Gregory Ng Talks Video SEO at Raleigh SEO Meetup

I first wrote this post for the Media Two blog Media Two Point {oh!}. They’ve been awesome enough to let me repost it here.

If you weren’t at the Raleigh SEO Meetup last night, you missed a lot of great stuff. If you’ve ever seen Greg Ng speak, you know he offers an incredible amount of super awesome information. Too much for this blog post, so I’ll just hit the highlights of optimizing your video. Don’t worry, you’ll still feel enlightened when this is over.

First, let’s start with some stats:

  • 5.7 billion video views took place in the US…last month. (March 2011) *ComScore
  • 186 million+ Americans watched online videos, which means that each American watched roughly 20. *ComScore
  • Video is 53x more likely than traditional web pages to receive an organic first-page ranking. *Forrester

Are you ready to get in on this action?

Greg says that having a successful video channel involves the following 5 things: SEO, quality content, distribution, community engagement, and promotion. We’re going to talk about SEO.


YouTube is the most popular video site, and the second largest search engine in the world. So for the purposes of this post, we’re going to focus on the offerings of this particular platform.

YouTube ranks videos with an undisclosed algorithm. However, we do know that the top five aspects of your video this algorithm factors in are title, description, tags, number of views and rating. When you’re setting up your video, make use of every field available to you.

  1. Title – Make your title descriptive, using keywords. For example, instead of “Check out what I just ate”, Greg chose “Greg Eats and Reviews Wasabi Kit Kats“.
  2. Description – The description is truncated at 27 characters. Always lead your description with your URL, then use your SEO skills to optimize your description with keywords. Use this space to pique the interest of your audience so they will want to watch your video.
  3. Tags – First of all, don’t tag spam. It can cause people to “thumbs down” your videos, which can ruin your search rankings. Greg’s advice is to use 10 tags minimum, with 5 of them being tags you use for all your videos. For multiple word tags, keep them as one word with initial caps. Ex. GregsMouth
  4. Category – See how your competition is categorizing similar videos. Search similar keywords and videos. If your video fits into more than one category, go with the one that has the most views. The most popular categories are comedy, entertainment, music, news & politics, and sports. Note that you can always change your category later.
  5. Thumbnail – If you have a user channel with YouTube (which you do unless you’ve paid $200K+ for a channel, or have applied and been accepted as a partner or nonprofit channel), you will have a limited choice of thumbnails for your video – frames at 25, 50 and 75%. Pick one that is clear and in focus, has high-contrast, and/or compelling composition.
  6. Captions & Subtitles – These are crawlable, and offer a huge long tail benefit. Greg says that the machine transcription is terrible, so don’t use it except for the timestamps. Another tip is that the captions don’t have to match the audio exactly, so whenever you say “it” in the video, replace it with the actual keyword in the caption.
  7. Sharing Options – Greg says allow everything but automatic video responses. You never know what you’re going to get with video responses, so you should always monitor those. For everything else, you want people to be able to watch and share your video anywhere.
  8. Date & Map – If you choose to set your video with date and map, it will show up on Google Earth. This is especially valuable to a business with a Google Places page. All your SEO work on your YouTube video will be associated with your Places page too.

Final Tips:

I could go on for another 600 words about the second half of the meetup, but instead, I’ll leave you with these final tips for managing your channel and making your videos.

  • Optimize your YouTube profile for SEO purposes. Include links to your website, and anywhere else you want people to go.
  • Add playlists for your own stuff, it helps YouTube include them in “Related Videos”. More people find your videos through “Related Videos” than your channel.
  • Identify relevant subscribers to your channel and engage with them. They can become your strongest brand advocates.
  • Respond to comments. YouTubers love that, and will up your rankings with more comments and “thumbs ups”.
  • Take advantage of YouTube’s free analytics.
  • Audio quality of your video is more important than video quality. Get a mic for your camera.
  • Promoted Videos (YouTubes ad system) will trump your SEO every time. Be ok with this, and do the work anyway.

Thanks, Greg!