How to Improve Views on your YouTube Videos

Improve Rank for your YouTube Videos

At the time of publishing this, YouTube received over 800 million unique visitors who watch a total of more than 3 billion hours of video each month. With so many visitors and views, a question our agency often gets asked is how to improve views on your YouTube videos?

Top YouTube video ranking factors

In the SEOMoz Whiteboard Friday video below, Jeff McRitchie, VP of Marketing at, answers that popular question in his presentationof 12 YouTube ranking factors that you can address to secure higher positioning for your videos in YouTube competitive search results, and by extension, Google blended search results. Blended search results just a fancy of way of saying that they include links and images to videos and other non-text content. In the video, Jeff shares some little know facts about YouTube and YouTube video posting and sharing best practices that, if followed, can drive more traffic to your video content.


Why YouTube is Internet Marketing Gold

Since YouTube is the #2 search engine in the US behind Google and ahead of Microsoft Bing and Yahoo!, understanding how to rank videos on YouTube for competitive searches can provide a huge boost to your Internet marketing efforts.

In fact, there are number of studies that show video marketing on YouTube can dramatically improve discovery, enagement, interest and awareness while driving qualified, targeted traffic to websites. Videos also engage users on a level that text and static images alone are challenged to do. If your business is active on YouTube, you should see a number of referral visits form your YouTube videos, assuming that you provide a link in the video description (hint: that’s an awesome best practice!) back to your website.

The 12 YouTube ranking factors coverd by Jeff in the above video  are split into two video ranking categories:

Content: title, description, tags, transcription, channel authority, delivery.

Engagement: views/attention, inbound links, social shares, embeds, content/video responses, likes/favorites.

In the video, Jeff does a great job an dcovers each of these 12 YouTube ranking factors in sufficient detail for the video viewer to walk away with actionable strategies that can be applied right away to enhance their YouTube video rankings.

Provided below is a brief summary of the 12 ranking factors Jeff covers and is included below for those that prefer the book over the movien (you know who you are!)

6 Content Factors in Ranking YouTube Videos

YouTube Top 6 content ranking factors

1.) Title: The video title is super important for a number of reasons. The first reason is that the title provides YouTube with some insights as to what the video content contains. Secondly, the title is often what appears as the anchor text (clickable link) in the YouTube search results or as the anchor text in the blended Google search results. Blended search results are great opportunity for publishers to gain access into the search results for competitive keywords as for certain searches Google will often include videos on the first page of the search results.

2.) Description: the description is super important because it also provides YouTube and Google with insights as to what the contents about. Oftentimes a description is used in the search results is a snippet below the title link describing to the user what the video content is about. The key is to provide a detailed description using your target keywords (terms that your target audience are desired clients would use when searching for content similar to yours). Putting a link to your website is good, but make sure it is not the only thing entered in the description.

3.) Tags: The YouTube tags field is another opportunity to provide YouTube and Google with insights as to the video content. Be sure to include up to 10 tags which can include phrases that are separated by commas. These tags should be closely related to the video as opposed to just putting down keywords that have no direct connection to try to gain rankings for those keywords (fail!).

YouTube Top 6 content ranking factors 1 3

YouTube Content Ranking Factors 1-3 Example from Google Analytics Demo Video

4.) Transcription: a little-known secret that Jeff clues us in on in this video is that YouTube creates automatic transcriptions of uploaded videos. Although the transcription quality that Google peforms is very poor in its current state at the time of this post, there have been experiments that have show evidence that Google will use the results of his transcription index videos. This was proven by in an experiment where a video that included a term that did not exist in the title, description or tags fields but still returned a link to the video in the search results after Google indexed the video on that term.

5.) Channel authority: if we look at a YouTube channel, two key clues as to its overall authority include the number of subscribers and the number of channel views. These can be important quality signals tell YouTube and Google whether or not a YouTube channel deserves high authority, therefore to rank its videos rank higher in the search results. The control that users have over this aspect of content factors is generally limited and can be best influenced by producing/uploading high-quality videos that result in viewers becoming subscribers while increasing the overall channel views by through increased social sharing. Think about your own experience, would you share a video with your connections if it was not of the highest quality?

6.) Delivery: delivery is important from the context that your title, description and tags will set a user expectation about that video. If the video content doesn’t deliver on those user expectations, then that video will result in poor attention (measured by how much view of the video do viewers watch on average), low viewership and limited engagement. The point made here by Jeff is that it’s not enough to get people to click through to your video but the quality of the content has to deliver on the expectations set by the search results or the attention and social sharing will suffer.

Top 6 YouTube Engagement Ranking Factors

YouTube Top 6 engagement ranking factors

1.) Views/attention: YouTube video views is a pretty self-explanatory and in general, the more video views, the better, both in terms of the reach and exposure and ranking influence. Views are an important signal to YouTube, and by extension, Google as to the quality of the video. Attention is measured by how far in a video viewers view (on average) before dropping off. This can be analyzed in the YouTube analytics and be useful input to identify potential problem areas within videos as signified by large drops in a certain time in the video playback. Here is an YouTube Audience Retion Report for a YouTube video which is used to show audience attention. In this example, at 4 mins and 16 seconds in this video, 35% of viewers, on average, are still engage.

YouTube video audience retention report

2.) Inbound links: it seems likve everyone in the SEO world and those that want to benefit from target traffic resulting in high ranking in the natural/organic search results, are talking about inbound links. Since YouTube is an extension of Google and we all know how important links are to Google in its program that ranks webpages, including YouTube videos in the search results, then the fact that inbound links are an important ranking factor for YouTube videos should come as a surprise. High-quality links from websites demonstrate to YouTube and Google the quality and value of your video and therefore will improve its position in the search results.

3.) Social Shares: Social media adoption continues to grow. 91% of today’s online adults use social media regularly according to a recent 2012 Digital Marketer: Benchmark and Trend Report. The search engines, including Google and YouTube, are adopting social signals to evaluate the quality of a video and then applying that information to the YouTube ranking algorithm. The net result here is that the more social influencers that share your video, the better. This will not only result in your video ranking higher in the competitive YouTube search results, but will also result in additional traffic by effectively syndicating your YouTube video across key social channels to acheive reach and expsoure.

4.) Embeds: Video embedding can be a great way to syndicate your YouTube video content. YouTube allows users to disable the allow embedding option if they want to prevent other users from embedding their video content on third-party websites and blogs. By default, YouTube allows embedding of all videos and unless the default option of allow is changed to disallow. Allowing embedding, in general, is recommended unless there is a good business reason to prevent other users from embedding your video content. Think about video embedding as free video content syndication and distribution. There can be valid reasons to disable embedding on YouTube videos, but all things being equal, having other users embed your video on their website or blog demonstrates the video’s quality and value to YouTube, and by extension, Google. Having someone embed your video is a great compliment. Embrace it!

5.) Comments/Video Responses: YouTube looks at the number of comments and video responses and uses those metrics as a key signal of video value and quality. The idea is the more comments and video responses that a video has, the more engaging the content and quality. Video responses, though difficult to get, carry extra weight over text based comments in the YouTube ranking algorithm. If you have clients, colleagues, friends/family that you can exchange video responses with, then this can be a great technique to enhance the ranking of your/their video content on YouTube. It is possible to leave a video response to your own videos, but the effect on ranking in YouTube is less than when a 3rd party leaves the video response.

6.) Likes/FavoritesYouTube looks at the number of likes and favorites that a video earns  as an endorsement of a videos quality and value. Likes and Favorites are key YouTube engagement metrics. The idea is the more Likes/Favorites that a video has, the better quality it must be and therefore, they are positive factors in improving YouTube video rankings. These will happen naturally with high quality video content.


YouTube receives over 800 million unique visitors who watch a total of more than 3 billion hours of video each month. YouTube is the #2 search engine behind Google and ahead of Microsoft Bing and Yahoo! Quality videos posted to YouTube provide a great way to reach your target audience for competitive search terms, not only on YouTube, but in the Google blended search results. 

We hope that you found this post and the accompany video from SEOMoz on the 12 YouTube Ranking Facors usefule in answering the question “how do you get videos to rank for competitive terms on YouTube


Note: The following comment was left on the Whiteboard Friday Video is relevant to blended search results:

… nifty video SEO tip – look for “Video Blended Results” for a 3-word search query on Google.

For example, when you search Google for this:

boiled eggs demonstration

… We see Google displays Video Blended Results on it first page. This lets us know Google considers that 3-word phrase as a “video worthy” phrase to optimize for.

Also, these search query words and phrases tend to get videos to show up on the first page of Google:

– tutorial

– review

– test

– what is ________

– how to

– demonstration

– explanation

– video

Credit: Markus Allen | August 3rd, 2012 on SEOMoz Whiteboard Friday


Rick Noel is an experienced digital marketer enabling businesses and organizations to grow through the Internet, while maximizing marketing ROI (Return On Investment). Rick is the CEO and Co-Founder of eBiz ROI, Inc., a full-service digital marketing agency located in Ballston Lake, NY.

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