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How To Rank Videos On YouTube

Do you want your videos to rank on YouTube?

Of course you do.

As you know, it is not enough to simply create content. You also have to optimize your content if you want your audience to actually find it, just as you would with traditional SEO.

The point of YouTube SEO, then, is to ensure that your videos show up in search, much in the same way that your website SEO ensures that your content shows up on YouTube’s first page.

Above all, ranking means more views, more subscribers and more business growth.

And it’s just as important as the video content itself.

By now, you know the importance of producing video in this day and age (in fact, it’s only to become more important as time goes on). But, here are the numbers:

So, now that you know why you should produce videos and the importance of getting those videos to rank on YouTube, here’s the process of how to do so. Many of these tips helped Brian Dean of Backlinko to 121,519 views per month.

Ready, set, action!

1.YouTube Keyword Research

It probably comes as no surprise that keyword research is the first step when it comes to ranking your videos on YouTube. Much like traditional SEO, you want to choose keywords that people are actually searching for.

It just so happens that YouTube gives you this exact information.

Step 1: Generate Keyword List with YouTube’s Autocomplete Feature + Ubersuggest

One of the best ways to do keyword research is with YouTube’s autocomplete feature. These are keywords that people actually search for, meaning that there is a lot of demand for them.

Simply enter a potential keyword in the YouTube search bar and YouTube will generate a list of keywords:

You can also use Ubersuggest, Neil Patel’s free keyword research tool to generate a list of keywords related to your topic. However, ensure that you select ‘YouTube’ instead of the web.

Step 2: Choose The Best Keywords to Target

Once you’ve generated a list of potential keywords, the next step is to determine the best ones to actually target. This is a very important step and comes courtesy of Brian Dean of Backlinko.

So, how do you know what the best keywords are?

Assuming that you are a channel without a lot of views and/subscribers, you will want to target low competition keywords. If you try to rank for competitive keywords while having a low subscriber count, your video will essentially get buried in the search results.

To determine if a keyword is low in competition, simply type your keyword into the YouTube search bar and check the ‘About Results’ section.

This number indicates the total number of YouTube videos about that particular topic. So, the higher the number, the more competitive it is.

Your specific number will depend on your particular niche. So, check the competitiveness for a range of keywords and then choose the ones with the lowest competition, which, again, will make it easier for you to rank.

However, if you already have a significant number of subscribers, you can go ahead and choose competitive keywords.

2. Optimize Your Video

Once you’ve completed your keyword research, the next step is to actually optimize your video based on YouTube’s own algorithm for ranking videos.

  • ‘Say’ Your Target Keyword. YouTube automatically transcribes your videos, so saying your target out loud can help YouTube to understand what your video is about. Ensure that you also proofread YouTube’s automatic captions because they tend to have a lot of mistakes.
  • Include Your Keyword At the Beginning of The Title. This is pretty self-explanatory, but including your target keyword as close the beginning of the title as possible can help it to rank higher.
  • Ensure Your Video Title is At Least 5 Words Long. This prevents keyword stuffing.
  • Optimize Your Video’s Description. Your video’s description helps to tell YouTube what your video is all about and is, therefore, a very important element when it comes to ranking.

Your description needs to be optimized in much the same way that you would optimize a traditional blog post.

This means you should include your target keyword within the first 25 words of your description and include your keyword between 2 and 4 times throughout. However, as always, you need to ensure that your content doesn’t read like spam.

Lastly, ensure that your description is at least 250 words.

  • Optimizing Tags. Tags aren’t the most important aspect of YouTube SEO, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. They still help with two things: getting your video to rank for your target keyword and helping your videos to appear in the ‘related video’ section of YouTube.

So, how do you optimize your tags? First and foremost, your first tag should be your target keyword. Some of your additional tags can be variations of your target keyword. Any other tags can include topics that your video also covers.

Pro Tip: Use the same tags that your competitors use. Doing so means that whenever someone watches your their videos, your video will appear in the suggested/related video section as a result. That means more views and, as you will see, higher rankings.

3. Consider YouTube’s Ranking Factors

Now that you’ve done your keyword research and optimized your videos for YouTube, it’s time to consider YouTube’s other ranking factors.

  • Audience Retention. This is a major ranking factor. Simply put, you want to your audience to watch your video for as long as possible. This tells YouTube that you must have good content. According to YouTube, you should aim to keep audience retention as close to 100% as possible.

However, anything above 50% is still relatively good.

But, what is the key to producing a video that keeps your audience glued? Is it a video with high production value? Something else?

Sure, a high-quality video certainly elevates the video, but it is not enough to keep people watching if the content is not useful. By the way, expensive camera equipment is not necessary to produce a high-quality video either.

Simply put, the average business will find that it is useful content that keeps your audience watching. Think how-to type of videos and tutorials.

  • Comments. When Brian Dean analyzed 1.3 million YouTube videos, he found that the number of comments was very strongly related to how those videos ranked. As you might have guessed, the more comments the better. So, ask questions in your videos and encourage your audience to write in the comments section. Also respond to those comments as well.
  • Video Shares/Thumbs Up. Just like subscriptions, video shares and thumbs ups indicate that your video must have been a good one. The study above found that video shares were “strongly tied” to ranking on the first page and that likes were significantly correlated. Encouraging people to ‘share’ and ‘thumbs up’ your video is a good way to increase both.
  • Click-Through Rate. Every time someone clicks on your video, Google boosts your video in the search results. Alternatively, if people are skipping over your videos in favour of other videos, your rankings will likewise be adversely affected. But, how can you get people to click on your videos?

It’s simple: with compelling thumbnails and titles. Thumbnails are the images that people click on to actually watch your video.

As far as thumbnails, it is better to take a separate picture and add text to it (with an easy-to-use graphics program like Canva) than to use a screenshot from your video. Avoid having intrusive logos in your thumbnails and making your thumbnail entirely text-based.

As for your titles, formulate them in much the same way that you would for the titles of your blog posts. You also read our blog post on How to Create Effective Headlines That Excite.

Keep in mind that while there are negative connotations to “click-bait,” as you don’t mislead your audience, there is nothing wrong with using a compelling title that asks questions and requires that audience to actually click on the video in order to actually find out the answer.

  • Video Length. The above YouTube SEO ranking factors study above found that longer videos tend to outperform shorter ones. The average video on YouTube was 14 minutes and 50 seconds.

However, there is a caveat to all of this. Simply put, you should not produce long content for the sake of producing longer content. Put another way, you need to achieve a delicate balance between longer content and content that holds people’s attention and doesn’t cause people to click away halfway through because they’ve dozed off.

  • Subscriptions.  If you’re not familiar with YouTube subscriptions, it means that someone has ‘subscribed’ to your YouTube channel. In other words, this means that your videos show up in their YouTube feed. So, instead of having to visit your specific YouTube channel, all of your videos appear in their subscription box.

What you need to know is that if someone subscribes to your channel after watching a video, it tells YouTube that your video must have been good.

So, how do you get more subscriptions? It’s as simple as asking your audience to subscribe and telling them how to do so by describing how to click on the red ‘Subscribe’ button underneath the video. You can also add arrows to your videos to demonstrate how to subscribe as well. Remember – subscribing is free.

4. Get Your Video to Rank On Google

This is a technique that comes straight from Brian Dean of Backlinko who knows exactly what he’s doing when it comes to SEO.

So, here’s the thing. You could theoretically end your keyword research/video optimization here. However, you can increase your views as much as 5X more if you also get the video to rank in Google.

Doing so means that you will get views from both YouTube and the front-page of Google.

Step 1: Choose Keywords with Video Results

To do this, you want to optimize your videos around keywords that already have video results in Google. The reason for this is because Google doesn’t actually include videos in the search results for all keywords.

In short, these tend to be:

  • How-to videos
  • Reviews
  • Tutorials
  • Fitness related
  • Funny videos

So, take your keywords from ‘Step 2 Keyword Research’ above and then enter them into Google.

From here, look to see if any of those keywords have videos. You will notice that ‘How to Cut Your Own Hair’ has a video in the search results, making it a potentially great candidate to target (however, there is one more final step to all of this).

So, what is the final step we’re talking about?

Step 2: Check the Search Volume of Your Keyword

You need to check the search volume of that keyword, just as you would for classic SEO keyword research. After all, it wouldn’t be very useful if that keyword was only getting a handful of searches per month, right?

As a general rule, you want to aim for a keyword that gets between 100 and 1000 searches per month in Google. For this, you guessed it, you need the ever-trusty Google Keyword Planner. (we will assume that most of you are familiar with how to conduct keyword research).

5. Leverage Your Current SEO Power

A last and final technique to rank higher on YouTube is to leverage your current SEO power.

If you already have a website that is optimized for search, you can leverage the SEO power on those pages/blogs to help your videos to rank higher on YouTube. What makes this strategy particularly powerful is the fact that it will also boost your Google ranking as well.

This strategy helped Andrew Dennis of Search Engine Land rank #1 on YouTube in 30 days.

So, this final strategy is a pretty powerful one.

But, what are we talking about?

Simply put, we’re talking about adding a video to the pages of your website that are already ranking in Google.

Here’s how to implement this strategy:

Step 1: Identify a Well-Ranking Page On Your Website (That Doesn’t Have a Video)

The first step is to choose a page from your website that is ranking fairly highly on Google. Aim for a page that is at the lower end of the first page of Google.

The reason behind this is that it has enough SEO power to get your video to rank but will also boost the SEO power of that page as well.

Step 2: Assess Whether the Content Translates to Video

Next, assess whether the content translates well to video. For example, could the content be turned into a video tutorial?

Step 3: Check the Popularity of the Topic

Lastly, check the popularity of that particular topic by checking the video counts of top-ranking videos on both YouTube and Google.

As far as YouTube views go, views can vary depending upon the particular niche. As a general rule, however, videos with over 100K view indicates that the topic is a popular one.

In some cases, however, you may find that there are no videos on Google for that particular topic.

Again, as mentioned above, Google doesn’t include a video for every keyword. That means that you should choose a different page to add a video to.

Step 4: Optimize the Video Using the Above Tips

The last step is to optimize your video for SEO just as described above. However, there is an additional step that you should also implement as well. Dennis found success with placing the video after the introduction, but still above the fold.

The placement helps to boost initial views from actual leads. This leads to a greater increase in subscriber numbers as well. As a result, these people tend to watch the videos for longer.

Wrapping It Up

Optimizing your videos for YouTube is critical if you want your videos to rank. So, if you want to be on the first page of the YouTube search results, you should:

  1. Do YouTube Keyword Research (choose low competition keywords if your subscriber count is low)
  2. Optimize Your Video
  3. Consider YouTube’s Other Ranking Factors
  4. Get Your Video Rank in Google
  5. Leverage Your Current SEO

Do you have any tips and tricks for ranking videos on YouTube? Let us know below – we’d love to hear from you.

We write a lot about video marketing and YouTube. You might also want to check out these blog posts:

You can also checkout Yocale’s own YouTube channel here.

And, scene! That’s a wrap.

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