A Guide to Getting Top Rankings on YouTube SERPs

People in the world of online marketing have been talking more about ranking well on YouTube. If you’re new to the online marketing game, you’re probably wondering why SEO practitioners are now buzzing about YouTube rankings. What does a video hosting site have to do with SEO? Well, that’s just it. YouTube isn’t just a video hosting site; it is also the world’s second largest search engine. By doing SEO for YouTube, therefore, you stand a bigger chance of gaining more web traffic than if you did SEO for Yahoo! or Bing.

YouTube is a huge source of traffic that has remained untapped by most businesses, which is sad, really. It can be an especially valuable traffic source for small businesses, and here are some of the reasons why:

  • Over 30 million people visit YouTube each day.
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are viewed on YouTube each month.
  • About 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube each day.
  • About 14% of Internet traffic is owned by YouTube.
  • Millions of YouTube subscriptions are made each day.
  • YouTube has been localized in 61 countries/languages.

Now perhaps you understand why YouTube is the best place for you to upload your videos and why YouTube marketing is one of the best ways for you to get your small business in front of more of your target customers. But with a hundred hours of video uploaded to the site each day, how do you stand out from the crowd and achieve the kind of rankings that will really put your business out there? Let’s start by taking a closer look at YouTube’s ranking factors.

Video Content

In the same way you need high-quality content to rank well on Google, you also need high-quality videos to rank well on YouTube. You cannot hope to embark on a successful YouTube SEO campaign unless you have some high-quality videos at your disposal. This ranking factor has to do with every single detail that is under your control as video publisher. You need to make sure none of these details are taken for granted.

1. Title

This is one of the first things people see when your video appears on YouTube SERPs. Make sure it is relevant and interesting enough to encourage viewers to click through to the video itself. It also helps to put your keywords in the video title.

2. Description

If the title tells people what a video is about at a glance, the description is where you describe your video in detail. This is a lot of help when someone does a Google search and your video comes up on the search results. It is generally advisable to write a 300- to 500-word description for each of your videos. Don’t forget to include your keywords.

3. Tags

There are some keywords you may want to target for a specific video, but which may not be included in the title and description because there’s no way for you to incorporate it naturally into the narrative. The tags section is where you can target those keywords. Place at least 10 relevant keywords in this section.

Keywords in Video Titles and Descriptions

If there are keywords you want to rank for that aren’t in the video title and description, you may include them in the tags section.

4. Transcription

This is also a great place to put your keywords because YouTube indexes video transcriptions. Upload the transcription to your video as a text file and use it to increase your chances of ranking better on YouTube SERPs.

5. Channel Authority

As you may have noticed, Google has started including YouTube videos in their search results. Channel authority is one of the things they consider when ranking these videos , and since you control how much your videos are optimized, how often you post a video on your channel, and how you promote your videos, to a certain extent, you have control over your channel’s authority.

6. Content Delivery

Even taking away the tags, the descriptions, the titles, and the transcriptions, your video content should be useful, relevant, informative, interesting, and entertaining. It should be something your target audience would want to watch, comment on, talk about, and share with others.

User Engagement

No matter how good your videos are, if you don’t get people to watch them, comment on them, and share them online, you aren’t likely to get the kind of rankings you want. It’s a cycle; you get people to engage with your videos, and you get good rankings, and those rankings will help you get more viewers for your videos and consequently, more traffic to your site. Now what exactly does engagement entail?

1. Number of Views

Naturally, you’d want as many people as possible to watch your videos. Check your YouTube account’s Analytics section to see if your viewers are watching your videos in full. If not, check at which point they usually stop watching, find out why, and do something about it.

2. Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down, Favorites

Obviously, you’ll want your videos to get only Thumbs Up, or at least more Thumbs Up than Thumbs Down; you’ll also want your viewers to click on the Favorites box. This is one of the reasons why you need to ensure quality for each of your videos.

3. Inbound Links

In the same way it helps increase your site authority with Google, inbound links help increase your channel’s authority as well as the authority of the video with the link. Build links to your channel by providing links from your blog, from your website, from your social media accounts, and other legitimate sources.

4. Social Shares

Share your videos on your social media pages. This increases the chance of people sharing it as well. Keeping video quality high is also a surefire way of getting more shares.

5. Embeds

YouTube tracks every instance that a video is embedded on another website and counts that as a positive signal for SEO. This is why it is a good idea to always allow embedding for your videos.

6. Comments/Responses

This is perhaps the most powerful engagement factor and is seen by YouTube as a strong signal of authority and relevance. Respond to as many comments on your videos as you can. This encourages more viewers to post their own comments and responses.

Comments on YouTube

Comments/responses are seen by YouTube as a strong signal of channel authority and relevance, so be sure to encourage it by responding to as many viewer comments as possible.

Other than taking note of the above ranking factors and making sure none of them are taken for granted, how else can you ensure excellent ranking on YouTube SERPs? Here are some useful tips:

1. Be specific

It’s okay to create a generic video covering any topic related to the industry your business is in; it would probably help you reach more people. However, it also pits you against more competition, making it a lot more difficult to achieve top rankings on YouTube SERPs. By narrowing your focus, deciding on a specific niche, and targeting your videos towards a specific group of people, you also reduce the amount of competition and increase your chance of getting the video in front of the right audience.

Choosing a highly specific topic for each of your videos also allows you to create more videos related to a broad topic. This helps you overcome the common problem of running out of video content to upload. Uploading fresh content on a regular basis helps keep your channel going.

2. Mind your keywords

Just like any SEO campaign, the process of YouTube SEO necessarily involves finding the right keywords. Choose what are known as video keywords. These are keywords that show YouTube results at the top of Google SERPs. This helps you ensure that you get top rankings not only when people search on YouTube, but even when they search on Google.

The first thing you do is identify keywords related to your chosen topic for a video. Check to see which of the keywords you identified are actually video keywords. Now check the search volume for each video keyword on your list; go after keywords that have at least 300 searches per month. This ensures not only that you get traffic to that video, but also that you get high-quality traffic.

3. Create playlists

This is a very useful but often overlooked aspect of YouTube SEO. When you create playlists, you give your viewers the option of watching not just the video they initially clicked on, but several other videos related to the topic they’re interested in. You therefore get the chance to earn views for more than one video on your channel. Again, the more views you get, the higher your channel authority is and the better your chances are of getting top rankings on YouTube SERPs.

Whenever you create a new video, it pays to always have YouTube SEO in mind. That way, you’ll be sure to keep all of the ranking factors in mind, effectively maximizing your chances of ranking well on YouTube search results.

And here’s one thing you should always bear in mind where video marketing is concerned: It doesn’t hurt to ask. Ask family and friends to give your videos a Thumbs Up, include it in their Favorites list, subscribe to your channel, include your videos in their playlists, and share your videos. Do the same with your YouTube audience. Include a call to action in each video, asking viewers to share the video, subscribe to your channel, etc. Soon you should be able to build a strong following and reap the rewards of your efforts.

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