Looking around the net this political season, it’s amazing to see the number of conversations I’m seeing that discuss YouTube Video View Optimization in non-SEO communities. It’s a unique ecosystem with distinctly different rules and people figuring out how to optimize the current system. It would be impossible to summarize all of the things I’ve witnessed, so this is a summary that is a work in process and I welcome your contributions and discussion.
There are three primary prizes you are shooting for:
1) Becoming a “featured video” on the Youtube homepage.
This is apparently an internal process at YouTube and the system is not transparent. Andy Mckee’s “Drifting” was added to the Youtube featured videos after thousands of views, while Mike Huckabee eating a hamburger named after him in NH yesterday was added when it had zero views. One thing is clear, being featured on the YouTube front page can provide rocket fuel for perpetual viral status. For example, Andy Mckee’s “Drifting” now has 10,000,000+ views.
2 ) Ranking well on the any other social, tagging or metadata metric.
Most Viewed, Most Discussed, Top Favorites are all categories accessible within one click of the home page. The later two categories have been dominated lately by supporters of Ron Paul who have been actively doing the work necessary to get their videos featured. Each of these has subcategories to think about when you chose a category, tags and content wording – Autos & Vehicles, Comedy, Education, Entertainment, Film & Animation, How to & Style, Music, News & Politics, People & Blogs, Pets & Animals, Science & Technology, Sports, Travel & Events and Watch on Mobile. Do you have a community to mobilize?
3) It’s not a complete one to one correlation, but videos with higher views, comments and favorites tend to be the ones featured in Google universal search results.
This can keep the viral traffic going to that video long after the YouTube event. Critics would note that this creates an echo chamber effect that is as entrenched as a Wikipedia page.
OK, how do I do this?
– Start with making quality content that creates passion.
– Start with standard SEO of your video content.
– Build links via best practices – consult these expert entries on how to optimize for: StumbleUpon, Digg, del.icio.us, link to the videos on blogs etc.
– If you have a community get them to view the YouTube video content, favorite it, rate it and comment on it in a tightly clustered time frame.
I’d also experiment with some new tools such as:
– Tubemogul (thanks to Karl Long for the suggestion)
– Video Sitemaps – though it’s not clear whether that is only for self-hosted videos.
For the gray hats out there:
– Tags appear to be valued highly in YouTube’s current search relevancy process. Yet unless a viewer clicks to see all of the content the tags will never be seen.
– After a video is popular on YouTube, you can edit the category and get it to rank in a new category using the traffic that was built in a different vertical. This tactic surprised me in that I did not know you could change the video after publishing in that manner, though I’m surprised by how well it works. Please keep in mind this only works for videos with existing high traffic.
There is an amazingly thin amount of content on this subject, I’d highly welcome other people’s thoughts on the subject for inclusion and expansion of this research to date. But for now I hope this serves as a useful guide to you for your YouTube video view optimization!
UPDATE 1/16 – this has been translated and expanded upon in German!