5 Ways to Increase Your Rank on YouTube with SEO for Videos

YouTube is the second most visited website in the world and the second largest search engine in the world. There are over one billion hours of videos watched every day. It’s easy to understand why YouTube is so popular; videos are entertaining, engaging, emotional, and well, seeing is believing.

Many people find it much easier to learn from a video than from text. Why pour through an instructional manual when a few second search can find a video of someone demonstrating how to use a product? Although music videos consistently rank the most popular (it can be assumed that people are watching them over and over), how-to videos and other educational videos also do well on YouTube. If your video is entertaining or educational the likelihood of someone watching goes up.

Don’t just take our word about the importance of YouTube in today’s world, HubSpot put together 51 YouTube stats every video marketer should know in 2019.

Although Google and YouTube are owned by the same company, their algorithms are significantly different, meaning that just because your video ranks high in Google doesn’t mean it will rank high in YouTube and vice versa. A study in RankRanger found that there was no correlation between the two, for example, they found that the first video in Google’s video carousel had an average position of 14 on YouTube search engine results page (SERP).

“The goals of YouTube’s search and discovery system are twofold: to help viewers find the videos they want to watch, and to maximize long-term viewer engagement and satisfaction.”

So, it’s important to understand that YouTube is different and you need to optimize your videos for YouTube if you want to rank high on YouTube’s SERP. Here are 5 big ways to increase your rank on YouTube:

1. Plan Your Video with SEO In Mind

Don’t just make a video and throw it up on YouTube and expect it to take off. Sure, there’s a few internet sensations in which this has happened, but if you’re reading this, you’re a marketer of a product or a service, and the chance that your video will just take off without help, such as optimizing, is slim to none. So, do your keyword research and then include those keywords in the video. YouTube automatically transcribes every video so they know what you are saying (with a few misunderstood words here and there). They’ll know if your Meta Data doesn’t match the contents. Make it match. As well, we’ve evolved beyond just keywords, think of phrases as well keywords that are related, and you can also use synonyms and other variations of your keywords throughout. If you think of YouTube’s goals, outlined above, your job is to help YouTube know that your video is the video viewers want to watch and you do this by planning your video with SEO in mind.

2. Longer Videos for Higher Rank Potential

You’ve probably heard differently. People have short attention spans nowadays. Your video should be a maximum of 2 to 3 minutes. But read again what YouTube says it’s goals are, “…and to maximize long-term viewer engagement and satisfaction.” YouTube is trying to compete with TV (and doing a good job of doing so). Longer content means that they can keep people on their site for longer and YouTube can show them more commercials. They want people to stay on YouTube and keep coming back. So, if you have say, a 30 minute video that people watch on average half way through, and your competitor has a 2 minute video that people watch all the way through, YouTube will see your video as more important and relevant because you kept people watching for 15 minutes on average, while your competitor only kept people watching for 2 minutes. This doesn’t mean that 2 minute videos and 30 second commercials don’t have their place, but it does mean that you do want to have some content that’s longer. Then, you just have to keep them watching. The ideal length of a video is at least 5 minutes. The first 15 seconds are extremely important too, if people watch past the first 15 seconds, you’ve probably hooked them until the end.

3. Key Metrics to Watch for SEO Impact

Related to my second suggestion, these are the key metrics that you want to keep an eye on. The first one is total watch time (how long people spend watching your videos and therefore shows YouTube that your content is engaging and relevant) and the number of subscribers (shows YouTube how many people want to hear from you again). Both of these metrics are key to you increasing your rank. As mentioned in point 2, longer, more engaging videos will impact the watch time metric. For subscribers, every video should tell people how to subscribe. YouTube makes this easy with cards and endscreens, which you can use to promote other relevant videos on your YouTube channel (increasing total watch time) and subscribing.

4. Meta-data is Still Important for Video SEO

YouTube still relies on metadata to understand the contents and relevancy of your videos for the audience. So, optimize titles and descriptions with your relevant keywords and phrases (never mention your keyword though more than 3 times). Titles and meta-descriptions should be short, enticing and relevant. Make sure your alt tags are also descriptive and include the keyword. Although not metadata, we do want to mention thumbnails here. As in life in general, you want to put your best foot forward so you have a chance. Think of videos as the same way. Although YouTube will offer up three stills from your video as thumbnails, they may not be the best images to sell your video. Customized and well-designed thumbnails that entice people to click-through will work the best. You can’t keep them watching if you can’t get them to click in the first place.

5. Transcriptions and Translations Can Impact SEO

As mentioned above, YouTube automatically transcribes your video, but it can be full of errors. It’s best to review their automatic transcription and fix it for errors. The transcription is very important as it tells YouTube’s algorithm about the content and of course, it provides a written transcript for people who are hearing impaired. As mentioned above, your meta data should match and be relevant to the copy in the transcription, if not, YouTube will see you engaging in misleading, clickbaity and sensational activities and this could impact your rank. Also, if you can, provide translations in key languages, either through YouTube’s translation service (which is not entirely accurate, as languages don’t always translate well if done word by word, so if you can, perhaps hire a native speaker to review the translation). First, this will expand your audience and second, it may increase its discoverability (according to YouTube).

Before you start optimizing your videos for SEO, we recommend that you also read through YouTube’s Optimization Tips.

We know SEO isn’t easy. Want some help? Reach out and leverage our expertise at info@searchwarrant.ca. Or, here are some other you might find of interest:

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