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.