As I was cited by Econsultancy recently as saying, YouTube is owned by Google whose commercial interest is driving PPC revenue. Although YouTube is a great way of getting your video found online, it’s much more beneficial for companies to get people to watch video content on their own sites since this gives them greater control over the user experience. And yet YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world and is the number one most popular search engine for certain demographics.
They key to getting the ‘best of both worlds’ is a combined approach: making sure your site-hosted content is findable through video sitemaps (see recent blog post on how to do video sitemaps) to drive traffic direct to the videos on your site, but also making sure your content is hosted on YouTube so you’re findable there too.
As with SEO itself, there are several factors you can optimise that will determine where in the SERP your video will appear. These principles will determine the order of search engine results on YouTube:
- Metadata – video title and description tags
- Number of comments and shares
- Date added
- View count (and channel view count, number of subscribers and playlist adds for YouTube)
- Rating and flagging (where applicable)
- Incoming links (exposure on other sites, other embeds, RSS links
Because it’s so much harder to get viewers to take a related action on YouTube than it is on your own site, my advice would be to upload limited-length or ‘trailer’ style content to YouTube. If your content is interesting, useful or entertaining, a message during the YouTube video that says “visit ourcompany.com/tv to watch the full video” will likely be an acceptable ask. Of course, it’s important to test these theories in practice for your content and your customers.
Just remember: YouTube exists to drive clicks for Google’s Adwords customers, taking valuable viewers away from your content and off to someone else’s website – potentially your competitors. Driving customers to watch videos on your website, where you can control the experience including what happens after the video, will always lead to better results whatever your objectives.