In this article we are going to have a look at the various strategies and tactics that will help you rank your YouTube videos inside the YouTube video search engine.
YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world, according to Alexa.com. A lot of people are looking for information online in the form of videos and they will come to YouTube directly to search for “infomovies.”
Just like infographics, infomovies are articles in the form of a video. An infomovie can be defined as the audio visual representation of information (while an infographic is a visual representation of information). Infomovies usually include slides accompanied by text and images, and a voiceover too.
Right now there is not as much competition for video rankings in YouTube as there is for article rankings in Google’s index, but as more and more people convert their articles to infomovies, it will become harder to rank your videos in the first page of YouTube search results.
And that brings us to the purpose of this article: the process for optimizing your YouTube videos for search.
1. Use a suitable video filename
The name of your video file should reflect the topic of the video itself.
So, if you’re uploading an infomovie about dog training, your video’s file name should be something like “dog-training.avi.”
This sounds obvious, but many people upload video files with names such as “untitled.mov” or “MOV123.MP4.” Although this file name is not visible to the YouTube user, YouTube will give search preference to video files whose names include topic keywords.
2. Put your keywords first
Put your main keyword first in the video’s title, description, and tags. Your brand name or website’s name can be included at the end of the title, but put your topic keywords up front.
The title should, of course, be compelling and entice users to click on it. The rules of copywriting which you apply to blog titles and sales pages also apply to YouTube video titles. If you have an effective title, you will have a better clickthrough rate, and the YouTube search algorithm will take that into account in ranking your video.
Some videos that you upload will not get a lot of viewers in the beginning, but will gain traction and traffic in the long term—so there are long-tail possibilities with YouTube search!
3. Include keywords in your video voiceover
When you’re creating an infomovie, you’ll likely include a script from which the video’s voiceover was made.
This script is nothing but an article with small modifications to make is suitable as a voiceover for a video. And, just like a search-optmized text article, your video script should include the main keywords for your topic.
Google has developed speech-to-text conversion technology which will try to convert your infomovie’s voiceover into captions—you can see the captioning in the video above by clicking the “CC” button at the video’s bottom-right corner.
“CC” Stands for closed captions. Although YouTube cannot always transcribe your voiceover accurately, the technology is good enough to get an idea of the keywords you’ve used in the voiceover. And Google is improving it every day.
This technology was originally developed for the free-411 service—a technology whereby users can call 800-GOOG-411 to get free, automated directory assistance. But Google has further developed this system to understand what videos mean and to improve video search technology, as Google’s Marissa Mayer explained back in 2007:
Google—through YouTube, which it owns—is constantly trying to deliver the most relevant results for customers and users. This is particularly useful for those of us who create infomovies packed with content.
If we include keywords in our voiceover scripts, Google’s voice-to-tect technology will pick them up and use them, along with the other factors mentioned here, to rank your video in the youTube search results.
4. Upload a transcript file for video captioning
YouTube also gives us the option to upload transcript files for our videos. It has been confirmed through experiments that YouTube indexes the captions file of a YouTube video, and uses this information to help determine the video’s keyword relevancy.
In the experiment, a unique text string was included in the captions file. After a day a search for that string in Google returned that video. It couldn’t have been possible unless Google indexed the text in the captions file that was uploaded.
Uploading your own caption transcript is a better option than letting YouTube transcribe the audio itself, as you get total control over what appears in your video captions.
The original caption uploading feature required us to include the timing for each sentence or line in the video. This was a tedious process. It would take hours to create a captions or subtitle file if you included the start and stop timing for every single line.
But recently YouTube has refined its speech-to-text technology so that if you simply upload the transcript file without timings, it will automatically set the timings. This feature is still in beta testing, but I have never seen it make a mistake.
To upload a transcript file, click on Edit for the video in your YouTube video manager. Click on the Captions tab. Under the Add New Captions or Transcript header, select Transcript File as the Type, and upload your script file—the article from which we created the audio file for the infomovie.
Within a minute, YouTube will do its magic. You can see it work by watching your video. Click the CC button on the video and YouTube will display the words in exact sync with the audio. And your keyword-rich transcript file will be used by the YouTube search engine to rank your video appropriately in user searches for those terms.
5. Build an authoritative YouTube channel
If you are uploading your video to a brand new channel, your videos may not have a good ranking to start with. However if you have an established channel with lots of videos and subscribers, your videos will rank more highly in the search results as competition grows.
So try to create a channel for each niche you’re serving through YouTube.
6. Upload videos regularly
If you upload a bunch of videos to a channel and never touch it for years, then those videos may not have as much SEO power as the videos in the channel which are updated regularly.
This is just like blogging—if a blog is not updated for a long time then it will lose its rankings in Google. Freshness is seen to indicate relevance, at least to some degree. So keep your channel fresh with recently uploaded videos.
7. Respond to comments on your videos
YouTube tells us to “Respond to comments in the first few hours after you publish a video. These first viewers are your core audience and building comments early helps increase the video’s ranking in search.”
8. Create and use playlists
YouTube has a feature called Playlists that allows users to group videos spread across YouTube into a single list or collection. If your video is added to a Playlist, it can increase the SEO power of your video. We can see Playlists as social signals about videos that are popular or valuable to YouTube users, and well all know that Google’s working hard to integrate social signals into its search algorithms.
9. Encourage other social signals
In a similar vein, your video’s search rank will benefit the more comments, favorites, likes, and video responses it receives. To attract these social signals, you’ll need to create a high-quality video and ask people to take those actions on it.
However, be careful not to incentivize users to like or comment on your video. For example, if you offer to give away a random prize for the commenters on your video, your channel may be terminated. YouTube does not like playing games with their algorithm and this kind of activity is against their terms and conditions.
10. Encourage off-site backlinks to your videos
Just like any web page, backlinks from other sites will help your videos to rank better in YouTube search.
Submit your video URL to social bookmarking sites, blog about it, and share it on your Twitter and Facebook profiles. The more backlinks you can get for your videos, the better.
Are you optimizing your videos for search?
With these ten tips, you’ll be on your way to much better YouTube search rankings for your videos. Have you created an infomovie yet? And are you using any of these techniques on your videos? Let us know how your videos are ranking in the comments.