by Scott Allen, Momentum Factor
Have you seen headlines like these come up in a Google search for your company?
- “The Problem [YourCompany] Reps Face”
- “Don’t Join [YourCompany] Until You See This”
- “[YourCompany] Scam Rumors Exposed”
- “[YourCompany] Scam | The Most Successful Scam Ever?”
The above are actual titles from YouTube video “brandjackers” that have achieved front-page Google listings for prominent direct selling companies. Nice huh?
Why do they do this? Occasionally these are direct attacks on the brand by competitors or critics, but more often than not, they’re from internet marketers, riding the coattails of a popular brand to promote some marketing-related product: training, tools, leads, etc.
They use videos because they are much easier to rank than an article or blog post (a 2009 Forrester report found that they were 50 times more likely to rank than text – while that number has gone down since then, videos still have a significant advantage). If you’ve ever wondered why those videos are ranking ahead of your highly active official social media sites or major media coverage, that’s why.
So, what can you do about it? For starters, you have to play the same game – your best chance to compete with those videos is with your own videos. While this is a major area of focus for our online reputation management work, many of the factors are outside of our control, but within yours. Here are eight essential things you can do to improve your video rankings and displace the brandjackers.
Before You Upload …
1. Make your file name relevant
There is evidence to suggest that making the actual name of your video file relevant could help you place for certain keywords. It might be a small issue, but it doesn’t take much time to do that before uploading a video, it might help, and it definitely won’t hurt. Specifically for online reputation purposes, you should start the file name with the name of your company.
2. Transcribe your videos and used closed captioning.
Transcribing your video and uploading your text file will cause your video to be “Closed Caption”. This not only improves click-through rating, which increases video activity, but it also allows people to see subtitles for what’s being said in the video. It’s simply convenient and a nice touch, especially when considering that YouTube’s built-in transcription program is terrible. This built-in transcription program will try to transcribe your video if you don’t upload a text file on your own and that transcription will count towards what you get ranked for in search. So uploading an actual, accurate transcription is not only thoughtful for your viewers, but also very helpful in actually conveying what’s happening/being said in your video. Learn more
3. Actually write a description.
Lots of videos on YouTube just have links to a site, or very generic cookie cutter descriptions. Just a little blurb that actually talks about what your video is about can be a big deal. YouTube will take it more seriously just as all search engines take well-written quality content more seriously. It also helps your video get ranked for more keywords. The more words you include in your description the higher your chances of being ranked for multiple keywords and being discovered by more searchers. The longer you can make your description while keeping it relevant, the better! Alternatively, you can use the transcript as your description.
When You Upload …
4. Make the video title relevant.
Whenever you post a video, it’s crucial to pay attention to the title of the video. It plays one of the biggest roles in the success of your video. It has to do not only with what keywords your video is attached to and ranked for, but also how many people view your video when it’s presented in search results. Having keywords in your title is important, and it’s typically just the first 55 or 60 characters that are actually seen in the search results, so aim to get your keywords in the first part of your title if at all possible. Also, if the title doesn’t grab attention, less people will take interest or decide to watch the video, and if they don’t like the video’s content in relation to what the title was, they’ll dislike the video. A poor rating will usually hurt your rankings, not help them.
5. Tag your videos and make them relevant to the specific video you upload.
Tags are specifically there for you to associate your video with certain keywords. It’s meant for you to tag your video with topics or keywords that are relevant to the content within the video. Use as many keywords as you can, so long as they’re relevant. If you have multi-word keywords you want to be ranked for, put quotation marks around the phrase, but don’t over-do it. Stick to doing this for the multi-word keyword phrases that you really want to rank high for.
6. Use annotations and InVideo programming to create calls to action.
Quality and quantity of engagement are a major factor in video rankings, and while they may not be the most heavily weighted, they are often the differentiator because the other factors are relatively equal among the top competition for a given keyword. There are a lot of pieces to this that could each be its own separate topic, but it all adds up to the same thing, and usually with one comes another. Forms of engagement/activity on your video include:
- Video Responses
- Playlist Adds
- Time watched
These help YouTube determine whether or not your video is active and worthy of people’s attention. So, if you want more of these activities, ask for them! Better yet, make it even easier than it already is for people to take those actions. While this technique will not directly help your rankings, increasing viewer interaction certainly will. You can create simple calls to action (CTAs) such as liking or sharing the current video or subscribing to the channel, and these can either be done with text (annotations) or YouTube’s InVideo Programming features.
A particularly useful technique for reputation management purposes is the InVideo Programming feature that allows you to promote a single video across all the videos in your channel. This will help drive viewers to one main video on which you can focus your ranking efforts.
7. Organize your videos in playlists
Playlists make it easy for viewers to watch multiple videos with minimal effort, which increases watch-time, an important metric for ranking. Create playlists around topics — an event, testimonials, training, rank advancement and recognition, etc. Publish the playlists as channel posts to your channel feed to make people aware of them. You can also use annotations as described above to encourage people to view additional videos on the same topic (much preferable to whatever YouTube will generate as related videos at the end!)
After You Upload …
8. Use YouTube to host your videos and then embed them on your sites.
This is a debatable point. Some companies prefer to host their own videos or use a premium video hosting service that allows them to eliminate third-party branding. From a branding perspective, this is certainly preferable. However, if you’re willing to consider using YouTube to host your videos, you gain additional ranking benefits, both from the embeds themselves and from all the views by your field. Plus, it’s free.
There are ways to minimize the YouTube branding – you can simplify the controls, make the YouTube logo less obvious, and eliminate the related videos at the end. There are available tools for doing this with HTML5 and Flash, as well as plugins for use with popular content management systems like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.
9. Encourage your reps to share and interact with your videos!
As described above, viewer interaction is one of the most important factors in ranking your videos. An outside service provider can help bump these numbers in a variety of ways, but ultimately, the largest source of this activity, in a way that looks natural to Google and YouTube, is your field. Encouraging them to correctly share and interact with your videos has multiple benefits:
- Improving search rankings
- Improving the image of the company, particularly to prospects
- Spreading the message to a broader audience
Places you want your videos shared that can help with rankings include:
- Blogs and articles
- Facebook, Google+, Twitter & other social networks
Also, embedding videos as opposed to just hyperlinking them may play a large role in getting an even bigger boost to rankings. Keep in mind that when sharing or linking these videos, they should be a part of natural conversation or sharing. It’s not good for your brand or your rankings for links to be spammed in any form.
10. Pay attention to your channel authority as a whole.
Authority as a channel helps your individual videos. If you have more subscribers, more channel views, and your other videos rank well and have high activity, your newer videos will be more likely to rank well also. Don’t just try to hit big with one or two videos but be consistent with quality videos that people want to see and enjoy, as well as encouraging your reps to subscribe to your channel. Also, while it’s not something you can change, there is quite a bit of data to show that the age of the channel plays a good deal of a role in your ability to rank well.
There you have it — 10 ways to dramatically improve your YouTube video rankings, in both YouTube search and Google.