Insider’s Guide to Ranking Videos on YouTube

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Video marketing is one of the best ways to build your brand online and attract new customers. Not only is YouTube one of the world’ most-trafficked websites, it is also the second-largest search engine behind Google. The fact that YouTube is now owned by Google makes it an invaluable tool to market your business online. The key to using YouTube is to get your videos to rank high both on Google’s list of search results and within YouTube.

Basic SEO for YouTube

When you upload a video to YouTube, you have many opportunities to optimize it for search. Let’s go through the basics first, and then later I’ll share some real ninja moves with you – things you can do to ensure that your video jumps to the top of the rankings for your chosen keywords.

  1. Begin by doing basic keyword research using Google Adwords or another online tool such as SEMRush. As a local business owner, the best keywords to use are those that incorporate your location. For example, a landscaping company in Quincy, Massachusetts might decide to use “Quincy MA landscaper” as their primary keyword. If your business is located in a large metropolitan area such as San Diego, it may be difficult to rank for the general location. However, you can use a specific neighborhood instead, such as “Point Loma landscaper”. Researching keywords will let you know how much competition you are facing so you can choose wisely.
  2. Use your keywords to name your YouTube channel. The name of your channel is going to help people find you and you want it to be descriptive of the content you are offering. You may want to combine the name of your company with your location to create the name of your channel.
  3. Write a detailed “About” section for your video and make sure that it is clear what people can expect to find. It is best if the entire channel covers a single topic, because sometimes you can get your channel to rank for your keywords too.
  4. Use keywords in the name of your video. For example, if you did a video about landscaping during a drought, you might want to call your video, “How to protect your lawn during a drought.” That’s a specific title that will help you rank for a keyword and also help people find your content.
  5. Write a thorough description for your video, and make sure to include your company name, address, telephone number, and a link to your website. The description should be at least 200 words long and include all of your top keywords. If you choose to, you may also include a call to action in the description of your video.
  6. YouTube also gives you the opportunity to use tags on your video, and they represent another opportunity to use your target keywords. Using the landscaping video as an example, you might use keywords like Point Loma landscaping, lawn maintenance, drought landscaping, lawn care, and so on.
  7. Post links to your video on your website and social media accounts, and use your keywords there, too. Wherever possible, embed your video since embedding does more for your SEO than simply linking to the video.
  8. Consider the length of your video. There are two schools of thought regarding video length. Some experts suggest that a short video (two minutes or shorter) is more likely to be watched all the way through than a long one. However, a long video that holds viewers’ attention can be extremely effective, especially if you are offering valuable and useful content.


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    All of the above items are necessary if you want your video to rank on YouTube and Google. You can probably do very well if you do these things – but if you really want to take your SEO to the next level, keep reading.

    Ninja SEO for YouTube

    Now let’s talk about some of the things you can do that are above and beyond rudimentary SEO. These are the tricks that real marketing ninjas use to get their videos to leapfrog over the competition and jump to the top.

    1. Get tag ideas from the competition. Before you post your video, search some of your keywords on YouTube and pick the highest ranking videos to do tag research. To see the tags, you will have to take a look at the code on the page. Simply right click anywhere on the page, click “View page source” and then do a search for the meta tags. If you see that the most popular videos are all using the same tags, you should use them for your video too. This is a great way to get ideas for tags and to ensure that your video can compete with the authorities in your industry.
    2. Create playlists within your channel. As you make videos that relate to one another, group them together into playlists. The benefit of doing this is that other videos on your playlist will show up on YouTube’s sidebar of selected videos as the chosen video is playing. Since video views make a difference in your rank on YouTube, it’s a good idea to do whatever you can to get people to watch multiple videos once they are on your channel.
    3. Create a written transcript of your video and put it on your page. You can get YouTube to do a transcript for you, but their transcripts are notoriously inaccurate – poorly spelled and often difficult to comprehend. If you do decide to have them do a transcript for you, make sure you do a complete spell check and edit to correct any errors.
    4. If you decide to post a long video, consider including a table of contents to help viewers navigate in case they want to search for a particular topic. Not only does having a table of contents improve the viewer experience, but it also gives you another opportunity to use your keywords.
    5. Do a live event using Google Hangouts. Live videos are increasingly popular thanks to sites like Livestream and Facebook’s live video options. If you don’t want to use Google Hangouts you can use a website like Wirecast to stream video from your computer.
    6. Add a clickable call to action to your video. YouTube allows users to put a link to a website or just include text with your phone number or email address. You should have a call to action in the description of your video, but you want to make it as easy as possible for people to contact you. Including the call to action in your video makes it simple for them to do so.

    Getting your video to rank on YouTube isn’t difficult, but it does require some meticulous attention to details – and a few ninja secrets. If you follow these steps, you can be sure that your video will jump to the top and get you a great return on your investment.

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