SEO, or search engine optimization, is an essential part of running a successful Twitch channel. It’s how people find the content they want to see, and helps ensure that new fans are discovering your channel. There’s a lot of competition on Twitch, and to climb your way to the front page, you’ll need all the help you can get. In this blog, you’ll learn how Twitch SEO works and how you can optimize your content to get more subscribers.
What is SEO
SEO stands for search engine optimization, and while it may sound technical, it’s actually just a fancy name for telling a search engine what your content is about. More specifically, it’s about optimizing your content to show up in the search results for relevant keywords.
Search engines have come a long way since the days of AltaVista and Ask Jeeves, but they’re still not very good at analyzing videos. Search engines primarily use text and images—more accurately, the text associated with images—to determine what a piece of content is about. But when it comes to video, search engines have to rely on the title and description text to determine what it’s about.
Google is the biggest search engine in the world, with more than 100 billion searches per month—that's over 3 million searches per minute! YouTube is the second largest search engine, with more than 3 billion searches per month. Twitch, along with other streaming services and social media sites, have their own search engines; and they’re all optimized to find the perfect content for each platform.
According to SimilarWeb, roughly 86% of users find content using the Twitch search function, while 7% discover via social, and 6% via Google. Thankfully, the same tactics that help you get discovered on Twitch will also help your visibility on social and other search engines. But in order to crack the code on the Twitch algorithm, you’ll need to do some research.
Photo by Mika Baumeister
Before you can optimize your Twitch channel, you need to do a little research. Search engines typically do a pretty good job of understanding of what you’re searching for (even when your phrasing is a little off), but in order to optimize your channel and attract the most viewers, it’s important to make sure you use the right keywords to describe your content.
It’s important to note that when discussing SEO, a “keyword” doesn’t have to be a single word—it can also be a phrase. For instance, “Minecraft streamer” and “Minecraft speed run world record” are two different keywords that will generate completely different search results.
There are three factors to consider when determining the best keywords for your content:
- Average search volume
- User intent
- Keyword difficulty
Average search volume is exactly what it sounds like—it’s the average number of times people in your region have searched for a specific word or phrase.
User intent is a little harder to describe. In short, it’s what a user is actually looking for when they make a search query. For instance, search engines understand that when you search for “pizza near me,” you’re trying to order a pizza. But the user intent is not as clear with a keyword like “pizza,” which produces a wide range of results—including pizza recipes, images of pizza and even the Wikipedia article for pizza.
Keyword difficulty is an assessment of how difficult it will be for you to rank for a certain keyword. Generally speaking, the higher the average search volume, the more difficult it is to rank for a specific keyword.
For instance, it’s much harder for a new streamer to rank on the front page for popular titles that have thousands of streamers like Fortnite, League of Legends or Among Us. And while there are fewer searches for newer titles like Fall Guys and Genshin Impact, it’s easier to stand out since there’s less competition.
Obviously, there’s no way you could know which keyword is best without doing some research. You might have an idea of which keywords have the highest search volume based on your own searches and conversations, but in order to make an informed decision, use a free keyword research tool like Ubersuggest find the average search volume and keyword difficulty for your desired keywords.
Now that you know how to identify the best keywords for your Twitch channel, let’s take a look where to implement these keywords in order to attract the right audience.
Photo by Jake Schumacher
When you first create your Twitch channel, you’ll be asked to fill out your profile, including your username, bio and “about section.” Ideally, you’ll have a plan for what type of streams you want to make before you create your profile, so you can optimize each of these sections to attract the right fans.
While your username itself may not rank for any keywords, it can be a great way to inform viewers on what type of content you create. For instance, Ninja is a cool username, but it doesn’t tell us anything about what type of games he plays. With a name like JaredFPS, fans will instantly know what to expect.
Using keywords in your bio or “About panel” can be a great way to improve searchability. Be sure to include the type of games you typically play and a few of the most popular titles you stream. Try to highlight what makes your channel unique and include your top 3-5 keywords.
The panels section is used to provide additional information about your channel, such as your streaming schedule, chat rules and links to donate or subscribe. Panels can include text or images, both of which can be search engine optimized. Many streamers use images that include text for a sleek look, but as mentioned above, search engines aren’t yet capable of analyzing the contents of an image or video. That’s why it’s best to use a combination of both.
Use keywords when writing the text for your panels so that search engines know what type of content you create. Any text used within the actual image won’t improve searchability—but using keywords in the file name can. Search engines may not be able to read the text in the image, but they can see the file name, and titles like “DrLupo_Streaming_Schedule.jpg” are much more likely to draw traffic than “panel_06_final.jpg.”
For more information on how to trick out your Twitch panels, check out our blog.
Photo by Fredrick Tendong
Before you start a stream or upload a video to Twitch, you need to fill out some basic info so that people will know what your content is about, including the title, description and tags. Each of these elements can be optimized to make sure the right people are finding your channel.
Start with the title—it should be something catchy and appealing that makes the user want to click. Try to include 1-3 relevant keywords and be as descriptive as possible. For instance, naming a stream “NERF THIS” might appeal to Overwatch super-fans, but a more descriptive title like “Competitive Overwatch Gameplay—D.Va Main” is much more descriptive. It’s important to note that your stream title won’t affect SEO on external search engines like Google, but it will help people find you on Twitch.
Next comes the description. Keep in mind that many streams are archived after broadcast, so the description can be a powerful tool for people who are looking for certain types of content. That’s why it’s best to include any relevant keywords here.
When writing descriptions, be sure to avoid keyword-stuffing. Search engines are pretty good at identifying when you’re trying to game the system and get a few extra clicks by stuffing your copy full of keywords. Not only do readers find this off-putting, most search engines punish you for this by burying your content. Instead, be concise and only use keywords when they feel natural.
Finally, Twitch allows you to add up to five “tags” to each video to help categorize your content. Tags can vary from basic categories like FPS, RPG and MMO to details about your specific stream, like what language you speak, which characters you use and what type of gameplay you broadcast.
All of these elements combine to help place your content in front of people who want to see it. For more information on how to optimize your Twitch channel, including how to get more viewers and how to make money from streaming, check out our blog.