For all the importance surrounding YouTube video rankings, there is still a lot of confusion around the subject. This is especially true for people just starting to realize how important it is to develop a video marketing strategy. The fact that many experts talk like everybody is in the know doesn’t help.
That’s why we decided to share some YouTube video SEO tips with you based on our experience. It’s not a definitive guide nor does it pretend to be. It’s just a list of essential steps that will teach you how to rank videos on YouTube to maximize your exposure. It’s based on our own experience and we’re 100% sure this works because we’ve used these tips ourselves time and time again.
In fact, the video below used all the tips you’re about to read. Want to know the results? The video now ranks in the top spot for keywords like “explainer videos” and “best explainer videos.” It’s neither a coincidence nor a magic trick. It’s the result of a conscious effort. Here, check it out.
Now it’s time for you to learn the foundations that made it possible for this video to rank high in YouTube’s rankings.
Don’t start without a plan
Saying that you need a plan in place even before starting to create your video seems like a no-brainer. Yet most people fail to develop a proper one. We’re not talking about a vague set of goals here. We’re talking about a robust plan that contemplates your marketing objectives, how they relate to your video strategy, how you want to be perceived and what the actions are that you have to take to make it all happen.
The perfect plan, then, starts with a definition of your goals and the roadmap you’ll follow to get there. What you should do first is write down the goals you’d like to achieve with your videos. Why do you want them to rank high on YouTube?
There are a number of reasons why you might be pursuing that. You certainly want more people to watch your videos, but why? Do you want people to change the way they perceive your brand? Do you want to become an authority in a specific subject? Are you trying to get people to act on a certain CTA? All of the above?
There are more questions like these you should really be exploring before making a video. As with any piece of content, it’s worth understanding why are you doing it and what the benefits on your bigger marketing strategy are. Video SEO doesn’t escape from this.
Perhaps an example can help you understand this. When we went out to make the video above, we wanted to rank on YouTube for the couple of keywords we mentioned. The idea behind this is to be perceived by our target audience as a reference in the explainer video industry. Besides, we wanted to maximize our exposure organically, positioning our video in a privileged spot that would bring traffic for months and even years to come. But most importantly, we wanted to create a useful and effective piece of content that could help our audience make the most suitable choice for their business regarding explainer videos.
You need that level of specificity first to draw the map that will take you there later. Once you have that short list of objectives, it’s time to visualize how you are going to do it. Now, there aren’t that many ways to achieve the goals you can think of (at least when talking about video marketing).
Our experience has shown us that the path almost always looks like a three-step journey. Thus, you begin by working on the video itself, then you pay attention to certain details while you upload it, and finally you work on its distribution. Each of these steps is essential for getting YouTube video rankings. Let’s see them in detail.
The top spots are reserved for high quality video
In video SEO for businesses, that’s a truth that can’t be ignored. The days where you could create a nice video and get results with them are gone. Now the competition is fiercer than ever and people are looking for videos that can be useful, entertaining and/or impactful. In other words, they want high quality – and that’s what you should give them.
Of course, you can always put this aside and go for a template video for your company. What’s more, there are some chances that you might even end up having some serendipitous impact. But there are zero guarantees for that happening and, if experience serves us well, your probabilities at that are slim.
If you want to have a better shot at getting a higher YouTube ranking, then you have to bet on high quality videos. It’s the only way you can be sure that people will pay attention. If your video looks amateurish, sounds bad or looks like any other video around, people won’t even bother. You need to give them something fresh, unique, something that makes them want to engage. Watch this high quality video:
Besides, you have to put things into context. Your video will have to compete with millions of videos to get the attention of the same audience. Even if that audience is of an estimated 1 billion people, they surely watch tons of videos per day (the newest estimations talk about 4 billion videos watched on a daily basis). The bar is extremely high and you have to rise up to the challenge.
Why would anyone watch a low quality video when there are literally millions of better alternatives out there? So, high quality is closely related to how many people watch your video which, in turn, has an influence on your YouTube video rankings. The video platform pays special attention to the view count to determine how valuable a video actually is. How will it see yours if you don’t offer it the very best?
A brief list of things any high quality video should include: the best possible recording (or animation, in case you are choosing that style), crisp sound and professional voice work, and a carefully crafted story with characters that are relatable for your target audience. Work on every one of these – your video’s SEO depends on it!
The basic SEO parameters also work on YouTube video rankings
Naturally, a fantastic video with the best qualities won’t go anywhere without some traditional SEO work. Though the SEO field has changed over the years, some crucial components still hold the relevance even today, and even for video.
So, when your video is done and you’re uploading it, you’ll certainly want to check on the following:
Include keywords in critical parts:Keywords are the basis of SEO strategies. They define the topic in which you’ll put your focus and how you approach it. So, it’s best if you arrive to the uploading phase with keywords already defined. Now, what do you do with these search terms in this phase? You use them in the video’s title, description and tags. By doing that, you’re telling YouTube which kind of traffic you want directed to you. The video platform will use those keywords to weigh your rankings when compared with your competitors and, after factoring other aspects, define your position. Keywords in and by themselves don’t define your YouTube ranking but not using them is unacceptable.
Tell your audience what you expect from them:All marketing efforts are directed towards a specific action. You have to define THE one for your video anduse it in the form of a Call to Action (CTA). YouTube offers you several ways in which you can do that, from buttons and annotations to links in the descriptions. Don’t miss the opportunity to redirect your audience when they are most engaged – use CTAs to increase your site’s traffic, build awareness, make an announcement or get more followers.
Don’t ignore the little details:Even the seemingly small details can have an impact on how many people decide to watch your video. The words you choose for your title, the time and day in which you upload your video, even the image you use as a thumbnail – all of these can dramatically change how many people see your video. Among those, the thumbnail is incredibly influential as it can catch the eyes of a potential viewer just by appearing in the related videos section. That’s why you should take some time to pick a colorful frame capable that also looks intriguing so it can spark the curiosity of the “passerby.”
If you cover all of the above, you’ll be ready to move on to the next stage, which is as critical as the two that came before it.
Promote your video any way you can
We don’t think it is necessary to remind you that you are your brand’s biggest promoter. But we do believe it’s important to underline how much that applies when it comes to getting a better YouTube video ranking. You have to move past the “upload it, share it, leave it” mentality and go to a full active mode.
There are 3 main things we did with our example video above that worked wonders for us (and that will surely do the same for you). The first thing was to invest some money in a YouTube Ad Campaign. After defining the proper target audience (a key step if you don’t want to lose a lot of money on an ineffective campaign), we let the campaign run for a couple of weeks.
What we were looking for is to maximize the reach of the video in the quickest way possible. In other words, we wanted people to watch the video right now to lay the foundation. We trusted that the educative power and quality of our work was going to help us rank higher in a more organic way but that initial boost was key to speed up the whole process.
After that, we started to work on two separate fronts. In the first one, we went for guest blogging gigs on reputable sites within our industry. The idea behind this was simple: YouTube video rankings also depend on how many sites embed your video. The more sites that do this , the higher you’ll rank.
Of course, the process isn’t that simple. Embed your video in low quality sites and you’ll be seen as a spammer or worse. That’s why you want to go after sites that score high in their domain authority (DA) measures. DA is used to determine the level of “expertise” on a topic for a specific site. We used the MOZ toolbar to measure that easily and targeted the sites that ranked better. You should do that too.
Finally, we also worked on the internal front, using our video in our blog posts and throughout our site, in prominent spots. The impact of this isn’t measured in the same way as with the external links, since it’s always best if your video is shared by third parties. However, using your video in your site and articles makes it more visible and increases your chances of finding a new audience for it.
A few final words
Seems like all of the above is too much work? Well, you’re right there! In fact, there’s more to it than these YouTube video SEO tips. But if you’re just starting with video SEO, you’d better stick to them and only expand to more advanced territory after you’ve mastered the basics.
We have a final suggestion for you. As you can see, the example video we used for this article is an educative video. That’s not without its reasons. People use YouTube (the 2nd largest search engine in the world, mind you) to look for quick solutions to their problems. They want to learn things quickly and videos are perfect for that.
That’s the main reason why How-to videos are so popular in YouTube. People want answers and brands are benefitting from that by providing them with those answers, albeit branded and adjusted to serve a marketing purpose. Keep this in mind if you’re just venturing into video territory right now. It can truly make a difference.
Feeling dizzy from all the things we’ve said here? Don’t panic! We’re here to help. Contact Yum Yum Videos and let us help you with your YouTube video rankings and overall video strategy!