Join Ian Lurie for an in-depth discussion in this video Exploring video ranking, part of SEO: Videos (2013).
Video rankings are important. They're easier to get and they allow you to gain eye catching real estate on search engine ranking pages. To rank videos though, search engines use a slightly different set of algorithms than they do for regular search results. They have to examine the audience's interest in the video, their engagement, as well as the relevance of that video to a specific search query. There are dozens of metrics that feed into these larger categories and we don't know all of them or exactly how they're balanced, but here are the most important ones that we know are factors.
First, the keywords in the video title, obviously, the more relevant a video title is to a search query, the more likely it is to rank. In this example I did a search for RC Planes and you can see that the top ranking video, has RC plane in the title, as does the second ranking video. But you can see that the number three result doesn't have RC planes or plane in the title, and then the next one does. How exactly does that happen? This is where the other factors start to play a major role.
For example, here, the number of views on a video, makes a difference. More views by unique visitors is better than fewer views, but don't cheat. If you pay for views or otherwise try to manipulate viewership, you may get penalize and there's been some very public examples of that, still though. That doesn't totally make sense or explain this ranking. The number three result here has fewer views than the number four result and they both have some version of crazy frog in the title so, there's gotta be more to it.
If you take a look here you can see that view velocity, the number of views over time and the rate of growth in those views can affect rankings as well. If you take a careful look at the graphs on the right-hand side here, you can see that the number one video has very steady growth and the growth rate is increasing over time. It's only just started to top out. The number two video you can see has a few bumps, but it's clearly starting to level out. And if you look at the video down towards the bottom, you can see it's bumpy, but it's clearly leveled out. And these are subtle differences, because we're dealing with tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of views, but you can see the part that this is playing. If you can get good view velocity, good organic view velocity, that makes a huge difference in your rankings.
Next is view quality. Are people actually watching the whole video? That matters a lot, and I can't show you statistics on that here, because YouTube doesn't make those available to the public, only the owner of the video has it. But you can look at your videos and see the average amount of time that people are watching. User-interaction with their video. So, comments, shares, thumbs up, actual engagement in conversation around the video and the comments are all things that can show the impact your video's having on the audience. Favorites on video networks are particularly powerful.
if you look at the number two video here. it actually had 130 favorites. I checked in the statistics the number three had 545 favorites. But again, it's not as keyword optimized. But it still outranks number four, which only has 67 favorites, and fewer comments, and fewer likes and dislikes. So, you can kind of see how this is starting to play a role, where a video with a title that's not even close to optimal can outrank a video with a fairly optimal title or even two videos with fairly optimal titles. Because there's higher engagement with the video.
Another factor is keywords in the video description. The more relevant the description is to the query, the better the ranking. In this example, you can see that the number one video has RC Plane in the description. And that, actually, the number five video has RC Plane in the description. But the number two, three and four videos don't have that exact phrase. So, they're ranking for other reasons, for those other metrics that we talked about. Location diversity is an important factor as well. The more different sites that embed your video, the more useful search engines think it is. It makes sense if you think about it.
If a lot of different important websites take your video and embed it in their pages and people all over the web watch it on all of those sites, chances are it's a pretty important video. It's generating high engagement. The authority and trust of those sites. So, if the New York Times embeds a video of yours somewhere in their site. That's a major factor. If I embed it in my personal blog, probably not as big of factor. And the embed location within a site. Is the video embed on the homepage, is it twenty clicks from the homepage? The location matters because that is another way for search engines to infer the importance of that video.
How often, you post videos to their relevant hosting site. So, here you can see an example. We have a video with 180,00 views outranking a video with 276,000 views. They both have fairly relevant titles. The video that's being outranked, actually has RC plane right in the description. But you can see that the video ranking above it, that author has posted 445 videos. The one below has only post 51. That makes a difference. And subscribers. The number of subscribers to a particular channel can boost that particular video. So again, you've got a video with 180,00 views about as optimal as the video below it.
But they have almost 60,000 subscribers to their channel. Whereas the video below them only has 592. It's another factor that makes a difference. There are other factors that matter as well, they just aren't quite as important as far as we can tell. Those include things like channel and playlist inclusion, you know, how many people are adding your videos to a particular playlist. Tagging and annotation of a video, so people can add notes and tags to videos and that can make a difference. The overall authority of the channel where the video is hosted.
So, on YouTube, you know you get your own channel, and the more authoritative your channel the more of a boost videos within that channel will get. And the freshness of the video, how new is it, has it been on the site for five years. And they'll take that and compare that to velocity and see how important it is to the audience right now. There are even more smaller factors, but they all come back to two basic categories. There's video engagement, which is data that the search engines can use to show the quantity and quality of interest in a video. How is the audience responding. And then, there's video relevance.
That's the stuff that helps search engines classify and categorize a video. Keep these two categories in mind and you'll always stay on track. Think about your video content really carefully. Which aspects of your content do you directly control? Well, you directly control all the factors surrounding relevance. You can add keywords to a title. You can make sure that it's description is really well-written. What you'll only control indirectly by creating compelling content? Engagement factors. Make sure you're covering both. But make sure in particular, that you take care of the things you can control 100 percent.
Make sure that you've covered your bases with keywords and tagging and things like that for all your existing videos.
- What is video SEO?
- Debunking video-ranking myths
- Picking a video hosting service
- Researching topics and keywords
- Choosing the right title and descriptions
- Facilitating viewer comments and ratings
- Using social media to announce videos
- Creating an optimized playlist and channel
- Analyzing your success