Ranking a YouTube Video – The Checklist

Ranking a YouTube Video

If you look to the right hand sidebar ( categories section ) you will see that we offer a handful of video tutorials that cover marketing/blogging topics.

These videos are housed on the awesome YouTube platform and constantly bring us a lot of traffic to this site.

I thought it was about time we looked at the ‘ins and outs’ of ranking a YouTube video so you to can draw in your own traffic from this platform.

How to Rank a YouTube Video

If you are looking at gaining more exposure for your website you really should think about adding YouTube to your arsenal. This awesome video platform is one of the most underutilized strategies when it comes to marketing a website.

YouTube is now owned by Google so the search bar they provide is pretty much as effective as Google’s own bar. Just as someone could type in ‘aquaponics fish’ in Google and find your site, they can do the same with your videos on YouTube.

Have you noticed the amount of YouTube videos that make their way onto the first page of Google’s results these days?

If you manage to create a half-decent video the possibilities are endless!!!!

YouTube Video SEO Marketing

I manage to get about 75% of my YouTube videos ranking well within their search engine – I’m pretty pleased about this!

After analyzing the ones that rank well and the ones that don’t, I’ve put together a simple checklist that I use for EVERY new video release…

1) Get YouTube Video Popular

Those lovely looking ‘thumbs up’ and social shares on each video play a big part in how Google looks at your effort. It’s in YouTube’s interest to showcase their most popular videos so these social indicators are VERY important.

Before we go any further I should mention one thing – don’t be to worried about the amount of dislikes ( thumbs down ) your video receives. For some reason these don’t really effect the overall ranking of your video – the thumbs up you recieve always seem to overpower them!

2) YouTube Video Retention

At the end of the day if people don’t want to sit through your video then YouTube/Google is going to sit up and take notice of this fact.

It makes perfect sense really – audience retention is EXTREMELY important when it comes to ranking a YouTube video.

YouTube Video Retention

For example, say there are two videos with the same title – ‘how to feed a baby’. One of these videos has at least 90% of it’s audience watching through until the end. The other video only has 10% of it’s audience watching through to the end.

Which video do you think will rank higher?

Statistics show that people have an attention span of about 3 minutes when it comes to watching a video.

This means that if your video goes over three minutes you need to try extra hard to keep your audience interested. The key is to keep the video moving and use lots of titles to break things up.

The video tutorials we offer here are not exactly the most dynamic videos ever made ( far from it actually! ). But we use a sort of video slideshow method that includes many different titles and bullet points.

Much like text on a page – you need to break your video’s information up a little bit and make it easy to watch/digest.

Keep track of your YouTube video’s retention rates by simply going to Analytics >>> Audience Retention.

3) Optimize a YouTube Video

A lot of people seem to go the wrong way when they try to optimize a YouTube video – things are not as simple as they used to be I’m afraid!

YouTube.com is harder to manipulate than it was years ago.

The trick here is to optimize your videos with awesome keywords but don’t overdo it. Keep them as relevant to your video subject as possible and try to add additional keywords instead of just the phrases you want to rank for.

Optimize a YouTube Video

I usually aim for a video description that hits the 300 word mark. In this description I will use the main keyword ( the title of the video ) about twice and surround it with a handful of other keyword variations.

I then use about 7 of these keywords ( including my main keyword ) in the tag section. I think it makes great sense not to overpopulate these tag sections – I imagine that’s an easy way to set Google’s alarm bells ringing!

Ranking a YouTube Video

These are the three main points I look at when trying to rank my YouTube videos. There are thousands of other articles out there that will attempt to convince you to include captions or transcripts with your videos but in my experience – they don’t help one bit! 

I just simply stick to the three point checklist I’ve provided above and the logic of YouTube/Google does the rest.

I will finish this article today by pointing out the importance of appearing natural within a video. Don’t try and memorize a script or you’ll sound like an amateur newscaster.

If you are able to talk off the top of your head, it comes across much more conversational and natural.

If you are looking for more information on ranking YouTube videos and optimization in general, we recommend trying out the FREE tutorials the Wealthy Affiliate offer. Check out our full review on their services by simply clicking the link below:


14 comments on “Ranking a YouTube Video – The Checklist

  1. this is very well done. I had no idea on a lot of this so it will be helping me greatly online. What would you say the best way to get a video popular and go viral. I have seen a lot of weird ones that are funny that are very popular. Any tips would be great


    1. Hi AJ,
      There are many elements that help a video go viral and it changes for every one! Going viral is pretty much a one-off most of the time. Some gamer videos seem to do really well ( Minecraft etc. ) whilst cat videos also go through the roof. I suppose it’s just a case of trial and error – if you think something could become popular just get it out there and see where it takes you 🙂

  2. This is very interesting that I find your article today on ranking a YouTube video. This check list sounds like a good idea as I should have had it yesterday when I put up my first Youtube video.

    To be fair I have got to tell you that I’ve had some experience in putting videos on this platform, how ever that has been at least 5 years ago. You had mentioned in your sub title “Optimize a Youtube Video” that things aren’t as easy as they use to be, man was you right!

    #2 on the check list is a big one I think. Retention should always be taken into consideration thats why I think that your most compelling content has to be early on in the video. I’ve seen stats as low as 60 seconds or less and the visitors gone.

    #3 Optimization of a video. Like I said its been 5 years for me so I did this video of the About Me page on my website. And the word count on that was 300 – 400. However I didn’t use 7 keywords rather about 4. But I’m just getting started.

    I have 2 questions for you, the first relates to # 3.
    In the description: should the first line be a link to your website?

    This is just a general question (kind of a 2 parter) since I’m learning about Youtube.
    My new channel has this funky address that includes #’s. Before I can change the URL Youtube’s rules state that I have to wait 30 days.
    Would you wait for that 30 days before you include your Google Analytics tracking code on Youtube account?
    And when these two things are done in 30 will Youtube then allow my website to be an Associated Website?

    Look forward to more Youtube info. here. As I learned a lot. And still learning.


    1. Hi there Markus,
      I would ALWAYS use the first line of my video description to slip in a link back to my website/offer. This line is always in view whilst the rest of the description is usually covered up ( you have to click it to get it to show! ).
      As far as changing the URL goes I really wouldn’t worry about it too much – it will do nothing to change your overall rankings! YouTube videos rank well on Google without the need for backlinking tactics or extreme SEO. They also rank well in YouTube itself if you concentrate your title/description on decent keywords.
      I’m unsure about adding Analytics code to YouTube as I’ve never really had to do it – everything was set up for me when I built my channel. Have you looked into your channel dashboard and checked out your visitor statistics? YouTube’s built in Analytics are all you need really – they give you every aspect of analysis.
      Feel free to drop us a line if you need more information/help 🙂

  3. I have never tried promoting via YouTube as I have yet to find a time to learn this,. However I do understand the importance of this video channel in driving traffics. I once conceptualized an inspiring video “Creativity Starts From A Belief” and more than 200,000 ppl around the world like this video and gave many great comments. I actually found 3 channels that redo the video graphic but kept the copy written by me. Back then, I do not understand the power of this video to monetize. After joining WA, I really learn. Thanks for sharing such useful methods to rank YouTube video.

  4. I have yet to get into creating videos, I really should do it. When I search on youtube for videos, I usually try to find ones that aren’t too long.

    The thing that bugs me most in videos and makes me click away is when people don’t get to the point! They just babble, I am watching because I want information, so get to it already!

    I like short and to the point videos, and videos that actually teach something.

    These are great points you have made, and when I start making videos, I will remember them and apply them.

    Thanks Chris!

    1. Hi Andrea,
      I see the most success through my videos that are about 2 – 3 minutes long at the moment – I see where you are going with the length of each one! I offer a few tips ( 5 to 10 ) and then get to the call to action at the end of the video ( which is usually a link to my website! )

  5. Hi there
    Thanks so much for this article, l never knew you could do so much with youtube, been using youtube for several years now, but I did not know people use it for purpose. l have always only listened to music in youtube and that’s it.
    Thanks to your tips I will try and make a Youtube video to try and get it popular.With your guidelines and tips explained so well, l don’t think I can go wrong.
    Glad i found your site.

  6. Your list for ranking a video on Youtube is precisely what I needed to know. Really, you make it look easy.

    I had no idea that Google knows how long someone is watching a video. That’s amazing, but also kind of reassuring too. That means we’re also competing on quality. I can handle that.

    Can you recommend a video editing program? Most seem so expensive. I’m hoping to find something affordable that is also easy to use.

    1. Hi GC,
      Well I use Sony Vegas these days but I used to use a free program called VideoPad – I believe it is still free these days! It is relatively easy to use and comes with a few decent effects thrown in. You can even download/upload straight to YouTube with it! Hope this helps 🙂

  7. I found this to be very helpful, as I am new to building websites and internet business. I have not yet explored adding videos to my sites. I am sure I will in the future. I love that this checklist is available for future reference. I am still just learning about internet business building so thank you for the great resource to refer to in the future.

  8. Chris,
    As usual you provide such excellent info on your site, this one having to do with YouTube videos.
    I personally tend to use posted YouTube vids already posted that are specific to whatever product within a content article that I am promoting. Not quite the same as what you’re promoting here but nevertheless it has driven sales into my business.
    I agree with the notion that many people with short attention spans can’t sit for 5 – 10 minutes watching or reading anything without their minds wandering. Yet business owners who come up with these elaborate 12 – 15+ minutes long vids and for what? People check out 2 – 3 minutes into the vid and often don’t come back.
    Proper relevant keywords to improve a vid ranking through SEO makes perfect sense. The same principle is thought important to content articles so why not Youtube videos as well?


    1. Well, hello once again Jeff – it’s great to have you back here!

      These long videos cost a small fortune to make most of the time and as you point out – people don’t really have the attention span to sit through most of them.

      In my experience the shorter ‘review’ or ‘product’ videos tend to work out a lot better in the long run.

      I was dubious when I first heard about SEO for YouTube videos but it certainly DOES work! This SEO also helps the webpage you embed the videos into (gives it a SEO boost!).

      So, if you manage to find a heavily optimized video that fits your content – get it in there!

      Great to have you back here mate – take care!

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