10 SEO tips for YouTube

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Many people are surprised to learn that YouTube is the second-largest search engine. Yep, it's bigger than Yahoo and bigger than Bing, according to comScore. Therefore it is a shock to many search marketing professionals that clients, including large brands, neglect to formulate or act on strategies for YouTube optimization.

Of course, YouTube isn't a perfect fit for every company, but anybody who does business online should consider taking advantage of the huge opportunities for brand impressions available on YouTube. Even if the product or service you sell might be considered dry or boring, think about creating a series of funny or interesting videos that relates indirectly to your core business.

For example, if you sell construction equipment, you could produce videos of stunt drivers doing freestyle tricks in a Bobcat. Or perhaps a clothing company could create video fashion shows of embarrassing styles that were once popular. You don't have to create traditional TV commercials to get people talking about your brand.

Optimizing YouTube pages requires you to follow the same rules as any other search engine optimization (SEO) project, and all SEO can be broken down into three disciplines: content, linking, and architecture. Since YouTube is going to dictate how the page is built architecturally, that leaves you with opportunities to improve the on-page content that boosts the link popularity of the page. We'll leave the linking discussion for another day, and of course the video itself needs to be good enough for people to actually want to watch it. The following tips are designed to help you optimize your YouTube pages in a way that makes them as easy to find as possible. Therefore, we will primarily be talking about what to put on the page and where to put it.

Considering that YouTube streams more than 1.2 billion videos every day, it's easy to write it off as oversaturated and move on. But most of the content is garbage, and few people take the time to properly optimize their submissions.

There are primarily two places you can rank well for your target keywords. The first place is on YouTube itself. For example, if I type "Dwayne Johnson" into the search bar, the results are my choice of "All," "Channels," and "Playlists," with the default view being "All." It is possible to sort the results a number of different ways, but the default sorting method is "Relevance," so the way you see results on a YouTube page is similar to how you might see them on other search engines.

The other place your videos can rank well is on the search engines themselves. Remember that every video on YouTube has its own page, called a view page, that can be optimized the same as any other page on the web.

The most important thing to remember about optimizing for YouTube is that the videos themselves are invisible to search engines. YouTube converts the video files you upload into Flash, and search engines have a difficult time understanding what's inside a Flash file, especially a video. If you need proof, simply view Google's cached version of any YouTube page and you'll see only the text that accompanies the video, not the video itself. This exercise demonstrates how important the surrounding content is to the page's potential ability to rank for your target keywords.



Arindam Dutta
Arindam Dutta June 4, 2013 at 1:14 PM

I think YouTube SEO is still very helpful this year, since Google has expressed that social media will have more weight this year in terms of getting higher site rankings. Like any other type of social media, it has to be used properly to yield the best results.

Maggie Heatherman
Maggie Heatherman October 16, 2009 at 4:18 PM

Youtube presents an awesome opportunity for companies to market themselves online. Not only does it offer high levels of impressions, but it also enables marketers to post rich, compelling content that can attract viewers in a truly singular way.

...great tips and great topic!