YouTube vs. Google: Video Rankings & SEO Steps Differ From Each Other

Everyone shoots a video, aims to be a YouTuber. Some of them get ‘woo-hoo’ cheers, and some of them don’t. Woo-hoo cheers spread like wildfire, and the YouTubers start marketing with what they do. Smart people also know that video success is about more than just great production.

According to YouTube, the total number of people using YouTube is 1.3 billion; approximately 5 billion videos are watched every single day; and YouTube gets over 30 million visitors per day.

Why Are Videos Important In Your Marketing Strategy?

In the search results, Google comes up with video results now more than ever. In this fast-paced environment, brands are almost forced to include videos in their digital marketing campaigns, simply just to catch up with others.

When video content started to surpass the organic top spots in the SEPRs, YouTube SEO became an unavoidable fact for businesses. However, the way we do SEO for search is not the same way as we would do for our videos. Here below, you’ll see why there can be changes in terms of ranking position on YouTube and Google, and I’ll give you some examples and explanations of how you could optimize your YouTube videos to get a chance to rank higher on both.

Videos Are Getting More Prominent in SERPs

All over the web, there is an increasing demand for video content. Considering the YouTube data, we ask ourselves “are we already this far, that videos will devour a huge amount of web traffic? If not already; is video content is going to dominate the internet”. A recent forecast from Cisco tells us that video content will cover 82% of all internet traffic by 2021 – now, are you going to be the lucky one, that’s among those 82%?

Search engines start seeking to design their search results around video content; Google is one of the pioneers in this ongoing video transformation.

Consumer Internet Video Data 2021 Cisco
Consumer Internet Video Data 2021 Cisco

Does Google Rank Videos Differently Than YouTube?

Nobody really knows what Google’s search ranking algorithm is - even though numerous researches and practices were conducted about it, it still remains a mystery. A fact about Google’s algorithm system is though: YouTube and Google’s rankings vary on each of these platforms.

Why is it like this? It is an easy question that you possibly already know the answer of: Google is a profit company. To maximize market share for both of its platforms, different algorithms were designed.

Brands are trying to adapt themselves to all the changes Google implements, setting their KPIs based on this ongoing digital revolution - and also Google has its own KPIs as a profit corporation; to develop the best combination of user intent and revenue, on each of its platforms.

YouTube vs. Google Video Rankings

Google Rankings

In the earlier days of Google, their search engine function was just to provide relevant links to answer the users’ query. It was like a small keyword-matching machine; users would click the result and open the page they were looking for. After a while, the design changed somewhat with Knowledge Graphs and featured snippets. With some SERP results, the user doesn’t even need to jump to another page to get what they’re looking for. The Google algorithm is updated almost everyday to respond to changes and beyond. Ranks for search results are affected by numerous factors as well.

YouTube Rankings

YouTube is a quite different system, that’s affected by usage of purpose. It is a platform for users to watch videos on; for users, that want to consume certain content in a particular time.

Google vs. YouTube Ranking Factors

In terms of time: with Google, users can get answers to their questions within minutes and walk away; with YouTube, it requires a bit longer as users have to search and watch a video (whether in its entire or not) to be able to get the same outcome.

YouTube is a search engine that users generally use when they are looking for entertainment, or when they want to educate themselves, whereas Google satisfies users with immediate answers that actually can be anything, including videos on a page view basis.

These differences are measurable on each platform, and it even impacts how the site get monetized. Monetization algorithms on Google and YouTube vary. Although ads are paid on a CPC basis in Search Ads, YouTube video ads have view based pricing, cost-per-view (CPV).

Can You Increase Your Video Ranking on YouTube with SEO?

Page ranks consists of many elements, and I’ve prepared a video optimization checklist for you. Let’s have a look at what you can do, to achieve better rankings for your videos.

Keyword Research and Topic Selection

Preparing high retention content is the main part of the optimization. So before shooting your video, topic selection is as important as creating the video content itself. Start with a keyword research on YouTube & Google, and find out what users are searching for. You can also check YouTube autocomplete results in the search bar to get some ideas.

youtube topic selection
youtube topic selection

Besides that, you can use keyword tools to find out how people search for videos or what popular topics are. (I use as it allows me to get search volumes for keywords on both platforms, Google and YouTube).

keyword research tool for youtube videos
keyword research tool for youtube videos

I also suggest you to check out Google Trends and YouTube Trending. Here you have the opportunity to compare YouTube and Google’s search queries as well.

Another way to determine the topic, is by typing your high-volume YouTube keywords to your search box and analyze what comes up. List the results by popularity; if the top YouTube videos are shown with millions of views, perhaps it is better for you to change your topic to deal with an easier competition. You need to select a topic that is high in user demand, but preferable low in competition.

Listing youtube videos by popularity
Listing youtube videos by popularity

Videos on Google Search Results

Ranking your video also on Google search, will definitely help you to get more views. However, Google mainly shows video results just for certain subjects. Google generally brings video results to SERPs, on these type of subjects:

  • How-to videos
  • Informational videos (Educational videos)
  • Reviews (Product & Service reviews)
  • Tutorials (Sport and gym videos)
  • Entertainment (Funny videos on YouTube)

Optimizing Metadata

After conducting your keyword research, optimize your title, description, and tags on YouTube video - because rank brains are not able to understand your video content. To maximize your video’s appearance, you have to give well-optimized data for your video.

Creating Custom Thumbnails

Thumbnails are the images that users see first before clicking the video. Make sure you design strong and attractive thumbnails to gain more engagement with users.

Add Cards To Videos

Adding meaningful cards on Youtube videos
Adding meaningful cards on Youtube videos

Cards are clickable little boxes which appear on your videos. You should always think of new uses while adding your cards. Users tend to watch your other videos with the cards - so, if you truly set your card, you can get meaningful actions as a result.

Creating Playlists

Playlists are helpful to organize and bring your videos together. This makes users engage with your other videos as well.

Video Optimization Completed. What’s Next?

After your video optimization, you aren’t quite done yet. To gain more subscribers, likes, comments and encourage users to watch your other videos, you need to optimize and promote your channel.

You can personalize your homepage, put channel keyword tags, fill the ‘about us’ section. Moreover, you could link all your social media accounts to the channel to be more visible.

How grow your YouTube channel
How grow your YouTube channel


Based on the differences, your ranking is important on both platforms - but you need to understand the different ranking factors they have. If you apply the steps to optimize your videos, they might get higher positions on both platforms.

About video marketing, I strongly recommend you to select specific topics to create video content in order to appear in the Google results and gain more engagement with the users.

In this post, I just touched the key points, the basic steps, and explained what you can do to optimize your videos on YouTube. To learn more about these steps in detail, check our YouTube SEO Guide. Keep in mind that when you focus on improving the user experience in your content, try to fulfill the user intent, and try to work ahead of the Google algorithm.

Post date: 03 May 2018

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