What Does it Mean when YouTube Tags go Private?
YouTube announced on Twitter last Thursday that they are now going to be making tags private because “users didn’t use them and some abused them”. While this may seem like a minor change, what does this mean for content creators?
YouTube tags are an important part of a video’s metadata that allows it to be indexed by the platform and found by users. Up until yesterday, tags could be found beneath a video, and were hyperlinked to return search results that returned videos with similar tags. This visibility largely encouraged brands to play by the rules and avoid shady tagging practices such as tagging competitor products or brands in order to optimise their video discoverability.
However, now that tags are hidden from public view, brands will be able to tag videos with pretty much anything they like— such as competitors’ names—to surface their videos during search rankings. While this isn’t necessarily cloaking, it’s not particularly by the book. Furthermore, given the massive volume of content on YouTube, all but the most egregious behaviour will likely go unnoticed by Google (some of the most notable cases of SEO fraud were uncovered by users or journalists, not Google itself).
In the end, good content will surface and rise above no matter what the video tags. It will be interesting, however, to see what—if any—impact this has on YouTube search.
Kate Miltner is Lead Planner at Jam.