Have you watched a video on YouTube today? There’s a good chance you have. Billions of other people use the platform on a daily basis just like you.
In fact, YouTube is visited by nearly one-third of the people on the internet, making it the second largest search engine in the world. And with the platform being localized in 88 countries and providing video content in 76 languages, it literally lays a massive global audience right at the feet of marketers.
There’s a common theme that rings true for many businesses who attempt to build a following on YouTube — they publish a few videos, fail to garner the attention they’re looking for, and simply give up.
But here’s the thing. If you ignore search engine optimization (SEO) tactics when curating and publishing content on YouTube, there’s a good chance it’s not getting viewed because no one knows it’s there.
When approached correctly, ranking high on the second largest search engine becomes much easier. Is it going to happen overnight? Probably not. But the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll start reaping the benefits of your strategic approach.
The goal is to secure high rankings for your video content on both YouTube and Google.
Understanding The Impact Search Engines Have on YouTube Rankings
YouTube might be the second largest search engine but there are still other search engines that millions of people use on a daily basis, like Bing and Google, to search for videos. And if you implement SEO tactics that are tailored specifically to secure high search rankings on these search engines, you can reach an audience that can’t be reached on YouTube.
Failing to target the audiences on other search engines is a costly marketing mistake.
When you think of search engines, you probably think of Google, Yahoo, Bing, or even DuckDuckGo. Most people don’t think of YouTube being a search engine, but in all actuality it is, and it’s a unique search engine because it’s designed to search for video content.
What’s the first thing you see when you go to YouTube.com? A search bar, placed right at the top of the page. It’s literally begging you to use it to search for videos. And because it serves as its very own search engine, there are neat SEO tricks you can implement to ensure your video content ranks well. Pair these tricks with Google SEO and you’ll expand your brand awareness exponentially.
6 Must-Know Tips for Ranking YouTube Content on Search Engines
Create Videos at Least 60 Seconds Long
Used to, the more views you got on a YouTube video, the higher it would get ranked. Click farms, however, tried to hack this policy by targeting certain videos with millions of false clicks. Thankfully, YouTube changed its policy and now bases its ranking of videos on:
- How many seconds a video is viewed
- Number of comments
- Number of likes
- Number of social shares
This means even if you have a video with only 100 views, as long as the video is getting viewed in its entirety (or at least over 50% of its length), there’s a good chance it’s going to rank well, especially if it’s accompanied with several comments, likes, and social shares.
The trick here is getting your audience to watch your videos all the way through. This means you have to curate rich video content to drive viewer engagement.
Ideally, your videos should be at least 60 seconds long. Why? Because the longer the video, the more seconds/minutes you can rack up from view times.
Also, anything under 60 seconds tends to get viewed by YouTube as spam. Just like Google, if YouTube views your content as spam, you’re not going to secure high rankings.
HubSpot posted an article stating its 60 second videos received a much higher number of views than its longer videos. Creating rich video content starts with hooking the viewer in the first three seconds. 45% of viewers will watch at least 30 seconds of your video if they watch the first three. This means for a 60-second video, you’re achieving a 50% view time rate (VTR). That’s pretty impressive.
Goal: Create rich content that engages the viewer; this increases rankings on both YouTube and search engines.
Accompany Each Video With a Detailed Description
You’ve probably been accompanying your videos with descriptions, but how detailed are they? Video descriptions are cram-packed with SEO ranking potential. The longer they are, the better. Identify your target audience, pinpoint keywords and phrases they search for, and integrate them into the descriptions.
Goal: Use contextual keywords to boost rankings. Choose long-tail keywords and phrases, preferably five to seven words in length, and put them in video descriptions. Surround the keywords with contextual information.
The Name Truly Matters
Your entire YouTube marketing plan should center around specific keywords, and the titles of your videos should always include at least one of these keywords. Naming a video doesn’t stop here, though. What you name the file of your video matters. Almost exactly the same as image optimization on a blog posting or article, search engines and YouTube both look at the raw file name of your video for SEO purposes.
Optimizing your video file starts before you upload it to YouTube.
Before you actually upload it, right click on the video file and click on Get Info. You can add some of your keywords here that serve as tags for the video.
In the Name & Extension box, add the two most relevant keywords you are targeting. In the Comments field, type in a brief description of the video and make sure it includes keywords. Now that you have fully named the raw video file, you can upload it to YouTube. These steps apply to those using a Mac computer.
If you’re using a Windows computer, the steps are very similar and can be found here. Basically, you are going to right click on the video and click on Properties followed by clicking on Details to add in your tags and a brief description.
Regardless of the operating system you are using, once you upload the video on YouTube, its raw video name will be pulled. Make sure to leave this as is.
Goal: Alter raw video file name to include relevant keywords and leave title as is after uploaded.
Create Custom Thumbnails
If you don’t create custom thumbnails for each video you upload, YouTube will provide you with three options per video to choose from. Most times, these random screenshots from your video are unappealing.
When you create a custom thumbnail, you’re much more likely to attract the attention of searchers on both YouTube and other search engines. Since Google is primarily comprised of blues and whites, you’ll want your thumbnail to include bold colors like green, red, orange, and yellow. You’ll also want it to include onscreen text that includes the keywords you are targeting.
Goal: Create a custom thumbnail for each video you upload.
Build Curated Playlists and Post Solo Videos
Curated lists of videos are an effective way to increase viewer engagement and boost VTR because they mitigate the likelihood of a viewer leaving your channel. YouTube heavily promotes the curation of playlists and says videos are much more likely to be viewed if they are part of one. However, not all of your videos should be included in playlists. From a non-YouTube search engine point of view, solo videos get higher rankings.
Goal: Create curated playlists and post solo videos. You can apply the 50/50 rule here. 50% of your videos are part of playlists and the other 50% are posted as solos videos.
Share the Video Everywhere
If you’re not sharing the video, how can you expect others to? YouTube and Google both love content that gets shared a lot. Why? Because it’s a clear indication that internet users find it helpful or interesting. It’s valuable content.
On every website, blog, and social media profile you have, share your video and ask your followers to share it as well.
You can also team up with industry influencers and ask them to share your video. You may even find some influencers who are willing to publish an entire blog post around the video. This is especially advantageous in being able to push the video in front of a mass audience.
Goal: Share each and every video as much as possible and team up with industry influencers.
While many people turn to YouTube-specific SEO tactics to increase their ranking on YouTube, the trick to expanding your brand awareness the most is to rank well on both YouTube and other search engines, like Google.
Each of the six tips outlined above are YouTube- and Google-friendly and are sure to have a positive impact on your ability rank well.