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How to rank #1 on YouTube search in 30 days [case study]
Want to know how to outrank your competitors on YouTube? Columnist Andrew Dennis outlines his process for dominating the top spots in YouTube search.
Ranking number one is easy!
Of course, that is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek comment. After years of working in the search industry, I know that ranking number one in Google search is very, very difficult. But as for ranking number one on YouTube search? Maybe not so much.
In fact, we’ve developed a process at Siege Media for achieving first-page rankings on YouTube search in less than a month. Using this process, we saw massive returns in terms of views for our ranking video:
Today, I want to share this process with you and help you execute this strategy for your own videos.
Because I feel that showing is always more effective than telling, I’ll use a running example throughout this post to help demonstrate the full process we’ve used.
For my running example, I’m going to borrow from a recent situation in my life where I could not get my wireless Xbox One controller to sync to my Xbox One console. With “Game of Thrones” in full swing, this was an unacceptable problem, as I needed to be able to stay up to date with Khaleesi and her dragons.
Also, it just so happens that the search phrase [how to sync xbox one controller] presents an opportunity to outline this process.
Let’s get started!
Leverage your popular pages
Start by analyzing your popular pages that are already performing in search.
Although YouTube search is less competitive and complex than Google search (and the two rank videos differently), you still need to build on a solid SEO foundation. To springboard your video to the top of YouTube search, you’re going to need to piggyback on an existing page’s SEO equity.
For our project, we used a page that was ranking well (lower end of page one) but still had some room for improvement. We wanted to find a page that had enough equity to give our new video a chance to rank, but also could benefit from having the video and potentially see a ranking boost as well. Here are some other criteria for selecting this page:
- The content of the page translates well to video.
- The view counts for top-ranking videos on YouTube and Google indicate that there is interest in this subject.
- There are videos currently showing on the first two results pages of Google search for the selected keyword.
You need to be strategic about where you place your video if you want it to rank quickly, and analyzing the ranking videos (on both Google and YouTube) will provide a good idea of feasibility. Specifically, you should look at the current top results on YouTube search for your target keyword. If at least three of these top videos have high view counts, you’ll know there is interest in video on this topic, and an opportunity exists.
Make sure you pay close attention to who is sharing and responsible for the video. View counts can be inflated if the video comes from a high-profile influencer in the space sharing the video with their subscribers, making the audience seem much larger than it is.
For my example, I’ll be hypothetically building a video for Driver Easy to go on this page.
Driver Easy’s page is already on the bottom of page one for [how to sync xbox one controller]. This indicates that there is a potential opportunity for them to add a quality video to their content and rank that video on YouTube.
However, before I start designing a video, I need to check the criteria outlined above to ensure it’s worth creating a video.
Does the content translate to video?
Driver Easy’s page would easily translate to video, as the content is built like a tutorial, outlining step-by-step advice.
What do view counts look like on Google Video and YouTube search?
View counts for videos on both Google Video and YouTube search are strong (many of them are the same videos). The top three results on YouTube have over 100,000 views:
Clearly, I am not the only one who has had syncing issues with their controller, and there is interest here.
Are there videos showing on Google search?
Yup! In fact, there are three videos showing right below the first result (and snippet) on page one.
Sometimes the best way to understand what will rank in search is by researching what is currently ranking. Seeing these videos in search results means that Google thinks video content is relevant and useful for this query.
Having ticked off all the necessary boxes, I know that if I add a quality video to Driver Easy’s existing page, it will have a strong chance to rank highly on YouTube.
Optimize your video for search
After identifying a page you can upgrade with video, it’s time to start designing your video.
Like when building new pages, you need to also consider search as you build a new video.
The beauty of this tactic is that you already have the framework for the video built on an existing page, so all you need to do is convert that content to video. However, there are still some best practices to follow to ensure your video is optimized, including:
- Hook the audience in the first 15 seconds, so they don’t bounce — SEO expert Brian Dean suggests the “PPP Formula.”
- Create a longer video that retains viewers, as watch time is an important ranking factor in YouTube search.
- Add calls to action (CTAs) at the end of the video to subscribe to your channel or like the video. This will help you grow your audience and send positive engagement signals to YouTube.
- Optimize the video thumbnail to be eye-catching and enticing.
- Embed the finished video above the fold on your page.
Following these best practices will give your video the best chance possible to earn high rankings in both YouTube and Google search. To learn more video SEO tips, I recommend checking out Brian Dean’s post on YouTube SEO.
I can leverage these tactics for Driver Easy’s hypothetical video as well.
For example, optimal video placement would be below the five steps the post outlines:
This would put the video above the fold, but after the intro, so readers would have context for exactly what the video is about.
At Siege Media, we’ve noticed that placing videos here helps drive initial, relevant views via search traffic. These qualified views convert to subscribers at a higher rate and send positive signals to YouTube, such as longer viewer duration:
Since [how to sync xbox one controller] has a search volume of over 12,000 (according to SEMrush), a video on Driver Easy’s ranking page would capture a fair number of relevant viewers, boosting the video on YouTube.
Using Brian Dean’s “PPP Formula,” I would create an intro like this:
- Preview: “In this video, I’m going to show you how to quickly sync your Xbox One controller to your console.”
- Proof: “This is the same process I’ve used dozens of times to sync my controller without fail.”
- Preview: “This video will cover five different options for syncing your controller.”
The fact that Driver Easy’s post covers five different ways to sync a controller, when the current ranking videos only show one or two ways, could be an attention-grabber for viewers who’ve already tried the main methods of syncing.
To further leverage this, I would consider creating a thumbnail that highlights the five methods covered as a text over an eye-catching and relevant image (controller, console and so on). A well-designed thumbnail would help Driver Easy’s video stand out in both Google and YouTube results, as most of the current ranking videos have no design elements.
There is a real opportunity here for Driver Easy to create something that stands out.
By piggybacking on the SEO equity of their existing page-one result, Driver Easy could place a video on that page that would have a great chance of ranking quickly in YouTube search. Furthermore, the video would add even more value to their current page, potentially helping it rise higher on page one of Google’s search results.
To recap, here is the process I’ve outlined for ranking quickly on YouTube search:
- Identify a popular page that has no video.
- Should be visible in search and provide a steady source of qualified traffic.
- Check viability and necessity for video.
- Does the content translate to video?
- How many views do the top videos for this keyword on Google and YouTube have?
- Are there videos ranking on the top two results pages on Google?
- Build a well-optimized, quality video.
- Hook the audience within the first 15 seconds.
- Create a long, engaging video for increased watch time.
- Add CTAs to the end of the video to direct the audience on what to do next.
- Design an attention-grabbing thumbnail for the video.
- Place the video above the fold on the page.
I hope this post will help you identify any potential opportunities you have on your site to create a video that can rank quickly on YouTube.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.