Determining Factors in YouTube Ranking

Things I Learned – Social Media Series

If you want people to see your YouTube videos, then you need to make sure you optimize them.  There are quite a few factors that go into a video’s YouTube ranking.  I will take you through what I have learned about what factors go into your video ranking higher in YouTube’s world.  

Keywords. This is essentially one of the most important factors in getting videos to rank higher.  A lot of experts suggest using a keyword search tool to help create the perfect keywords for your videos.  YouTube works by matching the user’s search term with the most relevant results.

Title of video. Make sure you include your keyword(s) in your title.  Also, make the title enticing as this really helps maximize click-through-rates.  Promise the viewers you are going to teach them something new or promise them something sought after.  For example, “Instagram Hacks for Hashtags – Always be at the TOP!”  If you look at the video titles above, you will see some of these different types of titles.

Tags. YouTube uses tags to help categorize your video.  Make sure you put your keywords in the Tags section as well.  You can use as many variations of your keywords and search terms as you want in the tags section as well.  For example, if we have the keywords “Instagram Hacks,” some of the tags you could use would be: Instagram, Hacks, Instagram Hacks, Life Hacks, Social Media Hacks, Social Media, Social Media Tips.  There are also websites out there that can help with keyword rank tracking and ones that can help you see what tags your competitors are using (this helps you to start ranking in the ‘Up Next’ section whenever someone watches their videos). 

Description. Super important!  YouTube scans the descriptions to determine the content of your video and to put it in front of the right people.  I’ve learned that it should be about 250 words with the keyword(s) included 3-4 times throughout the description.

Thumbnail. A viewer will only see two things before deciding whether or not to watch your video – the title and the thumbnail.  YouTube gives you a default thumbnail, but it’s just a still shot from somewhere in your video.  Make sure you upload a custom thumbnail, one that will entice or have someone intrigued enough to click and watch. 

Video Retention and Views.  Watch time is super important for YouTube SEO.  Keeping your viewers watching is key.  So for this, make sure your videos are entertaining, visually stimulating (maybe try some animation in there) and get to the point quickly!  Research has also shown that longer videos rank better than shorter ones – and by long I don’t mean movie length.  I’ve learned around 15 minutes is a good time length for a video.

Engagement: Likes/Dislikes, Comments, Subscriptions, Shares.  When someone engages with your video either by clicking thumbs up, leaves a comment, subscribes to a channel or shares the video, this tells YouTube that a viewer liked your video enough to actually engage.  This helps rank the videos higher when you have higher levels of engagement.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask for it!  If you’ve ever watched a YouTube video, most at the end say something like “If you liked this video, click the like button down below, and don’t forget to subscribe for more content…” Don’t be afraid to do the same.

Hopefully, this helps you get more involved with your YouTube videos and helps you understand the things that help with YouTube SEO.  You shouldn’t just make a video and slap it on your channel.  The more time you invest in doing these things for your videos, the better the chances are that your videos are seen by more eyes.

Tara A
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