There are a lot of very helpful people in the YouTube community who have tonnes of sound advice gained from years of experience.
And there are also people who (purposefully or not) give out bad advice, false information and help to spread rumours.
In this article I’ll be cutting through some of these less-than-helpful myths surrounding SEO on YouTube:
1) Trick X will help you rank higher.
Firstly let me break the bad news.
There are no tricks. There are no shortcuts.
And you certainly won’t hear me promising anything of the sort.
The second flaw in these theories is that the concept of ranking on YouTube is very different from Google. Google rankings are personalised but nowhere near as much as they are on YouTube. Because of this it is much harder to get an objective idea of rank for your videos.
In order to see accurately where your video ranks you’d need to be signed out, and to have all browsing data erased so that you are using YouTube with a clean slate (or as close to it as is possible). There are also tools advertised that claim to track your rank but I haven’t used one as yet so won’t recommend any here.
In many cases when you search a term and see your own videos it is likely based on YouTube serving you something it thinks you’re looking for from your own channel or because it has seen you visit the same channel many times.
This makes me think that people that dispense with these tips are either:
- Unaware that they (probably) aren’t ranking for what they think they are, or
- Relying on you not knowing this and believing you are ranking higher than you are.
Either way you are better off avoiding such people as your view count will reflect the truth.
2) Misleading metadata gets you more views
I’ve been around YouTube long enough to have seen many examples of this in action but with changes in YouTube’s algorithm, they’re becoming less and less effective.
The most obvious abuse of metadata comes in the form of misleading thumbnails and titles both of which make you more likely to get clicked but also more likely to be clicked off after a few seconds.
Sneakier examples of this are stuffing and listing keywords in descriptions and tags and copying the tags of other popular videos.
These tactics may fool the algorithm in the short (and getting shorter) term but in the long run bad audience retention will be the downfall of that video and your channel and lead you to worse rankings than before you started.
Keep your hands clean is my motto.
3) Longer videos improve watch time
Watch time is the definitive ranking factor on YouTube but simply making longer videos isn’t going to cut it.
- Let’s say you post a 3-minute video and it gets watched for 2 minutes. It’s not great but it’s not the end of the world.
- You then decide to post a 15 minute video to increase watch time and it gets watched for 5 minutes.
- Although you’ve increased minutes watched by 3 whole minutes, your longer video is only being watched one third the way through.
It’s all relative.
You need to keep your watch time percentage up and not just the amount of minutes watched or the algorithm will leave you behind.
Read my guide on how to optimize for watch times here.
4) Your video file name should include your keywords
The file name is not indexed by YouTube or Google and will have no effect on the discoverability of your video.
Use a simple naming convention consistently across your files so that you can easily search through your back-ups for an old file if needed.
You are keeping backups right?
5) The first x tags are the most important
This idea would mean that you put your video specific keywords first instead of your channel default tags in the hopes that YouTube will give them more weight.
YouTube treats all of your tags equally and working this way is inefficient.
You can keep your default channel tags first which means less fiddling around and there will be the strongest possible associations between your videos (great for appearing in suggested videos more often.)
It’s then a simple case of adding in the video specific tags. Keep them hyper relevant and don’t dilute them with any tags that aren’t necessary.
I hope that at least one of these points can help you to cut out an inefficient or negative process from the running of your YouTube channel. Keeping in YouTube’s good books will always prevail over short-term get-views-quick techniques.
You get out of YouTube what you put in so be honest and consistent and you’ll see consistent growth.
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