The Video Search Engine You Can’t Ignore

SEO is a moving target. Working in this field makes you learn to live with your head on a swivel. If not, you’ll be a dinosaur before you know it. Watching search engine results pages change over the last decade has been a wild ride, as Google has changed the overall format of its search results and made an endless stream of temporary and semi-permanent changes to their format. Most recently, however, Google seems to have gone all in on video, and it seems that almost any niche can now benefit from adding video to its strategy for two reasons:

  1. YouTube by itself is the world’s second largest search engine
  2. Google loves showing videos in its results

YouTube is a Video Search Engine

Yes, I’ve been around long enough to remember when YouTube was a funny little anomaly, but it’s now a behemoth that’s a lot more than adorable cat videos. Let’s take a quick look at the estimated traffic numbers for a few of the web’s largest sites courtesy of SEMrush.

youtube video search engine

In terms of unique visitors, only Google and Facebook (barely) beat out YouTube. As Google owns YouTube, there are some fundamental similarities between optimizing for both search engines that you’ll want to take into account for your site to be optimized for YouTube. Here are some SEO tips that will help you promote your YouTube video.

Video SEO Tips for YouTube

  • Create and optimize a channel for your business (see our YouTube Channel Optimization Tips post).
  • Do some keyword research to find a topic you want to cover and get traffic for (if you’re just starting out, look for something in your niche that’s a little less competitive, if possible).
  • MAKE A GOOD VIDEO. If your video has crappy content, people just aren’t going to watch it. Provide valuable info, keep things interesting, and if possible, try to have as good of a quality video, audio, lighting, and graphics as possible. It doesn’t matter what kind of video you’re making, someone out there has created instructions for how to do it well. Listen to the experts!
  • For individual videos, you’ll want to treat the video title much like you would a page title for SEO. So once you have your target keywords in mind, make sure you use them within the title, but also write it in a way that will attract clicks. Just like Google’s standard results, there’s something to be said for a good clickthrough rate. If your title stinks, no one will click on it and the algorithm will take notice and drop you down below titles that are attracting more clicks. Some good example titles can be found by searching for competitive terms. For example, a search for “guitar lessons” returns videos that not only use that keyword but try to give you a sales pitch within the title such as:
    • Beginner Acoustic Lesson 1 – Your Very First Guitar Lesson – Eminor and A sus2
    • Guitar Lessons for Beginners in 21 days #1 | How to play guitar for beginners
  • Along with having a good title, it’s important to have a good thumbnail for your video. Make sure it helps sell the video – if it can include a self-explanatory image detailing what’s in the video, or include the title, that will help the video seem relevant for users.
  • Use the keyword in your description, and in the audio. Adding a transcription to your video means that you’ll want to use your target keyword in the audio itself. If you want to transcribe the video in the description, you can, but also write up a description that’s at least 300 words long and includes your target keyword just like you would for a standard SEO page (early in the text!)
  • Encourage activity. Within the video and the description encourage people to subscribe, like, and leave comments. Activity proves that users are getting a lot out of the video, and the user-generated content in the comments can also help drive even more traffic.
  • Add relevant tags. The VidIQ Chrome Extension will actually show you a video’s tags, so find the other top-ranking videos and see what they’re using and grab their best ones.

Beyond YouTube

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Google loves putting videos in SERPs these days. The example above discussed guitar lessons, let’s look at the search result in Google for that term.

guitar lessons serp

Google has decided to give you three things front and center here.

  1. Ads
  2. Local results
  3. Video results

Search in just about any niche, from products to services to informational content and you’ll find video content everywhere in Google’s standard search results. For this reason, you should add one extra layer into your standard keyword research process above when doing keyword research, and that’s to check your keyword ideas for video results. If you’ve got a list of 6 potential target keywords you know will do well in YouTube, you can check each of them individually by doing a search on Google to see which of them show results on the first page. These opportunities drastically increase your chances of getting views rather than relying strictly on users searching via YouTube.

This Sounds Amazing, But How Do I Make Good Videos?

I have a degree in film and video production, yes, but it’s been 15 years since I was doing that for a living, so I’ll leave it up to people who are on the front lines of online video production now to give you some direction in the links below.

How to Shoot a Good YouTube Video?

How to Edit a Good YouTube Video?

Have Your Own Video Search Engine Optimization Tips?

If so, please share in the comments below, we’re always open to hearing more groundbreaking tips for generating views and traffic!

Adam Henige

Adam Henige is Managing Partner of Netvantage SEO. Adam heads the SEO and link building efforts for Netvantage and has been a contributing blogger for industry publications like Search Engine Journal and Moz.

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