How We Rank YouTube Videos in Google, Search & “Up Next” [SEO]

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    How We Rank YouTube Videos in Google, Search & “Up Next” [SEO]

Ryan Stewart

Marketing expert

I have an unhealthy obsession with being considered the world's BEST internet marketer. I'm highly active on social media and love a good debate.


The WEBRIS YouTube Channel recently surpassed 1 million minutes of 100% organic video views.


In addition to WEBRIS, we started a YouTube Channel for our ecommerce store, Laces Out. In 11 months, we’ve received over 82k views.


When I originally wrote this post, I thought our “organic” views came from videos ranking in Google searches. However, our YouTube Analytics tells a different story. Our top traffic sources are:

  • WEBRIS: “Suggested Videos” (34% of total views)
  • Laces Out: YouTube Search (57% of total views)


So, I’ve modified this post to focus on growth from all organic sources:

  1. Ranking in Google organic search
  2. Ranking in YouTube internal search
  3. Ranking for “up next” and “suggested” videos


  1. Targeting your videos – Understanding searcher intent, keyword research and video creation.
  2. Optimizing your videos – Creating a branded presence, optimizing titles, tags and descriptions.
  3. Promoting your videos – Getting real, engaged views on your videos, building links and embeds to your videos.


For certain search queries, a video is a better result than a website.

If you’re searching for information on “how to tie a tie”… would you rather read an article or watch a video?


That’s a rhetorical question – I know the answer because Google is telling us by showing videos as results.

Some other query types that trigger video results:

  1. Tutorial videos (i.e. “dark lip tutorial“)
  2. How-to videos (i.e. “how to rank your ebook in Amazon“, )
  3. Review videos (product reviews, business reviews, product complaints)

This is incredibly important because it tells us what type of videos to focus on. Instead of videos about your business, you should be teaching, sharing, training and helping.

Now, I’m not saying this is the only thing – there’s plenty of directions you can go.

However, focusing on creating videos that inform will put you in the best position to succeed, I promise.

“But…I run a business, that needs to sell stuff to stay open. Why do I care if people are watching a ‘how-to’ video about tying a tie”?

Fair question. Let’s break this down using a funnel:


Let’s say you own an ecommerce shop that sells men’s clothing:

Top of funnel

  • There’s HUGE search volume around wardrobe help – styling, fitting, outfit combinations, etc.
  • While these searches have no direct purchase intent, there’s a tremendous amount of value in reaching new, relevant audiences with engaging content.
  • It’s a much better first impression that an advertisement.

Mid funnel

  • When someone is about to purchase an item, what do they do? Check for reviews.
  • It just so happens YouTube is HUGE for reviews – these videos can rank really, really well.

You can attack this is 3 ways:

  1. Have someone on your team create reviews.
  2. Pay a 3rd party to create reviews for you (Fiverr gig).
  3. Pay an influencer to do a review and post on their Channel.

Predator Nutrition is an ecommerce site that sells health and fitness supplements. They have their own private label products, but mainly they’re a retailer (meaning they sell other brands as well).

When we were doing the initial keyword research for them, we found that the #1 keyword attached to the products they sold was “reviews”.


We had their team create video reviews of the highly searched products – using the process in the rest of this post, we ranked them in Google for these keywords.


This is important as it’s really hard to rank an ecommerce product page for “review” keywords. Generally, Google is looking to rank an unbiased, 3rd party source for review searches.

Using YouTube, you can sneak in behind the power of the domain and rank for your own products.


Picking keywords for videos

I generally start by putting the website’s keywords into YouTube search. Then, I look for signs that it’s a keyword I want to attack:

  1. Are they showing ads? This shows that the search is popular enough to pay for.
  2. Do they top videos have a lot of views? If so, this tells me that keyword has a high search volume.
  3. Are the top results achievable? Click on the top accounts and see how many Subscribers they have, view count, etc.
  4. What type (intent) of videos are on top? Format (review, how to, movie), length (how long).


When I find relevant, high volume keywords with low competition, I build out a content calendar:

YouTube Content Calendar

The calendar breaks down everything:

  • Draft and go live dates
  • Topics and keywords
  • Video title and tags
  • Video length, content type and tips

I pass this document to my offshore team who manages the uploading, graphics and formatting for me.



Before you start uploading videos, you might consider cleaning up your Channel’s appearance.

Creative and Channel branding is incredibly important – you want to customize a number of items, including:

  • About section (contact, links, blurb)
  • Logo (controlled through your Google+ profile pic)
  • Channel cover photo (2560 x 1440 pixels)
  • Individual video image (1280 x 720 pixels)

You can get quality design work done for cheap on Fiverr.


In addition, you want to setup Playlists that group your videos logically. I like to create them for display on our Channel page to help people find our top videos.

A good brand helps drive more subscribers – no one wants to follow a channel that looks like shit. Most importantly, that brand will help you stand out in the “Up next” videos, stealing clicks away from competitors.



Rename your raw video’s file

YouTube is pretty damn smart, but they can’t see what your video is about (yet…). Much like image SEO, YouTube sees your video’s file name.

It’s easy to do:

  1. On your desktop, find the video file.
  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.


Optimize the Title

Titles are incredibly important – they’re a major ranking factor. When I write titles, I include at least 3 of the following in each:

  1. Biggest keyword
  2. Intent modifier
  3. Secondary keywords
  4. Clickbait




youtube video titles


Create the Tags

While some think tags have no affect, I kindly disagree – they’re there for a reason.

I like to steal my tags from the competition.

  1. Install TubeBuddy browser plugin
  2. Type your main keywords into YouTube search
  3. Click on top ranked videos
  4. Click “tags” by TubeBuddy to view competitor tags
  5. Copy and paste these into your video’s tags

Stealing Tags YouTube


Tags are used by search engines for classification – I believe using the same tags as the top ranked videos helps to associate you with their keywords.


Write the description

I’ve seen plenty of videos ranking high with NO descriptions, so I don’t image it’s something that even gets crawled by YouTube anymore.

YouTube is not a conversion channel – that action needs to take place elsewhere. The description is a great place to push people to owned platforms.

In the description, I like to:

  1. Write at least 200 words of unique, descriptive wording. I like to summarize what the video is about (don’t keyword stuff).
  2. Add links to other videos on your Channel.
  3. Add external links to website and social profiles.

Now, we’re ready for the next section.



From my data, the #1 ranking factor is user engagement.

That means things like:

  • “Dwell time” (how long people are watching your videos for)
  • Share rate (social)
  • Links and embeds on other sites
  • Channel Subscriber count (real ones)


The problem is, how can you get engaged views with no audience and no organic rankings?

Manual promotion.

It’s a pain in the ass, but as I mentioned before, building a YouTube Channel takes commitment. If you don’t have an audience, you have to build one.

Tactics to get views

When I first got started on YouTube, I had a promotional process. Every time I published a video, I did the following:

1. Post to a Facebook Group

Facebook Groups are awesome, but you have to be careful not to spam the group and get booted (CHECK OUT OUR GROUP). I always recommend spending some time building a presence before dropping links bombs everywhere.



2. Find a relevant Quora thread

Straight forward – search for a relevant thread, write a good answer and embed your video for further info.



3. Post it to LinkedIn

I’ve always had a good sized audience through connections on LinkedIn (which can be built manually also, by the way). I create a new post on my personal page about the YouTube video and embed it there.



4. Embed in the blog

We re-built our blog posts to include an embeddable YouTube video in the header. It’s an extra place to capture views, easily.



5. Hit some Google+ Communities

They say Google+ is dead, but Communities are still hanging on. You can drop a link to your videos in there, the key is finding engaged Communities, which is becoming a challenge.



6. Send to email list

Email is by far the best promotional tactic – you can send a steady stream of engaged views right away, which is a huge ranking and quality signal to YouTube.



The ultimate goal is to build your Channel into a reputable source for YouTube – this comes through building engagement on your videos.

If you can do that, YouTube will do all the promotional work for you.


Tactics to get links and embeds

If you do everything up to this point, your videos will rank well within YouTube. To rank in Google organic Search you need to build links to your videos.

YouTube is a Domain Authority 99 site, meaning the domain has a massive spam tolerance. This allows us to build lower quality links, safely.

Contextual links

1 or 2 quality contextual links will rank just about any video. I like to use guest post and sponsored posts, as often times you can get a nice embed in there as well.

Reddit links

If you find the right SubReddit, and you have the right video, you can get some great links and engagement from Reddit. Read my guide to Reddit.

Reddit Links

Blog comments

When done properly, you can get pretty good links from blog comments. Our team is instructed to find opportunity by searching Google for articles about our video, commenting and adding a link or embed for reference.

Blog Comments

Forum comments

In certain niches, forums are active and great sources of traffic. They’re also a solid source of links for YouTube videos.


That’s all I got – I’m happy to answer questions if you leave them in the comments!

About Ryan Stewart

I have an unhealthy obsession with being considered the world's BEST internet marketer. I'm highly active on social media and love a good debate.


  1. 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.

  2. 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…

  3. 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.

  4. Pingback: visualindustries
  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

      1. 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. 😀

  10. 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!

    1. 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.

  11. “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!

  12. 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.

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

  13. 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..

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

    1. 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!

  16. 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!

    1. 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.

  17. 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 😉

  18. 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.



  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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?

  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. 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.

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

    Thanks in Advance! :)

  26. 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.

  27. 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)

  28. 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.


  29. 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.

  30. 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!

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

  32. Hi Ryan,iam working on Youtube seo,this is very helpful for me.great job!.If i have any doubts i will post,please reply me.thank you.

  33. Great Info! I was always told that it was easier to rank a video vs a site but, it seems like the process and time line are the same.

  34. thank you rian, it’s totally helpful..
    but if you want to combine this guide with my powerful tool taht will rank your youtube videos, just access my website. Its free.. :)

  35. Greetings, Ryan. Wonderful article, and still fair current in relevance.

    The question on my mind….

    If you DON’T edit the transcription, can it hurt your SEO? I know YouTube’s transcription engine can be brutal. So, other than having the wrong script dialogue displayed in accompaniment of the video, and irrelevant corniness be among the array of option results, does not having an accurate transcription have the potential of dampening relevance?

    I heard years ago that YouTube’s transcription and/or your edited transcription affect YouTube’s categorization of your video, which seems unfair, since they can get it consistently so WRONG! :o)

    Any feedback you might have is appreciated. I value your opinion.

    Thanks. Roland

    1. no, if you dont use the transcription it wont HURT you, it just wont hep you. i generally just write a 2 PPG summary of the video, i dont go for the whole transcription anymore – find the notes are more valuable to the audience than a long transcription

  36. thank you brother for sharing these informations ,it is more useful for me to boost viewer of my channel thank you again for your efforts keep going <3 <3

  37. Thanks Ryan for this valuable info you’ve shared with us! These are helpful tips for anyone looking effective techniques on YouTube SEO, I have implemented some tips that you’ve mentioned here and yes it works up to now, I’ve added social bookmarking strategies as well since that is what we provide – social bookmarks (feel free to check fiverrfanatic on Fiverr) – for YouTube videos so that backlinks will come naturally.

  38. Sir i think i have a problem in my youtube channel called MsGear. Sir I have 320 Subscriber but when i click on my channel i am not be able to future other channels. What is the reason please tell me sir i really need it. If you know the problem Please email me my email address I will be thankful to you if you solve my problem.
    Mirza Shahbaz

  39. Great article. I’m pretty new to posting videos on YT and I was doing about 10% of this. Loads more to consider. It will reduce my output due to the increased time to submit each video. But as always….quality over quantity!

  40. Super useful information. Thank you SO MUCH! One question tho… what program / app do you use to see the conversion rate for your website? Thanks

  41. Low competition (1,000 monthly searches)

    1. Drip fed or manually placed over a 60 day period

    i din’t get the actual meaning of this term, will you explain?

  42. Awesome post! Already bookmarked. I’m blogging about healthy food. I’ve been trying put traffic to my newly blog for months into no avail. The only thing that get me from stale mate point is that I’ve performed some serious keyword expansion. I’ve got help from support guys from the SEO tool I’ve been using. Now I know how to rank well for as many relevant keywords as possible and it did miracles to by blog. The tool calls SERPstat and the guy were awesome. Thanks for this post. And huge thanks for the guys who helped me. I’m starting to believe that if you put efforts into something, the universe will oblige)

  43. Ryan, great info. I am sorry if I missed this, but do you upload through a live event on Youtube or by doing a regular upload?

    1. i do a regular upload, but i have seen good case studies showing a SLIGHT boost in using the live video feature. YouTube is pushing Live video heavily to try and beat Facebook – generally this means those videos will perform better, as YouTube has motive to incentivize you to use that feature.

  44. Actually I would go for the first video on which I would choose for thumbnail.

    A very small reason is because it is a person. I know there a person there, if that makes sense. Of course hot women and hot guy is better.

    Now the main reason: it is more detailed. The second thumbnail is way too small. To make out on first glance. The only thing somewhat sticks out is the rocket and the yellow background. But if I just browsing thru. i would probably skip it.

  45. Great tips to drive organic traffic Neil. Keyward Research is the key to rank higher in search engine results. I find long tail keywords very useful in improving search engine ranking.

  46. Thanks for such information …but I have a question that I have created a new channel what is the technique to rank videos for new channels

  47. Thanks for the tips! #3 however I can’t figure out how to add that extra info. I am on a PC and when I right click and view it under ‘properties’ I don’t see those fields available. There is no ‘more info’ field that I see.

  48. Hi Ryan, very amazing article talk about video SEO. as I can expect, video marketing is a way to engage audience and drive them to your website. as YouTube is very popular now, more and more company would put it in a strategic position. the early you do, the better the result.

  49. Thanks Ryan. I was searching for ways on how to rank YouTube videos in Google and this post is in the first page of search engines for the keyword “Youtube SEO”. Very valuable info indeed!

  50. There has to be something else that is missing some kind of X factor. I have posted guitar videos for several years utilizing all the tips included and have never gotten over 20 to 30 hits for most videos. When I search for the videos using the keywords I cannot find them on Google or Youtube. I compared cover songs I have done to others with many more hits and I always stay at the bottom. Like I said there must be an X factor that gets you noticed. Some reason a 10 year old kid that has a video saying worst guitar ever goes viral and the same video released by another person at the same time will never get noticed. Guess I will keep plugging away.

  51. You are right about one thing: My video has only19 views! I am glad that I found your website. Learned a lot from your post. Thank you.

  52. how long it takes to recover from manual action after the penalty is removed. it is been almost a year the penalty removed but im still struggling in getting more traffic and ranking.

  53. I usually create money making related video. Some of my video got ranked on google as no 1. I never tried with SEO. Your article has so many information about SEO which will help me a lot to rank a video.

  54. Ryan Stewart,
    Please help me out to rank my videos on google. I have a channel on YouTube and I want to increase number of views on my video that I share on YouTube channel.

    Need your kind advises!

    1. ive never done it – i just see it as an extra step and the value it adds isnt worth the additional time. youtube is really simple, its about getting real, engaged views on your videos. if you can do that, youtube will show your videos to more people and your growth will snowball. all the other tricks come and go, but that’s where the algorithm is going.

  55. wooww,. great job, i have never come across such tutorials like this before. i love that one where you said that YouTube not being a shopping site. honestly if someone is searching out for a product to buy, YouTube isn’t where such person will go to. very very true. YouTube is surely where one can get to know how to solve problems. so vidoes that deal on HOW-TOs will surely rock high up in rankings.

  56. Great stuff Ryan! I was actually looking for some concrete info and I got your post. Will work upon the tips and tricks. Will post questions if any face any challenges.
    Keep up the good work, hail youtube!


  57. Hello Ryan, first of all congratulate you for the great blog you have.
    I was recommended by a friend and I’m fascinated.

    I wanted to ask you a question about youtube.

    There is a video in which you name a website to buy links to youtube videos.

    1- Is this page ?: because I redirected there.

    2- How many packs do you have to buy?

    3- What is the best pack?

    4- If you make many links of these to each video, can the channel be penalized?

    Thanks for everything, really.

    Thank you for being able to learn from people like you.

  58. Very interesting ways to boost SEO. These tips really help. Thank for sharing this informative blog, I’m surely going to follow your tips to improve the ranking of my website. Keep updating


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