Let's face it, more and more people are using Youtube as their new search engine instead of Google, Yahoo or Bing. People love videos and the trend is growing.

So, wouldn't it be nice if you knew how to get your Youtube videos ranked on page one for your keywords in 2016? To do this, you need to know latest SEO ranking factors that determine which videos get ranked where.

Of course, Youtube never reveals its exact algorithm for ranking videos, but thanks to some trial and error, lots of research and some help from a few video ranking tools like VidIQ, we can get pretty close to knowing precisely what it is.

The SEO Ranking Factors For Youtube Videos In 2016

1. Average Watch Time

As you probably know already, the goal of Youtube is to provide the highest quality content for its visitors, so they will keep coming back for more. One factor that tells Youtube that people like a video is the average watch time.

You want you videos to have the highest percentage of watch time possible. For example, if you have a 5 minute video, you want people to watch as close to the full 5 minutes as possible.

To do this, all you have to do is create a high quality video that gives the people exactly what they are looking for. Don't let the title mislead people to think that the video is about something it isn't.

As long as you give the viewers what they expect when they see the title of your video and click on it, that will definitely help your average watch time. The other thing you should try to do is keep your videos relatively short.

Youtube viewers tend to have short attention spans and won't watch videos that are very lengthy. In my experience, no matter what the video length, if you give viewers a high-quality video, they will watch around 5 or 6 minutes of it on average.

So, having said this, if you have a 20 minute video and viewers watch 5 minutes and leave it will look worse than when they watch minutes of your 7 minute video and leave. Make sense?

So, to get the best average watch time, keep your video title and content in sync with each other, deliver high quality content within the video and keep the length around 5 or 6 minutes long at most.


If no one is watching your video, it tells Youtube that it may not be that great. To get your video ranked on top of page one, you need to give it a boost in views.

A few ways to do this are:

  • Get a lot of social media shares.
  • Promote you new video at the end of other existing videos.
  • Email the video to your subscriber list.
  • Embed the video on your blog.
  • Run ads to your video.

If you just used those 5 tactics above for getting views for your Youtube video, you would never have trouble getting enough views.

In my experience, promoting the video until it gets its first 100 views or so is usually a good enough boost for it to start ranking and getting organic views on its own.

Ultimately, if no one seems to want to watch your video, it sends red flags to Youtube that it might not be of very high quality. So, always make sure you spend time promoting each video, and don't forget how important a good title is for your video.

If you don't have a title that captures attention, people won't click on it. People have to click on your video to view it, so you have to create a headline that is so interesting, viewers can't resist clicking.

3. Titles

Not only do you need to have catchy titles that capture people's' attention, but they need to help your videos rank for keywords in search results. Otherwise, the only views you'll ever get will be from your initial promotion.

The goal here is to get organic views from search results, so that you never have to worry about a video getting views after you've published and promoted it.

The best way to rank your videos using your titles is to use multiple keyword phrases wrapped into one. One example of a video that has gotten a lot of traffic fairly quickly is “How To Increase Facebook Likes Organically Without Ads“.

I've rolled about 3 or 4 keyword phrases into one video title for this particular video. The multiple keyword phrases that people might use to find this video would be:

  • Increase Facebook likes
  • How to increase Facebook likes
  • How to increase Facebook likes organically
  • How to increase Facebook likes without ads

After promoting my video, it got a few hundred views very quickly and was already ranking in the top spots for “How to increase Facebook likes organically” and “How to increase Facebook likes without ads“.

So, for those two keyword phrases, there is less competition. It is easier to rank and now I get quite a few views for those phrases. As the views build up and my video becomes more popular, it will slowly start rising in the search rankings for the more competitive terms like “How to increase Facebook likes”.

Once your video is ranking higher for more competitive terms like this, that is when the big numbers start coming in for your video.

To optimize your Youtube video titles for keywords correctly and make them more appealing to viewers, watch this quick video:

how to optimize your youtube video title for keywords

4. Tags

Tags are also very important for determining how Youtube will rank your videos. Tags are just a way of you telling them what the video is about. If you use them correctly, they will help you rank higher.

One mistake people tend to make when it comes to creating video tags, is they just use their top keyword phrase as the tag and then try to think of a lot of random tags that might be similar.

This is okay to do, but there is a better way. To get the best related tags for you videos, go to Google and type in your primary targeted keyword phrase or phrases.

After the search results come up, scroll down to the very bottom of the page and look under “Searches related to (your keyword phrase)”.

related searches

This will give you about 8 of the most popular, related searches to your phrase.

Copy the ones that make the most sense from these and then past them as tags for your videos. This is definitely one of the best ways to get the best tags. It's quick, easy and gives you the best results from a reliable source: Google.

One other tactic I like to use to get quality video tags is by leveraging Google search in a different way. Google always tries to help you find what you are looking for by making suggestions as you type in your keywords that are based on other popular searches.

As you type in your keywords, watch for the other popular searches that come up in the search bar before you finish typing. Here's what they look like:

google related searches

Notice how Google suggests popular searches under what you are typing in the box. Usually they will give you about 4 searches to try to help you finish typing what you want to look for.

Use these suggested searches from the dropdown box with the related searches at the bottom of the page for your tags, so Youtube always knows what your video is about and where to show it in results.

5. Description

The description for your video is just as important as the rest, when it comes to SEO ranking factors for Youtube. One of the main things you have to make sure you do is to put the top keywords in the very first sentence of your description.

This way, when your video shows up in search results on a page in Youtube, it will show your keywords in the description, verifying what your video will be covering.

youtube video description

Notice in the image above that my video is the top results for “Instagram marketing tips”. Then, notice how that exact phrase is in the very first sentence of my description. This is what you need to do with yours.

Also, if you want to get more blog traffic, subscribers, etc. from Youtube, I recommend you put a link to your site or lead capture page right after the first sentence of the description like I did.

As for the rest of the description, I recommend you can add your social media profile links, a paragraph or two describing what the video is about, etc. To see how I do my full description for my videos, go here and click on the description below the video.

6. Subscribers

To further SEO optimize your Youtube videos, it helps to have some authority. Just like how Google tends to award authority sites like Entrepreneur, Business Insider and Huffington Post in search results when they publish new articles, Youtube does the same for video channels.

The more subscribers you have, the more of an authority you become. This helps Youtube trust you more and see you as someone who publishes quality videos. Therefore, they reward you with higher rankings.

To get to this point with your Youtube channel, optimize your videos for getting subscribers. The best ways to do this are:

  • Asking people to subscribe at the end of each video as your call to action.
  • Publishing high quality videos that people actually like, so they will want to subscribe voluntarily.
  • Using the watermark at the bottom of your videos to tell people to subscribe.
  • Using annotations to get people to subscribe.
  • Telling people to subscribe in the description.

Okay, I personally don't do all 5 of these because a few of them aren't really THAT effective. For instance, most people don't read the full video description, so telling people to subscribe there is not going to make a big impact.

Using annotations for subscribers is one of those things you have to just experiment with. Use Youtube analytics to track how many people actually click your annotations to subscribe and if they are making an impact, keep using them.

Obviously, there is a “subscribe” button below every video on Youtube already, but that doesn't mean everyone thinks to click it, even if they like your videos. So make sure you use one on the actual video as well.

To do this, go to “Channel” in the left sidebar in your Youtube dashboard, and then click “Branding”. Then find a good image to use as your branding watermark.

When people hover over the watermark, a little “subscribe” button will pop out on the actual video itself. This will help you get more subscribers.

Most of the top videos produce a lot of subscribers for the channel, so you want to squeeze every subscriber out of every video that you can to show Youtube your video is worth ranking at the top.

And of course, more subscribers means you have more people being notified when you publish new videos as well. This results in even more views and channel popularity.


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7. Virality

The more Facebook likes, Twitter retweets, Stumbleupon likes, Google+ shares, and other social media engagement your videos get, the more viral it can go.

When your video gets a lot of social media shares, that tells Youtube that your video is popular and is starting to go viral. When they see this, they will give you a higher ranking.

What top Youtubers typically do is build up their social media profiles while they build up their channel. This way, every time they share a new video, they get more shares and virality.

Of course, this doesn't mean you should be discouraged if you don't have a lot of social media followers yet. In fact, there are 3 free websites for getting more social media shares and engagement that I recommend you use.

To learn what those 3 websites are and how to use them to boost your video virality, watch this video:

top 3 free social media marketing strategies 2015

8. Age Of Video

Believe it or not, the age of the video matters as well when it comes to ranking your videos. You might think that older videos are more established and get higher rankings, but that isn't the case.

It is actually quite the opposite, because Youtube wants to supply its viewers with the most up-to-date information possible, while keeping it high quality.

So, if you do a good job of optimizing your video, getting some quick views and promoting it, there is a good chance you could beat out some of the older, more established videos just because of recency.

Keep posting updated information in your videos and it will help you get more ranking juice on Youtube.

9. Youtube Likes

Engagement on Youtube videos tells whether or not people genuinely like your content. This includes Youtube video likes.

The more likes you have, the most likely your video is high quality and the more likely you are to get rewarded in the rankings by Youtube.

To get more Youtube likes, you can:

  • Create really high quality videos that help or entertain people.
  • Use a site called, Empire Avenue to run missions for people to like your video.
  • Ask people to like your video at the end of the video.

There really isn't too much you can do to get a lot of Youtube likes other than create videos that people just love. Make sure your title tells people exactly what the video is about and then deliver exactly what the viewers expect in the video.

This will get you plenty of likes as you get more views. Also, give people the call to action of liking the video if they enjoyed it or found it useful. I always do this at the end of my videos.

Last, but not least, you can use Empire Avenue missions to get Youtube likes. On Empire Avenue, you trade points (or eaves) for people to do a task for you.

Usually this means getting them to share something on social media, but you can also ask them to like a video.

Also, you may have heard of buying video likes on sites like Fiverr, but I recommend you stay away from doing that as it costs money and is just a lot of spam likes that Youtube won't appreciate.

10. Youtube Comments

Comments are one of the best indicators of whether or not people like your content. Whether it is blog posts, social media posts or videos, comments are one of the best forms of engagement you can get.

For SEO purposes, you can expect to see higher video rankings with more comments on your videos. Here's how to get more Youtube video comments:

  • Produce high quality videos that people will be compelled to comment on. (High quality videos will solve all ranking problems)
  • Run an Empire Avenue mission for video comments.
  • Ask people to leave a comment at the end of every video.

Just like Youtube likes, you can't really do much about getting more comments except just create high quality videos that people love and get as many people to see it as possible.

Empire Avenue missions can work well to get the first few comments though, much like for Youtube likes like I mentioned earlier. And like I've said throughout this post, you need to tell people what you want them to do next if they enjoyed your video.

At the end of my videos I ask people to like the video, subscribe and leave a comment if they got value from the video. If you do this it will definitely help, because they realize it will help you out.

11. Subscribers Driven

Like I mentioned earlier in the post, getting more subscribers is very important when it comes to ranking your videos and improving your channel.

When it comes to the SEO of your individual videos, not only do you need a lot of total subscribers, but the video itself needs to produce a lot of subscribers.

So, use the tips I gave you earlier in the post to get the most subscribers per video possible using watermarks, call to actions, annotations, etc.

Every top video I've ever analyzed in search rankings on Youtube all had a lot of subscribers driven for that single video. Make sure you focus on that when optimizing your videos.

12. Transcription

Your transcription is the actual words you use within the video when you are talking. These days, Youtube can instantly transcribe your video and tell you what you are saying throughout it.

This doesn't mean that the transcription is 100% accurate though. If you go look at your video transcription by clicking “edit video”, then “Subtitles and CC” and finally clicking the automatic transcription, you will notice a lot of errors.

youtube video transcription

This isn't a big deal though. I've noticed that my top videos, as well as others', aren't transcribed completely without errors. Most people just use the automatic transcript and leave it at that.

This is fine, but you may want to go through it quickly and make sure it is optimized for SEO rankings.

There are two ways to optimize your video transcription:

  • Say the keyword phrases you want to rank for clearly throughout the video.
  • Edit the automatic transcription to where the keyword phrases don't have misspellings or errors.

Many times you will say the keyword phrases enough throughout the video for good SEO, but Youtube's transcription technology might think you said something else. Instead of going through the whole thing, fixing every single misspelling or error, just fix the keyword phrase errors.

As long as as Youtube realizes the keyword phrases you want to rank for are said clearly throughout the video, the rest doesn't really matter and will just waste your time.


If you focus on creating high quality videos, promoting them as much as possible on social media and optimize for keywords and subscribers, your videos will do really well in search rankings.

What do you think about the Youtube ranking factors for SEO in 2016?


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