YouTube SEO: How to Rank Videos

The Definitive Guide to Keyword ResearchYou probably already know that YouTube is the world’s second biggest search engine…

…and a huge untapped traffic source.

(In fact, YouTube gets over 30 million visitors per day)

Today I’m going to show you the ins and outs of YouTube SEO, including how you can easily rank videos in both Google and YouTube.

My Top Ranking YouTube Video

Before we get into my YouTube SEO tutorial, I want to show you an example of a video that I’ve ranked:
highly_ranked_youtube_video

This video ranks #1 in YouTube for “Bluehost review”:

Bluehost Video

And the video fluctuates between #4-6 in Google:

YouTube Video Ranking in Google

Even though this keyword only gets 1900 [Exact] searches per month…

Keyword Traffic

…it’s a classic buyer keyword.

Anyone searching for a specific hosting provider (like Bluehost or Hostgator) already knows that they want a shared hosting plan. They’re just not 100% sure about which company to go with.

My video gives them a legitimate and thorough review of Bluehost (a host that I use and like) to help them make a decision.

The great thing about this is that you can scale this up to make dozens of high-ranking videos. These videos can drive traffic to your site or make affiliate commissions (like in this example).

Here’s how to do it:

Step #1: Find “Video Keywords”

For whatever reason Google deems certain keywords “Video Keywords”. Unlike a normal SERP with 10 webpage results, Google saves some of the page for video results.

Video KeywordsVideo keywords are ideal for the simple reason that I’ve found it easier to rank videos for video keywords than for keywords with a normal top 10.

That’s because video results are like a SERP within a SERP.

And if you can get Google to consider your video one of the top 2-4 videos for that keyword, you can zoom past the normal results…

directly to the first page!

The easiest way to find video keywords is to look for keywords in your niche with video results.

Because these don’t take a lot of time to make, you don’t need keywords with massive search volume.

Just make sure the keyword gets at least 300 exact match searches per month in Google.

In general, Google tends to use video results for these types of keywords:

  • How-t0 keywords (“how to shave a cat”)
  • Reviews (“Bluehost review”)
  • Tutorials (“Setting up WordPress”)
  • Anything fitness or sports related (“Cardio kickboxing”)
  • Funny videos (“Cute animals”)

It’s also important to be able to easily monetize the traffic you get.

If you’re using the video to drive traffic directly to your site, then you’re covered.

If not, take a look at sites like Offer Vault and see if there are any high-paying CPA offers that you can build videos around.

Step #2: Make Your Video

Now it’s time to make your video!

Because I want people to actually get something from my videos I make them look somewhat professional. I use ScreenCast-O-Matic because it’s cheap ($15/year) and easy to use. If you want something with more bells and whistles you can’t go wrong with Camtasia Studio.

Like with articles, longer video content ranks better:

You want your video to be at least 5-minutes long.

I like to make a nice slideshow in Powerpoint and record my voice over it. If the video is a review, use the product in your video.

Just remember to make a professional, value-packed video.

Why?

First, it helps your conversion rate.

Second, your a large portion of YouTube SEO is based on user-interaction signals:

Youtube Analytics

If you make a quality video you’re more likely to get views, likes, and comments.

When you’re done with the video make sure that you use the keyword in the video’s filename. If you wanted to rank for the keyword “bluehost review”, you’d want to name your video bluehost_review_youtube_video.mp4.

YouTube Filename

There’s no need to keyword stuff. As long as the keyword appears once in the filename, you’re good.

Step #3: Upload Your Video With YouTube SEO in Mind

Now it’s time to upload your video to YouTube.

Video Title

Make a long title so that you can include your full keyword without keyword-stuffing. In my Bluehost Review video the title contains 5 words…only 2 of which are my target keyword:

YouTube Title Power Tip: Like with a blog post, I’ve found that you get a slight video SEO boost by putting your keyword at the beginning of the title.

So if you were trying to rank for “surfing tutorial” you’d want a title like: Surfing Tutorial: Learn How to Ride a Wave Today

Description

Your description is very, very important. Because Google and YouTube can’t “listen” to videos, they rely on your text description to determine your video’s content.

Here are the basic guidelines for the description:

  • Put your link at the very top of the video
  • Include your keyword in the first 25 words
  • Make the description at least 350-words
  • Include LSI keywords
  • Include your keyword 3-4 times

This SEO-optimized description helps tell Google and YouTube what your video is about without being spammy.

Tags

Just include a few keywords to help YouTube and Google learn what your video is about.

Youtube Video Tags

Category

This isn’t incredibly important. Most review videos fall under “How to & style”.

Once you’re done, hit “Save Changes” and your video will go live!

Step #4: Get Video Views

The #1 ranking factor for YouTube’s search engine is the number of views a video gets.

In general, the more views, the higher it ranks.

But there’s one catch…

…the views need to be real.

YouTube has caught onto fake views. That’s why I don’t recommend using a service on Fiverr to pump up your view count.

For views to actually count you need a real person to watch your video. And the longer they watch, the higher your video will rank in YouTube.

I used a YouTube view service to get real, human views (you can also use MicroWorkers.com or Amazon Mechanical Turk).

Whichever service you use make sure that people view at least 40% of your video. Viewer retention is HUGE for ranking in YouTube’s internal search engine.

Also, make sure you get some likes, favorites, and comments in there as well.

This makes your video look like it’s getting a lot of positive user-interaction.

Step #5: Link Building

One of my favorite things about YouTube videos is that you can build links like it’s 2009!

Because of YouTube’s insane trust and authority, it’s almost impossible for YouTube video pages to get slapped by Google.

It also doesn’t hurt that Google owns YouTube :-)

Here are the three steps to rank any YouTube video for a low to medium-competition keyword.

Build PAD Links

As you may have seen in my post: 17 Untapped Backlink Sources, PAD links are one of the most scalable link building strategies around.

PAD links are simple .exe files that you upload to authority software sharing sites.

In exchange for submitting your piece of original software, the software directories hook you up with a dofollow link.

While you can do this manually, I prefer to hire someone to create and submit the PAD for me (You can find PAD creation and submission services on Fiverr):

Fiverr PAD Gig

Social Bookmarks

I’m normally not a huge fan of social bookmarks.

But remember: you’re building links like it’s 2009. Which means social bookmarks actually work.

Again, Fiverr comes to the rescue again. This gig has worked well for me:

Fiverr Social Bookmarks

Blog Network Links

While I don’t recommend public blog networks links for your actual site, they’re perfect for YouTube videos.

You can easily find decent blog network providers on internet marketing forums.

Just make sure that you use a network with original (not spun) content.

Rinse and Repeat

It takes a week or two for the views and links to do their work.

Once they do, you’ll notice an uptick in your natural views…and clicks on your video’s outbound link.

If you’re not ranked highly in YouTube or Google after a few weeks, order a few more high-quality views and links.

That’s all there is to it!

YouTube SEO is a great way to earn money from keywords that may not be worth building an entire site around.

Do you have any experience ranking YouTube videos? If so, leave a comment here. I’d love to learn more about this untapped search engine giant!

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{ 258 comments }
  • Sanj

    Dang Brian, another YT strategy out the bag!
    It works like a treat although I didn’t know about “Video Keywords” so thanks for the heads up!
    Sanj.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      My pleasure, Sanj! Let me know how it goes.

      Reply
  • Ed Yang

    Hi Brian,
    Great article as always. The opportunity for multiple affiliate streams of income is indeed interesting. Has Vagex been working for you ok lately? I was researching Youtube video views last month and some people were complaining they were having issues with it.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks Ed. I actually haven’t used Vagex in the last 2-months or so. The last time I did it worked well for me. Please let me know how it goes if you try it out.

      Reply
  • Sanj

    Had a look at the video Brian. You completely undersold the fact that your ‘Bluehost Review’ is PR4 in record time!

    Well done.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks Sanj! That PR4 is a combo between YouTube’s insane domain authority and the links I built to it.

      Reply
  • Dom

    Yet another great post. Move over Seomoz your blog has all the info needed to rank a site.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks Dom! I like to think of Backlinko as “The People’s SEOMoz.” Less theory, more actionable advice.

      Reply
  • Shailesh Tripathi

    Very nice article on creating and promoting videos on YouTube. Thanks for share!

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks, Shailesh. Let me know how it works for you.

      Reply
  • Charise

    Excellent article! I’ve been looking for legit sites that help get REAL viewers. I had checked out fiverr a while ago and couldn’t had many good resources. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks Charise! Let me know how it works for you.

      Reply
  • Casey Dennison

    Great post, Brian! I put up a bunch of videos on Youtube that were actually music tracks I produced.. come to find out Youtube banned by account. Why? Probably because I bought views from a website called vingler.com. All the views are from real people, but they are not high retention. I suppose that tripped some kind of red flag and Yotube shut my account down. I still have a personal account, though. I going to try this again!

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Glad to hear you liked the post, Casey! If you buy real views again be sure to adjust the settings so they watch at least half of your video. That helps it rank better in YouTube and makes everything look nice and natural :-)

      Reply
  • Alex

    Hey Brian,
    Awesome tutorial. Two questions mate.
    #1 How long do you allow vagex to run?
    #2 Can you recommend any threads at the warrior forum for the networks?
    - Alex

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks Alex. I allow it to run until I run out of credits (usually about 5,000-10,000 credits). I haven’t bought links from the Warrior Forum in a while. I’ve been using Traffic Planet and Wickedfire more often.

      Reply
  • Rick

    It’s nice to hear that Google is not as particular about backlinks for videos and they are for web pages but I think I’ll still err on the side of caution. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      It’s a smart move to be cautious, Rick. Even for videos I’m varying anchor text and doing some other things to make sure they rank for the long term.

      Reply
      • Julien B

        Hi Brian,
        Thanks for sharing your knowledge, as a SEO beginner I feel like I just found gold nuggets here :-)
        I like your idea to run on the long term, could you tell us what other things you’re doing for that ?
        Many thanks !

        Reply
        • Brian Dean

          You definitely found some golden nuggets, Julien :-)

          That idea permeates every business decision I make, actually.

          Reply
  • Rajesh

    Detailed article, thanks a lot. Vagex.com is really cool service. I’ll use these tricks to rank our YouTube videos.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Sure thing, Rajesh. Let me know how it goes.

      Reply
  • Lewis

    Hi Brian, I know building backlinks to your channel are quite important for ranking videos and I was wondering if internal backlinks are worth the effort of creating everyday (e.g. comments, likes, subscribes) to other channels. Do they even have any influence now?

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Good question, Lewis. You don’t need to go nuts with a site like YouTube to send some PR to your channel. I’d just comment/follow/subscribe to the top 50-100 of the top PR pages and leave it at that. That’s probably good enough.

      Reply
      • Lewis

        Thanks for the reply Brian, I’d just like to clarify, by pages do you mean videos? … also would you recommend commenting on the “discussion” page on high PR channels? Just a thought.

        P.S. I’ve been following this blog since you launched and the quality is continuously outstanding, not to mention the information you give away via email, it’s absolute gold!!!

        Reply
        • Brian Dean

          Sure thing Lewis. And thanks for your support :-)

          Yes, I meant videos, but you can comment on any page that passes PR (as you pointed out, discussion pages work really well).

          Reply
  • Wilson

    Brian,

    Step-by-step spoon feeding tutorial, thanks. I’ve few queries that if I create a review video like xyz product review, do I need to build back links using PAD links. If YES, please explain what type of files needed to upload.

    Thanking you.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Great to hear that you liked the tutorial (I tried really hard to make it thorough). Yes, I recommend that you use PAD links because they’re cheap and easy. However, I don’t recommend doing it yourself as it’s big pain without automated software. I recommend hiring a PAD links provider on IM forums like Wickedfire.com or WarriorForum.com to get the job done.

      Reply
  • Pat

    Hey Brian,
    Great post. I just recently got into ranking youtube videos (it’s WAY easier than personal web pages!). Do you usually start link building right away, or do you let your video sit for a bit before hitting it with links? I’ve got a video for a big buyer term that’s just about to start showing up on the first page of G. Keeping my fingers crossed!

    Reply
    • Pat

      Also, there is someone who might be stealing some of your sales on your Bluehost video. Check out the top rated comment about the 3.95 deal. Maybe you can delete his comment and get your own discount link at that amount. Just a thought.

      Reply
      • Brian Dean

        Thanks for the heads up, Pat. I saw that comment the other day. I’ll flag it now to see if YT will delete it for me.

        Reply
        • Pat

          I think you can just delete comments on your own, correct? If you sign in and hover over the comment a little arrow should pop up in the upper right corner. If you click on it it should say “remove”.

          Reply
          • Brian Dean

            I didn’t know I could do that. I’ll give that a try. Thanks for the heads up!

    • Brian Dean

      Sure thing Pat. You’re right: it’s much, MUCH easier than ranking pages on your own site. To answer your question: I usually start building links within the first few days after launching it.

      Reply
  • kuvhlub

    Hi, is it possible to rank on page one for a long tail keyword without building backlink

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      It’s possible for VERY non-competitive keywords. But they’re usually not worth creating videos for because the search volume is to low.

      Reply
  • Hermine

    Hi Brian,
    I just want to say that I am blown away with the information you provided here on ranking youtube vids. I have a ton of online products that I want to start making tutorials for and your post answered my question about how to get some eyes on my stuff. Thanks again, I’m definitely bookmarking this for future reference.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks for checking it out, Hermine! Let me know how my system works out for you :-)

      Reply
  • Chris Parillo

    Hey Brian,
    Firstly, I just want to say, absolutely phenomenal post!
    It has answered the vast majority of my questions thoroughly…
    …Just the one left though; when you say “build links like it’s ’09″, can i literally blast say 50,000-200,000 backlinks for example, in one go and have positive benefit? Even if the backlinks are from the worst sources and of cheap quality?

    Thanks in advance.

    Kindest regards,

    Chris

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Glad to hear that, Chris! You can pretty much get away with anything. I prefer to play it safe-ish so my video ranks over the long term.

      Reply
      • Chris

        Thanks for the heads-up Brian, that’s good to hear. From your experience, would you recommend waiting a week or two to blast, if you choose to go that route? Or would it not matter if you did it immediately after uploading the video?

        Kindest regards,

        Chris

        Reply
        • Brian Dean

          No prob, Chris. I usually wait at least a few days until the video gets some views.

          Reply
  • James

    Hey Brian.

    Thanks for the post. I found you through a G search for how to rank a YouTube video. I honestly think with the recent G update, they are trying to force their adwords and YT and everything else they own to the user. So I think that the new “niche site” is going to be YT videos. I lost a ton of rankings to my niche site over the weekend. My entire website went from average 800 UV a day to 10… Really made my heart sink. Just as I was starting to do well with SEO ha ha.

    Anyway, I’m going to try some ClickBank + YT methods and hopefully get a few more affiliate sales back. No doubt I’ll have more questions as I go along, but I just wanted to say thanks for the post.

    Cheers!
    - James :)

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      I like the way you put that: YT videos are the new niche site. And they’ll be more durable to updates because Google doesn’t want to penalize their own property. Thanks for stopping by, James :-)

      Reply
  • Chris Parillo

    Hey again Brian,

    You’re probably sick of seeing my name by now, haha.
    Anyway… I’ve been pulling out all the stop to get my Youtube videos ranked, but NOTHING is working. I have just realised though that all of my purchased, drip-fed, high-retention views are from mobile devices. Is this why I’m nowhere to be seen on Google’s SERPs? Also, do you have an e-mail address I could contact you at? I don’t want to take over your comments section single-handedly lol.

    Regards,

    Chris

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      It can take quite a while (up for a month depending on your keyword) for Google to rank your video. Not sure about the mobile device views, but that might be a sign of fake views within YT’s algorithm. Just keep building links and you’ll eventually show up. You can reach me using my contact form, Chris.

      Reply
      • daniel

        I am not endorsing this in any way, but I’ve heard from an SEO expert in real life that services like “1 hour backlinks” can get it ranking really fast. He said that if you’re going to use it, only do it for sh*tty YouTube videos (with the theory that Google wouldn’t penalize their own content.) This is comment spam, so its pretty dirty and annoying but do you know if it works?

        Reply
        • Brian Dean

          It can definitely work short-term Daniel. The issue is that Google seems to be penalizing it’s own content if they think it’s spammy.

          Reply

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Brian Dean is the founder of Backlinko, the training hub for digital marketing professionals with over 50,000 monthly readers and a popular email newsletter. Continue reading