How to Rank YouTube Videos and Get More Views

Jessica is a Google Analytics certified Digital Video Analyst at WebFX. She has created over 100 videos for the WebFX YouTube channel (youtube.com/webfx) in the last two years. Jessica specializes in video marketing and also loves content marketing, SEO, social media marketing, and many other aspects of digital marketing. When she's not creating videos, Jessica enjoys listening to music, reading, writing, and watching movies.

In this video, Jess from the WebFX Marketing team shares her knowledge on how to rank YouTube videos.

Transcript: 

Want to learn the secret of how to rank YouTube videos?

Okay, it’s really no secret. And getting started is not all that difficult.

YouTube is a search engine. It’s a social media platform. But first and foremost, YouTube is a business. More viewers equals more ads equals more revenue. That means YouTube’s ultimate goal is to provide videos that people enjoy so they stick around for as long as possible.

So, how do you ensure that YouTube identifies your videos as something people enjoy? YouTube SEO!

What is YouTube SEO?

“Traditional” search engine optimization (SEO) is an online marketing strategy that uses different tactics to help websites appear — and rank highly — in search engine results. Google and other search engines use a bunch of different factors to determine if and where websites will appear in the search results.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, operates in a similar way. Its algorithm uses different factors, like keywords and engagement metrics, to determine if and where websites will appear in the search results.

YouTube SEO means that you try different strategies to help your video rank in the YouTube search results.

I’ll cover those strategies in the rest of this video, so don’t skip out on me now! If you do want to learn about a specific strategy, you can find timestamps in the video description!

Let’s go!

3 critical YouTube optimization tips

1. Use keywords to help people find your videos

Keywords are the backbone of any SEO campaign, whether on YouTube or another search engine. They help different algorithms understand what your content is about, so it can be discovered by the right people.

On YouTube, specifically, keywords should be used in your title, description, tags, and even within the content of the video.

The title and description on a YouTube video about putting overgrip on a tennis racket

That means mention your keywords in your videos, people.

Just a quick note: Tags don’t matter too much anymore, so most of your focus should be on the other elements of your YouTube videos.

When you look at the top ranked videos for your topic, do you notice any commonly-used words or phrases that you can add to your video? Tools like VidIQ and TubeBuddy offer keyword research features that make it easier to see what your YouTube competitors are ranking for, and how difficult it is to rank for those terms.

You can also use YouTube’s search predictions feature to get an idea of what people are searching when they’re looking for a video.

YouTube search predictions feature

If your channel is just starting out or doesn’t have a huge following, you might want to avoid high volume, popular terms. These will be difficult to rank for if the top videos come from channels with a large presence. Try for keywords with a lower search volume and a low competition score until your channel grows.

VidIQ and TubeBuddy have a feature that shows you how hard it is to rank for your target keywords, so check them out when you’re researching your topic.

VidIQ YouTube keyword analysis Chrome extension

And again, since keywords tell YouTube what’s in your video, they can help you appear in the Suggested section of YouTube. This is the section of YouTube where people fall into a rabbit hold of weird videos. You know the one. Suggested videos alongside a main video on YouTube

According to YouTube, the Suggested feature is one of the top ways channels earn views. If your keywords indicate that your video covers content similar to what someone is currently watching, there’s a chance it will appear in the suggestions. This means it’s especially important to look at the top-ranking content and incorporate some of those keywords into your own video.

2. Make people want to click on and watch your videos

Okay, which video title sounds better?

  • How to Bake a Cake
  • How to Bake a Cake in 5 Easy Steps

If you chose the second title, congratulations! You’re now the proud owner of a job well done. The first title is…fine. It’s concise, but it’s boring. The second title is descriptive. It tells you exactly what to expect in the video while still remaining concise. That’s a surefire way to boost your click-through rate (CTR).

CTR, which impacts your YouTube video ranking, is a metric that measures the portion of people who clicked on your video after seeing it. A higher click-through rate is a signal to YouTube that people are interested in your video, making it more likely you’ll appear for relevant searches and suggestions. You’ll want to add some pizzazz to your title, description, and thumbnail to get people clicking.

More specifically:

  • Use descriptive power words in your title and description
  • Accurately represent the content of your video
  • Make thumbnails easy to read
  • Use bold colors and graphics in your thumbnails

Not to sound like a broken record, but I want to emphasize that you should accurately represent the content of your video. Avoid clickbait, which is a way of tricking people into watching your videos by sensationalizing or misrepresenting what’s in them.

Sure, some people may click on your video if the title seems interesting. But when they realize they’ve been misled, they’ll click away. That click away actually hurts your YouTube optimization, which brings me to my next point.

How long people watch your videos is an important YouTube ranking factor. So, for a third time, do not mislead your viewers. Instead, match their search intent, a.k.a. what people are actually looking for when they search.

Even if you’re not being spammy, ask yourself if the purpose of your video meets the needs of searchers. Someone looking for a tutorial on how to make cupcakes probably doesn’t want to watch a 20-minute video on the benefits of rainbow sprinkles.

If you’re targeting a specific keyword, make note of what information the top videos cover. It’s safe to assume that since these videos are at the top, they’re providing the information people want.

While you should not copy any of these top videos word-for-word, you can use them as inspiration for your project. If your competitors are at an 11, you should turn your content up to 12. Go more in-depth. Share the results of a study you’ve conducted. Find a way to meet people’s needs while at the same time standing out from everyone else on YouTube.

And my last point before we move on to the next tip is to make the content of your video interesting. Which video would you rather watch?

  • A ten-minute, unedited video of a person baking a cake using one camera angle and never addressing the viewer
  • A ten-minute cake baking tutorial that includes close-up shots of the process, colorful graphics, and an explanation of each step from the video star

I hope you chose the second option. Don’t just use one continuous clip and call it a day. You’ll lose people quickly, no matter how accurate or helpful your video is.

Add humor to your script. Cut between camera angles. Include b-roll footage. Use sound effects. Add music. Do what you can to keep people’s attention and increase watch time.

You might just get some new subscribers with those changes, too.

What a great way to get to my last point.

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3. Encourage viewers to engage with your videos

I mentioned earlier that YouTube is a social media platform. What’s an important part of social media? Engagement.

Likes, comments, new subscribers…all of these metrics play a role in your YouTube optimization. They let YouTube know that people find your video valuable and interesting enough to engage. Since YouTube’s goal is to provide content that people want to watch, and your video fits that description, you’ll likely see the view count rise.

While creating great videos naturally leads to higher engagement, you can do a few things that move your audience to action.

The easiest way to get likes, comments, and new subscribers is to ask for them. Ask your viewers to hit the subscribe button, the like button, or both. Add a graphic to your videos that tells people to subscribe.

Encourage comments by asking your viewers an open-ended question. You can even add a question as a pinned comment on one of your videos.

If you make a video about how to rank YouTube videos, ask people what methods they’ve used to get their videos at the top of the results.

But again, if you create high-quality videos aimed at your target audience, there’s a good chance these interactions will occur without you having to ask. Just make sure you respond to people who respond to you. You can even ask follow-up questions to keep the conversation going.

While I’d love to keep this conversation going, that’s all I have on how to rank in YouTube results. For more marketing knowledge, subscribe to our channel and to our email newsletter, Revenue Weekly. You can also check out our beginner’s guide for YouTube marketing!

Thanks for watching!

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