FAQ: Why Your Video Is Ranking High Or Low

“My video is ranking lower than another video – and it’s the same video!”

Recently we were lucky enough to work with Lauren Padawer, the founder of Alaska Glacial Mud Co, on her Shark Tank spot.  Lauren landed a chance to pitch the sharks in late 2013 and the episode aired on January 17, 2014.  Like any savvy entrepreneur, Lauren recognized the opportunity to showcase her brand, and wanted to be ready for the anticipated influx of business.  So she got herself a YouTube channel, and asked us to capture her Shark Tank spot so she could post it.  The video went up the following Monday morning, and accumulated about 100 views in the first few days.

But then something curious happened

Lauren found her YouTube video of her Shark Tank spot was ranking lower than it had been a week ago. Using search terms like ‘Alaska Glacial’ and ‘Alaska Glacial Mud’, we found there was another video that was the exact same coverage of Lauren’s Shark Tank spot, and it was ranking higher in YouTube search results!  Alaska Glacial Mud Co’s YouTube channel was coming up in search results on the second page, but the video had vanished altogether.

So we investigated, and this is what we found, after extensive research and consulting with the SEO experts at iPoint.

1. Search Engines, especially Google and YouTube (don’t forget Google owns YouTube), give preference to videos and content uploaded in the last 7 days.

This is in part due to Google’s attempts to keep up to date search results near the top of the first page, and also due to the fact that search engines like to give new content a fighting chance to accumulate clicks and views.  This explained why Alaska Glacial’s video appeared near the top for the first week, then dribbled down after accumulating only 191 views.

2. Subscribers matter for your YouTube channel and video search rankings.

While this is not a direct search ranking parameter, it does drive viewers to content simply because large subscriber numbers lend credibility to a channel and its content.  Unfortunately because Lauren had just started her YouTube channel, she didn’t have any subscribers.  The competing video had 2 subscribers and a number of previously uploaded videos, which impacted its channel’s overall watch time. And finally, after watching this video, we learned something else vitally important to making videos rank high or low on YouTube.

3. Watch time is the key YouTube search parameter.

The greatest YouTube myth ever told is that view numbers alone determine how high a video ranks.  This is not only misleading, but it’s also only the tip of the iceberg. YouTube is like any other website – it provides preferential treatment to content that drives traffic and encourages viewers to stay and watch.  Low bounce rates and high click-through rates are key factors in increasing ad revenue, which is how YouTube and Google make money.  So for Lauren’s video, her views may have been slightly higher, but the overall cumulative watch time on the competing video was higher, thus lending it a higher search ranking.

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Here’s the tricky thing about video in search engines – search engines don’t (usually) see video (schema.org markup can be the exception) and don’t crawl it for search terms, so they rely on the metadata and surrounding text, such as title and description. YouTube’s ranking parameters also deal with upload date, views on a video, total number of videos uploaded by a user or channel, cumulative views, and overall interaction such as comments and likes.

So how does one compete with the gazillions of hours of video being uploaded to YouTube and the rest of the internet every day? One simple principle:

Make videos for people.  Post videos that people will want to watch.

This is difficult in broad terms, because it requires you as a business or individual to think hard about the video content you produce and post on YouTube, and who is going to watch it. With critical thinking, careful scripting, and interesting production value, you can produce valuable content that will expand brand awareness and drive engagement, which ultimately translates into sales.

V3MM extends a special thank you to Lauren Padawer of Alaska Glacial Mud Co for allowing us to use her case in this blog post.  Check out her sustainably harvested premium beauty products here.  You can also subscribe to her YouTube channel, to learn more about how Alaska Glacial Mud Co. gives back to the environment.

We also want to thank iPoint, for answering our questions when we badger them about SEO practices.