How to Rank YouTube Videos on Google

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By Enric Llonch, on 4 October 2022

Video marketing is a fundamental part of marketing for many brands. It’s a format users love because it conveys a sense of connectedness, explains concepts, and tells stories in a very effective way.

But for your video marketing to work, you need your videos to be visible on Google. To help you out, we have compiled our recommendations for how to rank YouTube videos on Google. Let's dive in!

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How to Rank YouTube Videos on Google

How to Rank a YouTube Video: Tips to Create Your Video

Research Keywords

Similar to web pages, positioning a YouTube video starts with choosing the right keywords and creating content around them. To find the keywords you are most interested in, we recommend these tools:

  • Youtube Keyword Tool: This tool is very simple; just enter a topic in the search bar to see a list of recommendations based on other users' searches. The paid version allows access to additional data such as cost per click or competitor keyword analysis.
  • Ahrefs YouTube Keyword Tool: With this tool, you can generate thousands of keyword ideas optimized specifically for YouTube in just a few seconds.
  • Google Keyword Planner. This tool is ideal for brands that want to promote their videos with Google Ads and make them appear in Google’s results. In addition to suggesting keywords, it provides information about search volumes over time and makes predictions.

Analyze the Competition

Once you have your list of keywords, it's a good idea to take a look at the videos that rank best on Google and YouTube for those searches. Take note of the length, structure, title, description, and other key elements, and try to incorporate them into your own.

Quality over Quantity

There's no way around it: in the end, ranking depends largely on the quality of your content. For your YouTube video to rank better, you need to take care of many different aspects: the script, the lighting, the presenter's attitude, and more. Incorporate elements to keep the viewer's attention throughout the video and keep them hooked, and remember that long content generally ranks better.

Incorporate Keywords in the Voice-Over

If you are going to use a voiceover in your video, remember that YouTube creates subtitles automatically and then uses them to determine the content of the video. So be sure to include the keywords as part of your script. And speaking of captions, remember that Google's transcription is far from perfect, so give them a good once-over before posting.

Take Care of the Thumbnail

The thumbnail image of YouTube videos is essential to attract the attention of users and generate clicks. And the better the Click Through Rate or CTR of a video, the better it will rank. In fact, 90% of the most viewed YouTube videos have custom thumbnails.

To improve your thumbnails and make them even more appealing to viewers, take note of these tips:

  • Clarity first. Users are saturated with content competing for their attention, so the subject of your video should be obvious at first glance. Feel free to add text, but try to limit it to 6 words at most so it can be read quickly.
  • Use bold colors. According to YouTube, yellow attracts the most views when used as the background of a thumbnail. Whatever you prefer, make sure it contrasts well.
  • Show people. Shots of people, especially if they are looking into the viewer's eyes, are a great way to get attention with your thumbnail.
  • Use high-definition images in JPG, GIF, or PNG format. Ideally, they should be 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080 pixels and not bigger than 2 MB in size.

Publish Content Regularly

Positioning is a long-term bet. Rather than focusing on optimizing a single video, think about creating a channel and publishing content frequently, so that you gain authority on YouTube. This way, the content you publish will be more likely to rank.

How to Position a YouTube Video: Tips for Uploading a Video

Optimize the File Name

The file name is the typical small detail that is often overlooked but, as with the names of the images on a website, everything counts. The name of your video should be descriptive, contain at least the main keyword, and separate the different terms with a hyphen.

Choose an Attractive Title

In video marketing, first impressions count. The title of your video is useful for users to decide whether they are interested in it or not.

Your video title should contain the main keyword, clearly explain what the video is about and appeal to your target audience. If it’s appropriate for the content of the video, keep in mind that titles such as "How to get..." or "Guide to..." help generate a high CTR, which boosts SEO rankings.

Strategically Tag Your Video

The video tags are closely related to the keywords you have previously researched. Focus on including the ones that are most related to the content of your video, have a good number of searches, and do not attract too much competition.

Write Good Video Descriptions

Take note of these recommendations:

  • Search engines analyze YouTube video descriptions to extract keywords, so try to include them in your description whenever possible.
  • The first two lines of the description are what will show up in search results, so focus on getting the user to click.
  • Keep in mind that search engine crawlers cannot directly "read" the video content and rely on the description to get an idea of the content, so try to make it long and explain the main concepts well.
  • Add relevant links to your website, your channel's homepage, your social networks and other channels or campaigns you are interested in promoting.

Optimize for Google's Key Moments

YouTube videos are displayed in Google's SERP with a series of "key moments," designed to allow users to quickly jump to a specific point in the video.

To improve the chances of Google showing your video with key moments, add timestamps to your video description. Each content mark should be on its own line, with an explanation of the content following.

Geolocate the Video

If your video is particularly relevant to a specific country, add geolocation to specify which geographic area you want to target. This will improve the positioning of the video at a local level.

How to Rank a YouTube Video: Tips for After Publishing

Promote Your Video

The work of positioning a YouTube video does not end with the upload. To get more views, promote it on other channels such as your newsletter, your branded social media channels, or the most popular articles on your blog.

Focus On Getting Interactions

Videos with a high number of reactions and comments are more likely to rank.

You can encourage interactions from the video creation itself, for example, by encouraging viewers to answer a question in the comments, inviting them to ask you questions, or creating a contest.

To improve engagement, it’s also key to keep in mind that YouTube is not only a platform for uploading videos, but also a social network. Therefore, you must network with others in your industry through comments, collaborations, and more. Everyone will win!

Use Link Building Techniques

Similarly to websites, external links from good quality sites contribute positively to the positioning of a video. Therefore, the launch of your video should be accompanied by a link-building strategy to get other sites to include links to your video or embed it in their pages.

Measure the Results

After publishing your video, you should measure how it’s ranking in SERPs and compare the results between different videos over time to get best practices.

Please note that Google SERP results usually take 2 to 3 weeks to update.

To find out how much traffic Google is bringing to your YouTube channel, open YouTube Studio Stats and follow these steps:

  • Go to the Coverage tab.
  • Find the Traffic Source Types module and click View more.
  • In the Traffic Source tab, select the External checkbox to filter the data. Here you will see Google Search and the associated metrics.

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Enric Llonch