9 Hacks to Rank YouTube Videos in Google
I’m not going to throw a bunch of stats at you about how powerful YouTube is — you’re well aware the impact it can have on your business.
In fact, I’d be willing to bet that you have a YouTube account and you’ve probably uploaded a few videos.
I’d also be willing to bet those videos have about 19 views.
Don’t worry — this is pretty standard for YouTube marketing.
The key to YouTube marketing is getting your videos to rank in Google searches.
Once your video is ranked, you’ll receive a steady stream of targeted views from Google.
This is a lot easier said than done — ranking anything requires a deep understanding of Google’s search algorithm.
Unless you have a guide. That’s where I come in.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- How to create the right content for YouTube
- How to technically optimize your video to rank
- How to distribute your video to rank
The Life Cycle of Great YouTube Marketing
Below is a high level process of a great YouTube marketing campaign:
You’re aware of the inputs and outputs needed to succeed:
Create great video content that drives awareness for your brand and traffic to your site.
What you might not be aware of is the middle section — the ranking factors.
If you’ve got a massive YouTube following all you’ve got to do is publish great content and the rest will take place automatically.
If you don’t?
You’ve got to jump start the ranking factors by creating them manually.
I’m not talking about spamming the shit out of your YouTube video. I’m talking about taking extra time to create perfect ranking signals for YouTube and Google.
Picture your YouTube marketing as an old manual transmission car. To get that engine to turn over automatically you’ve got to push it down a hill first.
Here are 9 ranking hacks that will show you exactly how to do that.
Ranking Hack #1 — Video Content
The first area that people fail is the videos they’re creating.
YouTube isn’t a shopping website. You can’t make purchases in the platform. Why would you create sales videos?
It’s perfectly fine to use YouTube to host your videos, but people don’t give a shit about your new product.
YouTuber’s are seeking content to help them solve problems, learn skills, watch cat videos and waste time. In order to get that automated steam of views, focus your content accordingly.
Here are some perfect examples:
Don’t believe me? Go to Google and search for content related to what I listed above — you’ll see YouTube videos show up in the search results. This is validation that Google believes videos are the best way to answer that search query.
I know what you’re thinking: “I run a pet shop — I can’t create video content like that”.
As a business owner, you have intimate knowledge of your industry. Don’t hold back — share!
Ranking Hack #2 — Length of Video
YouTube is constantly updating their search algorithm to a deliver better user experience.
When the platform first launched, aggregate video views were heavily incorporated into the ranking decision (i.e. the more views your video got, the higher it would rank).
This left the door wide open for IP blockers, click farming and a terrible user experience. YouTube quickly got smart and changed their algorithm to take engagement factors into account. While aggregated clicks are still counted, the following metrics also play a heavy role:
- Number of comments your video receives.
- Total seconds users spend watching your video.
- Number of likes your video receives.
- Number of times your video is shared on social media.
- Number of times your video is <embed> on other websites.
These added metrics forced YouTubers to create videos with better, more engaging content in order satisfy the algorithm.
Although there is no official guidance on how long you should make your videos but I always suggest making your videos at least two minutes in length.
The rationale is simple: the more seconds you can keep a user on your video, the better your videos will rank. Therefore, having videos with more length will add to the total seconds users spend on your videos.
Don’t create shit content. Create videos that people want to watch and share.
Ranking Hack #3: Naming Convention
Before I get into how to name your video, I need to quickly talk about keyword selection. Your YouTube marketing plan should target long tail and less competitive keywords.
This will allow you to rank your video by simple and free hacks. If you insist on ranking for “car insurance” more power to you — however, you’ll need to build a shit load of links to your video.
Now, on to the naming convention…
YouTube is pretty damn smart, but they can’t see what your videos are about. Much like on page SEO and image optimization, the search engine looks at the name of your raw video file.
That means you need to optimize your video file before you upload it to YouTube. Here is the step by step process:
- Go to your completed video file that is ready for upload.
- Right click on the file and select “Get Info”.
- Add some tags to your video that are related to the content.
- Under “Name & Extension”, name the file after your #1 an #2 keywords. For example: How to Rank YouTube Videos — Ranking Videos in Google.
- Throw in a brief description of your video in the comments field.
This is a screenshot of how you need to name the raw video file before uploading it to YouTube.
Now you’re ready to upload your file to YouTube.
When you dump the file in the upload section the raw video name will pull through — leave it as is. This is the title you want for your video.
Ranking Hack #4: Description
Add a link to your website. Add a link to your website. Add a link to your website.
Am I clear?
I can’t tell you how many of my clients craft amazing videos with NO call to action and link to their website. YouTube provides a platform with a built in audience — it’s your job to engage that audience and drive them to your website.
Your website is where you finish the marketing process — aka grab their information, make a sale, click on an ad, etc.
After you add a link you need to optimize the rest of the video description. This is yet another area that YouTube scans for signals on what your video is about. Here are a few tips on optimizing your description:
- Try and write at least 200 words of content.
- Use synonym and one off keywords. For example, if your main keyword is How to Rank YouTube Videos, some one off keywords would be How to rank YouTube videos in Google, how to get videos to show up in search engines, YouTube Marketing, etc.
- DON’T USE DUPLICATE CONTENT. That means for EACH of your videos you need to write a different description.
- Don’t overuse keywords — you can get slapped for keyword stuffing.
I like to write out the video transcript. This can be a major pain in the ass so I recommend outsourcing it on Fiverr or following my guide on how to get the video transcript from YouTube.
Ranking Hack #5: Utilize Playlists
Playlists add an additional layer of signals to your video. For each video I strongly suggest that you create a new playlist using synonym keywords.
Here’s an example of how to optimize hacks 1–4:
- Primary Keyword: Guide to Ranking YouTube Videos in Google
- Secondary Keyword: How to Get More Views on You Tube Videos
- File Name: Guide to Ranking YouTube Videos in Google — How to Get More Views on You Tube Videos — Webris
- Description: Link to video!!! + [Insert transcript].
- Playlist name: YouTube Video Marketing — Rank My Videos Higher in Google.
Ranking Hack #6: Custom Thumbnails
This doesn’t send signals to YouTube but it does affect engagement. Adding a custom thumbnail to your video can have a drastic impact on your click through rate (CTR) which will in turn drive up your rankings.
Here’s a perfect example. Let’s say you searched for “SEO Help” and the two following videos came up. Which are you more likely to click through to?
- Or -
It was rhetorical — you’d click the second one.
YouTube will auto select random screens from your video and let you choose 1 of 3. These screenshots are often unflattering random captures that can send the wrong signals to users.
Google’s guidance on creating custom thumbnails.
I strongly suggest creating a custom thumbnail that stands out against the blues and the whites of Google. Bold colors like red, orange and green tend to stand out the most.
Ranking Hack #7: Leverage Social Media
According to traditional theory, search engine optimization has two aspects:
1. “On-page” SEO. This refers to how your website is structured, image tags, keyword density, <h1>/<h2>/<h3> tags, etc.
2. “Off-page”. This refers to other domains that link back to your website.
This past year we’ve seen a huge shift in traditional SEO. Social networks have changed the way we interact online and search engines are beginning to account for it. There is now a third aspect:
Google wants to deliver the best possible results for your query. In order for a website to fit that criteria it needs to be relevant. The best way to measure relevancy is measuring how many Shares, Likes and Tweets a website gets. .
Therefore, if you want your video to get noticed by Google you need to get your video on social networks. I have a standard process that I follow and I strongly recommend you do the same:
- Sync your YouTube account with your social media accounts. Anytime you post a new video it will automatically syndicate across your accounts.
- Post your video to relevant groups on social networks. If you aren’t actively engaged in these groups I suggest you find some. Not only are they a great way to get social signals on your content but they are a great way to network and learn more about your craft.
- If you need to, you can always buy social signals. There are a number of quality vendors out there — if you don’t know where to begin, check Fiverr.
Ranking Hack #8: Dress Up Your Channel Page
When I see a YouTube channel without a profile picture, header, description and links it looks like spam — YouTube sees it the same way. Filling out your YouTube channel page has a trickle down effect to your content. It adds another layer of signals as to what your videos are about.
There are 4 parts you need to fill out:
- Add links to all of your social media pages and website.
- Add channel images. Not only does it help users identify with your content, but YouTube as well. If you upload your image in accordance with search engine optimization best practices it will send a signal to search spiders. For example, YouTube-channel-name-channel-keywords.jpg will help add context to your page.
- Subscribe to similar channels. Remember when you were a kid and your friend got in caught stealing something but you got punished too (guilt by association); YouTube looks at what you’re looking at and associates your account with that content.
- Add a long description; make sure to add a ton of synonym keywords.
How to optimize your YouTube Channel’s page.
Ranking Hack #9: Build Links
The hacks laid out above will rank any low competitive or long tail keyword. If you want to rank videos for more competitive terms like “payday loans”, you’re going to have to build links to your video and embed the HTML on other sites.
If you’re new to SEO, I suggest sticking with low competition keywords. There’s nothing wrong with ranking videos for low competition keywords and is actually the route that I suggest you take.
When building links at YouTube videos you need to be careful. YouTube is pretty damn good at picking up spam and its pretty easy to get videos banned.
I recommend building a small amount of high quality links over a long period of time. Some link sources I use are:
- Private blog networks (PBN)
- Social bookmarks
- Web 2.0s (.Wordpress, .Weebly, etc.
- Partner sites
- My own sites (<EMBED>)
- Tumblr posts
- Pinterest pins
If you’re an experienced SEO and know how to build gray hat links, here is the exact linking template I use to rank my videos:
Low competition (<400 monthly searches)
- Drip fed or manually placed over a 30 day period
- 30 social bookmarks (drip fed)
- 6 Web 2.0s links (15 tier 2 social bookmarks on each link)
- 1 PBN link
Medium competition (400–1,000 monthly searches)
- Drip fed or manually placed over a 60 day period
- 60 social bookmarks (drip fed)
- 15 Web 2.0s links (20 tier 2 social bookmarks on each link)
- 4 PBN links
- 2 video embeds on PBNs
High competition (>1,000 monthly searches)
- Drip fed or manually placed over a 60 day period
- 100 social bookmarks (drip fed)
- 30 Web 2.0s links (25 tier 2 social bookmarks on each link)
- 8 PBN links
- 4 video embeds on PBNs
- 10 relevant niche blog comments a week
- 1 guest blog
YouTube is an extremely powerful platform that can drive a ton of traffic to your website. Follow these simple steps and you will see an instant boost in rankings .