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Now that you can see that I know what I’m talking about, let’s dive into the step-by-step system that I used to generate this top-5 ranking.

Step #1: Find “Video Keywords”

Like anything in SEO, the YouTube Video SEO Expert process starts with keyword research.

Your goal is to find keywords that have YouTube results on the first page of Google.

These are called, “Video Keywords”.

Unlike a normal SERP with 10 webpage results, with Video Keywords, Google reserves a good chunk of the first page for video results:

In general, Google tends to use video results for these types of keywords:

  • How-to keywords (“how to shave a cat”)
  • Reviews (“Bluehost review”)
  • Tutorials (“Setting up WordPress”)
  • Anything fitness or sports related (“Cardio kickboxing”)
  • Funny videos (“Cute animals”)

Why is this important?

Well, let’s say you optimize your video around a keyword that doesn’t have any video results in Google.

In that case, you’ll ONLY get traffic from people searching on YouTube.

But if you optimize for Video Keywords, you’ll also get targeted traffic to your video directly from Google’s first page.

How to Find Video Keywords

The easiest way to find video keywords is to search for keywords in your niche.

Then see if any of the keywords you searched for have YouTube video results, like this:

Simple, right?

Once you’ve found a Video Keywords, it’s time to check if there’s enough search volume for that keyword.

Because videos don’t take a ton of time to put together, you don’t need to go after keywords with massive search volumes.

Just make sure your target keyword gets at least 300 searches per month in Google (you can find this information using the Google Keyword Planner):

Why 300 searches per month?

If a keyword boasts at least 300 searches per month, then you know it also gets a decent amount of searches within YouTube itself.

And if you can get that video to rank in Google, then a lot of those 300+ monthly searches will click on YOUR video in the results.

That means you’ll get more high-quality traffic to your video, and ultimately, your site.

Here’s a Real Life Example

Because Backlinko is in the SEO niche, I’m going to look for video keywords using searches like “keyword research tips”, “how to build backlinks” and “SEO tutorial”.

Bingo! The keyword “SEO tutorial” bring up two YouTube results in Google:

Sure enough, that keyword exceeds our minimum of 300 monthly searches:

So that would be a great keyword to create a video around.

Speaking of creating your video…

Step #2: Make Your (Awesome) Video

Like anything in business, the more you put into your video, the more you’ll get out of it.

Personally, I hire a professional videographer for the day, pay an editor to add graphics, rent a studio…

The works.

Here’s an example of one of my most recent videos:

Looks expensive, but it’s not. That video only cost around $190 to produce.

If you’re on a really tight budget, you can record your voice over a PowerPoint presentation using ScreenCast-O-Matic ($15/year).

You don’t need to sweat production value in the beginning. As long as your video is valuable and interesting to watch, you’re good to go.

I’m emphasizing quality so much because user engagement is THE most important YouTube ranking signal.

If your video stinks, it won’t rank…no matter how optimized it is for SEO.

Unlike Google — which can use backlinks and other signals to evaluate the quality of a piece of content — YouTube has no such luxury.

They judge your video’s quality based on how people interact with it.

The User Experience Metrics That YouTube Uses

Here’s what YouTube uses to determine the quality of your video:

  • Video retention: The percentage of your video people tend to watch (the more, the better).

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How to Quickly and Easily Boost Viewer Retention: 3 Simple Steps

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  • Comments: If people comment, they probably enjoyed the video (or at least watched it).
  • Subscribes after watching: If someone subscribes to your channel after watching your video that sends a HUGE signal that you have an amazing video.
  • Shares: How many people share your video on social media sites like Twitter and Google+.
  • Favorites: The number of people that favorite your video or add it to their “Watch Later” playlist:
  • Thumbs up/Thumbs down: Self explanatory 🙂

If you want to see how your videos are performing, you can see user experience data in your YouTube Analytics:

If you make a top-notch video you’re MUCH more likely to get high-retention views, likes, comments and all the things that YouTube likes to see in a video.

Make Your Video At Least 5-Minutes Long

Like with text-based articles, longer videos rank better.

I consistently see longer videos outperforming shorter videos in YouTube and Google search.

For example, if you search in YouTube for the keyword “WordPress”, 3 out of the 4 top videos are an hour long.

So aim for at least 5-minutes.

If it makes sense for your video to be even longer than that, go for it. Don’t worry about your video being too long. If it’s awesome, people WILL watch it.

OK so you’ve created your compelling video that’s 5-minutes or longer in length. Nice work 🙂

Now it’s time to optimize your video and upload it to YouTube.

Step #3: Upload Your Video With YouTube SEO in Mind

Here’s how to extract the most SEO value from your video.

Video Filename

When you’re done with the video make sure that you use the keyword in the video’s filename.

For example, if you wanted to rank for the keyword “weight loss tips”, you’d want to name your video weight_loss_tips_video.mp4.

This may not be a ranking factor. But it doesn’t hurt 🙂

Video Title

The title of your video should be at least 5-words long. That way, you can include your full keyword without keyword-stuffing.

For example, my Advanced SEO video’s title is 5 words…only 2 of which are my target keyword:

Power Tip: Like with a blog post, I’ve found that you get a slight video SEO boost by putting your keyword at the beginning of the title.

So if you were trying to rank for “surfing tutorial” you’d want a title like: “Surfing Tutorial: Learn How to Ride a Wave Today”.

Description

Your videos description is VERY important.

Because Google and YouTube can’t “listen” to videos, they rely on your text description to determine your video’s content.

Here are the basic guidelines for the description:

  • Put your link at the very top of the video (this maximizes CTR to your site)
  • Include your keyword in the first 25 words
  • Make the description at least 250-words
  • Include your keyword 3-4 times

This SEO-optimized description helps tell Google and YouTube what your video is about without being spammy.

Here’s an example of a description for a video optimized around the keyword “Advanced SEO”:

Tags

Tags aren’t super-important…but they help.

Just include a few keywords to help YouTube and Google learn what your video is about.

Targeted tags not only help you rank for your target keyword…

…but get you to you show up more often as a related video in the sidebar area of YouTube:

When the video someone’s watching has a similar tag as your video– boom!– you’re added to the sidebar.

Once you’re done, hit “Save Changes” and your video will go live!

Step #4: Get Video Views

We talked a lot about user experience signals so far…which are REALLYimportant.

But in order for your video to rank for competitive keywords, it needs to get A LOT of views.

More views=higher rankings.

But there’s one catch…

…the views need to be real.

YouTube has caught onto fake views. That’s why I don’t recommend using a service on Fiverr to pump up your view count.

And as we already discussed, long-retention views are worth their weight in gold.

Here are some strategies you can use to get targeted views to your video:

Mention Your Video on Quora and Other Q&A Sites

Quora, Yahoo! Answers, and other Q&A sites are some of the most popular sites on the web (Quora rocks a top 500 Alexa ranking).

But if you try to go in there and plaster links all over the place, you’re going to get banned in a flash…

…unless you link to YouTube.

Because you’re posting your video in a place where people are desperate for information on a given topic, the views you’ll get are extremely high-retention.

Just search for a question on your video’s topic:

And add a link to your video. Or better yet, embed it into your answer:

Link To Your Video In Your Email Signature

People that email you (like your mom) generally like you.

And if you’re like me, you get A TON of emails.

So when you add a link to your latest video in your email signature, that means you get high-retention views like they’re going out of style.

Embed Your Videos in Blog Posts

Whenever you write a blog post (on your site or as a guest post for another site), think to yourself:

“Where can I embed a YouTube video into this post?”

For example, when I published a case study about The Moving Man Method, I embedded a video to explain how the strategy worked:

Video content has skyrocketed over the past few years, and therefore it’s time to examine how adding SEO to your videos can impact rankings.

Video is everywhere and this is both a blessing and a curse, especially if you’re trying to stand out from the rest of the crowd at the top of search engine results pages. So consider the following video SEO tips to help put you ahead of the competition…

1) Add value

As common as it may sound, your content should be relevant to your audience, adding value that will convince the users to dedicate the right time to watch your video. The more quality videos, the bigger the chances to serve as an authority, build a trusting relationship with your audience and increase the conversions.

2) Host video to your own domain

If you are creating video content to improve the ranking of your site, then you need to host the video to your own domain, in order to ensure that search engines don’t direct the traffic to another site.

Let’s say for example that you prefer to upload the video on YouTube and add a link back to your site in the description. This may be a good idea if you’re trying to expand your reach, but in terms of SEO, search engines will crawl the Youtube video first, rather than your site.

Moreover, it may be a good idea to create a new page for each video, as Google mentions that this makes the indexing easier.

3) Create interactive content

How about adding the necessary interactive elements to your videos to activate the viewers? Whether it’s the actual content, an annotation, or the caption, there are many ways that you can “gamify” a video to make it more interactive and engaging, helping grab the users’ attention.

You can even split the video into shorter clips, allowing your viewers to pick which one they prefer to watch, a strategy which has been implemented in many successful campaigns.

4) Create relevant metadata

Your video should provide the necessary details to help search engines index it and according to Google, the title, the description and the thumbnail are the most important pieces of information.

Metadata offers more details about the video title, the description, the length of the video and its file name.

Video title has to be short and concise, while the description may provide more details and keywords, boosting the ranking of your content.

Last but not least, make sure the file name of your video is relevant, instead of a generic one like “video415.mph”, as this is another way to describe your content for search engines.

Here’s more advice on how to optimise video for YouTube.

5) Optimise with keywords

Keyword research may also occur in video SEO and it may help you discover the most relevant content for your target audience. Is there a particular keyword, or phrase that could lead to better results? What’s the best way to describe your video?

Feel free to experiment with different keywords and always remember to create descriptive, but also legible content, helping both your audience, but also the search engines.

6) Focus on the thumbnail

The video’s thumbnail is among the first things that users will notice and it might affect their decision whether they’ll actually click on the video.

How about picking a thumbnail that is clear and relevant to the content of your video?

7) Make “shareable” content

It’s not just about creating an interactive video, it’s also about producing content that your audience will appreciate.

“Shareable” content is unique, creative and adds value for its target audience, making the sharing easier and the reach bigger.

It’s the quality of your content that will make your video stand out from the rest, and a clear call-to-action may also affect your site’s authority, with new links and mentions.

8) Add a video transcript

A full video transcript is the written version of your video and it can be very useful if it also includes the right use of keywords, helping search engines learn more about your content.

You can either include a transcript to the audio portion of your video, or you may also add it to the description box, along with the HTML of the page. This not only helps search engines to discover your content, but also the readers who may prefer an overview of your video.

9) Create a video sitemap

A video sitemap provides all the necessary data about your video’s content and it provides the details the search engines need to get a clearer picture of its context.

A video’s sitemap is another way to present the video’s title, description, subject, duration and it may even provide more specific details, like an indication of the country restrictions, any expiration dates, platform restrictions or live streams.

It serves as an extension to your site’s general sitemap and although it may often be overlooked in video SEO, it is an important step to help your video’s ranking.

10) Repurpose video

There are many ways to use an existing video and this may extend its “lifespan” and its reach.

For example, you may create a 10-minute video on your site, offering tips about video SEO. Your goal is to push this page to the rankings and increase the awareness and the traffic to your site.

Instead of simply promoting the particular page, which you should do anyway, you may also upload a preview of this video to your Facebook page for example, leading your audience to your site for more details.

Moreover, you can create an infographic, a slideshow, or shorter videos, all leading to the main source of content: your site.

It is a great opportunity to reach a wider audience and promote your main content, helping them discover your page in the most interesting and relevant way.

11) Allow embedding of your video

If users want to embed your video to their site, or their blog, it means that they like it enough to include it on their page. This is already a win for your content and it may lead to a boosted page ranking on SERPs.

Thus, make it easy for your audience to embed your video, as you’re earning more inbound links to help your SEO efforts.

12) Share on social media

Don’t be afraid to promote your content as much as possible to all the relevant channels, as this is the best way to spread word about it and reach the right audience.

This may lead to more viewers, new links, bigger traffic and of course, better positioning on SERPs.

Feel free to reach the right people that may find your content interesting, or even to use your network to promote it accordingly. Even paid promotion may be useful, if you think that this can contribute to your goals.

Social authority cannot be overlooked and in fact, it may be a great way to boost your video’s SEO efforts.

Takeaway

There are numerous ways to apply search optimisation for your video content, but it all comes down to quality once again, as the starting point for your strategy.

It’s the actual content that will grab the audience’s attention and its optimisation can ensure that you are rewarded for your dedication with a higher position on SERPs.

Once you are creating relevant content of high quality, then it’s time to start applying the above tips to get your message noticed, both by users and search engines.

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