I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to make my gaming videos rank for search topics on Youtube. Since Youtube is owned by Google and is the second largest search engine in the world SEO matters a lot in making your videos visible on the internet.
Actual watch time statistics are the most important thing for ranking on Youtube
First things first. The single most important metric for ranking videos on Youtube is the watch time (Yes, YouTube officially stated this!). This means that you’ll never get a video to rank by putting boobs in the thumbnail and having a shitty video as people will stop watching immediately. This also means that having a large subscriber base is key for jumpstarting your videos.
Very specific videos from a small channel will still drive views
However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t rank for specific terms. The easiest way to get a lot of views is to make a short “how to” video on a very specific topic. My best example of this is my video on how to do a wheelie in GTA 5 on PC.
I had a channel with basically no subscribers and that video is approaching 2.000 views. A lot of people will search for a specific problem or specific piece of information on Youtube and Google and it’s a lot easier to rank for something very specific than just doing a general “Let’s play GTA 5” where your video will be crowded out by the big channels.
The downside to the “how to” video is that people generally will not subscribe to your channel from watching it. This kind of video has a low retention rate. Most people will move on when they got the information they needed. But you will still gain a few subscribers here and there and that’s better than gaining no subscribers from a generic video with no views. Also the added views will still help your channel as it sends a signal to Google that your channel can get views and that you make good content.
So how do we improve our chances of ranking?
Title, tags and description!
Your title should include the keywords that you’re trying to rank for and you can even write the same thing twice with different wording as an example “How to build a statue in Minecraft: Build a legendary statue fast!”.
Tags are also important and here you need to be very specific and hit the long tail keywords. Don’t put “Minecraft”, “gameplay” etc. put in “How to build a statue in minecraft” and all sorts of variations of that.
The description is also important for telling Google what your video is about. Include the keywords that you want to rank for many times and write a long description. If you can’t be bothered at least copy paste something relevant in here.
Keyword research for YouTube
This is super easy. Start typing the name of a game into Google and the autofill will give you the most searched terms trying to complete it for you. Use these as keywords and tags. Also type in the full name and hit search. On the search results page check the bottom, there’ll be two columns of keywords and sentences that are frequently searched for in connection with what you just searched for.
You can also log into Adwords and use the keyword planner tool to suggest keywords and check the estimated search volume for the keywords.
Check out what tags the competition uses with the Google Chrome extension: “VidIQ”, it’ll show you exactly what tags are connected with a video you watch on Youtube as well as many other metrics.
Don’t neglect the Youtube thumbnail!
You also need to spend some time on the thumbnail to make it look appealing! It’s the first impression that will drive the click. It doesn’t matter if your video ranks for a while if no one is going to click on it because your thumbnail looks amateurish and boring. If nobody clicks on your thumbnail Google will stop showing it and noone will see your amazing content.
External links to your videos will also help. You can get these from websites, social media etc.