What Factors Matter When Ranking YouTube Videos

YouTube is an awesome source of traffic and for building brand awareness. The interface is very simple to use because you can create a video using some of the FREE tools available online and publish it within minutes. YouTube.com has incorporate some easy to fill out meta-title, description, and keyword fields to optimize your videos. The problem is your going to have tremendous competition because YouTube is a very popular video sharing platform. Not to mention, big brands have invested enormous money into creating videos, research, and marketing because they realize the potential to make money by engaging people on YouTube. Over the years, there has been enormous research done on the “ranking factors” within YouTube. The question I get asked several times is: What factors help rank videos in YouTube?

I decided to perform a case study creating a product review video tutorial and applying some of the ranking factors outlined by Brian Dean from Backlinko.com. The results were very impressive and below, I’ve detailed the factors that helped me boost my video to number #2 in the YouTube search results.

Let’s get started…

Research – My Video

When I started blogging, I installed a SEOPressor plug-in that helped identify LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords for my content. The plug-in also provided a breakdown of the formatting options, making sure you have the correct elements in place like H1, H2, H3, bold, italic, etc. The recent changes within the Google algorithm made it important to incorporate long-tail and LSI keywords to improve the user experience. Once I had installed the plug-in, I created a video tutorial outlining the features, etc. Here are a few things I did during the creation process…

  • Made it longer and in-depth compared to any competition
  • Optimized the video after uploading, adding the right keywords
  • Did an exceptional job by taking a full 25 days to create the video
  • Covered all the main features

For those who want to see the final video, please check out my SEOPressor video tutorial. When you arrive on the page, you’ll find both content and video.

Over time, I tracked certain factors, looking for an improvement in my rankings and the results were very impressive.

YouTube Ranking Factors

Audience Retention –

Audience retention refers to the amount of people who watch your video and how long they watch it for. The higher the percentage of people engaging with your video for longer periods of time means you’ve uploaded something of value. My video is roughly around 35:00 minutes long and the average audience retention is 12:00-15:00 minutes. Many people may think this number is low but if you have a higher engagement level than other similar videos, that’s amazing and other factors matter as well.

Comments –

Another signal your video provides value is the amount of people who leave comments. The higher the comments, the more value or engaging it was. This also indicates people have liked the video or simply just watched it.

Subscribe to Channel –

Here’s something else that’s cool and many people don’t pay close attention to. Not only is it important to get people to subscribe to your channel, but the timing also says a lot about the value of your video. For example, if while watching your video or after, they subscribe immediately to your channel, that’s a clear indication of a high valuable video. Obviously, it’s human nature to opt-in, share, or subscribe immediately after reading or watching something of value…right?

Social Shares –

The more social shares, the better signal it is you have a video that provides substance. Higher social shares are an awesome way to increase traffic to your video and audience retention. Many people debate this factor because it’s hard to track someone sharing, but I believe it’s the after effect that really matters. The more people who share your video, the higher the engagement afterward and it’s much easier to track a video that suddenly sees a spike in traffic.

Thumbs and Favorites –

Thumbs up or down is a great way to indicate value and favorites indicates a video that people will want to come back and watch later. These elements don’t have as much juice as social shares and audience retention, but might actually contribute to the overall ranking.

Wrapping It Up…

Toward the end of the content, Brian outlines his most important factor, which is to create videos that attract an audience. Just like high quality content will rank higher within the SERP’s, longer YouTube videos will rank higher. The more value you can provide within your videos, the better for engagement and retention. Your goal should be to create lengthy videos because they tend to perform much better than shorter ones.

Here’s a quick breakdown of YouTube ranking factors…

  • Audience retention
  • Comments
  • Subscribers
  • Social shares
  • Favorites and thumbs
  • Video longer than 5 minutes.

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