Action! SEO for Videos, Long Live Spam (Proof Inside)

Travis Bliffen
by Travis Bliffen 26 Aug, 2014

If you have ever wondered how people get exposure for their videos on YouTube and other platforms using SEO, this is the article for you. If you think video SEO isn't needed, read on.


Why You Should Care About Video SEO


Last week we talked about Mobile SEO and how to optimize for it. One key fact in that article was "people spend more time watching videos from a mobile device than from a desktop browser". Couple that with the fact that 2013 was said to be the first year that people would spend more time viewing online media than television and it becomes pretty clear that videos should be part of your company's online marketing arsenal. 


How Does Video SEO Work?


Just like Googles' search algorithm, sites like YouTube use several factors to determine what a video is about and how high it should appear in the internal search for various keywords. In order for YouTube to determine what your video is about, you have to provide them with clues since they can't watch your video...not yet anyway! Instead of diving into the theory and reasoning behind why a video ranks, I am just going to give you the steps to rank your video. 


Disclaimer*: The following suggestions are sourced from an ongoing case study on how to rank YouTube videos. Some of the tactics used in testing how to rank a video and mentioned below in the step-by-step guide are considered black hat in nature. Use these tactics at your own risk as they may result in a ranking penalty or complete expulsion from the index. In addition, the keyword phrase used for the particular query (seen in the example below) experiences relatively low search volume on YouTube and the impact on Google's non-paid results is negligible/non-existent so results from the approach described will vary. I have used the same method, however, on a number of competitive video search terms and had similar results, the valuable terms and videos are not mentioned to avoid interference with another ongoing case study of YouTube for affiliate marketing purposes.


Step-by-Step Guide for Ranking a YouTube Video


1. Include your primary keyword and a long tail version of that keyword in the title for your video.

2. Write a description of your video that is 300 words or longer and contains your primary keywords as well as 5-10 related keywords.

3. Add 2-3 tags to the video which are keywords.

4. Select the most relevant category for your video

5. Get some views to your video. I tested this using views bought on Fiverr, sending a few friends to watch the video, and by getting views from a PPC campaign the results were the same.

6. Get some shares of your video. Again, the manner of getting shares did not impact the results noticeably.

7. Build links to the video. This is the main driver of rankings. I built links in three different ways to three different videos and they all rank close together. They are three of the top six results for the keyword phrase "St Louis SEO" and several variations of that term. 


So for those of you who are still with me, here is how I built links to the videos.


A. GSA Search Engine Ranker - This is the tool of choice for all your Internet spamming needs. Simply set up a campaign in GSA using do-follow, contextual links and let it run until about 8-10k links at which point your video will rank in most cases.

B. Private Blog Network Links- If you have a private blog network (websites or Web 2.0 blogs) that has a lot of authority and trust flow, simply point a few links to the video and watch it skyrocket. Use Spyder Spanker or a similar tool to protect your network from being uncovered.

C. Buy Links - All I did on this one was head over to some black hat SEO forums and look for people selling links of their networks. I bought three different packages, two of them were useless and did not rank the video they were pointed to and the third one ranked a video within about two weeks and cost under $200 for the package. 



I know by now you are wondering; Does this work every time?


No. I have done this with several other videos and have found that about 60-70 percent of the time you can rank the videos doing nothing more than I mentioned above. For those stubborn videos, here are some tips to keep them moving upward.


1. Make sure viewers watch more than half of the video. So, pay real people to watch over half the video or make a video that people want to watch. Either way, this will help.

2. Get some authority links to your video. YouTube has billions of links so your spam campaign is not going to get their site penalized but it may also not get your video ranking. In this event, locate some authority sites in your niche and find out how to get a link from them. In most cases you can find at least 20-30 authoritative niche sites that will sell you a link in some form.

3. Add more relevant copy to your video. This could be a 500-1k work description and make sure to get your keywords in there more aggressively than on a website. I simply listed a list of KWs in the description for one of the videos and it has been ranking for about a year now.


If after taking those steps you still are not ranking your video, you are probably going up against videos on the topic from a niche authority or someone with a very powerful blog network. In this case, you can buy more blog network links (remember this is very risky), run a bigger spam campaign, or move on to another keyword. The potential return should be your guide for how much time and money to invest into ranking your video. 


Even if you do not have a business to promote with video, you can use the methods above to earn affiliate commissions with videos. 


What do you think? Would you put your white hat on the shelf for a bit and try this method?


Remember: The methods I discussed above can be risky in nature. You should never use them on client sites or assets without discussing the pros and cons with your client and informing them of the risks.