Sunday, October 21, 2012

YouTube's Individual Video Ranking Algorithm Exposed

A large portion of my Search Marketing knowledge is credited to YouTube, especially Matt Cutts' whiteboard sessions. It has been an easy way to learn about many Search Marketing topics direct from the experts in the industry. YouTube is also a great opportunity for you to educate your customers on your products and services.

Many people are surprised to learn that YouTube is the second-largest search engine. YouTube gets more search volume than Bing. Plus, YouTube is still a place people go to learn about different topics. With universal search Google includes much of the YouTube video content in search results. So how do you get to the top of your respective topic on YouTube?

1) YouTube's Individual Video Ranking Algorithm exposed
The Holy Grail of search marketers is the algorithm. Figuring out or learning more about the alogorithm than your competitors  is the key to top rankings in organic search results. We have found these 32 variables have the biggest influence on YouTube individual video rankings. The variables are ranked on a Factor of 100, 100 being the highest or the highest correlated variable to achieving top YouTube rankings.

2) Channel Creation
Creating a channel is the first step to promoting your videos but this step shouldn't be taken lightly. The YouTube Channel is your homepage and channels get top placement in YouTube search results. Make sure you use a theme not only relevant to all of your videos but a theme that you want to rank on. Only focus on one channel, rather than creating multiple channels for different themes. Total video channel views allows a channel more relevant for increased search results.

3) Buy an Established YouTube Channel
When uploading a new video to a brand new channel, the videos will need some history on the channel before capturing top rankings. However, buying an established channel with its established history and fan base (subscribers) is a quick tactic to increase visibility. Remember that a new video must have at least three months of history before it can attain top rankings in YouTube search results. Note that if you are a YouTube sponsored channel, the guidelines say you can't sell your channel.

4) Playlist Creation
Creating a playlist of multiple videos on the same topic can be a good way to present your videos to your viewers. Always make sure your video is located in the first position to increase engagement and views of your videos. Ending playlists with video content that provides information about your products and services will provide an opportunity to talk to potential customers early on in the buying cycle.

5) Video Replies
Another way to signal YouTube about the theme of your content is to post a “video reply” to other related videos. Like a blog comment, a video reply offers a response to the primary video. Unlike a blog comment, the video reply contains a full version of your video for the viewer to watch. Video replies give YouTube context as to what your video is about, and helps to get increased traffic. To do this, search YouTube for the exact keyword you want to rank on. Click on each video that comes up and post your new video as a “video reply” to the most relevant videos. Click on "ad comment" and choose "Create a video response."

6) SEO Keyword Optimization
Titles & Descriptions - Like traditional SEO, the Title of the video is a major element that influences search rankings on YouTube. Unlike traditional SEO, the Description "does" hold some influence on search rankings so optimize your video description with the keywords you want to rank on.
Video Naming - File names are an often overlooked task. In my experience I’ve seen a lot of big brands upload videos with some variation of the following naming convention: “video1”. Generic naming conventions provide little indication about the content and in fact, can actually be more of a deterrent to achieving higher rankings. Google’s algorithm is like Hansel and Gretel, the more breadcrumbs/clues about the nature of your content, the more confidence Google will have in showing your content. Increasing the keyword density of the naming convention
Video Tags - Like social bookmarking and blogging, video tags are important and influence the search rankings on YouTube. Choose the 10 most relevant tags for each video to help it rank in search on YouTube. Never repeat the same tag twice on the same video.

7) Content Crawling
Two ways to get Google to index content from your video is a) by using Closed Caption settings and b) including the video's script in the description (Source:DailyBlogtips). YouTube gives you the option to upload transcript files for your video when choosing Closed Captions. With the Closed Caption setting, the video will offer captions for people watching the video around the world. The best part is Google will index the content in the captions and use it to rank your videos in Google organic search results.

8) Link Building/External Embeds
You can see how many links and embeds a video has accumulated using YouTube Analytics, YouTube's internal analytics tool. To access your channel's YouTube Analytics, log into your account, click on your username tab in the top right corner, click 'Video manager,' and then select 'Analytics.' Then take a look at the video's 'Playback Locations.'

According to Mashable, "Next, start building links back to your video. The more websites that link back to your video on YouTube, the more relevant that video will appear in searches. The best way to do this is simply to find out who is linking back to the most popular videos in your category, searching for that URL in Google to see where it appears, and then reaching out to these sites to ask them to link to your videos."

9) Keep the Channel Fresh
Like a blog, channel subscribers like to see new videos on a regular interval. By updating the channel with videos you will also keep your channel fresh. Freshness is important for rankings in YouTube. If you upload a bunch of videos to a channel and never touch it for years, then those videos may not have as much value as the videos in the channel which are updated regularly.

For more tips and best practices for increasing your audience on YouTube download the YouTube Playbook.