality, but anyway, you might be wondering, should I even bother adding YouTube tags?

The short answer: yes, but don't spend too much time doing it.

How we add tags to our YouTube videos

Before we go into the details, it's important to note that our “process” for adding YouTube tags is quite simple and by no means final. It is what we do, but we don't have any hard facts that it has played a significant role in the growth of our channel over the past few days.

We're only using this process as a rough guide and we don't spend more than 5-10 minutes adding tags to each video. In our opinion, anything longer is just wasted time.

Here is our three step process:

1. Set your main keyword as the first day

This study of 1.3 million YouTube videos found a poor relationship between rankings and the presence of keywords in the videos' tags.

Now correlation ≠ means causality, so these results shouldn't be taken too seriously. Still, it should be said that it confirms the findings of the Briggsby Study mentioned in the previous section.

Some also believe that YouTube mostly pays attention to your first day.

Everyone can only guess whether this is true. But since YouTube's official tag recommendation is “use words and phrases that make the most sense for your video,” your target keyword is a good place to start.

So we almost always use our target keyword as our first day.

For example, check out the tags in our keyword research video:

The first day is "Keyword Research" because that is what we want to rank for.

The same goes for our SEO checklist video. We want to rank for "SEO Checklist" so this is our first day.

2. Add frequent, relevant keywords from top-ranking videos

Install the free vidIQ Browser AddOn (or TubeBuddy), then search for your target keyword on YouTube.

Open up to 3-5 the most relevant, top-ranking videos in new tabs.

Usually these are the first few videos, but not always.

For example, let's say your target keyword is “iPhone Apps” and you've created a video listing the top 10-20 apps to rank for.

Here are the top ranking results for the keyword:

You can see that while the videos in the top 2-5 videos are thematically similar, that is not the case for the video in the top position. The point of view is completely different and it doesn't seem to try to target the keyword at all.

So let's ignore that and open up the next couple.

You should see the tags for each video on the vidlQ overlay on the right.

Think relevantto add frequent tags to your video.

3. Add relevant keywords with search volume

Go to the Ahrefs ’Keywords Explorer and set the search engine on YouTube.

Add all the tags of the videos you opened in the previous step and click search.

You should now see the estimated monthly search volume for each keyword, sorted in descending order.

Look through the list for relevant and descriptive keywords with search volume.

If we were to do this for our iPhone Apps video, it could be “Best iPhone Apps,” iPhone Apps to Have, ”and“ iOs Apps ”.

Best practices

Here is our general advice on adding tags to your videos.

Don't overdo it with the tags

YouTube doesn't set any limits on the number of tags you can add to a video, but it does have a character limit of 500.

But just because you can add 500 characters doesn't mean you should.

According to Briggsby’s analysis of 100,000 YouTube videos, the sweet spot is 200-300 characters.

Here's what Justin Briggs says about it:

I don't think this is a direct factor, but it does suggest optimization topics that have to do with longer keyword tag fields (off-topic terms, keyword spamming, etc.)

Bottom line: add relevant tags, but don't spam or overdo keywords.

Don't fool anyone

Using tags that “trick users into believing that content is concerned with something it isn't” is against YouTube’s spam policy and can result in your video being taken down

What is considered a misleading day?

They don't give examples, but there are great chances that it will include:

  • Names of celebrities
  • Names of competitors
  • Irrelevant keywords (e.g. “Android apps” in a video via iPhone apps)

Bottom line: keep your tags relevant.

Don't add tags to your video description

YouTube lists “that excessive Placing tags in the video description (“tag stuffing”) instead of using them as tags when uploading ”as another example of misleading users.

Conclusion: Don't put tags in your video description.

Do not ponder everything

Use common sense. If a tag looks relevant, add it. If not, then not.

Final thoughts

While it definitely makes sense to add relevant and descriptive tags to your YouTube video, it's not something to spend a ton of time on. YouTube itself freely admits that video tags are unimportant compared to the title, thumbnail, and description of your video. So invest more of your time and effort in these things and create stimulating videos above all that keep the audience's attention.

Do you want to learn more about YouTube SEO? Start here.

Do you have any questions? Get in touch in the comments or on Twitter.

Translated by: Sebastian Simon. Sebastian Simon has been dealing with SEO since 2009, currently at seven-bytes.de and heine.de.