October 2012 YouTube Ranking Algorithm Update

In a recent YouTube blog post, YouTube announced that its search is now optimized for time watched—rewarding videos that hold viewers’ attention. This is similar to the Internet marketing concept of bounce rate, which represents the percentage of visitors who enter a site and leave immediately. According to YouTube,

“This is a continuation of ongoing efforts to focus our video discovery features on watch time, and follows changes we made to Suggested Videos in March, and recent improvements to YouTube Analytics. The experimental results of this change have proven positive — less clicking, more watching. We expect the amount of time viewers spend watching videos from search and across the site to increase. As with previous optimizations to our discovery features, this should benefit your channel if your videos drive more viewing time across YouTube.”

If you or your company engages in YouTube marketing, this could greatly impact how well your videos rank in YouTube search. So while it used to just matter who clicked on your video, it now matters if that video is actually something worth watching.

Your best bet is to think about optimizing your videos for YouTube search the way you would optimize your Web pages for search engines. And keep in mind that a well optimized video will not only fair well in YouTube search but also in Google search (Google owns YouTube, in case you didn’t know). You’ve probably noticed that certain queries actually produce more YouTube results on the first page than site results. I particularly find this true when I’m searching for “how to” pieces. (I just searched for “how to get Ryan Gosling to notice me.” Admittedly, this was a bad example.)

When optimizing your video for YouTube and Google search, remember to:

  • Optimize the title. Put your keywords in the first few words.
  • Optimize the description. Put your keywords and URL in the description.
  • Optimize the tags. This is another good place to put your keywords.
  • Use annotations. This can serve as a clickable call to action, alerting viewers when you have a more recently updated video.

Happy vlogging. (Damn. I forgot I hate the word vlogging. Oh well. Too late to take it back now.)

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Posted in Algorithm Updates, Search Engine News


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