An Experienced first-hand application of SEO principles for Twitch
There is no proven or verified technique to use basic search engine optimization techniques on Twitch to generate an increase in search traffic to your Twitch account through Search Engines. (At the time of this story)
Over the past 24 months, having launched my own Twitch Channel in 2019, I’ve been monitoring click-through traffic, click-through rates, external traffic sources, and how different mixes of SEO strategies increase traffic to my Twitch channel and its content to increase that channel’s growth and through-traffic.
In this story, we’ll discuss:
- Why do we want search traffic?
- Twitch Discoverability
- Searchability on Twitch
- On-page Optimization on Twitch
- Off-page Optimization for Search
- Final take-aways on Optimising Twitch for SEO in 2022
Why Twitch streamers want Search Traffic?
Search traffic is what websites strive for, the more people that are able to find or discover your content when searching through a search engine like Google, the more times your content generates views/impressions, and thus, increasing your click-through rate and site traffic and engagement.
Twitch streamers want search traffic, because, in a nutshell: it means more followers, subscribers, and engagement overtime.
Search traffic comes from many places, such as: social media channels like Twitter, Reddit or Facebook, forums like Medium and Quora, and search engines like Google or Yahoo. Essentially; anywhere you could literally “search” a topic and discover content; has the potential to generate search traffic.
Optimisation is the means of improving your ability to be discovered in searches (In Twitch and out) that relate to your channel and content. This is what SEO does for websites and videos in Google or YouTube searches.
Discoverability on Twitch
Twitch’s discoverability for new content on-site (Actually being on the Twitch.tv website) isn’t as effective as search on other platforms like YouTube or Instagram, but the site does offer basic search for your account and some of your content.
Google and YouTube offer an algorithmic-based search system where the engine will show you content based on your recent interests, quality, relevancy, or affinity to certain content or channels.
Twitch has a far more rudimentary system, sometimes referred to as a “king-maker system”; where only users with the highest volume of views are at the top of searches, lowest viewed channels or content at the bottom of a search list.
This King-Maker rule applies to all aspects of the Twitch website; including your user home page: The left panel ranks the most popular at the top, least at the bottom.
Discoverability (Which can be attributed primarily to the Browse Tab) on twitch provides the basics: game or content categories, live channels recommended for you based on your what categories you follow, and the ability for you to sort said live channels or categories by highest or lowest views, or recently started, and that’s about it.
Basic, but at least we have the Browse tab and categories to work with.
But when we’re trying to be discovered and increase the chances of growth, the Browse tab gives us little to work with as creators. Essentially, a creator must be live to be discovered in Browse, or “ranked”, in discoverability.
Based on this understanding of the way Twitch “ranks” content, the best practice would be to use the correct category to attract the most interested viewer-base: users that want to see them on your channel/stream. In this context, the following basic points should be considered per stream:
- Offer a clear, yet, engaging title on your stream. This would prompt users to click through, and chime in on your stream.
- Use emojis in your title. Seems a little cringy for us older kids; but, they work; give it a try and see if it works for you.
- Stream tags.
- Each stream can have a selection of tags, make sure they’re not only accurate to your content or channel, but also popular: I use “South African” from time to time depending on the stream topic.
- Stream category.
- Seems obvious; but ensuring your stream category matches the content you’re making and your title ensures you’re attracting the right audience, and the right audience means better engagement.
Unfortunately, your previous streams or VODs on Twitch won’t be discovered unless:
- Someone searches specifically for you (your account name). Twitch will show your account, your stream schedule if you use Twitch’s native calendar, and you should, and a list of past videos from your account (provided you’ve saved any past streams as highlights or clips)
- Someone searches specifically for the title of the past video.
- Unlike YouTube, searches like this aren’t based on your interest or anything of that sort; it’s firmly term based.
- This is still a small opportunity to put your best face on as a streamer; so be sure your VODS have good titles, thumbnails, categories and tags and maybe someone will click through.
The views you’re going to see on clips and highlights are post-stream views, not total views accumulated during your actual live stream.
Search Optimisation on Twitch
If you want to search for me on Twitch, simply, search “Hyachso”, and I’ll appear.
But, you may find it more difficult to find a list of streamers, broadcasts, or clips you’re looking for related to your stream or that may be relevant to you if you were a viewer. If you simply searched: “BioShock 2” in the Twitch search bar. (A broad search I admit but consider the example)
Twitch provides less in a way of relevant or popular historical content like Google search or YouTube search and more an index of current live channels, a category mention of what you searched for, and channels that had broadcasted in that category for the past 24 hours.
Not ideal for a creator putting a lot of work into their keywords and text-based content per stream.
The best practice in this context remains using the correct categories, tags, and engaging headline, but, doing this won’t improve your historical search ranking, as it’s simply not ranked or discoverable, to begin with, more like a most recent list.
This is why creators like Harris Hellar suggest using YouTube for discoverability.
And why creators like me suggest using other search channels to support that, such as:
- TikTok (SEO only recently being developed on the channel)
A warning though; I’m not suggesting spamming each platform with unengaging content or clips; but actually making an effort and developing a content strategy for each channel. Ensuring you are engaging and valuable to each unique audience, and begin a trickle down effect to your Twitch channel. It takes time, but it can work.
Some examples creators on Twitch who practice similar techniques that you could learn from include:
On-Page Search Engine Optimisation on Twitch
While Twitch doesn’t directly index content on search engines like Google, developing an interesting and engaging home page for your Twitch profile is not only fun but also helps sell your first impression in a named search on Twitch.
Remember when I said search Hyachso and I’ll appear, well this is what you’ll find:
Pretty neat, but none of the content you see here, besides my user name, is anything Twitch or Google are crawling, but you need to sell yourself though don’t you?
While this is less of an SEO tip and more a general good practice on Twitch tip, make sure your account includes:
- A succinct and engaging description, while providing keywords for users to understand easily what your channel is about, in my case: “FPS” or “Gameplay”.
- Use Twitch’s stream schedule feature, and include a description.
- Make sure you’re saving or making clips to be found. Using the same engaging headlines you’d have in your live stream.
The above suggestions currently won’t add to discoverability or search engine optimisation on Google, but, they do make for a more optimised and engaging account, which can mean the difference between a follow or not.
Search Engine Crawling on Twitch
Search engines “crawl” websites. Crawling, is a term used to describe how the search engine reads the content on new websites and pages that could be of interest to searchers, and thus, serve the right content to those users.
When it comes to Twitch: Google seems to love the idea of Clips, provided they’re based on the specific keyword search that it reflects. There’s little room for broad matches for Twitch content.
For example: Search: “Hyacsho Twitch”, and you’ll discover a mixture of Twitch clips and other content related to Hyacsho with Twitch clips being ranked lower overall than any other content.
We can see that Google does indeed index Twitch content, but not live streams. Not a bad thing, because Twitch does that on its own.
What Google does seem to do, is index a mix of popular vs recent content, with popularity seemingly defined by views on the said Clip.
In my case, we find a popular Twitch Clip made in 2020; or we would have, but since then, that content has been deprioritized entirely, making room for more recent and optimised content, such as tweets or YouTube videos.
The condition here though is specifics.
To find Twitch based content on a search engine like Google, a user would have to search specifically for “Hyacsho” and “Twitch”. This is important because search drives long-term traffic to your Twitch account, which is what we want.
Alternatively, if we just used keyword search: “Hyacsho”, we simply don’t get content hosted on twitch in the same way, outside the primary home page account, and even then, the Twitch bio isn’t indexing, your most recent stream is, for how long? Not long enough, to be quickly replaced by just your user account.
We can conclude that while optimising Twitch content, such as headlines, live stream categories, clips, highlight, and accounts, is important, it counts dramatically less to your discoverability off-twitch than other websites or platforms.
Having done the same search in 2022, we can note the difference in content offered up for keyword: “Hyacsho”
Key Take-away for Twitch SEO
Twitch hosts an amazing community platform for streamers and viewers. Many streamers, like myself, have found a warm and welcoming home on the platform; having the flexibility to create a variety of different kinds of content; and connect with people across the world.
If that’s all you’re looking for; Twitch is going to be a great place for you, and I recommend you Tweet my channel link so we can hangout.
But, if growth on Twitch is important to you, not only will you have to create an engaging stream while live, you’ll also need to utilise other channels to improve your searchability and discoverability; directing interested users to you and your content.
In 2021 when I first wrote this article, my hope was that Twitch would eventually adopt a better method of discoverability on their platform and provide better means for search engines to crawl their site. I recommended that creators should plan their content and promotions accordingly.
In 2022, my opinion has unfortunately not changed too much; but I still hold out some hope that Twitch will focus on their pain points, eventually.
Though; if you need help right now; you can always contact my team and I at Crowd; and we’d be more than happy to discuss optimising your websites and social channels to their optimal level.
With a background in performance advertising, content creation and social media and melded with a passion for creativity, Brett strives for the highest results and reactions from each project.