You may find this hard to believe, but YouTube is the second biggest search engine right behind Google, and we all know that is saying something important. Every minute, there are more than 300 hours of videos being uploaded, so if you want to be competitive, you need to understand how to use YouTube’s SEO ranking factors to set yourself apart from all that competition.
Just like Google uses algorithms to rank websites, YouTube has its own set of algorithms to rank videos and channels. If you want to rank highly in YouTube’s SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for organic searches, you must understand the ten key SEO factors in how YouTube uses search engine optimised keywords when ranking videos.
YouTube SEO Ranking Factors
Your Channel’s Keywords
In the same way that you would use Search Engine Optimisation for your web pages, you must use SEO keywords for your channel. Remember, these are the terms that viewers will search when looking for videos, and you need to employ the right amount of competition so that the crawlers find and rank you highly for those terms.
Keywords in the Title
In the same way that Google ranks websites and landing pages by using keywords in headers and sub-headers, YouTube ranks videos by the effective use of keywords in the video’s title. Employ competitive keywords in your video’s title to rank highly with their crawler, as well as with other major crawlers like Google.
Keywords Contained in the Description
The description of your video is another place the crawlers will look for keywords. This is that short bit of content where you describe your video. If you underestimate the importance of writing a description, you will lose a huge factor in how your video is ranked.
While YouTube allows an amazing 5,000 characters in your description, you would do well to keep the important keywords (the same as used in your title) in the first 157 characters of your description. That is the maximum number displayed in the meta description on the SERPs.
While not as important as the keywords in your title or description, the tags you use are still beneficial to the crawlers seeking information on what your video is about. Try to use one or two-word tags which can quickly identify the topic of your video and help both viewers and crawlers to easily find your video.
Subtitles and Closed Captions
The 5th factor used by crawlers to rank your video is one that too many video producers fail to utilise. Not only will the crawlers find your subtitles and closed captions to better understand the content of your video (to rank it), but those written words are highly appreciated by viewers who like to read along while they’re watching.
Sometimes background noise interferes with the quality of what they are hearing, and those closed captions enable them to follow along without repeatedly hitting pause, scanning back and replaying from where they lost track.
Five Additional Ranking Factors
Above we discussed the strategic employment of SEO factors but there are other factors which YouTube uses to rank videos. These include:
- The video’s quality
- User Experience
- Bounce rate and watch time
- Total views
- Quality of thumbnails
Understanding these 10 factors can help gain your video the rank it needs to be found and enjoyed easily.