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YouTube SEO Tips to Get Your Video in Google Search-Results

August 17th, 2011

youtube seo, youtube seo tipsA video that uses YouTube SEO for a given keyword is fifty times more likely to make it onto the first page of Google than a text page that is optimized for the same search-term. If that is not reason enough to expand your blog or website’s SEM efforts into video, then I do not know what is.

But don’t take my word for it. Take Forrester’s study:

On the keywords for which Google offers video results, we found an average of 16,000 videos vying to appear on results pages containing an average of 1.5 video results — giving each video about an 11,000-to-1 chance of making it onto the first page of results. By comparison, there were an average of 4.7 million text pages competing for a place on results pages with an average of just 9.4 text results — giving each text page about a 500,000-to-1 chance of appearing on the first page of results. Now that’s a lot of math, but here’s what it means: on the keywords for which Google offers video results, any given video in the index stands about a 50 times better chance of appearing on the first page of results than any given text page in the index.

(I can only presume that videos are more likely to appear because there are far fewer videos online than text.) So, if you want to put forth any serious effort into ranking highly in search engines, you need to start thinking about video — whether you are a Fortune 500 company or a random blogger who discusses Andalusian horses. SEO has become so competitive that people who just starting in Internet marketing need to grasp any available opportunity.

Google has a business interest in promoting YouTube videos, so they are most likely to appear in searches performed in that engine. According to video-marketing agency Bars + Tone:

…videos hosted on YouTube come up 84% of the time on a Google results page (they own YouTube, remember?). Things get a little more evened out at Bing with YouTube videos returning 38% of the time.

So, not only does having video itself, according to Forrester, increase one’s chances of appearing in the top 10 results in Google, the video results in Google, naturally, will almost always come from YouTube specifically as well. So, if you want to increase your prominence in Google — and who doesn’t? — then you need to create and market YouTube videos. And this is where you need to become creative. After all, inbound marketing encompasses everything from YouTube SEO to PPC to social media to podcasts to webinars to videos. And so on. You want to create as much quality content across all mediums as possible:

  • A local pizza-parlor might want to create a video showing how they make the pizza (my recipe for Israeli pizza using pita bread — it’s messy, but tasty)
  • A university might want to film an excerpt of a lecture
  • A restaurant might want to give a tour of the establishment and showcase the smiling, friendly, helpful staff
  • A Fortune 500 company might want to turn a PowerPoint presentation on their finance strategy into a narrated video showing why prospective customers should choose them

The digital possibilities, of course, are only limited by one’s imagination. Making videos has never been easier, especially with free desktop-software like Jing (no, I do not have any affiliation with the company — I just love its tool).

I won’t bother to walk our readers through the step-by-step process of using YouTube SEO techniques — I presume (or hope) that you are already familiar with the video website. Rather, I’ll point you towards some advice that agrees with what I have personally found to be helpful.

From Blink Media Works:

Title: This is the most crucial place to have your keywords. Keep in mind that a catchy headline is vital for social sharing and for clicks on the YouTube search results so avoid the temptation to stuff too many keywords in the title.

Description: Most people only leave a short one or two sentence description but I recommend that you include at least 2 or 3 paragraphs explaining the content of your video. Include your chosen keyword at least 2-3 times in the text.

Tags: Use your keywords in tags along with contextually similar groupings of words. Keep it under 10 tags.

From Search Engine Watch:

  • Insert keywords into your video filenames.
  • Host your videos on YouTube, and embed those YouTube videos into your own site. Google says its algorithms consider how many times a video is viewed, and any views embedded videos receive on your own site get added to the ‘views’ tally on YouTube. (And yes, nearly every video we saw Google blend into its results came from YouTube.)
  • Optimize your YouTube videos by writing keywords into your videos’ titles, descriptions, and tags.
  • Embed videos into relevant text pages on your site. The context provided by the text on those pages (which is hopefully already optimized for search as well) will help the search engines figure out what your videos are about.
  • Also create a video library on your site, so Google knows where to find your video content. (Google Video Sitemaps can help with this too.) Write keyword-rich annotations for each video in the library.

The Social Business has a lot of tips as well. Still, all of the advice in general boils down to a few general themes:

  •  Create a quality video
  • Optimize the video to become popular on YouTube
  • Promote the video on Youtube
  • Place the video on your own website and optimize the page in the same way
  • Promote the page of your site with the video

I would just add one caveat that others neglected to mention. The description of a YouTube video can be optimized just like the meta description of a website page. See the next section for details.

YouTube SEO Tips for Blogs and Websites

As an experiment, I typed “how to” in my Google-search toolbar. The Google Instant suggestions — which are always interesting, if not amusing as well — proposed “how to tie a tie.” (Do so many people really have that much trouble?) So, I chose that option out of curiosity. Here were the results (just ignore my SEO-analysis data from a SEO-software tool before each search-engine result):

youtube seo, youtube seo tips

Text, text, Google Images, YouTube video… a-HA! You can see the effect of having videos that use YouTube SEO. However, there is another thing to keep in mind. Look at this close-up image of the video result for “how to tie a tie”:

youtube seo, youtube seo tips

The description contained exactly 122 characters (including spaces). Just as the meta description of a website page has a certain number of characters that can be formed into a single statement including sales text, keywords, and a call to action, so can the first part of a YouTube video description be tailored the same way. Remember that.

Now, I’m not going to analyze every single YouTube video that is optimized for “how to tie a tie” (I have a life), but there are specific reasons that the video appeared where and how it did. I just hope that the information above will help you to understand them.

Samuel J. Scott, a former journalist in Boston turned Internet marketer in Israel, is the founder and publisher of My SEO Software and Director of Digital Marketing and Communications and SEO Team Leader at The Cline Group. You can follow him at Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. His views here and elsewhere do not necessarily reflect those of his company and clients.