A Quick Guide to Better YouTube Video Search Rankings From adding keywords and transcriptions to encouraging viewer interaction, what you need to know about optimizing your videos.
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Editor's note: Google isn't the only way for your business to be discovered online. This is the second in a five-part series looking at alternate sources for search.
Getting high rankings for your videos in YouTube's internal search results system could produce significant benefits for your business. It can lead to greater brand recognition, new website visitors and, eventually, higher sales. Additionally, videos that perform well on YouTube often make it into Google's natural search results pages, which are blended to show both text-based and video results.
Many video posters believe their YouTube ranking is generated randomly, but there are actually a number of steps you can take to increase the likelihood that your videos will do well in YouTube's internal search algorithms. Specifically, you'll want to address all of the following ranking factors as you upload new content to the site:
-- Optimize all possible fields when adding videos. As you upload new videos to YouTube, you'll see that the video-sharing giant gives you a number of opportunities to add relevant data to your company's content files. Pay particular attention to the following actions that could increase your video's ranking in YouTube's search results:
• Add your target search engine optimization (SEO) keywords to your video title and video file name (for example, "my-target-keyword.wmv").
• Fill out your description section with informative content that includes your target keywords in a natural way.
• Add your target keywords to your video tags, along with some of the tag phrases used on the videos you'd like to beat in the YouTube results.
In all of these sections, be wary of going overboard with your keyword usage. Add keywords where appropriate, but don't stuff them into each field over and over again for the sole purpose of improving your video's rankings.
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-- Add word-for-word transcriptions to your video files. Business owners may not realize that YouTube automatically transcribes uploaded videos to provide captions for visually impaired viewers. These transcriptions are then indexed by Google, which gives both search engines the ability to understand the content of the video and where it should fall in each one's search results.
Unfortunately, YouTube's transcriptions are notoriously riddled with mistakes. So, either transcribe your own video files or hire a transcription service such as SpeechPad (which charges $1 per minute of audio or video content) to create the files for you. Your transcription file can then be uploaded to the "Caption" section of your video pages, providing both YouTube and Google with more accurate information for indexing and ranking your videos.
Related: Want Your Video to Go Viral? SEO Basics Come First
-- Get more video views. YouTube's ranking algorithms don't just consider keyword relevance when determining video rankings. They also take user behavior into account, meaning that both the number of views your videos receive and the average length of time people engage with them play a role in your ranking.
It's up to you to try to boost both of these metrics. To increase the number of views, you can promote your videos on social networks and embed them in pages on your website. In addition, you can check your YouTube Analytics account to see how much viewers are engaging with your videos. If you find viewers aren't interested enough to make it through some of your videos, use your existing data to find out which videos are performing well with your audience and mimic these topics and video styles to engage future video viewers from the start.
-- Encourage viewer interaction with your videos. One final step to improve your position in the YouTube search results is to encourage viewers to interact with your videos. All of the following engagement metrics play a role in how well your video fares in YouTube's internal search algorithms:
• Video "thumbs up" votes, versus "thumbs down" votes
• Video comments
• Number of viewers who subscribe to your channel
• Social shares
• Video responses
One way you can encourage viewers to interact and help boost your ranking in the YouTube search results is to include a call-to-action request at the end of your video -- either as a spoken or captioned message. You can also use some of the space in your video's description field to ask viewers to interact with your video.
Related: 3 Steps to Generating Buzz with a YouTube Contest