8 Ways to Rank Higher on YouTube
YouTube is an extremely valuable asset for small businesses that can easily be overlooked. More than 30 million people visit YouTube per day and they’re not watching just one video or one brief clip. More than 6 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube each month. This search engine, the second largest to be exact, is the primary place to upload your videos given its simplicity and widespread reach. As a small business, it’s a great way to get your business out there in front of a new audience by creating How To videos, information videos, video contests, etc.
Unfortunately, getting involved can seem overwhelming. One hundred hours of video are uploaded each minute, so viewers have to wade through all of that content to get to your stuff. This is where ranking comes into play.
8 Tricks to Ranking Higher on YouTube
Below are some different tips to keep in mind that will help your video rank higher on YouTube:
1. Choose a niche.
If you’re trying to reach the masses, a generic video subject could work just fine. But if you do that, you’re also going to be going up against a whole lot more competition, meaning it would be just that much more challenging to rank higher on YouTube or search engines.
But narrowing your focus and choosing a niche can mean you reach your target audience quicker and more effectively, in large part because you’re also narrowing the pool of competition. If you have multiple aspects to a certain topic, you can always make more videos or web pages to send people to. Don’t try to cram everything into one video; that will only generalize your overall topic, keywords and title.
Just as in anything else when it comes to ranks, keywords are an integral part of the process. If you want to reach your audience, find keywords in your niche that people may be searching for. Do some research and determine which words are the best triggers for your target audience and craft your video title around that. For example, if you’re doing a tutorial video, you can always start with “How to…” which lets people know immediately that it’s a teaching video and then follow with your description of how to do something related to your industry.
It’s also a good idea to put your keyword at the beginning of your video title. If your video is on helping companies boost SEO, for example, you can title the video something like “SEO tips and tricks: Helping your company thrive.”
3. Meta tags.
Once you’ve chosen your niche, you want to find the best words that reach your target audience. Meta tags are a great place to start, using keywords that are relevant to the content of your video. The more relevant tags you get, the better chance of reaching your audience.
Before you upload your video, do a quick search of similar topics that reach your target audience. Check out the top-ranked videos and copy some of their keywords (if applicable). If their video is ranked high, their keywords are obviously working, so you can jump on the bandwagon and follow in their wake.
4. Description matters.
If you take the time to shoot, edit and upload a video and fill out all the other areas, you might as well come up with an effective description. So often people get lazy with their description thinking it doesn’t matter. However, when a person searches a video, the description shows up, right up there with the title of the video. Your descriptions should be relevant, use keywords and be geared toward your target audience. Also keep in mind that search engine bots cannot view your video, so the description is one of the few factors they have to use when it comes time to determine what exactly your video covers.
Also, be sure to include a URL back to your website in the description in case people want to navigate to your website.
This is one of the most often overlooked aspects of trying to rank videos higher. YouTube’s playlist feature allows viewers to include videos they like or find useful into their own playlist. This would help give your video a boost in rankings in much the same way link building works for articles or web pages. The more playlists your video is included in, the more popular it would appear to search engines and YouTube. There’s not much more you can do to boost this area besides encouraging viewers to add your video to their playlists, but that can go a long way.
6. Build a following.
That’s easier said than done, and it’s also pretty obvious. But the more established your channel is and the more followers you have on your YouTube channel, the higher your videos will rank. That’s hard to do, especially for newer companies or channels, but commit to the long-term focus. Uploading quality content and uploading videos regularly will help boost your channel.
You can also utilize the comments section to your advantage. The first people to comment on a video may be your core audience, and you can help build loyalty by responding immediately. Plus, responding to comments yourself increases the total number of comments on a video, helping give off the appearance of popularity, which will give your video a boost in the rankings. It also lets your audience know you are truly reading what they say and care about how they feel. Don’t simply go on and comment a bunch of times on your own video, unprompted, obviously, because that will only make your company come off as disingenuous. But responding to valid comments in a timely fashion is an easy tool you have at your disposal to help increase your video’s popularity.
You can also ask people to subscribe to your YouTube channel, ensuring more eyes looking at your content when you upload. You can use annotations in your video to ask people to subscribe to your channel, or use social media to spread the word.
7. Work to increase your viewership.
This may be the most obvious way to increase your ranking, as more views equals more popularity for your video, which in turn leads to a better ranking. But so often, companies don’t take the steps to increase their own YouTube video views. Once you upload content, blast it out via your social media channels and embed on web pages. Consider a separate page just for wrapping text around one particular video. Give people other avenues to view your content on more than just a YouTube page. Including your YouTube video on multiple pages on your own website is a big help, but also consider utilizing the video in blogs or press releases.
Remember, analytics are your friend. You can monitor the analytics on your YouTube videos and try to ascertain what works best and what content draws the most eyes. If a piece of content you upload picks up steam and you’re not sure why, use analytics to help figure out where the views are coming from and conduct some research to see what topics are the most popular. That knowledge will come in handy in the future as you create more content.
Don’t underestimate the importance of time watched, as well. No matter what the topic, the higher quality the video is, the longer people will be watching it and the better off your video will be in all rankings.
8. Encourage social signals.
The more places your video is embedded, the higher it ranks. Again, this works much like link building. So while you can take steps to embed the video on multiple web pages you control, your content will also get a boost if other people are embedding your video on their own sites and blogs. Ask your followers and audience to share the video.
The more your video is Tweeted or shared on Facebook or other social media, the more social signals it sends out, boosting the video’s popularity, which in turn leads to a higher ranking. Encourage viewers to share the video.
In your experience with YouTube, what tricks have you found to increase the rank of videos? Let us know and share your story in the comments section below.
Creative commons image: Scott Beale / Flickr