The Main 4 YouTube Ranking Factors (How to Grow Your Audience)

September 27, 2018

Why You Should Be On YouTube / Make Videos for Your Brand

Content Marketing is the best way to grow an audience or community. If you want to connect with more people in a more authentic way, video is a great way to do it.

I absolutely love to blog and get my content out in written form. But video is gaining relevancy and traction at an incredible clip. And it makes sense why.

1. YouTube is a Very User-Friendly Platform for Content

Have you ever been reading a book and then got hungry? What do you do? Put down the book and start getting all of your ingredients together and turn on your grill/stove, whatever is needed to start cooking.

Then you spend 10-20 minutes cooking your food, and then sitting down to eat. Maybe 30-45 minutes later you can sit back down to your book and get back into it.

Not a very passive way to consume content because you can’t be looking at other things while reading a book.

What happens if instead of a book, you were learning the same topic via a video on YouTube? You get hungry, but instead of closing your book, you set up your phone and keep the video on the entire time you cook and eat.

You can passively consume video while missing very little. This is the number 1 reason why video has gained so much traction.

2. YouTube is the Second Largest Search Engine in the World

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. Bigger than Bing, Yahoo, and Baidu. This means that there is already a huge built-in audience for people looking to consume video content.

Content Marketing has 3 forms: Written, Audio, and Visual. When it comes to content marketing, I always recommend that you do two things: 

Play to Your Strengths 

You should play to your strengths, which means if you’re an incredibly talented writer, you should try to promote your stories through a blog. But YouTube gives an amazing outlet to people who may not be great at writing but they’re not shy in front of a camera and know how to keep an audience entertained.

Know Thy Customer

How does your customer like to consume content? You will know this if you have a proper Buyer Persona created. If your target customer would never spend 12 seconds reading a blog, then you have to rethink your content marketing strategy. If that same person, however, can sit and watch a string of 14 YouTube videos for an hour, then I suggest you do what needs to be done to tell your story on YouTube. This guide will help anyone trying to grow an audience on YouTube and rank your videos on the YouTube Search Engine.

3. Building Your Audience is the Most Important Factor to a Creating Successful Brand

“I think the best way to start a business is not by developing a product to sell, but by creating a system to attract and build an audience.” -Joe Paluzzi, Founder of ContentMarketingInstitute.

In any content marketing campaign, you always need to focus on the Subscriber first. You want to either be bringing entertainment, knowledge, or value in some way, not just be trying to get something from them. No matter what you’re creating the thought needs to be on the subscriber and what they want to see.

YouTube is not easy, so if you’re only reading this to find a get rich quick scheme, this isn’t for you. But when it’s done right, a business or brand that leverages video, can do amazing things and see results you would have never thought possible.

Improve your YouTube rankings in 2018 with these 10 easy steps

10 Steps On How to Arrange Your YouTube Content to Rank Better in 2018 

Stop me if this sounds familiar:

  1. “In this video I’m going to show you (topic of video)”
  2. I did (topic of video) and got x results
  3. Im blank and I do blank
  4. You’re going to learn (topic of this video) in this video
  5. Quick story that relates to the pain point of the video
  6. How you overcame the pain point
  7. Break down of how viewers can overcome the pain point
  8. Reinforce why its important viewers use this solution
  9. Ask viewers to subscribe
  10. Great End Screen to click through to more videos

That does sound familiar doesn’t it.

You know why?

Because it’s pretty much the exact cadence every successful YouTuber uses when creating a video. It has been tweaked and optimized and that is what works. For better or worse, there’s a proven template for success. A great quote is “Success Leaves Clues.”

By all means, you can be creative and do something completely new. But if you want to see if you have what it takes to be a YouTuber or to create videos for your brand that actually perform well, you may want to try this simple outline for your content ideas.

In the worst case, you will have a solid baseline to learn from and get better with.

Let’s briefly break down each step and explain why it works.

Step 1 – Introduction and Summary to Video Topic

“In this video I’m going to show you (topic of video)” works because you want a solid hook so that your viewer doesn’t exit out of the video in the first couple seconds. You want to let the viewer know exactly what content they are about to see, and what problem you’re going to show them how to solve.

Step 2 – Explanation of Experience with the Topic and Your Results

“I did (topic of video) and got x results” works because you’re showing that you also had the problem in the video, and with the solutions, you’re offering got great results. As a viewer, you can see that the person clearly knows what they’re talking about because they faced the same challenges and makes them want to keep watching to learn how to overcome the problems.

Step 3 – Personal Introduction, Who You are and What You Do

“Im blank and I do blank” is important because it’s smart to tell the audience who you are and why what you do makes you qualified to give advice on the subject matter.

Step 4 – Explain What the Viewer Will Learn

“You’re going to learn (topic of this video) in this video” is just giving them the preview again while switching up the wording. This solidifies the hook and cements what is going to be covered in the video.

Step 5 – Choose a Scenario to Explain Your Audiences Pain Points

Quick story that relates to the pain point of the video is one of the 3 main sections of your video. It’s extremely important to create content that viewers can relate to. Giving an example (works even better if it’s yours or a client of yours) of the main pain point of the video adds context.

Anything that can help get the viewer get primed to receive the solution is a good addition to the video. In this case, a viewer can better visualize what problem we’re addressing with a real world example of the problem causing harm.

Step 6 – Explain How to Overcoming the Pain Point

Step 6 How you overcame the pain point is the bread and butter of the video. This is where you lay out exactly what you did to solve the problem. List all the steps you take and don’t leave anything out. This is where we begin adding a lot of value for the viewer, which is always our main goal.

Step 7 – Offer Step-by-Step Guidance for Overcoming the Pain Point

Break down of how viewers can overcome the pain point is where you should explain every trick up your sleeve. Give tools, resources, a step by step walkthrough of what the viewer needs to do after watching the video to start solving their problem.

Step 8 – Reinforce Why Your Viewers Should Use Your Solution

Reinforce why its important viewers use this solution You may do a great job showing the pain point and giving a solution, but this is the part where you where you give a stat or something about why your viewer needs to take that action. Show them what can happen if they take the advice and conquer the problem.

Step 9 – Ask Your Viewers to Subscribe, Comment, Like, Follow, Contribute

Ask viewers to subscribe This has been tested by 1000’s of YouTubers. We have already defined that our number 1 metric is subscribers. The best way to get them to subscribe, is by asking for it.

Step 10 – Keep the User Engaged with Effective Thumbnails to End the Video

Great End Screen to click through to more videos We’ll touch a bit more on this later on, but for now, just understand that these are important because it can increase relevant ranking signals to YouTube like watch time and click-through rate if a viewer clicks onto another one of your videos from it.

top 4 youtube ranking factors 2018

The Real Ranking Factors for YouTube – 2018

Let’s switch the focus a bit off the creation of the videos, but more on the promotion and growth aspect of YouTube. What things should creators actually be focused on when uploading a video and what is just noise?

Let’s break down a few of the key YouTube ranking factors for 2018 that I have noticed seen in 100’s of case studies I have done on YouTube ranking factors.

When it comes to writing blog posts (what I enjoy most), I make sure that I put in plenty of relevant content for readers. My average blog post is roughly 2300 words long.

The average top ranked post in Google has an average of 1,780 words. Do longer articles equal better rankings? Yes and no. The same with video. Let me explain.

I don’t try to write articles to hit a certain word quota, but I’m focusing on covering all possible questions around my article topic to the fullest. And to get all the info to my readers it usually takes a longer post.

I read a great quote in Joe Paluzzi book “Content Inc.” that can be applied to both blogs and videos. “A blog post (or video)  is like a mini-skirt. It needs to be long enough to cover the essentials, but short enough to keep things interesting.”

Which brings me to my first ranking factor and that is:

1. Watch Time

Watch time is the total time that viewers spend watching all of your content. That is why I mentioned the length of the video earlier.

Your first thought should be “Well, if total time watched is an important YouTube ranking factor, shouldn’t I only make 4 hour videos?”

While it has been shown that longer videos typically rank better on YouTube than short ones (and i do suggest aiming for 8-15 minute videos) the fact remains that if your content isn’t great, the length of the video won’t matter.

And if you’re just trying to add useless time to your videos, the audience will know and will stop watching. Which will harm your video’s ability to rank highly on YouTube.

The best way to increase your watch time on your YouTube channel is to put out more content and analyze your Audience Retention Graphs. Some analytics you can get from this are finding out exactly what part of your video people are clicking out of. This can give you some great insight into some tweaks that you can make and exactly what your audience is not liking.

2. The Hook

It is vital that you persuade your viewers in the first 15-20 seconds that your video is exactly what they were looking for and that they should stay and watch the entirety of your video. This is why the first 4 steps that we talked about earlier in Video Content Order are centered around the Hook.

Much like the infamous bounce rate statistic on Google Search, bouncing from YouTube videos within the first 0-30 seconds shows that your video does not likely answer user questions and therefore, user intent.

In order to make sure that your YouTube videos rank well and attract a solid audience, you need to make sure that your audience is very aware of why they are on your channel, how you can help them, and why your advice is better than others out there. All while making sure that you stay true to your brand and aim to bring value more than trying to sell them on something.

3. Click Through Rate

The click through rate on YouTube is when your video is shown in the results for a search, what makes someone click to watch your video instead of one of the other ones? The most important things that we can optimize for better Click Through Rate are the Thumbnail, Title, and Meta Description.

  • You want to make your Thumbnail customized and stand out. It works great to use Big Text in the thumbnail, and a background color that stands out from your competition.
  • For Title let’s just call it what it is. Clickbait. You have to be creative and title your video something that people won’t be able to pass on. This won’t work unless you have great content that you just need more people to see so you make a click baity title for. A great example of this is Christian Guzman. His videos when he uses a click baity title are almost double (sometimes triple) in views over the ones where he uses a non clickbait title.
  • For your description, you just want it to be that extra push and deciding factor to get someone to watch your video.

The last of the Main 4 YouTube Ranking Factors for 2018 is Engagement Signals. This is where things like Comments and Likes play a major role. The same way that you ask viewers to subscribe at the end of the videos, it’s important that you find a way to incorporate a call to action or 2 during your video for viewers to leave comments and like your video. You wouldn’t believe the difference this small detail makes.

Bonus: Pay attention to your audience retention numbers. This is the number that shows how many people start one of your videos, and how many are still watching at the end of the video.

4. Quote Directly From YouTube

“Your goal is to keep audience retention as close to 100% as you can (because this means viewers are watching all of the way through your videos.) And videos with consistently high audience retention and watch time have the potential to show up more frequently in Search and Suggested locations on YouTube.”

Pro Tip: One great tip I’ve found comes from Roberto Blake, a great YouTuber with a massive following and influence. His best tip for beginners:

“When you’re first starting on Youtube, start with a 5 part series about one subject. Give people something to binge-watch Netflix style, which will get your sessions up, watch time and all the other important ranking factors. Don’t release all at once though.”

This is awesome advice and a light bulb went off when I heard it. YouTube’s number one goal is to keep you on their site as long as possible (so that they can show and sell more ads) and if you are a creator that can immediately get these amazing watch statistics because of your bingeable setup, that’s awesome.

Another Pro Tip that I heard over and over again in my research, was to keep people on YouTube when you’re first getting started. What does this mean? It means that if you’re a brand and you’re just trying to get YouTube views to get more eyeballs on your website or products, you’re doing it wrong. You want to show YouTube right out of the gates that your channel is one that is great for the platform. So instead of adding call to actions that send them to a product landing page on your website, send them to another one of your videos or another playlist.

5. Keywords

“Just throw your keyword in the front of your titles and in your description and tags and your video will rank well.”

Contrary to what many marketing experts are telling you right now, YouTube is not about matching keywords to what your searcher is typing in.  It hasn’t been since 2011 or maybe even earlier that YouTube’s algorithm was focused on keywords.

It all comes down to having the right thumbnail, title and content that viewers are going to love. Thumbnails and Titles are much more important to CTR on Youtube than keywords are.

YouTube’s algorithm understands “user intent” which means that if a video with 0 of the keywords are a better fit for what users actually want to see, then that’s what’s going to rank highest, not the Keyword stuffed post.

The one time I do suggest performing some Keyword research is to better understand how users are finding your content. You can do this by going into your YouTube “Traffic Sources –> YouTube search” report. This report shows you all the keywords that YouTube users have searched for to find your videos.

This is exactly how i like to use Search Console to help optimize my blog.

A great SEO tip, is to try to find keywords that already have video results in Google. If you also get a high traffic search term to rank on Google as well as YouTube, you can easily receive 2-5x as many views for that video.

Pro Tip: List-Type Videos do very well on youTube.

Why? Because people rarely click out on the 4th item when they were promised 7.

6. The Video Itself

I definitely don’t want to go into too much detail about the video itself, production or editing. I do want to mention, however, two things that came up time and again throughout my research for this article.

The first thing that was talked about an overwhelming amount of times is Don’t just talk to the camera. Remember, if you’re going to talk about it, show it.

This makes a lot of sense to me. It’s enjoyable to watch somebody vlog, but you don’t want someone walking around for 10 minutes just talking to the camera. Add context. Add a more impressive visual component to your shot.

And this is where the second tip comes into action, remember your B-Roll. For non-video producers that don’t know what B-roll os, it’s just a fancy, shortened term that describes secondary shots used that do not show the main subject. A-Roll, on the other hand, is the main subject.

So to tie into the example above, the vlogger talking to his camera is the A-roll. But if he’s telling a story about hiking last Friday, a great way to add some B-roll would be to show some video shots of the mountain, the wildlife, anything that adds context to what he is talking about. These are usually the higher quality shots that make everything look visually pleasing.

Videos are boring without B-roll. They help you with an important part of storytelling through video, giving context to make people feel like they’re a part of the process.

how to use end screens on youtube to rank better

How to Optimize YouTube Video End Screens for Clicks

Now you’ve made the jump to YouTube, you’ve found a niche, and produced your first 5-part series to release for viewers to binge. Once you start getting traction, and some eyeballs onto your content, it’s important to take them from casual watchers, to amazing subscribers. A great way to do this is to get all of your content in front of these people. One trick to getting more views is the End Screens. This is the end of the video when the YouTuber is wrapping up and giving out some call to actions. These are things like

  • Please subscribe
  • Do me a favor and click that Like Button Down Below
  • Click this Pop up to view my next video on blank

These are all great ideas because you don’t just want these people to leave. For the most part, if someone has watched one of your videos all the way to the end, they’re a perfect target for the rest of your videos, and there’s no better place to try to convert them into multiple-video-watchers.

The tip here, is you only have 20 seconds to do all this. You never want to end with a black screen with music and links to other content, your viewers will already feel that the video is over and will be long gone.

Instead, put your CTA’s in the content itself!

It might feel strange to wrap up all your content in 20 seconds but this isn’t TV, your viewers aren’t passively watching, they’re actively watching.

Pick only 1 Call To Action, your most important one. So if you have a great video that you also want to be shown, focus your whole end screen on getting a click to that next video. Don’t show 7 different videos and links to product pages. Determine what’s most important to you, and attack it completely.

You want to consistently check YouTube analytics on the end screen click-throughs and see what’s working, and optimize from there.

tips for promoting your youtube video and growing your channel

Tips for Promoting Your YouTube Video Effectively

There are many things that you have to leave up to YouTube’s algorithm to handle, but make sure you’re doing everything on your end to be successful.

Make sure your content is engaging, tells a story and adds value to a viewer. GIve viewers a reason to click on your video with great thumbnails and titles. Go above and beyond on your end screen to have viewers stay on your channel and videos. Upload on a consistent basis, and make your content binge-worthy.

Most people think that their problem is with a lack of exposure, but 9 times out of 10, they are doing something wrong from the steps above.

That being said, you do want to do your best to promote your YouTube videos on other platforms to get more views.

Great places to do this are Facebook, your blog, and Quora.

Facebook is obvious. You already have a huge list of friends that support you and want to watch content that you work so hard to create.

Sharing it here is an awesome way to get that initial hundred or so views.

Your blog might be the ideal place for your video to live.

If you have a blog that is doing well, embed your YouTube video into a relevant post. It will give your blog readers a visual component of that content, and extend your video’s reach outside of the YouTube platform.

Promote your video on Quora while answering questions. This leads to high-value views and its not spammy to Quora.

how to improve your youtube rankings- 2018

The 4 Most Important YouTube Ranking Factors 2018 – Wrapping it Up 

YouTube is an awesome platform and monstrous search engine. Those that have successfully leveraged this platform have seen returns of millions and millions of dollars, and brand loyalty, unlike anything you’ve seen before.

The rewards are massive, but it is not something you can just do by throwing up a video and waiting for your paycheck. If you follow the tips and tactics laid out in this article, be consistent and provide a ton of values to your viewers, there’s no doubt that you’ll be successful.

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