Please note: there is now a more up-to-date version of this guide – How can you make your videos rank better on YouTube? – published in July 2016.
With 200,000 videos uploaded per day, more than 600 years required to view all those videos, more than 100 million videos watched daily, and more than 300 million existing accounts, if you think YouTube might not be an effective distribution channel to reach prospective customers, think again.
Yes, understanding YouTube can be a little complicated as compared to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even Tumblr, when it comes to generating engagement, but YouTube marketing is worth all the efforts. YouTube is the third most popular site in the world and the second most popular search engine after Google. So you can see why it is important to optimize your videos for YouTube search results.
Factors Which Determine YouTube Video Ranking:
Have you ever wondered what YouTube actually takes into account to determine which video should rank higher in its search results? Are these the same factors that Google looks for while determining the rank of a page in the search results page? We have categorized the YouTube ranking factors into two parts – onsite and offsite factors. Have a look at both of them:
- Relevant Keywords: Just as a Web page with relevant keyword terms and phrases always ranks better in search results, videos with the relevant keywords will appear at the top of YouTube search results. These include “how-to” keywords, reviews, tutorials, funny videos, and videos related to sports and fitness.
- Video Tags: Tags are not very important, but they obviously do help. Including a few keywords in the tag helps YouTube to know what your video is about.
- Title: The video title is also an important factor in determining your YouTube video ranking. Tip: Put your keyword at the beginning of the title to give a slight SEO boost to your video.
- Description: Description is very important because that’s what YouTube depends on to determine what your video is all about.
- Thumbnails: The thumbnail creates the first impression of your video. Custom thumbnails, rather than YouTube’s auto-generated snapshots taken from anywhere in the video, are always preferred.
- Video Transcript: YouTube uses the transcription to rank your video. To help YouTube get a summary of your video you can include the targeted keywords in the transcription.
- Channel Authority: Channel authority can be established with more views and engagement of your audience. You can give a link to your YouTube channel from your website to build channel authority.
- Views and Video Retention: Views improve your video’s YouTube SEO. How many people have watched your video? Even if they have, did they watch it till the end?
- Comments: More comments on your video also give an authority signal to YouTube for your video. But remember, YouTube is quite smart at finding out which comments are spam. If viewers have commented on your video, it means they have enjoyed watching your video or at least they have watched the video until the end.
- Subscribes: If people have subscribed to your channel after watching your video, this means they have loved it. This indicates to YouTube as well as to Google that your video is authoritative.
- Shares: Are people sharing your video on social media sites? If they are, it shows that they like your video.
- Favorites: Yet another factor is the number of people who favorite your video or add it to their “Watch Later” list.
- Thumbs Up/Down: The number of thumbs up and thumbs down counts your video gets also determines your video’s ranking in search results.
- Backlinks: Just like Google uses inbound links to rank your page, YouTube also uses these links as a ranking factor.
Tips to Rank Your Video Higher on YouTube Search Results:
- Increase the Number of Views for Your Video: Which one sounds better – 500 views in the last 24 hours or 1,000 views in the last week? Well, it’s the second one if we look at it from an SEO perspective. The more views your video gets in 48 hours, the better it ranks.
So what can you do to increase the views on your videos quickly? Post your video throughout your social media network. Don’t just restrict to Facebook and Twitter, but also include Google+, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest in your strategy. Embed your video in your blog posts and mention it on question and answer sites like Quora. How about posting your video to the homepage of your website? In addition to this, email a link to your video to your customers and your newsletter subscribers to reach out to a greater audience.
- Optimize Your Video Title and Description With Relevant Keywords: Make sure your video title and description contain the relevant keyword terms and phrases. The title should be at least five words long so that you can easily incorporate your full keyword.
Write around a 250-word description with the keywords included three to four times. Additionally, the keywords should be included in the first 25 words of the description. Make sure the keywords are naturally incorporated and don’t appear as spammy.
- Optimize Video Tags: It is ideal to have six to eight tags for your video. Include the keyword phrase in the video tags and also slight variations of this phrase. The tags should obviously be relevant to your video.
- Ask Viewers to Rate and Comment on Your Video: At the end of your video, include a call-to-action button asking viewers to rate your video and leave a comment. Some of the most popular videos on YouTube adopt this strategy to rank higher on YouTube.
- Use YouTube Analytics to Get Deeper Insights Into the Performance of Your Video: Use the Analytics tool within YouTube to see which sites have embedded your videos. Ask these sites whether they would like to link to your upcoming video. There is a high probability that if they have linked to your previous video, they would like to embed your latest video, too. You can also check your video’s retention rate. You can track how long viewers watched your video and at exactly which point they stopped watching.
Following these steps will definitely help you to rank your videos higher in YouTube. So, what do you think? Are your videos optimized for YouTube? Which of these practices will be most effective for your YouTube video ranking? You can comment below to share your own strategies for YouTube video optimization with us.
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