YouTube is arguably the second largest search engine on the Web. It is the third most visited site on the Web, according to Alexa and SimilarWeb. Recent information released by Google has shown that more and more users are using YouTube as a search engine. Searches related to “how to” on YouTube are growing 70% year over year. It is also no secret that video content is more engaging than a page of text and can be much more informative. YouTube’s popularity and reach are also expanded by its inclusion in both Google Web and Video search.
Google weeded out the video competition in Web search by predominantly displaying only video-rich snippets for YouTube videos back in 2014. Here is a graph outlining the percentage share of video-rich snippets in Google.
Google also made a surprising update to Google Trends recently by including YouTube trending topics in the tool. This shows that YouTube search traffic is significant enough that Google needed to incorporate it to paint a better picture of trending topics and stories across the Web.
So it is very important to have a presence on YouTube to expand your marketing reach, build your brand and drive traffic back to your website. Not only can you rank in YouTube search, but also in Google’s Web and video search.
The YouTube search result page is very similar to Google’s SERP’s, with paid ads at the top and organic results below.
Videos can also be ranked in the related video sections of specific video pages.
Before creating a YouTube channel or videos, you must have a strategy! This strategy is, of course, heavily based upon a solid video content calendar that aligns with company goals. Once your strategy has been developed, you can launch a new channel or optimize an existing channel. Here are the steps you need to take to optimize your YouTube channel.
1. Channel Name, Branding & Vanity URL
It goes without saying that your YouTube channel should be well branded. Your channel name, icon, banner (aka “Art”) and vanity URL should reflect your brand. The channel icon and banner images should be high quality to avoid pixelation.
Example of a vanity URL: https://www.youtube.com/user/EliteSEMInc
YouTube recently changed its policy for claiming a vanity URL for your channel. You must now meet the following qualifications to claim a vanity URL:
A channel without a vanity URL will receive an unoptimized URL that is not user-friendly or memorable, so it’s very important to work toward getting a vanity URL. I recently created a YouTube channel for Elite SEM’s CEO Ben Kirshner. His channel does not yet qualify for the vanity URL, and here is what it looks like:
(See Google’s YouTube Help documentation for more details on vanity URL qualifications.)
2. Channel Keywords & Targeted Country
Placing the appropriate keywords in the channel keywords element can help your channel rank higher in YouTube search. Be sure to select keywords that are related to your business and that have search volume. Leverage the Google AdWords keyword planner tool for search volume data. Be sure to select the targeted country you want to rank in.
3. Associated Website
Leverage the associated website feature in your channel settings. Linking your website will help establish your brand authority in the YouTube search results.
4. Channel Description & Links
A big opportunity to improve the rankability of your channel is to place branded and keyword-targeted content in the description section of your YouTube channel. The more content the better. Be sure to also include links to your website and social profiles to help users easily navigate to your website.
5. Channel Homepage
For your YouTube channel homepage you should utilize the featured video feature. This will allow you to highlight a specific video that will automatically play when someone visits the channel homepage. This will help boost engagement and can help you highlight specific information about your business. You should also highlight video playlists on the homepage to help users discover the different video content that you have uploaded. The more video playlists the better.
6. Links To Your Channel
Place links to your YouTube channel on your website and in your social profiles and emails. This will help increase channel exposure, visits and authority.
Video ranking factors are pretty straightforward. You can go about boosting rank in much the same way you would optimize a Web page. Here is breakdown of the rank factors:
Here is an example of one of Elite SEM’s video link and social share metrics. As you can see, the video has a page authority of 49/100, which is pretty good.
Annotations allow you to highlight text in a video. This text can be additional video notes, calls to action and links to other related videos. You can use this feature to ask users to like and share your video. YouTube recently expanded annotations by adding the Cards feature.
At the end of the day, it is very important to have quality video content that adds value, solves a problem, engages and meets user needs. Great content will naturally get shared and get links, which will help increase rankings. Spend time working on your video content calendar, and employ the above optimizations to have a successful YouTube presence.
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