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How to Claw Your Way to the Top of YouTube’s Search Rankings

By August 22, 2017Video Marketing Strategies

Among the many ways there are to promote your animated business video, simply being at the top of YouTube’s search rankings for a given keyword is one of the most effective ways. Being the second largest search engine in the world (Bing being No. 1, of course), YouTube rankings are a big deal, particularly since video is taking over the internet.

It’s not easy getting your video ranked No. 1 in YouTube’s search results, but it can be done as long as you have a comprehensive strategy. Let’s take a look at what you need to do.

Know Your Goal

Jurgen Appelo/Flickr

It can never be stated enough: You need to know what you’re aiming at if you want to reach your goal. Take some time to list at least three concrete goals you want to accomplish. No, not things like “rank highly.” You want to be specific. Even if you don’t reach your goals, at least you’ll know what you’re trying to accomplish.

Your goals might be something along the lines of:

  • Rank in the top three results for [keywords you wanna rank for]
  • Be recognized as an authority on [subject] in the [area of expertise] industry by providing educational content to viewers
  • Promote our services in a way that will continue to attract clientele and stay ranked within the top three in YouTube’s search results for our chosen keywords

Having clear goals will also help you after you’ve reached them. If your video slips to No. 4 in the search rankings, that means you need to spend a bit more time and effort getting it back up to No. 3 or higher.

Your goals may be similar to these or they may be something completely different depending on your industry. Just make sure they’re clear so you know what you’re trying to do.


Dan Foy/Flickr

We’re using plan as a verb here. Once you know what you wanna do, you need to create a strategy for doing it. Plans will vary, but as a thumb rule, they all have three components in common:

  • High Quality Video
  • Strong SEO
  • Strategic Distribution

Let’s break down these individual components.

The Video

With cell phone cameras being able to rival movie cameras nowadays, even cat videos are high quality. When people see something uploaded to YouTube — especially from a business — they expect that same level of quality (well, even better, actually).

Having a high quality video means it:

  • looks professionally done,
  • is compelling,
  • has clear audio and visual elements,
  • includes characters your customers can relate to, and
  • tells a story or explains something in an entertaining way.  

YouTube ranks videos not just for the number of people that watch them, but also for the duration they watch the video. People don’t necessarily have to watch your video in its entirety, but they have to watch most of it. The best way to make a professional looking video is, of course, to have professionals make it for you. (We know just the company, too.)


Figure out the best keywords to target for your industry by using a tool like the Google Keyword Planner. Make a short list of the keywords you want to target and then use those words in your video’s title, description and tags.

The Title

Your video’s title has to contain your most important keywords, seize people’s attention among a sea of competing titles and inform people at a glance of what your video is about. Some tips:

  • Use long tail keywords if you have room.
  • Keep your titles under 66 characters.
  • Update them at least once per year to keep them relevant.
  • Avoid clickbait.

The Thumbnail

Mickey Destro/Flickr

We’ve spoken before about the importance of a good thumbnail. It’s just a little image, but it still counts for a lot because along with the title, it’s the thing that gets people to click on your video. Some tips:

  • Use high resolution images.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Use faces if possible.

The Description

Keep your description succinct. Two sentences should be good. Use your relevant keywords, obviously, and include links to your website and social media profiles.

The Call to Action

Your call to action should be clear and decisive, no matter what it is. Whether you want clients to visit a landing page, call a phone number, watch a follow-up video, follow your social media accounts or use a hashtag you’re trying to get going, make sure it’s made perfectly clear to viewers what the next step is. If they’ve watched as far as your call to action, that means you’ve got their attention. Use it while you’ve got it!

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Part of YouTube’s ranking algorithm takes into account how many different sites your video is embedded into and played on and how many visitors arrive at YouTube from those sites. Therefore you want to make sure the video gets around as much as possible. The more people watch your video, the more valuable YouTube considers it. (Valuable to the people viewing it, that is.) This value means YouTube will rank it higher in its search results.

While you should host the video on your site and try to draw people to it, you can also try these three distribution techniques:

YouTube Ad Campaign

The beauty of a YouTube ad campaign is that it gets your video in front of your target audience (provided you choose your audience wisely). Whether or not they watch it past the non-skippable portion will depend on how engaging you can make it within those first few seconds.

After an initial paid push, you’ll want to stop the campaign and let the video attract an audience organically since organic traffic is worth more to YouTube’s search ranking algorithm than paid traffic.

Guest Blogging Campaign

Perhaps the best way to attract the aforementioned organic traffic is by guest blogging. Use a tool like the MOZ toolbar that can show you the domain authority of a given site within your industry. Try to get your video embedded on sites relevant to your audience with a high domain authority. This isn’t easy, but extremely fruitful if you can do it.

Internal Link Building  

Use your video or link to your video in your own promotional material like blog posts, emails, press releases or wherever else you can embed it or link to it for promotional purposes. The more people you can get it in front of, the more viewers you will collect and the better your YouTube search ranking will be. Promote strategically, but promote aggressively.

Getting to the top of YouTube search rankings for your keywords is great, but it should be part of  larger overall marketing plan that all starts with educational and engaging content. Unlike the Super Bowl, people don’t watch YouTube for the ads. But, teach them something and they’ll appreciate it. Click here to schedule an appointment with WizMotions to see how we can help you make the perfect business video and help you claw your way to the top of the YouTube search rankings. 


About Rob

Rob loves nothing more than sitting around in his jammies all day and writing useful blog posts for WizMotions.