YouTube SEO: How to Rank YouTube Videos in 2021
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YouTube SEO: How to Rank YouTube Videos in 2021

Brian Dean

by Brian Dean · Updated Jan. 21, 2020

YouTube SEO – How to Rank YouTube Videos

In this post I’m going to show you EXACTLY how to rank your YouTube videos.

In fact, this is the exact process that I used to grow my channel to over 228K views per month:

Backlinko YouTube – Monthly views

So if you want to get more views, subscribers and traffic from YouTube, then you’ll love this new YouTube SEO tutorial.

Let’s dive right in…

How I Grew My YouTube Channel From “Oh No!” to “Heck Yeah!”

Before we get into today’s video SEO tutorial, a quick backstory:

When I first launched my YouTube channel I struggled to get ANY views.

Fast forward to today, and my videos rank for all sorts of competitive keywords, like “SEO”:

YouTube search results – SEO

“Link building”:

YouTube search results – Link building

Heck, I even rank in the top 3 for “video SEO”:

YouTube search results – Video SEO

And because I know how to rank my videos, my channel now generates over 228K views and 6.4K subscribers every single month.

Backlinko – YouTube monthly subscribers

Now that you can see that I know what I’m talking about, let’s dive into the steps that I used to get these results.

Step #1: YouTube Keyword Research

The YouTube SEO process begins with video keyword research.

Here’s exactly how to find the right keywords for your YouTube videos:

First, generate a list of keywords ideas.

Your first step is to generate a big list of potential keywords. Then, in the next step, I’ll help you find the best keyword from your list.

Here’s how to find keywords for your YouTube Videos:

One of my favorite strategies is to use the YouTube’s Search Suggest feature.

All you need to do is head over to YouTube and pop in a word or phrase…

… and YouTube will hand you a bunch of keywords related to what you typed in:

youtube suggest

These suggested keywords are GREAT.

Why?

Because these are terms that people actually type into YouTube. So there’s no need to wonder if they’re popular or not. If YouTube suggests them to you, they 1000% are.

You can also go to a popular video in your niche… and copy the same keywords that video is optimized around.

As you probably know, keyword optimization is a KEY part of YouTube SEO. So if a video has lots and lots of views, chances are, that video is optimized around a popular keyword.

To execute this step, go to another channel in your niche.

Then, sort their videos by “Most Popular”

Sort by most popular

This will show you their videos that have generated the most views:

Backlinko – Most popular videos

Next, choose a video from the list. Obviously, you want to pick a video that you can create an awesome video around (more on that in step #2).

But in general, if the video is in your niche, it’ll work.

Finally, see which keywords that video is optimized around. This is easy.

Just check out the keywords that video uses in its title, description and video tags:

Keyword in video title, description and tags

(To see a video’s tags, I recommend the VidIQ Chrome extension. It shows you a video’s tags right on the page)

You can also find some excellent keywords in your YouTube “Traffic Source: YouTube search” report. This report shows you all the keywords that YouTube users have searched for to find your videos.

Keyword list showing traffic sources

In many cases, these are keywords that you already know about (because you optimized your videos around them).

But sometimes you’ll find a handful of keywords that you never would have thought of.

For example, here’s an example of a keyword I found in my “Traffic Sources” report:

"seo tutorial for beginners" keyword highlight

This is a keyword I would have NEVER found using any other strategy. But I know that people are searching for it in YouTube, so it makes for a great keyword to add to my list.

Second, find the best keyword from your list

Now that you’ve generated a list of keywords, it’s time to choose the best one from your list.

Specifically, you want to target low-competition keywords.

This is ESPECIALLY important if your channel doesn’t have that many subscribers. If you swing for the fences and go after competitive keywords, your video is gonna get buried in the search results.

Instead, you want to find keywords that don’t have a lot of competition.

How do you check?

All you need to do is:

Search for your keyword in Google.

Google search – "sega saturn"

And check out the “About results”:

Google search – "sega saturn" – Video results

This number represents the total number of videos in YouTube about that topic. The higher this number, the more competitive a keyword is. So you want to target keywords that have a low “About results” number.

(How low should you go? Every industry is different. So I can’t give you a specific number to shoot for. Just focus on choosing keywords that have low competition for your niche)

For example, when I search for “YouTube SEO”, there are 11,500,000 results:

YouTube SEO – Number of videos

That’s a lot.

So if I was just starting out, I’d try a few other keywords, like “YouTube ranking factors”.

Bingo! That keyword only has 45,100 results.

YouTube ranking factors – Number of videos

And that means that this keyword MUCH less competitive.

Finally, a bonus tip: search for your keyword in Google.

Here’s the deal:

Most views on YouTube come from within YouTube’s platform.

But don’t stop there. Your video can get 2-5x more views if you can ALSO get it to rank in Google.

How?

The trick is to optimize your videos around keywords that already have video results in Google.

You see, Google only includes videos in the search results for certain keywords.

Unlike a “normal” first page with 10 webpage results, for certain keywords Google reserves a good chunk of the first page for video results:

Google SERP – Pull up tutorial

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

  • How-to keywords (“how to make cold brew coffee”)
  • Reviews (“beats by Dre review”)
  • Tutorials (“Setting up WordPress”)
  • Anything fitness or sports related (“Cardio kickboxing”)
  • Funny videos (“Cute animals”)

Why is this important?

Well, let’s say you optimize your video around a keyword that doesn’t have any video results in Google. In that case, you’ll ONLY get traffic from people searching on YouTube.

But if you optimize for a video keyword, you’ll also get targeted traffic to your video directly from Google’s first page.

The question is:

How do you find these magical keywords?

All you need to do is search for one of the keywords you found in the last step.

Then see if any of the keywords you searched for have YouTube video results, like this:

Google SERP – Power yoga workout

Simple, right?

Once you’ve found a Video Keyword, it’s time to see if there’s any search volume for that keyword. Otherwise, you might rank in Google for a keyword that only gets 20 searches per month. That’s not worth it.

So make sure target keyword gets at least 100-1k searches per month in Google (you can find this information using the Google Keyword Planner):

"power yoga workout" – Monthly searches

Why 500 searches per month?

If you can get that video to rank in Google, then a lot of those searchers will click on YOUR video in the results.

That means you’ll get more high-quality traffic to your video, and ultimately, your site.

Here’s a real life example:

Because Backlinko is in the SEO niche, I’m going to look for video keywords using searches like “keyword research tips”, “how to build backlinks” and “SEO tutorial”.

Bingo! The keyword “SEO tutorial” brings up 4 YouTube results in Google:

Google SERP – SEO tutorial

Sure enough, that keyword exceeds our minimum of 500 monthly searches:

"seo tutorial" – Monthly searches

So that would be a great keyword to create a video around.

In fact, I already did 🙂

Speaking of creating your video…

Step #2: Publish a High-Retention Video

Here’s the truth:

If you want your videos to rank, you need to keep people watching.

The amount of your video that people watch is known as Audience Retention.

And YouTube has gone on the record saying: “Audience Retention” is a HUGE ranking factor. To quote YouTube:

Audience retention

In other words:

If your video keeps people on YouTube, YouTube will rank your video higher in the search results.

(After all, YouTube wants people to stay on the platform so they click on ads. And if you help them with that goal, they’ll promote your video).

The question is:

HOW do you create a video that keeps people engaged?

(Also known as a “High-Retention Video”)

Here are 3 simple steps that work GREAT. I had to learn these 3 steps the hard way. But thanks to this short video, you can start pumping out High-Retention Videos right away.

Video tutorial

How to Quickly and Easily Boost Viewer Retention: 3 Simple Steps

As you can see, High-Retention Videos DON’T require a fancy camera or microphone. Actually, you don’t really need to sweat production value that much.

As long as your video is valuable and interesting to watch, you’re good to go.

The bottom line?

If your video stinks, it won’t rank…no matter how optimized it is for SEO.

Unlike Google (uses backlinks and other signals to evaluate the quality of a piece of content) YouTube has no such luxury. So they rely on Audience Retention.

That said, Audience Interaction is one of several ranking signals that YouTube uses in its algorithm.

So let me show you the 5 other important YouTube ranking factors:

Video Comments

If someone leaves a comment, it sends a strong message to YouTube that they probably enjoyed the video (or at least engaged with it).

In fact, when I recently analyzed 1.3 million YouTube search results, I found that comments STRONGLY correlated with ranking highly in the search results:

youtube comments chart

So make sure to encourage your viewers to comment on your video… and reply to comments that you get.

“Subscribes”After Watching a Video

If someone subscribes to your channel after watching your video that sends a HUGE signal that you have an amazing video.

The best way to get more subscribers on YouTube? Ask people to subscribe. Seriously, I’ve found that asking viewers to subscribe at the end of my videos significantly boosts my monthly subscribers numbers:

subscribe CTAVideo Shares

How many people share your video on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook?

youtube share button

Think about it this way: people don’t share crappy videos, right? So when YouTube sees that people are spreading the word about your video, they think: “This must be an awesome piece of content!”. And they’ll give you a rankings boost.

(Also, social shares bring more people FROM those networks to YouTube… which they like).

Click-Through-Rate (CTR)

When someone searches for your keyword in YouTube, which result do they click on?

Your video… or someone else’s?

As it turns out, YouTube pays VERY close attention to this user behavior. The percentage of people that click on your result is known as “click-through-rate” (CTR). Obviously, the higher your CTR, the better.

In other words, you want YouTube searchers to click on your result.

And YouTube notices that lots of people are clicking on your result, they think: “We need to rank this video higher up in the search results!”.

CTR Boost

On the other hand, if people are skipping over your result, they’ll drop your rankings.

CTR Drop

The best way to boost your CTR? Create compelling thumbnails and titles.

For example, you can see that my title and thumbnail stand out from the other results for this keyword:

Backlinko – Title and thumbnail

Thumbs up/Thumbs down

Self explanatory 🙂

Video Length

Like with text-based articles in Google, longer videos rank better.

I consistently see longer videos outperform shorter videos in YouTube and Google search.

And the data supports this. The YouTube ranking factors study that I mentioned earlier also found that longer videos have an edge over short videos (at least when it comes to YouTube SEO):

video length chart

For example, if you search in YouTube for the keyword “WordPress”, 3 out of the top 4 videos are over an hour long.

YouTube search results – Wordpress

How long should your video be?

I wouldn’t sweat this too much. Just focus on creating the best video possible.

If it makes sense for your video to be 20+ minutes, go for it. Don’t worry about your video being too long. If it’s awesome, people WILL watch it.

The coolest part about all of these stats is that you can track all of them in the new YouTube Studio:

YouTube studio – Statistics

That way, you can see how you’re doing… and improve your videos over time.

OK so you’ve created your High-Retention video, it’s time upload and optimize it for SEO.

Step #3: YouTube Video Optimization

Here’s how to extract the most SEO value from your video:

SAY Your Target Keyword

You’ve probably noticed that YouTube now automatically transcribes your videos. And they’re pretty darn accurate:

youtube cc

So if YouTube sees that you mention your target keyword in your video, they’ll “hear” it. And because you’re actually SAYING the keyword that your video is optimized around, YouTube will better understand that your video is about that term.

Video Title

The title of your video should be at least 5 words long. That way, you can include your full keyword without keyword-stuffing.

For example, this video title from my channel is 10 words …only 3 of which are my target keyword (“higher Google rankings”):

Keyword in YouTube video 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 video’s description is super important.

Your video description helps YouTube and Google understand the context of your video. And the better they understand your video, the higher you’ll rank (and the more often you’ll show up in the Suggested Video sidebar).

Here are the basic guidelines for the description:

  • Include your keyword in the first 25 words
  • Make the description at least 250 words
  • Include your keyword 2-4 times

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

Here’s an example of a description for a video of mine that’s optimized around the keyword “On-page SEO”:

Keyword in YouTube video description

Notice how I include my keyword a couple of times… without being spammy? That’s what you want to do.

Tags

Tags aren’t super-important…but they help.

Here’s how I use video tags for my videos:

  1. My first tag is my exact target keyword (Example: “Google SEO”).
  2. I also include a few variations of that word or phrase (Example: “Google search engine optimization”)
  3. Finally, I make a few of my tags other topics that my video covers (Example: “Link building”, “Content marketing”)

In short: just include a few keywords to help YouTube and Google learn what your video is about.

Pro Tip: Targeted tags not only help you rank for your target keyword…

…but get you to you show up more often as a related video in the sidebar area of YouTube:

Suggested video sidebar

So don’t be afraid to use the same tags that your competitors use. In fact, it’s a YouTube marketing best practice that has worked for YEARS.

When your video’s tags match a video that someone’s watching, you have a good chance of showing up in the Suggested Video section.

And that’s all there is to optimizing your video to rank in YouTube.

With that out of the way, it’s time for a step that many people skip over: video promotion.

Step #4: Promote Your Video

We talked a lot about creating videos that maximize Audience Retention and user experience signals. Which is important.

But for YouTube to measure these signals, you need to get views on your video!

Here are some strategies you can use to get targeted views to your video:

Mention Your Video on Quora and Other Q&A Sites

Quora, forums and other Q&A sites are some of the most popular sites on the web (in fact, Quora is one of the most popular sites online).

Alexa site ranking – Quora

But if you try to go in there and spam your blog content, you’re going to get banned. That’s why you want to link to YouTube videos.

And not only can you get a high quantity of views… but the views you get from Q&A sites are high-quality too.

(In other words, high-retention views.)

Think about it:

You’re posting your video in a place where people are desperate for information on a given topic. So the people that watch your video will watch a good chunk of your video to help them learn more about that topic.

To execute this step, just search for a keyword that describes your video’s topic. Then, find a question that you can answer.

quora results

When you find a question that seems like a good fit, answer the person’s question as best you can. Finally, link to your video at the end of your answer.

Here’s an example:

quora answer

Link To Your Video In Your Email Signature

People that email you (like your mom) generally like you.

And if you’re like me, you get A TON of emails.

So when you add a link to your latest video in your email signature, you just set up a pipeline is high-retention views.

promote video

Embed Your Videos in Blog Posts

Whenever you write a blog post (on your site or as a guest post for another site), think to yourself:

“Where can I embed a YouTube video into this post?”

For example, when I mentioned “The Skyscraper Technique” in this guide, I embedded a video to explain how the strategy worked:

youtube embed2

This INSTANTLY got my video a few hundred high-quality views.

Use Playlists

Playlists are one of the BEST ways to get more views on your videos. After all, playlists automatically play every video in the playlist… which can lead to thousands of extra views every month.

Here’s how to set them up:

First, look over your videos. And identify 4-5 videos that have a common theme or topic. For example, when I look at the videos I’ve published on my channel, I notice that I have quite a few that cover the topic: “link building”.

Backlinko – Link Building videos

Then, create a playlist that includes that set of videos.

"White Hat Link Building"

Finally, include that playlist on your channel page. Rinse and repeat until you have at least 3 playlists on your channel.

Speaking of your channel page…

Optimize Your Channel Page

An optimized channel can help your videos rank better in two ways:

First, your channel itself can rank in YouTube. Here’s an example:

YouTube channel ranking in SERP

Second, a great channel page=more subscribers. And getting more subscribers can indirectly improve your rankings.

First and foremost, you want your channel page to look nice and professional. In fact, when I updated my channel page to look like this…

Backlinko – YouTube channel

…I noticed an uptick in views and subs.

Also, include keywords in your channel’s about section. Here’s an example:

Keywords in YouTube channel About section

See how I use terms like “white hat SEO”, “link building” and “search engine optimization” in my channel description?

These are all keyword that I want to rank for in YouTube.

Obviously, you don’t want to use keyword stuffing or any shady stuff like that. Just naturally sprinkle in words and phrases that you want your videos to rank for.

Here’s What To Do Next…

OK so I hope this guide helped show you how to rank your YouTube videos.

Now I’d like to hear from you:

What’s helped you rank your videos in YouTube?

Let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

648 Comments

  1. 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.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

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

  2. Dom Avatar Domsays:

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

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Dom! I appreciate that 🙂

  3. Shailesh Tripathi Avatar Shailesh Tripathisays:

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

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

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

  4. Charise Avatar Charisesays:

    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!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

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

  5. Casey Dennison Avatar Casey Dennisonsays:

    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!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Glad to hear you liked the post, Casey! Real views FTW!

  6. 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!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      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.

      1. Julien B Avatar Julien Bsays:

        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 !

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          You definitely found some golden nuggets, Julien 🙂

          That idea permeates every business decision I make, actually.

  7. Lewis Avatar Lewissays:

    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?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      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.

      1. 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!!!

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          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).

  8. Pat Avatar Patsays:

    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!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      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.

    1. Pat Avatar Patsays:

      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”.

      1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

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

  9. kuvhlub Avatar kuvhlubsays:

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

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

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

  10. 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.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

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

  11. James Avatar Jamessays:

    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 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      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 🙂

  12. Chris Parillo Avatar Chris Parillosays:

    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

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      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 views and you’ll eventually show up.

  13. Lewis Avatar Lewissays:

    Hi Brian,
    I was wondering, if you had 10 high quality backlinks to use, how many of those would go towards individual video URLs and how many would you use on your channel URL. I am just trying to gauge how important it is to get links pointing to your channel vs each video.

    Thank you!
    -Lewis.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      I’d put 9 to my videos. I haven’t done much link building to channel pages.

  14. jojo Avatar jojosays:

    Hi Brian,

    Do I have to write a fresh content for the description?
    Or copying content from my website is ok?

    Thank you
    Jojo

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Good question, Jojo. I always write a unique description and that seems to work well.

  15. Chris Avatar Chrissays:

    Hi Brian,

    Great post, which explained why some of my videos rank page one and other don’t….likely the “Video keyword” theory that you suggested.

    I’m at the top of Youtube but page 4 for a keyword in the travel niche.

    It is frustrating because I am offering this as a service for offline clients as it is selling like hotcakes.

    The only issue is getting to page one every time. I will try buying more views, the software links and also try blog networks. Great tips!

    Perhaps we can create some sort of mastermind around this strategy??

    Thanks again,

    Chris

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Glad you enjoyed that one, Chris. I never thought of offering this as a service. Great idea! As you said, if you start buying some real human views and building serious links to the video it WILL rank for those video keywords.

  16. pascale lessard Avatar pascale lessardsays:

    thanks for the useful information. I know about keywords, but you opened my eyes on other important elements.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      My pleasure, Pascale.

  17. Awesome post ! I’m gonna try to do some blast on my videos via fiverr and will let you know how it’s work. What about linking youtube channel together ?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Simon! I’ve actually never tried linking youtube channels together but I think it could work really well 🙂

  18. John Avatar Johnsays:

    I have found that these links building tactics are the best (for me)

    – PAD submission (software submission)
    – RSS submission
    – Private blog networks
    – Social bookmarking

    I know most of you probably have heard that some of these don’t work for SEO.I don’t know about SEO, but for Youtube SEO they are GREAT !!!

    Here is a proof

    youtube.com/watch?v=UR_mycV8Tj8

    Check this video for these keywords:
    surveys
    surveys for money
    online surveys

    And notice that I have so little views and likes, but I rank so high because of my backlinks.I also rank on Google for many related keywords…

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks for your insights, John. Glad to hear that you’re crushing it with YouTube SEO (even without any views and likes). It looks like it’s all about backlinks for videos too 🙂

  19. Sam Avatar Samsays:

    Great article Brian. Question, what type of microphone do you suggest for making videos that won’t break the bank?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Sam. I’m in love with my Samson Go Mic. It’s cheap, portable and podcast-quality.

      1. Sam Avatar Samsays:

        Thanks Brian. Another question for you. How much time and money did you invest in this video and since it looks like almost 5 months since you published this post, can you update us on your total earnings?

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          No problem. I didn’t keep close track of how much I invested in the video. Between the views and links, it set me back about $150. The video has made over $1500 to date.

  20. John Carlstrom Avatar John Carlstromsays:

    Excellent post Brian! I have a question for you if you don’t mind.

    I’ve heard that YouTube embeds help you rank in YouTube’s internal search, but do embeds also count as backlinks, therefore increasing your ranking in Google as well? I’ve been searching the net and asking around and haven’t been able to get a good answer.

    I was looking at the iframe embed code that youtube uses, and it uses a different url than the typical watch?v= url. It uses an url like: youtube.com/embed/. However, if you view the source of the /embed/ page, there is a rel=canonical that lists the typical watch?v= url. But does the link juice pass through?

    If embeds do count as backlinks, that would be fantastic, as it would increase my youtube ranking and my google ranking at the same time!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Glad you liked the post, John!

      Good question. I do think that embeds help increase your videos’ rank within youtube. I actually never thought to look to see if an embed passed juice. But considering that the embed URL cites the original video page on youtube in their rel-canonical, I’d say that’s a backlink :-).

  21. adi Avatar adisays:

    Thanks for the information. I have a question, For a video how much back link are sufficient for #1?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      My pleasure, Adi. It’s hard to give an exact number because depends on the competition, your videos’ on-page SEO etc.

  22. Kirk Avatar Kirksays:

    Brian what an article this is a WSO in itself full of quality content. I’d expect to pay good money for something like this. I signed up and you have proven content is king if you want to get people on your mailing list. I look forward to your other posts. Cheers and Thanks Bro!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      My pleasure, Kirk! You’re right: this is a system I could have definitely charged for. But I prefer to give it away to help the most people (and to build my list :-))

  23. Mark Morphew Avatar Mark Morphewsays:

    Brian,
    When building your backlinks via social bookmarks and other methods etc. would you use 1 keyword anchor text?
    Cheers 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Good question. I actually mix it up. But I definitely use more exact match anchors than I would for my money site.

      1. Mark Morphew Avatar Mark Morphewsays:

        Cheers Brian,
        I thought it would be a little safer to use more exact match anchors, on a YouTube video – end of the day you can always knock up a new video if all goes wrong!

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          I agree: you don’t need to go nuts with anchor text diversity. I just mix it up to increase the odds my video ranks over the long-term. But as you said, it’s no biggie if the video gets slapped: you can just make another one!

  24. Li Avatar Lisays:

    Just like to say Brian I’ve stumbled on to your blog through Google organic results a few times now and I always end up reading the whole article because its awesome and the fact you provide evidence is a huge +1 in the industry IMO. Keep up the excellent work!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Glad to hear that, Li! I always try to provide real world examples so everyone can see that this stuff really works!

  25. Garrick Avatar Garricksays:

    Brian,
    Great post! You just gave me an idea for another passive income stream. I haven’t had any experience with building backlinks in to YouTube vids, but I think that the sheer authority of YT that the internal links alone makes it easier to rank for moderately competitive keywords compared to websites, the farthest I’d go is share it in social media. The key is getting it indexed.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Garrick. You’re right: you don’t need to do so much backlinking to YouTube videos. But depending on how competitive the keyword is, you may want to build some cheap links to give your video a boost.

  26. You’ve done a good job by pulling your high competitive video on 1st position by this method, and for less competitive low search volume based videos, few back links are enough I think. What you say?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      That’s right: Tiffanly. You won’t need nearly as many backlinks for a less competitive keyword.

  27. johnny Avatar johnnysays:

    are you sure that google panda does not hurt youtube videos ?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Considering that there are so many low-quality YouTube videos out there, it makes sense that they would. But I can’t see Google hitting it’s own web property with a penalty. So I’d say they’re safe from Panda.

  28. thanks for you share Brian,btw i want to ask…
    any fiverr service to get subscriber for increase youtube video page on youtube search?thx before for your answer…!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      No problem. There are some, but I’ve never tried them. I like to play it safe. It doesn’t look natural to suddenly go from 0 to 5000 subscribers.

  29. hello…
    I want to ask you what is the criterion by which you think it is best to choose a keyword that you be on the first page in Google with youtube!?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Leo, the most important thing is to look for keywords that already show video results. That’s half the battle right there 🙂

  30. Thanks for the article. Brian, tell a different purpose you are using a different YouTube channels?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      No problem, Michael. Glad you got some value from the post. That was a different YouTube channel because I wanted to test that video independently from an established Channel.

  31. I heard that video backlinks are the strongest backlinks you can get. Have you heard of the concept of video linkwheels?

    Ps . Thanks for PAD info. One question do i have to get a PAD created then get somebody yo submit it or dovthey do it all for $5?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Video links can be pretty good, but they’re usually nofollow so not very powerful. I’ve heard of linkwheels, but not video linkwheels. You can sometimes find someone on Fiverr who will do both for you.

      1. Hello Brian
        It seems to me that if you post a link to another video on your youtube channel (special window on the bottom, to place a link to recommended video) , this link is dofollow.
        If you post a link to another movie in the content of post or comment, it has a nofollow status. But I could be wrong 🙂

        Best regards, Kris

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Thanks for the heads up. I didn’t realize that. Thanks Kris!

      1. Im going to test it I seen sone pretty impressive results from a couple other internet marketers using that technique, but they also were trying to sell something as well. I just bought 30 pva accounts so ill let you know my results in a few weeks.

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Sounds good. Let me know how it goes 🙂

  32. Hi Brian

    Awesome post!! Vagex.com has reached its max limit. What would the cost per view be at microworkers & mechanical turk? or do you think it makes sense to advertise on youtube? any difference between paid ads & organic views? help pls!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Ahmed! I’m honestly not sure what those other services (including YT ads) tend to cost/work because I’ve only used Vagex for this purpose. So I’d give them a shot as long as you’re sure you’re getting high-retention views.

  33. great post Brian! I’m actually running my own test as we speak. is this Vagex.com service real people that watch your videos? how does it work?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Maki! Yes, Vagex is real people watching your videos for a small fee. Unfortunately, they’re not accepting new people at the moment. I’d recommend using Amazon MTurk in the meantime.

  34. Hey Brian,

    You know there are very few cases when you actually manage to find some valuable search results when looking for something.

    This is just a wow and deserve to be tried out. I will surely give my feedback of how is it going.

    Subscribed myself to your everything 🙂

    Thanks,
    Farhan

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks for your kind words, Farhan! Definitely keep me posted on how it goes for you.

  35. Great post Brian,
    I read it and tried to apply some of your recommendations. I think the steps you covered here are really important to get higher YouTube rankings.
    Just a heads up though, the views exchange site you mentioned on this post is not accepting new members… do you have another site to recommend?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Lipe! I actually don’t know of any similar service. But you can always use Amazon Mechanical TURK to get some cheap views (although not as cheap as Vagex).

  36. Hi Brian,
    Nice Tips, I agree that we can build links like old times for YouTube..they are still working and help a lot in terms of ranking the videos.
    Video marketing is a good way to divert income stream and able to generate some extra passive income….

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Glad you liked it, Sanjeev. You’re right: you can definitely go crazy with link building to YouTube and get away with it.

  37. Hello Brian
    A few words about choosing a category – I noticed that if I select a category “News & Politics”, then my video appears in the SERP much faster and higher than using other categories. You may try it 🙂

    Best regards, Krzysiek

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks for that tip, Krzysiek! I’d never heard that one before. But it makes sense that they’d want to rank news faster than videos in other categories.

  38. Article is awesome, and Surely I can rank for my upcoming videos by these super easy tips..
    Thanks A lot!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Yes you should definitely be able to rank with these tips, Nishant!

  39. Wow Brian! Excellent overview and so easy to follow! Going to see if this can help a client of mine. Keep up the great work!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Dave! Let me know how the video works out for your client.

  40. Mat Avatar Matsays:

    Great article. However the best method to rank your videos I have found is getting backlinks from Youtube itself. Those are safe backlinks and very powerful. Here’s the Fiverr gig I use:

    fiverr.com/clixess/put-your-youtube-channel-as-featured-in-3-high-pr-youtube-channels

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Glad you liked it, Mat. I like the idea of getting internal links from YouTube, but the links you get from that gig are actually only for 30-days.

  41. Just for the record I make a substantial living from YouTube marketing and I also run my own SEO firm with over 250 clients with Google Front Page Rankings. Now I use Fiverr for my YouTube rankings and I agree with Brian but would also like to add a little more value. After you do what Brian suggest visit Fiver and find someone that dripfeeds views for 20 days. 100 views a day for 20 consecutive days works wonders with the right backlink profiles. I’ve ranked for several medium competition keywords without any backlinks. Google will rank your video with social signals from just YouTube. Here is my formula 100 likes, 50 comments, 10% dislikes, 100 subscribers driven from the video, 50 video embeds and about 250 Facebook shares and likes, then build backlinks. There is a link to my Youtube channel feel free to Google search any of my keywords.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Wow you weren’t kidding when you said you were going to add a little more value. Great stuff!

  42. There is much you can do right with YouTube but there is also a lot of things you can do wrong! For instance all of my affiliate videos are on the same channel, if Google decided i violated their tos I would have to start all over but Google see the value I bring. I would suggest using different channels for different niches rather than having 1 channel or 1,000 channels.

    Always use the main keyword and 2 lsi keywords as your tags, always put your channel name in tags, always link to your channel and use the most popular channel name as a tag so your video can pop up after their video is finished.

    Always upload your video in HD if you can, always use your main keyword as title, url, first tag, file name, and use title as first sentence. Ex. keyword is Fat Laughing Cat
    Title: Fat Laughing Cat – Can’t Stop Laughing
    Description: https://me.com/Fat_Laughing_Cat
    Fat Laughing Cat – Can’t Stop Laughing
    Tag: fat laughing cat, fat, laughing, cat, big giggling feline, obese chuckling kitty, mrpelage(my channel), fatcatlaughter,(top video channel)

    Brian I hope your readers are getting value from this!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Really good stuff yet again. I know I’m getting a lot of value from it so I’m sure Backlinko readers are too 😀

  43. Anthony Avatar Anthonysays:

    Hey Brian,
    This article puts many paid YouTube courses to shame.
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      My pleasure, Anthony. Let me know if you have any questions.

  44. Hello Brian i found your article very interesting informative
    even for an experienced internet marketer like myself.
    You should also be careful how many backlinks and bookmarks you send to your video each day, as too much in one day will get your video penalized and pushed down the ranking. Google and Youtube is catching up with all the SEO tricks.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Hopeton! Yes, you’re 100% right about that. I’ve toned things down a bit since everyone and their mom has started to spam YouTube videos. I’ve even done some white hat promotion so that I survive any future “YouTube Update” Google may roll out.

  45. Tim Avatar Timsays:

    Hi Brian
    This post is exactly what Ive been looking for, so thanks!
    Some questions
    1 – Ive heard that linking form other YT videos to your money video can help with G rankings, have you tried this? Any thoughts?
    2 – Is there any point in diluting anchor text so should we just go full EM anchor text and spam the crap out of it until it ranks?
    Cheers
    Tim

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Happy to hook you up, Tim.

      Onto your questions:

      I’ve heard that to but I never got it to work. The problem is most of the links will end up on a PR n/a page which won’t
      pass any juice. If you can get your link on a high PR page, then that would definitely help.

      I dilute anchor text just to be on the safe side. If Google does roll out a “YouTube update”, they’ll definitely use anchor text as part of the equation. I want my videos ranking for years, not months

  46. Just for the record I offer a video ranking service both for YouTube and Google. So I know a little about vseo. If you have a brand new product you can throw tons of backlinks to it as long as it looks natural. Google has no idea how this search term will perform so it would be unfair to penalize you. Hopeton you gotta remember Youtube is not just a video site it’s also the 2nd largest search engine and a pretty huge social site. When was the last time you watched just 1 video on YouTube?

    Google is still nothing but a computer software and if you ranking high in Google make sure you’re ranking high in YouTube so you getting at least 30% suggested video traffic and 25% YouTube search traffic. Google will drop your video if it’s only ranking high because of backlinks. And it’s okay to get 100-200 fake views YouTube don’t care about that, but once it’s like 5,000 views in 2hours for a topic that gets 100 searches a month all from Russia, you going down!

    Hope this help. Also if interested in my service I’m at seomojo.com

  47. Just to be clear. 100-200 views just to give your video that presence, (nobody wants to be the first person to watch your video) 3-5 days after you upload it in the span of 25-50 views a day until you at 100-200 views. Then just keep building quality links then everything else should be natural especially the traffic. Or what’s the point? Have a video getting 100 views per month making me $500. Keyword research should be your main concern, then rankings come easy.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks for all of your insights on this. It’s clear that you know your stuff when it comes to ranking YouTube videos!

  48. Sumarwan Avatar Sumarwansays:

    Way to go Brian. I just did the whole youtube seo thing in a while, and well I made couple sales too through clickbank.

    I think the other thing to that will make your video up in the first page of google is the audience retention and numbers of likes and subs.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Glad to hear that, Sumarwan. That’s true: retention, likes and subs are really important.

  49. These link building steps aren’t enough to rank any video 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hmmm. Not sure what makes you say that, Syed…

  50. If I will promote my youtube videos on video submission sites then i can get good ranking and fast result in Google.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Sounds like a plan, Marya!

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