Is YouTube SEO Worth the Effort?

Using YouTube to promote a related Web site is often a good use of time. Using YouTube strictly for building that site’s SEO is not.

Using YouTube to promote a related Web site is often a good use of time. Using YouTube strictly for building that site’s SEO is not.

For many years, YouTube publishers could add a link in the description that displays underneath the video, and the link would be do follow. A do follow link means that the landing page on the receiving end of the link receives benefit from search engines.

Google turned those links into no follow as part of a wide effort to eliminate “unnatural” link building.

The end result is videos with no follow links that provide sites with traffic if people click on the links. Otherwise, the receiving site no longer received any SEO benefit.

Some experts argue that it’s OK to have some no follow links because a site’s link profile should not consist only of do follow links. The search engines will become suspicious that the site is creating unnatural backlinking and may penalize it.

From that point of view, maintaining a no follow link in the video description remains a good thing.

So instead of focusing on a link for YouTube SEO, why not focus on maximizing the presence of links to generate more clicks?

SEO on YouTube is Simple

Let’s look at a scenario for optimizing a video for search engines on YouTube. It’s much simpler than optimizing an article.

  1. Name the video based on a relevant keyword.
  2. The name becomes the title of the video that appears in search results.
  3. Use the keyword again in the description that appears under the video. This gets used in the meta description that appears in search engines.
  4. Add a link on the description to the relevant page on the external site.

The video will be ranked in search engines like any other document. Factors include:

  1. Competition for that keyword among all documents.
  2. Competition from similar videos on YouTube.
  3. Popularity of the video on YouTube.
  4. Back links to the video.
  5. Whether the video is embedded on other sites, which also impacts its popularity.

Google will recognize the link on the video page back to the Web site where the video originated.

The value of the link will be determined by the above factors, i.e., popularity, competition, back links, etc.

That value then lifts the ranking of the video in search engine results. A higher-ranked video gets more traffic, which in turn should lead to more clicks on the description link.

Adding More Links

If you have a YouTube channel, go to Channel and Advanced on the left navigation menu.

In the middle, scroll down to Associated Website. Add the site address there.  The link will eventually appear in the channel header. (The same page is a good opportunity to add a Google Analytics tracking ID.)

Another option is available in comments. If the description doesn’t allow enough room for display a link, consider adding it as a comment.

In both cases, the links also are no follow. But they increase the odds of getting a click.

Is Video Production Worth the Effort?

Creating multimedia content such as video and podcasts is a lot of work — often more work than writing a quality article.

The amount of work expands for anyone who produces videos infrequently. Experience saves time while inexperience takes time.

If a lot of work goes into producing a quality video, and it doesn’t play well on YouTube or rank well in the search engines, the effort is not worthwhile.

It’s another way of saying that YouTube has a higher risk than other back link sources that involve articles or photos.

But because the video is live permanently, the views over a period of months or even years may eventually pay off from a combination of clicks to the parent site and ad revenue from the video.

The truth is, some videos will pay off while others will languish. It’s the same results with articles.

One way to manage that risk is by choosing video topics carefully. Review similar videos on YouTube. Consider whether your video will be effective enough to draw adequate attention. Revise titles and descriptions. Look for backlinks and embed them wherever possible.

Finally, treat the video like another other content. Link to it and distribute to YouTube, Facebook, Google+ and everywhere else that makes sense.

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