I hear it all the time from clients and prospects. “We guarantee you first page of [Google, YouTube, Google News…]”.
Please keep this in mind, when someone in my industry says the word “guarantee” in regards to Google, take it like a grain of salt. Google even tells you to beware of guarantees made by SEOs.
When it comes to YouTube, whatever the motivation behind people posting videos, more than likely they want those videos to actually be seen. They want to drive traffic to those videos to
- promote their business
- earn revenue for showing ads
- or just to get their words out there.
When someone tells them they’ll guarantee first page for your YouTube video, you may want to see how Google has changed their YouTube ranking.
When we do a search, in YouTube, how does YouTube seem to know exactly what videos we’re looking for?
How Google and YouTube Rank Differently
Even though Google owns YouTube, being able to figure out what each video’s content is about to correctly show when someone is searching for it, isn’t the same as ranking websites. Google ranks websites based mostly on what the website text is about, and how relevant other websites think it is by the quality of incoming links. Google understands the content and the context which it’s been used. That isn’t too easy on YouTube since the main content is in the video itself. As of now, YouTube doesn’t use the spoken words in the video to figure out what’s in it. Although according to a new Google patent, that may change.
In The Beginning…
If you’ve ever uploaded a video on YouTube, you know that after you upload it, you give it a relevant title, description, and tags. This is to help Google figure out what the video is about. If you’re lucky, that video may show for keyword searches based on that information. Though, it may not show for those same words for long.
In the past, people were able to give their videos a boost in the rankings by using (read: abusing) YouTube’s likes, embeds, views, comments, and building crappy backlinks which can all be faked. Heck, in the past, if you used all of those, not only would you show on the top of YouTube, but your video would also show on page one of a Google search.
Google Search vs YouTube Search
What’s the big difference when doing a search on Google and on YouTube? It’s what you do after you see your search results. After a Google search, you go off to another website, after a YouTube search, you stay on YouTube and watch your video, then you do something else. That’s how they know what you’re doing- you’re staying on the same domain (youtube.com) which makes your behavior easy to track. Let’s take a look at what they can find out, and why it matters.
How YouTube’s Ranking Algorithm Has Evolved
YouTube uses the title of the video and it’s meta tags for approximately the first seven days the video gets uploaded (according to Tim Schmoyer from VideoCreators). In that first week, YouTube is gathering a ton of information on that video. During that period, they identify what people are doing before, during, and after watching it to determine its content.
Your YouTube Engagement
If you search for: “Porsche 911”, you click and watch a video, more than likely it’s about a Porsche 911. How long you watched that video will give YouTube great input on how relevant the search term you searched and if it matched the subject matter of the video that you just watched (or stopped watching).
After you’ve watched the video, you realize you want to find out more, so you may click a related video that comes up when the first video is over. Then, you may do another, more specific search like “Porsche 911 2008”. With that pattern YouTube can figure out that the original video and subsequent videos and if they matched the searched the keyword Porsche.
From the YouTube blog: “Now when we suggest videos, we focus on those that increase the amount of time that the viewer will spend watching videos on YouTube, not only on the next view, but also successive views thereafter.”
Your engagement with that video still plays a role- Are you liking the video? Are you saving it to a playlist? Are you adding it to your playlist? Are you sharing it with others? Are you subscribing to the creator’s YouTube channel?
Like I mentioned above, watch time it the most important, and by a long shot. Watching a 10 minute video for 5 minutes, means more than watching a one minute video for the full one minute. Multiply these factors by tons of users and you get pretty accurate results.