The majority of ranking on top in the search results discussion involves Google. Yes, it’s the most popular search engine, and its traffic numbers are insane. Bing and Yahoo aren’t even in the same ballpark. But there is one option that many fail to consider, and that’s YouTube, Google’s little brother.

Did you know that YouTube is the second ranked search engine in terms of searches, only behind Google? Yeah, so that means it’s a goldmine for traffic!

There are two reasons why you need to consider focusing on YouTube:


  • Video content is increasing in popularity: It’s very simple. People love video content because it’s easy to digest and it’s easy accessible on mobile devices. They can engage with it in a much more casual manner than reading a long blog post. If you pay attention to the top influencers on social media you will see that many of them are now focusing on video content, especially Facebook live. Video is just very popular at the moment.


  • Ranking videos is easier than ranking websites: When you truly understand video SEO you can see videos hit the top of the search results in YouTube much faster than you could rank a webpage in Google. Just like with top Google SERPs, you will need to have a great video and an attractive call-to-action in order to drive traffic to your website.

There are Two Goals When Ranking Videos

When you shift your thinking over to video SEO, the goals and objective are no different than when you are doing SEO for your website. You want to attract traffic, social shares, links and conversions. The end goal is the exact same.


1. Attract Links and Social Share Love

I like to compare this to creating an infographic these days. Today, everyone is publishing infographics and the internet is flooded with them. They can do very well, and get picked up by major media outlets and acquire the best links, but they have to be amazing in order to stand out in a heap of mediocrity.

The same applies to video. It’s the hottest content format right now, so everyone is cranking out video, and honestly, the barrier for entry is much lower now. Anyone with an iPhone can essentially create and publish video content. With infographics, they require design and graphic skills. Anyone can press “record” and start filming video content.

Don’t let that discourage you though, because there is a huge opportunity if you just get a little creative. I want to show you one of the most successful pieces of video content, in terms of link acquisition and social shares:



This is the video that put Dollar Shave Club on the map. As of today, it has almost 25 MILLION views. When this video was released it went viral, and fast. It was such a unique concept that hadn’t been done yet and every major media site had written about them – and linked to them – within days.

They were able to secure links from all the big boy websites – Forbes, Inc, Business Week, Business Insider, Mashable, TechCrunch, etc. These are links that SEOs drool over and spend a crazy amount of time and money trying to secure. Dollar Shave Club was able to do it all within days, simply by creating an amazing video.

When Dollar Shave Club launched, nobody knew who they were. The day they released their video, the whole world heard about them. Everyone was sharing the video on social media and to this day, the company still has the video on their home page with social share buttons right under it. The argument about whether or not social signals impact SEO can go on for days, but what I can tell you is that they help to put your website in front of other people and attract new visitors to your website that convert. They are important, regardless of their SEO impact.

Now, don’t expect the same results as Dollar Shave Club. You have a better chance of being struck by lightning than experiencing the same results they did, which eventually led to them being acquired for $1 billion.

What you can learn from them is that a great video is key. You can’t publish crap and expect results. Create good video content and then perform outreach just like you would with an infographic or blog post. If they link to your YouTube video, then it will help that rank and you might even get a bran mention link to your website as well. Make sure to optimize your video description to include a link to your website or landing page. You have to send that traffic somewhere.


2. Convert Traffic into Sales

This is the main reason that I would suggest focusing on video SEO, especially if you sell physical products or even provide services. Consumers love to watch video reviews and demonstrations. Want proof?

After typing “iPhone 7 unboxing” into YouTube, this was the first result:



9.5 MILLION views of someone opening up an iPhone box. People are fascinated with seeing something before they make the plunge. So, whether you run an Amazon affiliate website or your own e-commerce brand, you should 100% focus on creating unboxing videos for every single product you offer, and optimize them for YouTube.

Each video needs to be optimized for the specific product, and the description needs to send that watcher directly to the page on your website where they can purchase it. If you do some YouTube competition spying you can quickly find several e-commerce brands that have thousands of videos on YouTube, with a massive number of views. It wouldn’t shock me if their YouTube referral traffic drastically outperformed their organic Google search traffic, in terms of conversion value.

This space will only become more crowded, so it’s important that you create very high quality videos. The example above, which is by YouTuber Marques Brownlee is a great example. Take a look at all his tech product reviews if you need some inspiration. They are some of the best on YouTube, which is why he has 5 million subscribers.


6 Components of Optimizing YouTube Videos

If you have a basic understanding of SEO or have been successful ranking websites in the past, YouTube SEO will be a breeze for you. Even a complete noob could master this with little effort. It’s pretty basic, and I’ve outlined the main six components below.


1. Search Focused Title

When you search for something on YouTube, the first thing you look at are the titles. When they are relevant to the main keyword, the click-through rate is going to be much higher because the consumer assumes it’s the most relevant to his or her search. So, it needs to have the keyword, but it also much be compelling.

Above, I showed you an example of a great unboxing video that came up for the search “iPhone 7 unboxing” in the top position. Its title is, “iPhone 7 Unboxing: Jet Black vs Matte Black!”

That is a great title because it has the main keyword he was trying to rank for right at the beginning but it also offers something more, which is the comparison of two models. This also helps the video rank for terms related to the jet black and matte black versions of the phone.

Figure a way to entice clicks. Click-baiting is HUGE on YouTube, simply because it works. Someone will click on a controversial or outrageous title over a plain boring one every day.


2. Description Optimized for 100 Characters

YouTube allows up to 1,000 characters in a video description, but there is no reason to use all of that space, for two reasons. First, nobody wants to read a long description. They are on YouTube to watch videos, not read. You are wasting your time if you think someone is going to watch a video and then stick around to read your novel of a description.

Second, YouTube will only show two or three lines of your description, which is about 100 characters, so anything beyond that requires someone to click on “Show More” in order to view it. Focus on the first 100 characters, and make sure it includes your keywords and a strong call-to-action. While the person watching the video might not see beyond the first 100 characters, YouTube does take it into consideration when selecting which videos to display in the suggested video sidebar.

So, focus on the viewer in characters 1 to 100, and then from 101 to 1,000 focus on YouTube, and using keywords and content that will help your video get more suggested impressions.


3. Proper Category Selection

When you select a category for your video, you are essentially telling YouTube where you want your video to be, in terms of what other videos it’s grouped with. If you aren’t sure, check out videos that are similar and showing up for where you want to rank.

You do this in the advance settings menu, and there are some things you research related to categories that can help you produce better video content:

Identify the top creators within your category and see what type of content performs best for them in terms of views and engagement.
Are there similar categories that seem to have better engagement and views? (sometimes switching category focus can drastically improve your video performance)

The point is not picking a category blindly without doing a little research. This step plays a large role in where and how your video shows up, so make sure you give yourself the best chance at the most impressions and views.


4. Intelligent Tag Choices

Let’s be honest; nobody searching YouTube is paying attention to tags. Not a single person. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore them, because YouTube uses tags to help understand what your video is all about, so it’s in your best interest to use as many descriptive tags as possible.

This allows them to help determine where to place your video and what videos to associate it with. Combined with the category, as described above, this can get you a lot of extra exposure and views via the suggested video sidebar. The biggest mistake people make while picking tags is jamming it full of irrelevant tags in hopes that it helps them get more views. This will not help, and has even been said to hurt your visibility in YouTube. Only use tags related to your content. The use of long-tail tags can really help you pull more views.


5. Enticing Thumbnail Image

The video thumbnail is the main image people see while scrolling though the YouTube search results. Along with the title, this is the most important optimization tip for pulling clicks. A great thumbnail image can be the different of no clicks and an abundance of views.

If you don’t assign a custom thumbnail YouTube will give you some suggestions, but they are not always the best options. You want to create something interesting. Just like titles use click bait to get views, the thumbnails of successful videos are usually over the top.

If you want to see someone who has mastered the YouTube thumbnail game, it’s Casey Neistat. His thumbnails are always well thought out. Since traffic comes from desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile devices of all different sizes, you need to make sure that your thumbnails are optimized to display perfectly across every possible option. Always upload images that are 1280×720 pixels for the highest quality.


6. Keyword Focused Subtitles and Closed Captions

A lot of people skip this because it requires that you manually upload a text transcript of the video, but it’s another opportunity to help YouTube better understand your content. Even aside from the SEO benefit, subtitles come in VERY handy when someone is watching with the sound off. As crazy as it may sound, a lot of people, especially those searching while at work, do so with the videos muted.

While this part is not required, you need to take the time to do it, because any chance YouTube is giving you to help them figure out where to rank and display your video, needs to be looked at as an open invitation.



Video content isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s only going to get more popular, so if you aren’t already implementing video and YouTube into your SEO strategy, you need to start ASAP. You can start now even if you are on a limited budget via your mobile phone. Take your time and produce eye appealing videos and then improve your equipment and production quality as you can afford to. Ultimately, quality trumps all.

If you have any questions related to video SEO, drop them in the comments below and I will do my best to reply as quickly as possible. Also, if you have any additional examples of videos that have performed well, leave them below, as I would love to check them out, especially if you created them yourself!

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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