Rank YouTube Videos in Google

9 Hacks to Rank YouTube Videos in Google

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Rank YouTube Videos in Google

Ryan Stewart

I have an unhealthy obsession with being considered the world's top internet marketing expert. This blog is one of the channels I use to demonstrate that. I'm highly active on social media and love a good debate (internet trolls). Click the icons below and fire away.

I'm not going to throw a bunch of stats at you about how powerful YouTube is - you're well aware the impact it can have on your business.

In fact, I'd be willing to bet that you have a YouTube account and you've probably uploaded a few videos.

I'd also be willing to bet those videos have about 19 views.

Don't worry - this is pretty standard for YouTube marketing.

The key to YouTube marketing is getting your videos to rank in Google searches.

Once your video is ranked, you'll receive a steady stream of targeted views from Google.

This is a lot easier said than done - ranking anything requires a deep understanding of Google's search algorithm.

Unless you have a guide. That's where I come in.

In this article, you'll learn:

  1. How to create the right content for YouTube
  2. How to technically optimize your video to rank
  3. How to distribute your video to rank

The Life Cycle of Great YouTube Marketing

Below is a high level process of a great YouTube marketing campaign:

You're aware of the inputs and outputs needed to succeed:

  • Create great video content that drives awareness for your brand and traffic to your site.

What you might not be aware of is the middle section - the ranking factors. If you've got a massive YouTube following all you've got to do is publish great content and the rest will take place automatically.

If you don't?

You've got to jump start the ranking factors by creating them manually. I'm not talking about spamming the shit out of your YouTube video. I'm talking about taking extra time to create perfect ranking signals for YouTube and Google.

Picture your YouTube marketing as an old manual transmission car. To get that engine to turn over automatically you've got to push it down a hill first.

Here are 9 ranking hacks that will show you exactly how to do that.

Ranking Hack #1 - Video Content

The first area that people fail is the videos they're creating.

YouTube isn't a shopping website. You can't make purchases in the platform. Why would you create sales videos?

It's perfectly fine to use YouTube to host your videos, but people don't give a shit about your new product.

YouTuber's are seeking content to help them solve problems, learn skills, watch cat videos and waste time. In order to get that automated steam of views, focus your content accordingly.

Here are some perfect examples:

  • Tutorial videos (setting up Analytics Goals or Events)
  • How-to videos (how to rank your ebook in Amazon)
  • Review videos (product reviews, business reviews, etc)

Don't believe me? Go to Google and search for content related to what I listed above - you'll see YouTube videos show up in the search results. This is validation that Google believes videos are the best way to answer that search query.

I know what you're thinking: "I run a pet shop - I can't create video content like that".

You're wrong.

As a business owner, you have intimate knowledge of your industry. Don't hold back - share! 

Ranking Hack #2 - Length of Video

YouTube is constantly updating their search algorithm to a deliver better user experience. When the platform first launched, aggregate video views were heavily incorporated into the ranking decision (i.e. the more views your video got, the higher it would rank).

This left the door wide open for IP blockers, click farming and a terrible user experience. YouTube quickly got smart and changed their algorithm to take engagement factors into account. While aggregated clicks are still counted, the following metrics also play a heavy role:

  • Number of comments your video receives.
  • Total seconds users spend watching your video.
  • Number of likes your video receives.
  • Number of times your video is shared on social media.
  • Number of times your video is on other websites.

These added metrics forced YouTubers to create videos with better, more engaging content in order satisfy the algorithm.

Although there is no official guidance on how long you should make your videos but I always suggest making your videos at least two minutes in length.

The rationale is simple: the more seconds you can keep a user on your video, the better your videos will rank. Therefore, having videos with more length will add to the total seconds users spend on your videos.

Bottom line:

Don't create shit content. Create videos that people want to watch and share. 

Ranking Hack #3: Naming Convention

Before I get into how to name your video, I need to quickly talk about keyword selection. Your YouTube marketing plan should target long tail and less competitive keywords. This will allow you to rank your video by simple and free hacks. If you insist on ranking for "car insurance" more power to you - however, you'll need to build a shit load of links to your video.

Now, on to the naming convention...

YouTube is pretty damn smart, but they can't see what your videos are about. Much like on page SEO and image optimization, the search engine looks at the name of your raw video file.

That means you need to optimize your video file before you upload it to YouTube. Here is the step by step process:

  1. Go to your completed video file that is ready for upload.
  2. Right click on the file and select "Get Info".
  3. Add some tags to your video that are related to the content.
  4. Under "Name & Extension", name the file after your #1 an #2 keywords. For example: How to Rank YouTube Videos - Ranking Videos in Google.
  5. Throw in a brief description of your video in the comments field.

Now you're ready to upload your file to YouTube.

When you dump the file in the upload section the raw video name will pull through - leave it as is. This is the title you want for your video.

Ranking Hack #4: Description

Add a link to your website. Add a link to your website. Add a link to your website.

Am I clear?

I can't tell you how many of my clients craft amazing videos with NO call to action and link to their website. YouTube provides a platform with a built in audience - it's your job to engage that audience and drive them to your website.

Your website is where you finish the marketing process - aka grab their information, make a sale, click on an ad, etc.

After you add a link you need to optimize the rest of the video description. This is yet another area that YouTube scans for signals on what your video is about. Here are a few tips on optimizing your description:

  • Try and write at least 200 words of content.
  • Use synonym and one off keywords. For example, if your main keyword is How to Rank YouTube Videos, some one off keywords would be How to rank YouTube videos in Google, how to get videos to show up in search engines, YouTube Marketing, etc.
  • DON'T USE DUPLICATE CONTENT. That means for EACH of your videos you need to write a different description.
  • Don't overuse keywords - you can get slapped for keyword stuffing.

I like to write out the video transcript. This can be a major pain in the ass so I recommend outsourcing it on Fiverr or following my guide on how to get the video transcript from YouTube.

Ranking Hack #5: Utilize Playlists

Playlists add an additional layer of signals to your video. For each video I strongly suggest that you create a new playlist using synonym keywords.

Here's an example of how to optimize hacks 1 - 4:

  • Primary Keyword: Guide to Ranking YouTube Videos in Google
  • Secondary Keyword: How to Get More Views on You Tube Videos
  • File Name: Guide to Ranking YouTube Videos in Google - How to Get More Views on You Tube Videos - Webris
  • Description: Link to video!!! + [Insert transcript].
  • Playlist name: YouTube Video Marketing - Rank My Videos Higher in Google.

Ranking Hack #6: Custom Thumbnails

This doesn't send signals to YouTube but it does affect engagement. Adding a custom thumbnail to your video can have a drastic impact on your click through rate (CTR) which will in turn drive up your rankings.

Here's a perfect example. Let's say you searched for "SEO Help" and the two following videos came up. Which are you more likely to click through to?

- or -

It was rhetorical - you'd click the second one.

YouTube will auto select random screens from your video and let you choose 1 of 3. These screenshots are often unflattering random captures that can send the wrong signals to users.

Google's guidance on creating custom thumbnails.

I strongly suggest creating a custom thumbnail that stands out against the blues and the whites of Google. Bold colors like red, orange and green tend to stand out the most.

Ranking Hack #7: Leverage Social Media

According to traditional theory, search engine optimization has two aspects:

  1. "On-page" SEO. This refers to how your website is structured, image tags, keyword density, tags, etc.
  2. "Off-page". This refers to other domains that link back to your website.

This past year we've seen a huge shift in traditional SEO. Social networks have changed the way we interact online and search engines are beginning to account for it. There is now a third aspect:

  • Relevance.

Google wants to deliver the best possible results for your query. In order for a website to fit that criteria it needs to be relevant. The best way to measure relevancy is measuring how many Shares, Likes and Tweets a website gets. .

Therefore, if you want your video to get noticed by Google you need to get your video on social networks. I have a standard process that I follow and I strongly recommend you do the same:

  • Sync your YouTube account with your social media accounts. Anytime you post a new video it will automatically syndicate across your accounts.
  • Post your video to relevant groups on social networks. If you aren't actively engaged in these groups I suggest you find some. Not only are they a great way to get social signals on your content but they are a great way to network and learn more about your craft.

If you need to, you can always buy social signals. There are a number of quality vendors out there - if you don't know where to begin, check Fiverr.

Ranking Hack #8: Dress Up Your Channel Page

When I see a YouTube channel without a profile picture, header, description and links it looks like spam - YouTube sees it the same way. Filling out your YouTube channel page has a trickle down effect to your content. It adds another layer of signals as to what your videos are about.

There are 4 parts you need to fill out:

  1. Add links to all of your social media pages and website.
  2. Add channel images. Not only does it help users identify with your content, but YouTube as well. If you upload your image in accordance with search engine optimization best practices it will send a signal to search spiders. For example, YouTube-channel-name-channel-keywords.jpg will help add context to your page.
  3. Subscribe to similar channels. Remember when you were a kid and your friend got in caught stealing something but you got punished too (guilt by association); YouTube looks at what you’re looking at and associates your account with that content.
  4. Add a long description; make sure to add a ton of synonym keywords.

Ranking Hack #9: Build Links

The hacks laid out above will rank any low competitive or long tail keyword. If you want to rank videos for more competitive terms like "payday loans", you're going to have to build links to your video and embed the HTML on other sites.

If you're new to SEO, I suggest sticking with low competition keywords. There's nothing wrong with ranking videos for low competition keywords and is actually the route that I suggest you take.

When building links at YouTube videos you need to be careful. YouTube is pretty damn good at picking up spam and its pretty easy to get videos banned.

 I recommend building a small amount of high quality links over a long period of time. Some link sources I use are:

  1. Private blog networks (PBN)
  2. Guest blogging
  3. Social bookmarks
  4. Web 2.0s (.Wordpress, .Weebly, etc.
  5. Partner sites
  6. My own sites 
  7. Comment links
  8. Tumblr posts
  9. Pinterest pins

If you're an experienced SEO and know how to build gray hat links, here is the exact linking template I use to rank my videos:

Low competition (1,000 monthly searches)

  1. Drip fed or manually placed over a 60 day period
  2. 100 social bookmarks (drip fed)
  3. 30 Web 2.0s links (25 tier 2 social bookmarks on each link)
  4. 8 PBN links
  5. 4 video embeds on PBNs
  6. 10 relevant niche blog comments a week
  7. 1 guest blog

Medium competition (400 - 1,000 monthly searches)

  1. Drip fed or manually placed over a 60 day period
  2. 60 social bookmarks (drip fed)
  3. 15 Web 2.0s links (20 tier 2 social bookmarks on each link)
  4. 4 PBN links
  5. 2 video embeds on PBNs

High competition (>1,000 monthly searches)

  1. Drip fed or manually placed over a 60 day period
  2. 100 social bookmarks (drip fed)
  3. 30 Web 2.0s links (25 tier 2 social bookmarks on each link)
  4. 8 PBN links
  5. 4 video embeds on PBNs
  6. 10 relevant niche blog comments a week
  7. 1 guest blog


YouTube is an extremely powerful platform that can drive a ton of traffic to your website. Follow these simple steps and you will see an instant boost in rankings .



  1. Great suggestion on including thumbnails. I really have been dropping the ball on this one!

    • Ryan Stewart

      You’re welcome, Haley.

      • Benny qibal Channel

        Is it still work in 2016? Im not sure..

  2. Very good tips from the expert. This is a rare knowledge. May try to implement these tips sooner.

    • Ryan Stewart

      Thanks Willy – kind words!

  3. Must be practiced. Thanks for the tips and this valuable information

    • Ryan Stewart

      You’re welcome, Robby.

      • Gaurav Gupta

        hi ryan

        please help me
        i m new in you tube channel..

        please increse my subscriber

  4. I have been really struggling trying to rank my videos in YouTube. Glad I found your post, just what I needed!

    • Ryan Stewart

      You’re welcome, Stoe.

  5. I like #7 tip about dressing up your channel. Many people ignore this as I’ve seen some very bland uninteresting channels. This is an important step for overall positive effect.

    • Ryan Stewart

      Thanks Rose!

  6. author’s deep understanding of google and youtube algorithm is appreciable. very informative article for video ranking on youtube. I personally uploaded lots of videos
    on youtube but cannot take care of many of the practices found in this article. great job by the author…

  7. This is a lot of detail on how to rank youtube vids. I can tell you put a lot of time and testing into this. I will follow your tips!

  8. YouTube/Google is starting to ban so many videos for no apparent reason. Quite honestly I’m tired of dealing with them but I know it’s a powerful platform to ignore.

  9. Thanks a mil, I will try these out and see if they work for me.

  10. I had no idea that Youtube was the 2nd largest search engine in the world. Not suprised tho being that it’s owned by Google.

  11. Very use youtube optimization tips -especially pointers about keyword use and placement.

  12. Great post. Thanks to Justin Brooke for the recommendation as well.

    Right to the point to give me what I need fast! Thank you Ryan.

    • Ryan Stewart

      Hey Bryan,

      Thanks for the support – I already reached out to Justin and thanked him for the feature. Be sure and check back often, I’m posting new content just like this every week.

  13. I think a key thing you said was “you have to optimize your videos in accordance to YouTube’s search algorithm”. Many people don’t realize this and just go about optimizing that they generally do – without tweaking specifically for YouTube. This makes all the difference.

  14. it seem hard to get youtube vid to rank but your post help me learn good tip , thanks.

  15. I sure didn’t know there were so many facets that go into ranking a YouTube vid. Guess I really need to go back to the drawing board.

  16. I like your style in explaining. Really matter-a-fact trim the fat!

  17. Great advice because If you’re not opimizing your vids to rank in Google, you are missing a shitload of traffic!

  18. Great stuff Ryan. As a 20 year Navy retiree turned entrepreneur, this is quality content and will definitely help me with my marketing business. Thanks again.

    • Ryan Stewart

      I appreciate that Albertis – and thank you for your service to our country!

      • John

        Hey Ryan, great way to rank videos you have.

        Off topic here: what is the name of your left side social share plugin. I like it and I want to use this on my blog.

        Thanks. 😀

  19. I agree with everything you said..Except the part where you group competition level under search volumes.

    Not true. I have a 22k keyword with pretty low competition in SERPS.

    You know competition is about more than that, and you know that. :)

    I would be able to rank the 22k keyword of mine with:

    “Low competition (<400 monthly searches)

    Drip fed or manually placed over a 30 day period
    30 social bookmarks (drip fed)
    6 Web 2.0s links (15 tier 2 social bookmarks on each link)
    1 PBN link"

    Anyway, hope you agree.

    Have a good day!

    • Ryan Stewart

      i agree – there is a difference between search volume and competition. however (and i think you’ll agree), higher search volume generally means higher competition – especially around intent laden keywords. for example, some people’s names get searched for 50,000 times a month, but those names are very hard to monetize. you could easily rank a video with little to no backlinks at the video, but it would be pointless. so yes, while i agree with you, the argument holds for a generalized purpose.

  20. “Add channel images. Not only does it help users identify with your content, but YouTube as well. If you upload your image in accordance with search engine optimization best practices it will send a signal to search spiders. For example, YouTube-channel-name-channel-keywords.jpg will help add context to your page”……I like the fact that you straightened this out. Thanks!

  21. Very informative – learnt a stack. Thanks

  22. In optimizing your video, make your title as close to the key phrase as possible without it looking like a facade for blatant SEO tactics. Location plays a big part, as does your business name.

    • Brian

      Looking to read content easier. Any way of getting rid of your Social Medial Share button? Look like some good info thanks for sharing!

      • Ryan Stewart

        if you stretch your browser all the way across, it should respond.

  23. Amazing information! Exactly what I need to grow our channel. Thank you for posting!

  24. Great post!

  25. this one I will use with a lot of circumspection: “If you need to, you can always buy social signals. There are a number of quality vendors out there – if you don’t know where to begin, check Fiverr.”
    YT can easily figure out that you’re trying to force the game anf ban your channel..

    • Ryan Stewart

      Very good point Gabriel – I need to update the article as I no longer BUY social signals, I’ve found ways to generate them manually.

  26. Hey Ryan, we’d like a quote for you to do this as a service for our youtube videos. Please email me if you have interest, thanks.

  27. No wonder videos similar to but inferior to mine get 20k views when mine get maybe 2k.

    I was totally unaware of item #3… not only no metadata in the upload file, but horrible titles, I figured changing the title on YouTube was enough.

  28. Some really good tips here. These are definitely evergreen tips for Youtube rankings.

    Has anyone looked at Video Rankr by Joshua Zamora by any chance? I’d be interested to hear your review on it: https://twitter.com/Ardral_Kirby/status/620174055266775040

    • Ryan Stewart

      anything automated either doesn’t work for long or doesn’t work at all. that was a very smooth move slipping the link to the tweet as opposed to a site – i’ll be using that in the future!

  29. Thanks for the wonderful tips by the way..I Will keep this things remember to all my videos.

  30. Great tips Ryan – not only a good affirmation of my current YT strategy, also picked up a nugget about adding description & comments to the raw image.

    Here’s a couple of tips to add: (some are local SEO only)
    1. In your video description, add the following links:
    a. your website
    b. the link to the video (yes, the same video you are editing)
    c. Add a link to a related video on your channel. (known as silo link building)

    2. Transcribe the content (as mentioned), and modify as needed for keyword optimization, taking care to keep it natural and not overstuffed. My clients’ videos are typically less than 2 minutes, so I transcribe myself, but I should probably outsource that to avoid carpel tunnel!

    4. (Local SEO) Include the NAP at the top of the description

    I’ve been able to get videos ranked to page 1 of YT in about 24 hours (unless they are difficult keywords) and sometimes under an hour for more local, lower competition keywords. Last night, I ranked 2 new videos at #1 & #2, beating out a local competitor who has been there for a long time.

    Thanks for your awesome content!

    • Andrew

      I have a dear friend and business partner that needs a video to rank for reputation management purposes, quickly. The keyword would be his name which is very unique. I would like to have a private conversation with someone we can hire to handle this.

  31. This is ninja stuff Ryan! I thought I was half-way decent at getting videos to rank in several hours but knew there had to be key steps I was missing. Thanks to your article I think I found those few tactics!

    P.S. I hope no one else finds this article but considering you have it on page 1 of google for every long tail I tried I doubt that will happen 😉

  32. This post is amazing, I learnt so many things on how to rank videos on Google.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this very detailed post.



  33. Outstanding Ryan. Thank you so much

    Like Becky asked re >Hey Ryan, we’d like a quote for you to do this as a service for our youtube videos. Please email me if you have interest, thanks.

  34. Hi again

    We just tried to apply via your website

    Got this message >Failed to send your message. Please try later or contact the administrator by another method.

  35. Get tips, thanks.
    To transcribe audio/video try rev.com, I’ve used them a few times for videos or podcasts.

  36. how much links per day in 60 period ??

  37. Pretty informative, helping and Rare information i have red in this artical. Thanks for giving such a good stuff.

  38. How can we post youtube links in other websites and PBNs? Do people charge to get links listed in their PBNs? what is the process to find out PBNs in our domain?

  39. I disagree with some of your ideas, i have ranked dozens of videos of all types, non of them were tutorials, most of them promote a product or service. A lot of those videos still rank today first page in Google and YouTube.

    Where i agree with you is that, if your content is crap, it does not matter if you are first place on page one in Google and Youtube, nobody is gonna watch your stuff.

    Still, if you put up a good video, even if it promotes stuff it produces views

    Its all about timing, backlings and massive action

  40. This contained a little more insightful detail than the average tutorial. Thanks

  41. Hi,
    I read All YouTube Ranking Factor. this is awesome article….

  42. Hii.. I need some tips regarding my doupts actually m working on many seo projects. In my 1 project m very disappoint bcoz m done gud on page and also off page bt my ranking is not in google no 1 page pls suggest me wt to do… Thanku

  43. One question: So… when I edit my film in YT’s Editor, it renames it: “yt-editor.flv” Is that ONLY YouTube’s way of noting that my edited, original (video+endslate) was created by their Editor Software, and, therefore, my original raw file name of the video is “recognized” by their rankings… as being the same as those within my keywords, description & video title… to keep me high in their rankings??? Help! …please.

  44. How to promote my dating website by seo, have some suggestions.?

  45. What if, we want to rank keywords like “funny fails” best parkour” etc. Hope you’ll reply!!.

    Thanks in Advance! :)

  46. Recently I came across a video “Dollar Shave Club” and then I have realised if you really want to rank write/shoot
    for the user not for SPIDER (Responsible for Google rank)

    This website got 18000 backlinks within the first month of release and it been a year and they have got 90000 backlinks
    from all the leading news channel and websites.

    So just be real, users do not want drama.

  47. Nice article, recently I came across a video called ‘Dollar Shave Club’. Within an hour of

    publishing, this video got an unbelievable number of hits.

    After one month this video received 18000 backlinks from all the leading new channels and media

    sources. Now it been one year and this video received 90000 backlinks.

    I personally believe that we should write/shoot for users not for SPIDER (For Google rank)

  48. Hey Ryan,

    I have a question and maybe you will be able to provide me some quality feedback.

    I work with a business and they do very will with a lot of their YouTube videos. However, the videos are continually being stolen and uploaded to spam YouTube accounts.

    In some cases I’ve had them pulled; but it’s just becoming a pain.

    When a spam account lists a YouTube video, does this hurt the primary video in anyway?

    Sometimes they steal content and the video and sometimes just the video.

    I look forward to your thoughts.


  49. Interesting that possibly the most important hack to rank a YouTube video isn’t included in this list. Actually, from my searches on Google, it seems like very few people seem to know about it. Sorry, I’m not going to reveal it here because I plan to include it in a book on internet marketing I intend to sell on JVZoo sometime this year. Suffice it to say that the hack involves simply including a short string of characters in the video’s description. I learned about it from an SEO guru.

    Anyway, the tips you’ve provided are still quite good.

    • Ryan Stewart

      thanks for the backhanded complement, but i’ll take it. good luck in jvzoo!

  50. Very helpful. Could you please give me your skype, or add my skype : anhtuan1911
    If possible please help me a few in building a youtube channel. Thanks a lot!

  51. Great article Ryan! You might want to check Hack #9, looks like the information for the
    Low competition and High competition sections is duplicated.

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