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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