Optimize YouTube Videos With SEO – What Works?

Optimize YouTube Videos With SEO - What Works?

At the time of writing this, I have six YouTube channels that are linked to websites I own. Out of these six channels – five are used for direct marketing.

You could say I’ve been around the block MANY times, when it comes to ranking YouTube videos!

I thought it was about time we covered effective ways in which you can optimize YouTube videos with SEO.

I’ve written similar articles in the past…but it’s time to update them with what I’ve found out so far in 2017 (i.e. what WORKS now!).

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Get YouTube Comments (Ranking Gold Dust!)

It’s a rumour that’s been floating around for many years now – but it’s a rumour you really SHOULD be listening to!

Most savvy video marketers are now 100% positive that comments have a very strong correlation with how videos rank…and I’m one of them!

Get YouTube Comments

YouTube themselves have always been upfront about this fact without really spelling it out – they insist that videos that maximize engagement will rank well…and comments are a perfect form of engagement…right?


Size Matters!

Regardless of what your girlfriend tells you LOL 🙂

No seriously, the average length of a video ranking on the first page of YouTube is 14 minutes, 50 seconds. Even YouTube have gone out of their way to share this video SEO factor…

“We focus on those videos that increase the amount of time that the viewer will spend watching videos on YouTube”

Long story short – once people arrive on YouTube they want them to stay…as long as possible!

Think about the advert coverage YouTube throw at you when you use it – the longer you’re there – the more adverts they can show you (and the more money YouTube makes!).

You should always aim to get your videos WELL OVER the 3 minute mark – anything under this will not reach the first page of results in 2017 (onward).


The Power of Social Signals

Google (who owns YouTube) is never really going to come out and admit that social signals are important for SEO…but it’s getting harder and harder to see how they are not!

The same goes for videos really – even though YouTube’s algorithm works independently of Google, there’s still that link there.

Social Signals on YouTube

I’ve even heard whispers that YouTube has a system in place that shuts down anyone trying to game the social sharing system – you can’t just hire someone from Fiverr to share your video 50 times…because YouTube will take note of who is sharing your video!

Long story short – social shares matter (BIG TIME!).


YouTube Video Views

Man this used to be so easy to game…and probably still is if you use your head (but I’m not promoting shady tactics here!).

Google, YouTube, whoever is in charge, was also fully aware of how simple it was to game video views…so they changed their algorithm slightly to concentrate on video view retention.

This means that a large number of video views coupled with a high retention time was a good indicator of the quality level of that video.

But what about views on their own? Do they still work?

Well according to the video marketing elite – they certainly do!

On top of that, I recently came across an interview with a YouTube engineer who stated that, while views aren’t as important as they once were, YouTube still relies on them for determining rank.


Subscribers Are Important But…

This was a bit of a shocker for me really – I always thought that subscriber count was one of the key elements for ranking videos on YouTube…but apparently that’s changed slightly!

I suppose it makes sense really – YouTube is looking after the newbies and this should be commended.

Google will always give preference to the big brands when it comes to it’s rankings…but YouTube is travelling a slightly different path.

YouTube Subscribers

At the end of the day YouTube is a pretty creative platform. Stop and think for a second – how many awesome videos from newcomers would YouTube miss out on if they kept on showcasing the big players?

This is a pretty intelligent, and welcome way of thinking really – even the budding indie filmmakers can get onto the first page of YouTube’s results…with their very first video attempt!

I’m not saying that channels with millions of subscribers don’t have a certain edge – of course they do!

What I am saying is that YouTube have levelled the playing field a bit…and now we can ALL compete! 🙂


Thumbs UP…Or Thumbs DOWN?

As I touched on earlier on in this article – YouTube is looking for videos that engage their audience.

Now ‘likes’ (or ‘thumbs ups’ as I like to call them!) are open to the whole YouTube community – they are a simple yet effective way of displaying a powerful engagement signal.

They are a no-nonsense way of judging the community’s feelings on your video – sometimes they can be harsh…but that’s the way the cookie crumbles I’m afraid!

There is a definite correlation between ‘likes’ and video rankings – I’ve read through several top SEO reports over the last month and they have all come to the same conclusion.

The more ‘likes’ you have the higher your video will rank – period.


Tags & Keywords

Ahhh the good old tag argument – still going on I see!

Well please don’t spend too much time on keyword-rich tags for your videos…they really don’t make much difference to your ranking.

Tags & Keywords for YouTube

Tags are much better used for linking your video to more popular videos already on YouTube.

For instance…

You release a little song and create a video for it – you think your music sounds a bit like Pink Floyd (I’m picking bands out of the air here!).

When you upload this music video to YouTube you can include ‘Pink Floyd’ as a tag, in the hope that your video will turn up in the ‘suggested videos’ timeline linked to Pink Floyd’s videos.

Do you see how this works?

This tag can even throw your video in the autoplay mix that occurs when every Pink Floyd video finishes…

It’s only a little tag…but it can take your video a LONG, LONG way!


High Definition Baby!

There’s no getting away from the fact that high definition videos completely outperform more standard versions of video…and that ain’t gonna change any time soon!

High definition videos appear significantly more often than standard definition videos on YouTube’s first page.

Why is this?

Well it’s really hard to pinpoint a reason…other than YouTube having a huge preference for better quality video (and who would blame them?).

So ramp up your film-making equipment guys – picture quality is the new player when it comes to ranking your videos on YouTube’s platform.


Let’s Optimize YouTube Videos With SEO

So what are your thoughts on the modern YouTube ranking factors we have covered here in this article?

Were you surprised by some of them or were you slightly disappointed by some of them?

Please leave your thoughts and opinions on the subject in the comment section below.

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