YouTube Video SEO Optimisation Tips & Best Practices for High Rankings

by Deepak

You heard that YouTube is great for traffic and conversions and you finally created a YouTube video. But it probably did not take you to the promised land yet. You are still waiting for your YouTube video to get thousands of views, get that hockey stick graph along with favorites, comments and positive ratings. Don’t lose hope on YouTube video marketing yet. YouTube is a great source of traffic but it takes some time to nail the right strategy. Sometimes your videos are set to fail before you even start making the video. This post may help you succeed with YouTube. It all depends on how high your YouTube video ranks on Google and YouTube.

1. Give People What They Need (Relevancy)

If you are creating a video about something that people are not proactively looking for, then there are good chances that you video will hardly touch a thousand views. You cannot rely on social sharing alone to get a reach for your video.

You need to create a video on a topic where people are already looking for. Google Keyword tool is the best way to find out what people are searching for. This is more about finding out what people need and creating content that caters that need than a mere ‘seo tactic’. In fact the SEO that Google intends is relevancy.

Once you find out what people need, do research on that topic and create a video. You can combine a few top search keywords and create a single video. Google keyword suggestions are great for finding multiple related search keywords that people are actually using.

For example let us take the keyword “Video SEO”. I just put this keyword in Safari and I got some keyword suggestions. These suggestions are based on what people have already searched for.

Instead of naming my video as Video SEO Tips, I can give the title as: Video SEO Tips & Best Practices for 2012 and that would cover a wider audience than just a specific need. This is just a simple example. To go deeper, you can look at the total search volume for each related keyword and form your title  accordingly. Also do not make the video too generic – you should serve a specific need. You need to have a right balance between specificity and reaching a wide audience.

It is a well known fact that entrepreneurs who start with the product often fail. The business has to keep the customer’s need in mind and start there. Creating content is no different. You have to know what people need and then create the content. This is where video SEO (or website SEO) starts. Once you know what people want, then create the content.

Sometimes when introducing new concepts, you need to create content about it and people won’t be searching for it already. To promote such content, you need an audience and you can build an audience only when you create content that people are already looking for. Else they may never find you.

Other technical factors that you have to consider for search relevancy when trying to rank YouTube videos are:

  • Naming the video file with keywords before uploading the video. Ex: video-seo-tips.mp4
  • Giving a proper keyword rich (but not keyword stuffed) title.
  • A keyword rich description for the video
  • YouTube video tags
  • Content in the video (YouTube looks into the dialog using speech to text technology)
Social media sharing is the icing on the cake. A lot of people will find your videos through search and when a percentage of those viewers share it on social media, you will get even more visitors and such social sharing is rewarded with high rankings – which leads us to the video value signals…

2. Video Value Signals

If YouTube had unlimited staff capacity, in an ideal world they will watch every video and rank those videos according to the quality of production and the value that the video gives away.

But with X hours of video being uploaded every minute (X = a very large number, I would like to just keep it that way!) it is impossible for manual review. So YouTube naturally relies on systems and algorithms to find out which videos have high value.

For a moment imagine that we run YouTube. What factors will we consider in determining what videos have a good value? Let us list some of the points.

  • Click Through Ratio of the videos – impressions vs. clicks on the video title.
  • Engagement of the viewer. If the viewer of the videos leaves within 10 seconds of watching, it is a clear indication that the video is not relevant or not worthy of watching. (Ex: Words and Pictures slideshow with music and voice.)
  • Activity in the video – sharing in social media, ratings, comments, subscribing to channel.
  • Number of subscribers in the channel and value of other videos in the channel means that the user has been providing good value for a long time and his new videos can have better rankings instantly.
  • Replies to comments by the uploader. Means that the YouTube video uploader cares.
  • Consistent uploading of new videos.
  • Age of the video and the channel.
  • Natural back links to the video and the channel page.

There are more factors, but these are the major ones. There is no proof that YouTube looks at all these criteria to rank videos, but we don’t need proof. If we ran YouTube and would look into all these signals, YouTube will look into it too and hopefully a lot more factors.

But all those ranking algorithms try to achieve one result – reward high quality content. So it remains that good content is King.

You would have observed that ranking a video in YouTube and Google is not too much different from ranking a website in any search engine. What search engines look for is indication of good content and relevancy. Create good content and then use the techniques to communicate relevancy.

For more advanced SEO tips, you can visit my guest blog post in ProBlogger: SEO Your YouTube Videos in 10 Steps

Any questions?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kyle Clouse September 24, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Deepak, this is a great post. Especially in #1, I see many videos that are created for marketing but the title and description are not search specific.

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Dan October 12, 2012 at 2:19 am

A neat YouTube SEO tip I recently learned was that Google actually looks at the closed-captioning text of YouTube videos as part of its indexing. Worth looking into if you are trying to get your YouTube videos to rank better.

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