Based on the number of searches, Google is the greatest search engine on Earth by a long shot. But if Google is the big papa of search, then in a close second—piggybacking off big G’s success—is the fun and rapidly growing YouTube. How can search marketers take advantage of the second biggest search engine on Earth? Although the methods for dealing with YouTube as a marketing forum are different than for typical search engines, there are many similarities. Here are four facts that search marketers can use to optimize the massive video site:

1. Keywords Are Broader

People on YouTube search differently than they do on typical search engines. While traditional search engines have seen a rise in long tail keywords and complex searches, YouTube viewers search broadly and simply.

Instead of searching for something like “specs and features of new iPhone 6,” searchers on YouTube are more likely to search for, simply “iPhone 6.” And these simple searches make sense. On YouTube you get a video—which offers a broader view of something than text ever could. Thus there’s no need for users to get particular with their searches.

YouTube searches are often related to educational and how-to topics. Considering the depth of knowledge available in YouTube videos, this also makes sense. Marketers might want to spin their video content as educational in order to fit in with the YouTube audience—but don’t force a fit where there isn’t one. Think about it this way: how-to videos are to YouTube clips what whitepapers are to text content.

2. View Time Is Important

Take two videos with the same watch rates, likes, and comments, and the one with a longer view time will rank higher in YouTube’s search results. The longer someone watches a video, the higher its ranking on YouTube. But don’t conflate long videos with good videos, and don’t add fluff just to make your content longer. The sweet spot of video length can be anywhere from 1–3 minutes to 20 minutes and beyond. Ideal video length really depends on the type of content the video presents.

3. Metadata Is Different

Any search marketer knows about metadata. But the kind of metadata in YouTube is different than the kind used by regular search engines. Make sure you have good thumbnails on your YouTube content so that viewers have a positive first impression of your video. Also, create content playlists so you can link stuff together and increase views and view time. Pay attention to metatags with regard to the types of searches YouTube users do. Remember that broad and educational is good, but accuracy and clarity are always best.

4. Distribution Is Key to Success

YouTube, at its core, is a social network. Although it gets a lot of traffic and a lot of searches, it’s still more like a fun-loving and social kid than it is like a parent with all the answers (that’s papa Google).

As with all social websites, distribution is the key to success. If you distribute your video content across social networks, you will increase views and buzz around your content. However, you should only spend money to advertise your YouTube videos if they’ll be worth your investment.

You can compare your videos against your other uploads to see what your most popular content looks like. That way, you can continue to produce better and more engaging content that will garner more views from consumers.

Knowing the type of search engine that YouTube is is key to being a successful search marketer on the video-sharing site. If you consider these four facts, you’ll be able to make smarter marketing decisions on YouTube and beyond.

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