First, I would like you to watch this video:
It’s gotten 8 million views and hits on a lot of points, some of which are accurate and some of which are not. The creator is a well-known Youtuber with millions of subscribers. It is a good explanation of current Youtube SEO.
Now why is Youtube SEO important? You might be thinking: “I thought Youtube was just a video viewing platform and not a search platform.” Actually, there’s over 4 billion views on Youtube per day and up to 60% of views come from search. That’s 20x the audience of the Superbowl. And yes, anyone can pay for ads to this audience at a price per viewer that’s probably much cheaper than what you would have to pay for a 30 second commercial at the Superbowl.
So now we have established that it is a search engine. Because of this, you have to understand that Youtube needs an algorithm, just like Google, to properly rank and index videos for search and related videos. A tremendous amount of that traffic comes from related videos so that is also very important.
Now if you watched the video above, the biggest points you realize is that:
- Youtube uses watch time to rank videos
- Youtube used to use views but it was too easily gamed with fake thumbnails
- Like Google and search SEO, these systems can be gamed but these algorithms are getting smarter every year and will continue to do so. The better long game to play is to produce amazing content rather than play around with gaming the system using black hat strategies.
- There are still things you can do to improve your chances of being ranked better when you believe in the value of your content
- The video claims the location you upload videos is important and is one of the reasons the biggest Youtuber in the world (Pewdiepie, who’s almost at 40 million subscribers and still growing) had his success
I would agree with all of these points but the last one. Pewdiepie made a video and said this is not true himself. He casually mentioned it in the middle of his video but he said that this is not true. The video states that Youtube promotes your video in the local region and country you are in first and only in other countries if it gains real traction. It says that Pewdiepie gained an audience because he uploaded in Sweden initially, which had low competition, and then, since he moved to Italy, he gained more traction. Then, because he spoke English, American and UK viewers picked him up. I’m sure there is some truth to the global reach of the English language but the rest is not true. Pewdiepie says that the Swedish Youtube homepage was and still is completely dominated by sports videos only.
Here is my advice for improving your Youtube rankings based off the current algorithm:
1. Search is very important.
Therefore, you need to optimize tags, description, and titles for search. Do not spam your description with tons of the same keywords as search algorithms are getting smarter. Youtube can read at a 6th grade level and will know if you are just writing incoherent sentences that don’t make sense.
2. The first 72 hours and first 7 days of a Youtube’s upload are crucial for Youtube’s analysis of ranking.
Promote and share as much as you can.
3. Custom thumbnails are a must.
They help you draw clicks in Related Videos and in Subscription feed. Youtube’s recent update has made Thumbnails even bigger in Subscription feeds, especially on mobile devices. You are playing at a disadvantage against tough competition if you slack off in this area.
4. Titles must draw people in to click on the video as much as you can (without being unethical).
Being too clearly scammy or clickbaity is stupid. But you have to perform better on many areas. I recently heard a Youtube expert tell everyone to maximize titles for search on all videos and even advised a well-known Youtube entertainer to do the same and use keywords like “comedy” in his title, which he immediately did. I disagree. That works for certain channels, including this Youtube expert’s because the subject of the videos are information-based and searchable: How To Paint, How to Title Videos, etc. For an entertainment based channel however, you want to be clickbaity first and then add in keywords after if you can. This usually means words in ALL CAPS.
5. Watch time is the most critical factor in the algorithm.
You want as many eyeballs staying on for as long as possible. Use Youtube’s free analytics to see where people are dropping off and figure out why. Then fix it in your future videos.
6. Don’t Keyword Stuff
Youtube search algorithm is getting smarter every year. And will continue to do so. Right now, if you upload a video of cats and put nothing but dog keywords in the title, description, and tagging, Youtube is smart enough to figure out fairly quickly it is a cat video and start indexing it in related videos for cats and for cat search terms. (It does this through analyzing a variety of things including which videos the viewer clicks on after this). There are even more difficult examples that show you the power of Youtube and Google search.
I have seen videos rank very high on Google.com and Youtube.com in search results that do not even have the keyword searched for in the title of the video because the content is so good and relevant. Youtube is smart enough to recognize it. They already have automatic word detection and it’s fairly good.
They can already get a sense of what the content of the video is about by just analyzing the audio. What this means is that you focus on the great content of the video rather than short-term illegal strategies like black hat techniques to game the system. There are crazy things I have heard recently like getting a program to create 10,000 Youtube accounts and use those to upload variations of the same video and like it. It’s not a good long-term strategy.
That’s all I got to say.
Stay tuned for more.
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