In this first SEO audit, I’m going to analyze YouTube.
YouTube is the most popular website on Google’s organic search according to Ahrefs.
That’s no surprise because Google owns YouTube. YouTube likely gets an advantage for this.
However, you’re going to learn right now that YouTube is the most incredible SEO machine there is.
Let’s dive into my findings and then how you can emulate YouTube to get better SEO results yourself.
YouTube by the Numbers
According to SEMRush, YouTube.com ranks in the top 100 of Google for roughly 95 million keywords.
Those rankings attract around 1 billion organic search visitors per month. And of that 1 billion organic search visitors, 959 million (~95%) come from non-branded keywords.
These numbers are huge and a lot of it is from YouTube’s ridiculous website authority.
According to Ahrefs, YouTube.com has over 37 billion backlinks from 24 million unique referring domains.
The crazy part is that Ahrefs has only crawled 8,629,400 YouTube.com pages. And when you do a site search in Google, there are 4,190,000,000 results.
That means that YouTube’s backlink profile is larger than what Ahrefs is showing.
Now you get it:
YouTube is a monster when it comes to organic search performance in Google. But the question is: how did YouTube get to this point?
9 Actionable Takeaways From Auditing Youtube.com
- Make Your Business Linkable
- User-Generated Content (UGC) is Powerful
- Focus on YouTube, Then Google
- Leverage Brand Names
- Incentivize Others to Do The Heavy Lifting
- Find Lucrative (Uncompetitive) Niche Site Ideas
- Consider Using Parasite SEO (in Some Scenarios)
- Keep Them Hooked
- Be Content-Centric
1. Make Your Business Linkable
The beautiful thing about YouTube is that it’s a linkable asset within itself. Like how Google itself is linkable because it’s such an awesome search engine.
YouTube is the same. It’s by far the best video search engine right now.
And when a brand has such clear dominance, they’re going to attract many backlinks. The one that I found fascinating was how many powerful homepage links that YouTube has.
This is because brands place a link to their YouTube channel on their website. These links are often site-wide and end up on the homepage.
Your homepage is often the most powerful page on your website. So that means YouTube is getting thousands of powerful homepage links.
That is also why building PBNs is such an effective method.
2. User-Generated Content (UGC) is Powerful
User-generated content is the basis of YouTube’s entire business model. YouTube itself creates very little content and it isn’t the reason why it’s popular. The reason why YouTube succeeds is because of its creators.
They build audiences and that brings more traffic (and ad revenue) to YouTube. YouTube rewards creators who create great content with views. Views lead to subscribers and more AdSense revenue.
But at the end of the day, the big winner is YouTube.
They don’t create any content, but they get all the benefits of people creating great content on their platform. A pretty awesome business model, right?
3. Focus on YouTube, Then Google
One commonality among YouTube videos that rank well on Google is that they also perform well on YouTube search. So that means you should aim to rank on YouTube and then work hard to rank on Google as well.
The best situation is to rank on YouTube, rank your YouTube video on Google search, and rank a page on your website for the same phrase.
That will give you the most first page real estate.
As a result, you’ll increase your organic CTR and grow your brand.
4. Leverage Brand Names
YouTube leverages brand keywords in two ways. First, when an established brand creates a channel, YouTube will get more traffic.
Why? Because YouTube is so powerful that the brand’s channel will rank. Plus, the brand will also link to its YouTube channel.
The second way YouTube wins is when an up and comer gets bigger.
So as a creator’s popularity grows, so does YouTube.
5. Incentivize Others to Do The Heavy Lifting
At this point, you see how YouTube’s business model is 100% dependent on the success of its creators. And the reason, why 99% of people create content on YouTube, is because A) there’s a massive audience that uses it and B) they’ll likely benefit from doing so.
That benefit may be income from AdSense or to promote your products and services.
So the question is:
How can you get people with audiences to do the heavy lifting for your company?
Well, one way is to invite contributors (who have audiences) to your blog. These should be experts in the field and you should compensate them for their time.
You can also interview these individuals and that will drive more visibility. For example, here’s an interview I did with Chris Dreyer:
We’re both tapping into each other’s audiences.
Always think about ways that you can incentivize others to do your heavy lifting (like YouTube does).
6. Find Lucrative (Uncompetitive) Niche Site Ideas
Whenever I see YouTube videos ranking in Google’s SERPs, I get excited. That’s because most pages hosting YouTube videos are weak.
I actually call this the “Weak Point Method” when doing SEO competitor analysis.
In short, the Weak Point Method is when you look for keyword opportunities where YouTube, Pinterest, Quora, etc. are ranking.
You should get excited whenever you see these pages ranking because it’s a sign that it’s a low competition keyword.
That said, you can find all kinds of niche sites and keyword opportunities using YouTube. Here’s how:
Method #1: Find Niche Site Ideas
Open up Ahrefs, click on the Site Explorer and enter YouTube.com. Go to Organic Keywords and set the following filters:
- Position: To: 10
- Volume: From: 500
- KD: To: 10
- CPC: From: 5
Now you’ll have access to unique ideas that have high CPC values.
The CPC values are important because it’s an indication that advertisers are willing to pay for customers in that vertical. That means that organic search performance will be more lucrative in those verticals.
Method #2: Find Uncompetitive Keywords
Let’s say you had a plumbing business and you needed some content ideas. Just go to Ahrefs, click on the Site Explorer, enter YouTube.com, click on “Organic Keywords” and set the following filters:
- Position: To: 10
- Volume: From: 500
- KD: To: 10
And then search a relevant keyword in the search bar. In this case, I’ll use “plumbing”.
Then sort the list in ascending order so that the lowest KD is at the top. In only a few seconds, I’ve found several keyword ideas worth investigating further such as:
You can repeat this process with any huge website like Pinterest or Quora.
7. Consider Using Parasite SEO (in Some Scenarios)
Parasite SEO is one of the most neglected methods. In short, “Parasite SEO” is the process of ranking pages on websites that you don’t own. In particular, ranking pages on websites with a ton of authority like YouTube.
Now the question is why?
Parasite SEO is powerful when you have a brand new website, you’re trying to enter a competitive niche or both.
In essence, you’re piggybacking off YouTube’s existing authority to get more visibility for your brand. This method works with Amazon, Wikipedia, or any authority website.
The real beauty of Parasite SEO is that you won’t need as many backlinks to rank. These authority websites have already done the heavy lifting.
So in short, work to rank YouTube video pages in addition to ranking in YouTube’s search.
8. Keep Them Hooked
Almost every SEO expert believes that dwell time is a ranking factor in Google. Well, there is probably no website that has better dwell time than YouTube. YouTube’s entire mission is to keep users on their website as long as possible.
The intention is obvious because more time spent on YouTube equates to more ad revenue. I could dedicate an entire post to YouTube’s user experience, but there’s one big takeaway:
Try to serve relevant content to your users.
I know this is obvious, but it isn’t practiced on most websites. You’ll notice on my blog that I always try to serve relevant content. It will either be through internal links.
Or, I hand-select a relevant link at the end of every post.
You don’t need to build a complex algorithm to achieve better dwell time. Focus on relevance and you’ll improve user engagement on your site.
9. Be Content-Centric
The big “secret” behind YouTube’s SEO success is that content is the focal point.
The Youtube algorithm tries to serve you with the best and most relevant content available. I do believe that every business can benefit from being more content-centric.
Think about it:
The two most popular websites online, Google and YouTube, are 100% content-centric above all else.
That’s It for YouTube
YouTube deserves its SEO performance because of the genius platform they’ve built. If you enjoyed this SEO analysis, please subscribe to get notified when I publish a new one.
Thanks for reading and drop me a comment below letting me know if you enjoyed the post.
Read Next: SEO Audit Checklist for 2021