YouTube Video SEO Tips From SES Chicago

YouTube Video SEO Tips From SES Chicago

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Panelists on the Video Search Engine Optimization session for Search Engine Strategies Chicago conference and Expo – Gregory Markel, Greg Jarboe, and Steve Espinosa shared their expert insights on YouTube SEO, YouTube’s algorithms, popularity, conversion, and tracking strategies – all towards optimizing your video campaign in the most popular video sharing site today.

YouTube SEO Speakers At SES

Speakers on the Video SEO panel sharing YouTube SEO tips and examples were:

  • Greg Jarboe, President & Co-founder, SEO-PR. Greg has done numerous press releases with optimized video content, and hosts the SES Channel on YouTube, which they’ve optimized and promoted 185 videos for to-date.
  • Steve Espinosa, Director of Product Development & Management, eLocal Listing, LLC
  • Gregory Markel, Founder/President, Infuse Creative, LLC
, and perennial conference speaker for search marketing events such as SES, SMX, and PubCon. Also featured recently on FOX Business Channel on YouTube Video effort by auto company General Motors.

YouTube Stats

The panelists agreeing that that the enormity of YouTube’s size – content, traffic, viral presence, etcetera – make it much more than a video site; rather, it should be treated as a major search engine unto itself. According to a comScore Media Metrix, October 2008 had over 100 million YouTube video viewers, for a total of 2.5 billion searches.

YouTube’s SEO Algorithm

You Tube has a search algorithm that includes the optimization of the following:

  1. title
  2. description
  3. tags
  4. number of views
  5. rating

All of these items can be manipulated by the video owner, as well as the viewing/sharing audience, to determine placement in both YouTube search listings, and carried over to Google’s own universal/blended search listings.

The following is an assorted list of YouTube SEO Tips offered by the panel:

YouTube Content ideas

How-To” Videos are perhaps the best overall strategy for SEO and viral marketing, says Jarboe. (Smart move can be building out a “How-To” YouTube channel, just like the example at the top of this “how to” YouTube search.)

YouTube Competitor Research

Markel shares that community/social & linking factors weigh heavily in determining ranking on many video search engines. This includes Ratings, Favorites, Playlists, Comments, Honors, Views, Embedding, Response Videos, and Linking. “Click on a competitors video watch page “Statistics & Data” tab and analyze the factors contributing to the video ranking success, then work to meet or beat them!” he says.

Video Dimensions

  • “Don’t do widescreen!” Even though YouTube now features videos in the 16:9 format, Espinosa’s  recommendation is to still export to the standard 4:3 format. The reason why – thumbnails are still optimized for 4:3 dimensions. “Export in 4:3 if goal is universal search and conversions.” he says.

Description field

  • Anchor description length of 27 characters (max) – this is the maximum amount of characters you have for keyword placement before the “three dots” and the end of each video link on YouTube.
  • Include a clickable URL in the first line of the description tag. The first line of the description is what appears by (And again, if you want to avoid it looking truncated, keep it to within 27 characters.)

Video image(s)

  • Include a call-to-action. Espinosa says to conclude the video with an instructional/visual cue to click on the link, and show your call-to-action right in the thumbnails. (As we’ve reported here, YouTube takes the thumbnails at the ¼, ½, and ¾ mark.
  • Having a phone number with a solid background really stands out, says Espinosa.
  • Constant In-Video Description/Branding/Call To Action – Markel says to brand the registration goal site / URL throughout entire video (instead of at the end, which is most common); also, include the registration call to action within the video while suggesting a click on a live URL in the description pane.

Piggybacking on Popularity

  • Add comments with URLs on popular videos. Markel says have your comment written as a codedURL call to action…i.e., “Like football? Check out YouTube (dot) com (slash) user (slash) footballfun.”
  • Video spin-offs – “Create a video related to popular content and using a similar but NOT copied keyword/title in hopes of it showing up as a related video’ within the popular video’s page and thereby piggybacking on the other video’s popularity.” says Markel

Link building

Markel shared that YouTube adds “nofollow” to all video titles… except those displayed under ‘Recent Activity.’ “If possible, try to keep most desired videos in “Recent Activity” section. The anchor text length on “Recent Activity” link is 27 Characters. Building links to these videos (embedded on-page) is ideal . Plus links to video channel helps with reputation management.”


Check the YouTube Insight feature for your breakdown of stats:

  • Source of views. (Views can come from related videos, YouTube Search, YouTube Other, Viral Other, Google Search, Embedded player views, or external links.)
  • Viewing demographics. (By age range and gender)
  • Video views over time
  • Sites linking to your video
  • Geographic views. (What states, regions, or countries your video is most popular in.)
  • “Hot Spots.” The ups-and-downs, or “engagement” of viewership at each moment in your video, compared to videos of similar length. (ReelSEO note: This is a good way to find out if you may wish to trim your videos for length, if you see a big drop-off in viewership over time.)

Optimizing YOUR OWN WEBSITE with YouTube video

Embedding YouTube videos on your website not only saves on the cost of streaming media hosting, but you can also get YouTube’s own tracking stats at no charge as well. Espinosa offers these tips for on-site optimization with YouTube video.

  • Create a separate text-optimized page for each video on your site.
  • Surround the video with a description and link to your YouTube page with anchor text being the keywords you would like to rank for.
  • Submit the same description to each video site (i.e. Yahoo! Video, Youtube, Google Video)
  • User Google Website Optimizer to help you determine which video works best. You can then set up Goals in Google Analytics and learn which video was the most successful. Create different variations of the video and then simply run a test using the free Google Website Optimizer and change nothing but the video on the different versions of the pages.


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