How to Optimize Video Ranking on YouTube

posted in: Video Marketing | 0

You can promote your business using photos or text to - but using video to demonstrate some of your company is the ultimate way to promote your products or services. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a thousand pictures…! In fact, a 3-minute video has 10,800 images (assuming 60 frames per second).

Hopefully, you are already using video to amaze your prospective audience and this article will give you a few additional ideas to on how to use your video content to get in front of a much wider audience.

There are two major ways to get in front of a new audience who has never seen any of your previous work: the first is to simply run YouTube video ads. This can be extremely effective, but it does presuppose an expertise in paid video ad campaigns as well as requiring a reasonable ad budget. Running paid ads is beyond the scope of this article, so I want to focus on the second way to get wide exposure which is organic video ranking.

This article will outline some of the best ways to organically rank your videos so that they are near the top of the search results for your type of business. I strongly recommend posting your video content on YouTube before any other platform (I’ll explain why in more detail below). Once uploaded to YouTube, the first place you’d want to post the video is on your own website. After that, embed it on all your social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and even business directories like Yelp.

How to Optimize Video Ranking on YouTube

If you have an email list, then definitely promote your videos to this list. You can embed a gif image in emails but I'd recommend simply adding the thumbnail image and have that link directly to the YouTube video - preferably to the page on your website or if not, directly to the YouTube video page.

I also recommend other free Video Hosting platforms to post your content, like Vimeo, Dailymotion or LiveLeak - make sure your video is designated as "public". There are additionally a number of paid video hosting services like, Wistia, Brightcove, SproutVideo and Spotlightr but some of these may prove to be too expensive if you're not posting frequently for business purposes.

Even after all that distribution, you may find that you are not reaching a lot of new prospects beyond your existing audience. This is why I suggest focusing on YouTube as your initial place to post. YouTube is the second largest search engine as well as being a major social media platform in its own right. You can develop your own ‘tribe’ on YouTube by posting high quality content on a regular schedule. Creating a successful YouTube channel is a long-term proposition, but well worth the time if that’s something you’d like to undertake.

Organic video ranking is essentially SEO for your video content, and this is why I recommended you post your video on YouTube as the original ‘source’ for your videos. Because YouTube is the second largest search engine (after Google itself) you stand to get a large viewership if you can simply rank well for your targeted keywords. In the remainder of this article, I’ll explain how best to rank your video as high as possible in both YouTube itself and potentially on Google as well.

Organic video ranking

The following outlines the best practices of how to add the most useful meta data to your video. It goes without saying that the overall quality and the production values of your video will have a major impact on how well the video ranks. The reason for this is that if it looks great and has valuable content, it’s far more likely to get more views in addition to being shared on social media: especially if it gets a viral sharing boost.

The main focus on ranking your video initially lies in selecting the most effective title - which essentially becomes the main keyword expression. You need to balance the value of a hard-to-rank large volume keyword with as easy-to-rank long tail, low search volume keyword. In other words, a high-volume keyword will be much more difficult to rank, whereas a longer search expression will be much easier to rank but will have a lower search volume.

An example will probably be more illustrative. A top-level search term might be: “Lawyer New York”. If you were to try ranking for this keyword, there is an enormous amount of competition because the keyword expression is extremely competitive and valuable. This will make it particularly difficult to rank. If you were to succeed, you would definitely be rewarded with high-volume views. However, the large amount of existing competition would make this unlikely, which is why I recommend using ‘lower-level’ keywords.

A mid-level keyword might be something like: “Immigration Lawyer Queens New York” – the search volume will still be surprisingly high, but the level of competition will be somewhat lower. This will give you a much better chance to actually rank relatively high in the YouTube results which will bring in many more views.

Video SEO

Video SEO

Using a ‘long tail’ keyword expression / title can be relatively easy to rank, but the number of people searching for the term will be much lower as well. Such a title might be something like: “3 Legal Ways to get a Green Card in Queens New York”. If you’re just starting out trying to rank your videos, I’d suggest you start at this level. The search volume may not be as high, but at least you’ll have a better chance to get your result near the top in the YouTube search results.

Another way the title is important is to spark the viewers curiosity by using a creative title that generates interest. Keep in mind, the title still has to accurately represent the actual content of the video. This will help boost the click through rate of the video which is a metric that creates positive credit in the search algorithm. Simply using brackets or parentheses in the title has been shown to increase the click through rate of a video. It’s important to think of the kind of questions your target viewer will be asking themselves when you are thinking of your video title.

The next component to optimize for search is the video description. You can enter as many as 5,000 characters in this description, and you should aim to essentially create an article that supports the actual content of the video. The description should include many keyword expressions that closely relate to the subject matter in hand. Use your main title / keyword expression early in the description because YouTube will give more weight to text early in the description.

YouTube also allows you to add URL’s into the description so you should include, your website, social media channels or any other related link that’s important. You’ll need to include the full URL, in other words use:

as opposed to:

The full version of the URL will be ‘clickable’ for the user, making it easier for them to link directly to your site.

Once you have completed your keywords / title and description, you can now select the tags that you’d like to use for the video. All the tags should be ‘semantically related’ to your main keyword. The easiest way to find out the best tags is to type in the main keyword into both Google and YouTube and check out the ‘Suggested searches’ that automatically ‘drop down’ from your partial search. Google is telling you that these searches are also popular variations of your search. You can also use the list at the bottom of the page, where it says, “Searches related to *your keyword*”.

YouTube Search Optimization

YouTube Search Optimization

Generally, keep your keyword tags very tightly focused on the content of the video. Use your ‘main target keyword’ first in the list and then simply add ‘variations’ of that specific keyword expression. After these tightly grouped keyword alternative you can use other related keywords which should be synonyms to the original keyword expression. Finally, you can also add in a few ‘category’ tags that are wider, but still relate to the main keyword. Don’t make the mistake of adding a large number of vague tags that are not closely related to the actual subject of the video.

Once your video has been posted on YouTube, the next thing you want to do is embed that video into as many online pages as possible. Certainly, your website and your social channels: but you also want to get the video curated to as many locations as possible (including the other video hosting channels I mentioned above). The more unique domains your video is embedded, the higher your video is more likely to rank. There are a number of other ways to increase the number of embeds, for example, offering to write a guest blog posts or even writing a press release (they may not accept an embed, but you can at least add the video URL).

Another way to earn a higher ranking in the YT search engine is by encouraging more "engagement signals" - these include, comments, likes, subscribes, or shares. All of these metrics demonstrate to the search algorithm that your video has created genuine ‘active’ interest in your video. How do you get your viewers to engage in this kind of interaction? Just ask! Don’t make it too difficult and generally focus on only one request. For example, if you beg your viewer: “Please comment, like and subscribe to this channel” - you’re asking for too much! Another good way to get engagement is to ask a simple question during the video: “Please comment below: what are your main immigration questions?” This gives viewers encouragement to express their thoughts and can leads to loads of interesting comments. This takes advantage of the social media’ aspects of YouTube video. In fact, even a ‘thumbs down’ (dislike) is considered a ‘positive’ engagement signal. They may not have loved your video, but at least you motivated them to express their opinion!

Remember, you certainly want your video to rank high in the YT search results, but you can also rank in the ‘related or suggested videos’ (currently called “Up Next” by YouTube). These are listed on the right-hand side of the page of the YT sidebar. You can increase your chances of showing up in this area if you use many of the same tags as a popular video on the same topic. Unfortunately, YT No longer shows the tags of other videos, so you’d have to use the ‘View Page Source’ by right clicking on the page of that person’s video to enable you to search for their tags. 

Video Ranking on YouTube

Video Ranking on YouTube

Another factor in how high YT will rank your video is the ‘watch time’ which is the total amount of cumulative time your video has been viewed in total number of hours. This is related to ‘audience retention’ which is a percentage measure of the how long people on average watch you video. In other words, if a lot of people don’t watch your entire video to the end, your watch time percentage will be lower. One way to increase your overall watch time is to plan out your video carefully and add an “open loop” near the beginning of your video. An open loop is a ‘teaser’ of what’s coming up later in the video. For example, you might begin your video by letting your audience know that you’re going to explain say, “common immigration mistakes”, and, if they continue watching, you can outline these mistakes at the end. The best way to increase watch time of course, is to have a well-produced video with great content!

Hopefully, this gives you enough information on how to rank your videos higher in the video search results and encourages you to create more video content that you can use to successfully promote your business.