You’ve may have heard all of the statistics before.
“YouTube is the second most popular website in the world.”
“YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world.”
“55% of Google searches show a video result from YouTube.”
I’m hear to tell that you that it’s all true, and if you are ignoring YouTube you are missing out on a valuable source of traffic and a powerful tool for making a great impression on your target market.
Many people struggle with YouTube and find it frustrating. They post 2 or 3 videos, create a great keyword rich title for the video, get a couple dozen views, and then they give up. It doesn’t take expensive equipment or a huge video production budget to have a high traffic YouTube channel, but it does take work and planning. The key element of that planning involves knowing what YouTube’s top two ranking factors are.
The Number One Ranking Factor: Viewer Retention
One of the most important ranking factors on YouTube is viewer retention. You want to keep their eyes on the screen for as long as possible. If people click away 20 seconds into your video, it’s sending a signal to YouTube that your video probably doesn’t have the content that people are looking for. On the other hand, if they view your video for 10 minutes or more then it is very apparent that you have information that people value.
How do you keep viewers on your videos longer? Here are a few tips for increasing viewer retention:
Make longer videos.
It has been tested and proven that YouTube is showing best positions for videos that are longer. The short 2 minute or less videos can hold someones attention easier, but if you put the effort into planning 10 minutes or more of great content that people want to see, you can surpass many shorter videos in the search results.
Tell people what your video is about
At the start of your video, give a short preview of the information you are about to present. A “table of contents” listing of the items you are going to discuss or show in your video so people know to hang on a little longer to get to the portion they are interested in. Of course, this mainly applies to educational video presentations but it can be adapted to many video styles.
Use teaser hooks to keep them on the video longer
By dropping a little teaser line in the video that lets viewers know that your juiciest and most important content is coming soon, and then redirecting back to other information first, is a proven method keep people on the screen. You hear it all the time in news broadcasts on TV and radio. For example, you may here something along the lines of “I’m going to tell you how to make one million dollars in the next seven days, but first let’s recap the three points I’ve just presented…” If you were going to be given some amazing information you would certainly hold on just a little longer in order to hear it. You wouldn’t want to skip ahead because you might miss the beginning of the information, so you sit there and watch the entire video. Works like a charm.
The Number Two Ranking Factor: Audience Engagement
Google encourages content creators to make video that maximize engagement. How can viewers engage with a video and why does it matter?
There are several things a viewer can do once they’ve seen a video. They can just click away when they are done, or they can hit the “like button”, subscribe to your channel, and leave comments.
All of these engagement methods send signals to YouTube that your video has content that people want to see and you will rise above other similar videos in the search results (in both YouTube and Google).
One method of encouraging engagement is to ask your viewers a question and ask them to leave their response in the comments. Actively request their feedback and they will respond. Reply to their comments to help actively start a discussion. It’s no secret that YouTube comments can be like walking in a mine field. It needs to be actively moderated to weed out the trouble makers, but many channels have a thriving comment section and this helps them get traffic.
Many people just ask for people to hit the “like” or “subscribe” buttons, but for your subscriber list to truly grow, you need to be making good content and posting on a regular basis. This is where the people that make 2 or 3 videos and quit can rarely grow their subscription base. Why would you want to subscribe to channel that is never updated and they only have a few videos. Building up a quality catalog of video material on your channel will make it worthy of a “subscribe” click.
YouTube previously allowed annotation links to be placed over videos. These were commonly used for people add a subscribe button or other links to increase engagement, but this tools is being phased out of YouTube since it is now outdated, intrusive and not mobile friendly.
YouTube Ranking Factors That Are Not As Important As You Think They Are
- Keyword rich video tags don’t make much difference. No need to stuff the keyword tag section with 30 phrases that you think will make your site show up. That’s just loading it with spam. Just use two or three keywords that accurately describe your video content and YouTube will take it from there.
- Keyword optimized descriptions have little effect. As mentioned above, stuffing any area with a spammy list of keywords will not help your video. Use the description area to accurately describe your site and to leave important links to help funnel clicks over to your primary website, downloads, or other reference material that viewers would find important. It’s a good idea to put your link at the very top of the video description that it shows up without someone having to click on the “show more” button to read the full description – This helps drive some of that traffic to your website.
Other YouTube Ranking Factors To Consider
- Exact match keywords in your title will give you a slight edge over videos without an exact match keyword.
- HD videos dominate the search results. 68.2% of videos on the first page of YouTube are in HD.
For several years the marketing community has been stating that “content is king” and that it is critical for a quality SEO strategy, but what type of content are we talking about? Low cost SEO copywriters have popped up all over the place, from local Craigslist listings to overseas outsourced writers that tend to get lost in translation. This flood of cheap content worked for a while when the key to being ranked well was to produce a lot of pages, each optimized for a different long tail keyword. SEO and content marketing have changed a lot in recent years.
How have things changed, exactly? Well, first there was Google Panda.
The Panda update penalized sites that had mediocre content and poor quality links. Then, there was Hummingbird. Before Hummingbird, Google would treat two similar keyword phrases as completely different terms. Now Google has become “smarter” and treats similar phrases the same. Search engines have become completely aware of the relevance between keyword phrases and a quality page can now rank for a variety of search terms. For example, previously they would consider “Houston moving company” and “moving service in Houston” very differently, but after Hummingbird the search results look very similar. Every search engine update aims to improve the results for the end user. they want to dig deeper and deliver exactly what the searcher is wanting. For example, let’s say you search for “where can I get a haircut in Chicago?” Google knows that you really want to see a list of barber shops and salons, and that’s what you’ll get. Since the shift has gone even further toward provided relevant, quality results for the end user and a page can now rank for many different search terms, how does this apply to your SEO and marketing efforts?
Publish great content that people will want to read. Publish content that deserves to rank for several keywords.
Instead of grinding out dozens of pages of content that are saturated with a specific keyword phrase, start writing for human beings again. Dig deeper and invest your time creating fewer, longer, and higher quality pages that people will find absolutely amazing. If your readers think it’s amazing, so will Google. Amazing content will get more clicks, more shares and reduce your bounce rate. This all sends positive SEO signals to Google and keeps you from ranking well. These days, a quality content writer is more important than ever. Skip the low-cost content mills and partner with a quality Internet content creator that has experience in your industry and has the capability to create amazing content that your readers will truly value.
One of the greatest mysteries of the modern marketing era involve the ever changing rank factors found in Google’s search engine algorithm. Businesses live and die by this search engine and understanding everything needed to compete can be a daunting task.
Not only do the rank factors change regularly, but the importance of each rank factor change as well. Tests are constantly being performed by organizations like Search Metrics to identify which factors are most important and the results can sometimes change drastically each year.
So what are the most important search factors for 2016?
In an online Q&A session in March of 2016, Google’s Search Quality Senior Strategist, Andrey Lipattsev let the top two rank factors slip.
I can tell you what they are. It is CONTENT, and the LINKS POINTING TO YOUR SITE.
He didn’t say which factor was ranked first or second, and we know these are just two of the 200+ ranking factors that are considered, but hearing the two most important factors directly from a Google representative is very eye opening. If you are managing online marketing for your business and not paying attention to both of these ranking signals, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. SEO campaigns that eliminate relevant fresh content creation and link building to save money are not going to be able to compete in 2016. Making on-site adjustments alone and living with old, badly written stale content will leave you spinning your wheels. For those that are interested, here is the full hour long video of the SEO discussion mentioned above.
Earlier this year Google made a major announcement that could be affecting your website rankings. “Starting April 21, 2015, we (Google) will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” What does it mean when they refer to “ranking signal”? Search engines use hundreds of metrics to determine your rank and one of them will now be the “mobile-friendliness” of your website. Is your site easy to read on small mobile devices or do users click away because it’s too hard to navigate? Does your site scale to fit all screen sizes or just display a small version of your desktop site? If your website is deemed not mobile-friendly, you will be experiencing a drop in mobile traffic as you’re are pushed down in rank. If you are running a mobile-friendly site, then you will benefit by being included in Googles mobile search results and your users will have a much better user experience because they can easily locate and find the information they are looking for. Mobile use continues to climb and the search engines are taking notice. StatCounter reported a 67% increase in mobile users in 2014 alone. Now is the time to “future proof” your sites to ensure that they are delivering a great experience to mobile users and that you are not being penalized for having an outdated site.
How do I know if my site is mobile-friendly?
Google has created a simple tool that evaluates your site and lets you know if your site qualifies as mobile-friendly. This test takes just moments to complete, click here to test your site and see your results.
What steps should I take to become mobile-friendly?
If you get a negative score on the mobile-friendly test, then it’s time to look closely at how people are using your site on mobile devices. Check your analytics to see if mobile devices have a higher bounce rate on certain pages. This could help indicate where people are having difficulty. If you do not have the technical expertise to correct these problems, we highly recommend working with a development team that understands responsive website design and development. We’ve helped many of our clients create mobile friendly sites, such as Dude’s Construction, and many others.
What is responsive web design?
Responsive web design is one of the best options for creating a website that looks great on all devices. Responsive design has a fluid grid layout that expands and contracts based on the size of the screen giving readers the ultimate viewing experience. No need for a separate mobile website. A good responsive design lets you edit a single site and have confidence that everyone can use your site without difficulty. Want an example of good responsive designs? Click here to view some award winning site designs that respond beautifully. Open each site and drag the width of your browser window down to see how the site reacts to various sizes. For more information on responsive design, or to have us suggest some recommendations on making your site mobile-friendly, contact the 15000 Cubits team today.
Increased Web Traffic
It’s easy to see how posting quality content to an audience that chooses to follow your business would result in increased web traffic. Your social media audience is full of prospective new business and it doesn’t cost you a cent to engage them. Search engines love to see increased web traffic from social sites. It’s evidence that your business is being talked about, is important and you are a leader in your industry.
Increased Domain Authority
Backlinko has stated that social signals “may increase a site’s overall authority.” When more traffic is directed to your site from trusted social networks, it starts to reinforce your site’s perceived value and authority. Google is likely recognizing these social signals as “brand signals,” which they love.
As your awesome content is shared across the web, there are plenty of publishers that would love to pull a quote and link back to your articles. Perhaps you have a great infographic or video that is being shared regularly. These all turn into natural inbound links which are a very positive SEO signal that will move your site up the ranks.
Improved Rank On Social Search Engines
The social media platforms themselves are powerful search engines, so it makes perfect sense to optimize your posts to help your business show up at the top of their results. For example, local businesses would want to have a fully optimized Facebook page so that when people are searching on Facebook, they’ll have a strong shot at being ranked at the top of the list. One of the most popular search engines in the world is also a social media site – YouTube. Millions of searches are performed on YouTube every day and everyone wants to show up in those results. Having complete profiles, keywords in your video titles and descriptions, and a lot of shares, likes and comments will drive your video to the top of search results. This is a strong example of social signals affecting your rank. Managing your social media can be a time-consuming task. 43% of businesses spend more than 6 hours per week on social media, and it’s not uncommon to find more active businesses spending over 30 hours per week managing their social strategy. We’ve personally documented cases where lack of social media activity has caused businesses to fall below their competitors in organic search rank, so when we plan a complete inbound marketing campaign for a client, social media management is always part of our strategy. Social and SEO both thrive on content marketing and they go hand in hand. If you’d like help managing your social media, we offer an affordable social media service that fits just about every budget. Contact us for more information.