February 8, 2010

Optimizing Videos for YouTube Search


Hostway Team

By Monique Martin

No small business can afford to ignore YouTube. It’s the second largest search engine in the world and getting your business videos highly ranked is a key element in any successful marketing strategy. Competing for keyword rankings on YouTube takes more than your typical SEO.

As with all things Google, the exact details of the search rank algorithm are shrouded in mystery. They use a combination of text-matching, relevance and importance factors in determining search placement. Dozens of elements of a video’s content and popularity (including ratings and hits) are calculated.

Here are some traditional and non-traditional video-SEO techniques you can use to help your video climb in the YouTube rankings.


  • Titles: Be sure to optimize your keywords in your title. Make sure it’s relevant and descriptive. Be sure to use the word “video.” People do search for it. To get ideas for keywords, you can use YouTube’s Keyword Tool.
  • Descriptions: Put a link to your Web site at the top of the description area so that it can be seen even if the visitor doesn’t click “more info.” Be descriptive and use your keywords generously, but don’t stuff. Use this area wisely. It needs to be appealing to both visitors and spiders.
  • Tags: Use your most important keywords here. Be relevant and unique.


Google calls it “the Democracy of the Web,” but let’s face it -- YouTube is a popularity contest. The more popular you are, the better your search results' ranking.

  • Comments: The more comments you receive the better.
  • Subscribers: By themselves they don’t seem to increase ranking, but having more subscribers gives you the potential for more views, ratings and comments, all of which can increase your video’s rank.
  • Ratings: The more you can engage, entertain and educate your viewers, the better. Make sure your video is worth watching.
  • Annotations: Use annotations to urge people to rate, comment and see related videos.
  • Inbound links: Get the word out and make sure your video is easy to embed. The more traffic you can drive from outside sources, the more hits your video will receive. More hits means a higher rank.

Be sure to use YouTube’s Insight analytics to see how your video is being found. Click on “Discovery” to see a list of keywords that can help you optimize your videos and future marketing campaigns.

Make your videos engaging and unique. Offer a channel that gives people a reason to subscribe and come back to see what’s new.

Most importantly, get involved. YouTube is a social community. Being a contributing member will help you build credibility and expand your network. Rate, comment and respond. Don’t go overboard or you’ll be ignored as a spammer. It takes time to build a following, but if you put in the effort, you can reap the rewards social media marketing has to offer.

About the Author

Monique Martin served as chief operating officer for a successful online insurance marketing firm for five years.

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