Video SEO: New tool by Trint helps make spoken words in videos crawlable

trint makes spoken words videos crawlable

June 13 saw the release of a new tool by London-based company Trint which can assist the crawlability and visibility of video content in search engines.

The Trint Player has been unveiled at the Global Editors Network Summit in Athens where it will be used to publish video and transcripts of keynotes by Google News founder Krishna Bharat and Bloomberg Editor-In-Chief John Micklethwait.

Video to dominate traffic and SERPs

In two years, video content is expected to make up 80% of online traffic. Google is increasingly returning video content in its SERPs and delivering it in a variety of ways, depending on device used and the type of content that is searched for.

To date, search engines can only find a video based on words in the title, the description and in a small amount of accompanying metadata. The embeddable Trint Player works by automatically attaching a transcript to videos using AI.

A search engine indexing a page with a video published in the player will be able to record all the words from the attached transcript and show the spoken words in search results.

The transcript functionality is interactive. Users can click on a word and the tool will navigate to that part of the video. It auto-scrolls as the video plays and you can easily follow along or view the text without image and/or sound.

I gave the searchability of the above Elon Musk video a quick test by Googling “we have an amazing product to show you tonight.” Indeed, the page on the Trint site which is hosting the video ranks very well – just below some news sites which have manually taken some quotes from Musk’s presentation. It is also worth noting that the embed in this instance is a fair way down the page.

Benefits for news sites and marketers

To date, manual transcription has been a very laborious and timely job. Understandably, taking time on such a task for SEO benefit is not necessarily a big priority for journalists. The Trint Player can do this job for them with minimal legwork from the user – and with 99% accuracy according to the press materials. Trint already boasts enterprise clients in The Associated Press, NBCUniversal, The Washington Post, Vice News and Der Spiegel.

It is also easy to see the potential for marketers and brands keen to get the most from their video content. According to Vidyard, 83% of marketers say video is becoming more important to them. Webinars and demos – precisely the types of videos which include a lot of unique content – are the most common types of video marketers are investing in.

Looking beyond YouTube

The player has been available to Trint customers in beta since February. It is currently compatible with videos published on YouTube and the company is awaiting feedback from users before exploring compatibility with other video hosting sites.

It builds on existing work the company have been doing with their productivity platform which uses automated transcription to change the way professionals work with audio/video to produce content and insights.

The company has been backed by Google Digital News Innovation Fund and the Knight Enterprise Fund. The launch of the Trint Player comes on the heels of the business closing $4.5 million in Series A funding, with follow-on investment from Horizons Lab, the Hong Kong-based seed fund operated by the managers of Horizons Ventures, as well as institutional investors including TechNexus and The Associated Press.

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Catch up on the Cricket World Cup with a little help from GoogleCatch up on the Cricket World Cup with a little help from Google

If you want to get in on the action before the opening toss, you can search for your favorite team—for instance “India cricket team”—to read up on the latest news, view squads, lineups, and even dive into winning probabilities, which will continuously update before and during the game.

If you can’t watch a live match, Search can help you stay on top of the game. You can view short video clips highlighting exciting moments and read through live commentary in English and Hindi. If you’re following a team or all matches in the World Cup, you’ll also see game notifications appear on your home screen to make sure you don’t drop the ball.

To keep track of all the matches, you can pin real-time scores on your Android phone screen from Search on mobile browsers or from the Android Google App. Find the match you’re looking for, tap and drag to pin the match anywhere on your screen.

YouTube to Stop Showing Full Subscriber Counts via @MattGSouthern


YouTube will no longer publicly display full subscriber counts for channels with 1,000+ subscribers.

Starting in August 2019, YouTube will begin showing abbreviated subscriber counts anywhere that a channel’s numbers are displayed.

This change will also affect third parties using YouTube’s API Services.

Creators will still be able to access their exact subscriber counts in YouTube Studio.

What will this look like?

Exact subscriber counts will be shown for channels with less than 1,000 subscribers.

For channels with more than 1,000 subscribers, YouTube will abbreviate public subscriber numbers on a sliding scale.

Here’s what that means:

  • 4,227 subscribers will be displayed as “4.2k” until the channel reaches 4,300.
  • 133,017 subscribers will be displayed as “133K” until the channel reaches 134,000.
  • 51,389,232 subscribers will be displayed as “51M” until the channel reaches 52,000,000.

YouTube notes that more specific details will be shared directly with creators before August.

The company didn’t mention why this change is being made, but anyone following recent events on YouTube could likely make an accurate guess.

Without getting too far into the details, I’ll say the YouTube community has developed an alarming obsession with other channels’ subscriber counts.

So much so that when two YouTubers are fueding, users will set up live feeds showing the other users’ subscribers counts going up or down.

Perhaps even more alarming is that these feeds draw thousands of simultaneous viewers.

By not making full subscriber counts available to the public, YouTube is likely trying to put an end to this obsession before it becomes even more problematic.

Abbreviated subscriber counts will make the aforementioned live channels all but redundant come August.

YouTube is Developing a Tool That Creates 6-Second Ads Automatically via @MattGSouthern


YouTube is working on a tool called a “Bumper Machine” that can cut down a longer ad into 6 seconds.

This is all done automatically using machine learning. The Bumper Machine takes a 30 or 90-second ad and creates a 6-second bumper ad.

TechCrunch reports that YouTube is currently alpha testing the Bumper Machine.

Eventually, the current test will move to a beta test and ultimately a worldwide rollout.

An early example from GrubHub shows what this tool is capable of.

Here’s an original 13-second ad from GrubHub:

[embedded content]

And here’s a 6-second version of the ad which was automatically created using the Bumper Machine:

[embedded content]

Bumper Machine works by searching for key elements in an ad, which could be voiceovers, a focus on specific people, company logos, or products. The last two-to-three seconds of an ad will always have a call-to-action.

Since machines are unlikely to get things right 100% of the time, creating an ad will still require a certain amount of human intervention.

Bumper Machine will create four variations of an ad for the user to choose from. From there the user could choose one or keep all four if they want.

That’s all the information available about the tool at this time. I expect we’ll hear more as development progresses.

The evolution of SEO and the shift from point solutions to platform

The evolution of SEO and the shift from point solutions to platform

In the practice of SEO, as in life, the only constant is “change.” Even the pace of change in SEO is changing.

It’s accelerating as results grow ever richer and more personalized, search engines more numerous and specialized, and searchers increasingly expect to be able to summon answers whenever, wherever and however they like.

Though it may not always feel like it, none of this happened overnight. If we look at some of the key milestones in the evolution of search, we can get insight into how we got to where we are now. Let’s skip ahead a bit and start with Google in the early 2000s.

  • The early 2000s: Google takes on black hat SEO methods by de-legitimizing and even penalizing unethical tactics like keyword stuffing and questionable link-building practices. At the same time, we see the very beginnings of localized search results.
  • The mid to late 2000s: Google begins to refine the search experience with universal search, which incorporates results from sources like websites, social media, images, video, and news in its SERPs. Google Suggest launches, which offers related search phrases in the search results. Microsoft launches Bing.
  • The early 2010s: Google breaks SEO briefly with algorithm changes that emphasize quality, user-focused content. Any vestigial gaming of the system is dead. Optimization is very much alive, but the gap narrows between content that Google’s algorithm sees as high quality and content that humans see as high quality. Localization gets a boost, and we begin to see zero-click searches.
  • The mid-2000s to today: Search explodes. Google begins to demote content that is not mobile-friendly, then rolls out mobile-first indexing. YouTube becomes the second largest search engine behind Google. Amazon ranks first for product searches. We enter the frontier of voice search.
  • Today and beyond: SEO has evolved and has proven out as a key business performance driver. Meanwhile, search is ubiquitous, increasingly vertical, and enormously topical.

SEO now

SEO is still very much about maximizing the effectiveness of organic content to drive traffic and demand, but its role in the organization has expanded and so has the workload along with it.

How SEO is used in the modern enterprise

SEO methods and insights are supporting strategy and decision making beyond website content. The broader use of SEO intelligence is a natural progression in the evolution of search. After all, SEO research can reveal a lot about consumer intent. For content, paid search, social media, and email marketers, knowing what the target audience is looking for makes it easier to tailor the message, product or service to them.

A 2018 survey of UK marketers reinforces the perception of SEO as an essential (88% of respondents) and effective (79% of respondents) part of the marketing imperative, but the survey also highlights the difficulty marketers and SEO specialists have when it comes to keeping up with the pace of change in search. More than two-thirds of respondents (70%) incorrectly identified a bogus Google algorithm change as being real. (Source: Zazzle Media)

How SEO is executed in the modern enterprise

For most search marketers, the daily work of SEO is a significant undertaking. Add to that the fact that 75% of marketers are regularly using at least four different tools or data sources to execute their SEO strategy.

BrightEdge's stats on SEO's tool usage

SEO in 2019 and beyond: SEO goes single-platform and real-time

To date, SEO has been largely a reactive business function. In 2019, look for search to become not only reactive but predictive. Two shifts will drive this:

  1. A shift from point solutions to platform SEO
  2. The enablement of true, real-time SEO

The shift from point solutions to platform SEO

The time-consuming and somewhat disjointed nature of SEO execution for most search marketers is not surprising given the rapid pace of change in search. It is also not sustainable over the long term. Search is only going to evolve more quickly. Keeping up on all the changes, mastering new and additional tools to manage SEO, and finding the time to incorporate more and more diverse data sources into an already overtaxed SEO routine is prohibitive.

To see where the practice of SEO is headed, we can look at how leading brands do it now. BrightEdge Instant (disclosure, customer) empowers the next generation of search marketers to use real-time insights and take action to optimize content all within one unified platform, so they can effectively:

  1. Speed up the busy work of SEO by
    • Streamlining or automating repetitive SEO tasks
    • Integrating disparate data sources and adding immense value by, effectively, crowdsourcing otherwise unavailable data
  2. Turn data into insight by employing AI and deep learning to organize data and generate meaningful recommendations
  3. Keep up with major and minor changes in search for their users and innovate accordingly

For SEO to be effective it needs to be efficient. Moving from managing multiple SEO point solutions, sourcing data from numerous sources in numerous formats, and analyzing data in Excel to single-platform SEO solution creates efficiency that marketers can no longer ignore.

The enablement of true, real-time SEO

What we know today as real-time SEO is, in actuality, the same, rearward-looking SEO with a shortened timeframe. SEO evolution, like change, is constant and the breakthrough for SEO has begun with live, real-time data that right-now drives keyword and ranking research, and produces in-the-moment recommendations.

Marketers will be able to see trends as they are developing rather than once they’re established. This level of insight will enable them to predictively produce or optimize content to capitalize on the interest that’s coming. This ability to displace competitors pre-emptively will change the face of search forever.

Andy Betts is a chief marketer, consultant, and digital hybrid with more than 20 years of experience in digital, technology and marketing working across London, Europe, New York, and San Francisco. He can be found on twitter @andybetts1.

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How AI is powering real-time SEO research: Insights and optimization

How AI is powering real-time SEO research Insights and optimization

The shift to real-time data analysis and optimization has supercharged marketing in a way that frankly should have SEOs on the edge of their seats.

As organizations struggle to make sense of and activate their data, SEOs can combine their deep experience with massive amounts of data to make smarter business decisions and have an edge. Things are about to get real, very real.

Automation in marketing no doubt was (and still is) a game-changer for consultancies, agencies, and clients. Straight-up automation brought efficiency and order to the workflow. Now, you can expand your capabilities even further with the AI layer.

According to a study by the Economist, 75% of executives say AI will be “actively implemented” in companies within the next three years. Business leaders aren’t feeling so great about how it’s being implemented, though. Although 92% of C-level executives with some of the world’s biggest brands recently reported that the pace of their big data and AI investments are accelerating, 77% also said that business adoption of AI initiatives is a major challenge.

Where’s the disconnect? It’s telling that 93% of those interviewed identified people and process as obstacles. In this post, we’re going to explore the different ways SEOs can lead the charge in AI-powered insights and optimizations. We are entering a new era of real-time SEO and insights are being powered by machine learning and AI.

Understanding the opportunities in evolving SERPs

Google has gone all-in on AI, and it’s driving increasingly complex yet engaging and functional enhanced search results. With RankBrain, Google uses machine learning to analyze the context of content and serve more accurate organic search, image, and video results.

How does it work? Roger Rogerson dug up a succinct explanation in a recent column:

“… RankBrain uses artificial intelligence to embed vast amounts of written language into mathematical entities — called vectors — that the computer can understand. If RankBrain sees a word or phrase it isn’t familiar with, the machine can make a guess as to what words or phrases might have a similar meaning and filter the result accordingly, making it more effective at handling never-before-seen search queries. …”

– Greg Corrado, from Bloomberg’s: Google turning its lucrative web search over to AI machines

RankBrain isn’t just using natural language processing (NL) to better understand the intent behind each query. It’s converting words to data, plotting it on a chart, and examining the relationships that exist between terms. What it “learns” then drives rankings and different types of results in the blink of an eye for each new query.

How can you use this to your advantage?

  • Content optimization is more important than ever. The bar for quality is high, and Google needs to be able to see how each piece of content, whether text, image, or video is the best answer for specific types of queries. But optimizing content once, before it’s published, isn’t going to cut it anymore. SEOs need AI-powered automation to audit site content, resolve errors, and suggest new optimizations on an ongoing basis, based on real-time data, and consumer behaviors.
  • Automate competitive research and find opportunities to increase your share of voice with smart monitoring that identifies content that is outranking yours. See exactly where you need to build out content and what it needs to include in order to regain your rankings.
  • Stay ahead of SERP changes with AI-powered analysis. By the time you manually evaluate the SERPs that Google returns for even a few keyword phrases, you’re making optimizations based on old data. Get ahead of the game with real-time SEO insights that tell you exactly what you need to do to take over competitors on the terms that offer your greatest opportunities.

Making smarter optimizations with AI-powered insights

A typical SEO practitioner uses six separate tools cobbled together and spends four hours a day on research, reporting, and analysis. This is no longer necessary, though. BrightEdge Instant for example (disclosure, my company’s innovation) provides marketers with real-time recommendations and data so marketers take action to optimize content, all within one unified platform.

Screenshot of tracking page rankings using BrightEdge Instant's AI

Voice-enabled technologies, now used in more than 20% of mobile queries, are one opportunity you can’t afford to overlook. Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and other digital assistants rely on AI to converse with consumers and respond to their needs. You need to understand the conversational journey and the next three follow-up questions someone is going to ask but are probably wading through a list of keywords from Keyword Planner. You’re manually looking for conversational searches or turning to a point solution with display-only capabilities (without search volume) that is disconnected from your SEO workflow.

SEOs need to be able to analyze when and why people use voice search in order to provide the types of answers digital assistants can use. Structured data is a great way to achieve this, but right now more than 80% of the world’s data is unstructured (SEW offers a guide to help you get started here).

Keyword research is another opportunity to save time and improve performance by working AI into your workflow. Given the large proportion of queries that Google says have local intent, you need to understand the location for every part of your business worldwide. For businesses with hundreds of thousands of locations worldwide, it’s impossible to accurately research and report on keyword performance in each of your key markets. Using an AI-powered tool here allows you to scale research across thousands of locations and dozens of languages, all on one platform. You can make smart, high impact decisions that give you the competitive edge quickly and seamlessly, and this is without a mess of Excel sheets.

How can you use this to your advantage?

  • Make voice a reality by taking a data-driven, AI-enabled approach to understanding the conversations happening in your space. Doing so will help you identify top-of-the-funnel, awareness-generating question keywords, analyze the keyword landscape, and understand which portion of your keywords are quick answers, and which percentage you are winning.
  • Look for a tool that uses the power of AI to curate the most relevant topics and keywords to go after. Automation can exponentially amplify your efforts to evaluate a seed list, but it’s the AI layer that supercharges it by understanding intent, producing and evaluating a massive list of related terms in real-time, identifying current trends, and helping you to prioritize your efforts.
  • Don’t forget about video! YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and consumers increasingly look there as part of their shopping process (especially in the early stages of their buying journey). Measuring video performance and rankings immediately and on an ongoing basis enables you to respond to real-time insights, and make optimizations to improve performance in the critical post-publication period.

SEOs cannot afford to be late adopters in the AI arena and laggards in relation to real-time SEO. Today, you need to be able to anticipate searcher needs and have technology in place to trigger the optimizations that will return your content as the top answer for relevant queries. Want to learn more? Make sure you caught my last column, Five ways SEOs can utilize data with insights, automation, and personalization.

Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform BrightEdge. He can be found on Twitter .

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Top 25+ Viral Videos of All Time by @gregjarboe


Write about the top 25 viral videos of all time, they said.

It will be easy, they said.

Turns out, selecting the top viral videos of all time – videos that can also teach useful lessons to marketers – isn’t as easy as it sounds.

How to Define a ‘Viral’ Video?

For example, if I selected the videos with the most views of all time, then you’d see that 23 out of the top 25 videos were music videos and you’d also see “Luis Fonsi – Despacito ft. Daddy Yankee” at the top of the list with 6.1 billion views. (That’s billion with a “b.”)

But, what valuable lesson can marketers learn from that? Um, advertise on music videos by Latin artists?

Next, I realized that “views” is not an accurate measure of “virality,” at least not by itself.

For example, “views” can be bought. Now, I’m not just talking about purchasing views from a third party to artificially inflate your view count. I’m also talking about using advertising to promote your video.

Hey, this second option is perfectly legit – and YouTube encourages it in order to beef up its own advertising revenue.

But, what helpful tip can marketers take away from that? Ah, only work with the 25 brands that have the biggest ad budgets?

Third, I figured out that “all time” is a problematic criteria.

In July 2006, 63 million people worldwide visited YouTube, according to the first comScore data published about the video-sharing site.

Today, nearly 2 billion logged-in users visit YouTube each month. So, any list of the top viral videos of “all time” is going to be heavily tilted in favor of videos that were uploaded more recently.

So what’s the moral of that story?

Err, history doesn’t teach us any practical lessons that we can use today?

That’s why my list below of the top 25+ viral videos of all time excludes major label music videos. It also uses “engagements” – a combination of comments, shares, and likes – as well as “views” to ensure that videos have “gone viral” the old fashioned way: They’ve earned it.

And, although the very first video, “Me at the zoo,” was uploaded to YouTube on April 23, 2005, it wasn’t made public until May 29 of that year, which is the date the video-sharing site considers its birthday.

So, I selected two of the top viral videos from each year over 13 of the past 14 years to give marketers an idea of how viral videos have evolved and the process of “going viral” has mutated over time.

Hopefully, this will provide marketers with more than 25 useful, valuable, and practical lessons that they can use this month, this week, today.

Year 1: May 29, 2005 to May 28, 2006

1. Lazy Sunday

Lazy Sunday” was one of the first viral videos that helped to put YouTube on the map. Uploaded in December 2005, it was a bootleg copy of the Saturday Night Live skit, “The Chronicles of Narnia Rap.”

How Popular Was This Video?

David Itzkoff of The New York Times reported back then that “Lazy Sunday” racked up 1.2 million views in its first 10 days.

And LeeAnn Prescott of Hitwise reported in December 2005 that visits to YouTube had shot up 83% since the video had been uploaded – and had passed visits to Google Video. (And the rest is history.)

By the end of January 2006, Prescott reported:

“Since my post last month on YouTube and the SNL Chronicles of Narnia rap, YouTube has continued to gain market share against other video search sites, and since surpassing Google Video, it has also surpassed Yahoo! Video Search.”

Then, “Lazy Sunday” was removed from the video sharing site in February 2006. In a post on the YouTube blog, the YouTube staff explained:

“NBC recently contacted YouTube and asked us to remove Saturday Night Live’s ‘Lazy Sunday: Chronicles of Narnia’ video. We know how popular that video is but YouTube respects the right of copyright holders. You can still watch SNL’s ‘Lazy Sunday’ video for free on NBC’s website.”

Ironically, Saturday Night Live re-uploaded “Lazy Sunday” to its YouTube channel in August 2013, seven-and-a-half years after it was removed.

[embedded content]

Why Did They Do That & What Lesson Can You Learn From This?

Copyright owners can monetize their videos on YouTube. Yes, they have to split their ad revenue with YouTube.

But, it seems reasonable to assume that someone at NBC finally figured out that SNL could make more money by letting advertisers run ads against “Lazy Sunday” on YouTube as well as on NBC’s website than they would get by continuing to hoard their video content on their own site, which gets significantly less traffic.

2. Evolution of Dance

Another video that went viral in YouTube’s first year was “Evolution of Dance.” Uploaded by Judson Laipply in April 2006, it had 305 million views and 1.5 million engagements, according to Tubular Labs data.

Unfortunately, this video is unavailable because it contains content from Warner Music Group (WMG), which has blocked it in the U.S. on copyright grounds.

Top 25+ Viral Videos of All Time

Top 25+ Viral Videos of All Time

Why Did They Do That & What Lesson Can You Learn From This?

Using YouTube’s Content ID system, copyright owners can choose to:

  • Either monetize a video and share revenue with the uploader.
  • Or block a whole video from being viewed.

WMG doesn’t seem to want to share bupkis with Laipply and the multinational entertainment and record label conglomerate also doesn’t appear to care what YouTubers think about discovering that “Evolution of Dance” has been blocked.

In other words, don’t assume that you can freely sample a song under the “fair use” principle.

And if you want to include some music or sound effects in your videos, without having to negotiate licenses with each copyright owner, then use the YouTube Audio Library to find high-quality audio tracks royalty-free.

Year 2: May 29, 2006 to May 28, 2007

3. Chocolate Rain’ Original Song by Tay Zonday

One of the top viral videos from YouTube’s second year, this video was uploaded in April 2007. It now has 122 million views and 1.4 million engagements.

[embedded content]

The Backstory

The video was originally posted on, where Zonday’s breathe-away-from-the-mic move was mocked and tons of parody videos were made in response.

But, “Chocolate Rain” didn’t go viral until July 2007, when YouTube simultaneously featured all of the parody and response videos on its home page.

What Lessons Can We Learn From This Viral Video?

Even if you are mocked, mocked by the self-appointed trend-setters, you can still get the last laugh when you are invited on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and then go on to get “paid a hefty, hefty fee” when your video becomes part of a promotional campaign for Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr. Pepper.

4. Charlie bit my finger – again!

One of the other top viral videos from YouTube’s second year, “Charlie bit my finger – again!” was uploaded in May 2007 and now has 868 million views as well as 2.3 million engagements.

[embedded content]

The Backstory

Howard Davies-Carr, the father of the two boys, lives in the UK. He uploaded the video to YouTube so that it could be watched by the boys’ grandfather, who was living in the U.S.

After it inadvertently went viral, he chose to monetize the video by allowing ads to run next to it.

In 2011, it was reported that the Davies-Carr family had made over £100,000 in advertising revenue from the video. The money from the viral video was enough to enable the family to purchase a new house.

Year 3: May 29, 2007 to May 28, 2008

5. Charlie Schmidt’s Keyboard Cat! – THE ORIGINAL!

A couple of funny cat videos went viral during YouTube’s third year, giving the video-sharing site an undeserved reputation that it is still trying to overcome today.

One of these was “Charlie Schmidt’s Keyboard Cat! – THE ORIGINAL!” This video was uploaded in June 2007 and has 54.2 million views and 651,000 engagements.

[embedded content]

OK, this video features a tabby, dressed in blue, which appears to play a tune on a keyboard. Now, viewed on its own, it makes very little sense.

But it only went viral after Brad O’Farrell, then the syndication manager of video website My Damn Channel, discovered the clip and placed it at the end of another video.

“Play him off, Keyboard Cat” became a warning that it’s time to wrap up following an awkward situation or slip-and-fall blooper.

As Time puts it:

“Keyboard Cat mashups add a touch more absurdity to already absurd situations, like a man falling off a treadmill or Miss Teen South Carolina flubbing her geography. Combine that with the Internet’s penchant for cats, and a craze is born.”


Other videos in different genres were also going viral during this time period. This includes “LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!” by Chris Crocker, which got 50.7 million views and 657,000 engagements.

The video is now unavailable because Crocker closed his YouTube account in September 2015.

Top 25+ Viral Videos of All Time

Top 25+ Viral Videos of All Time

So, many people mistakenly think that the only videos that go viral are ones featuring animals, babies, and dancing. Well, this isn’t necessarily true.

Year 4: May 29, 2008 to May 28, 2009

7. David After Dentist

Now, I recognize that my next example features a cute kid, which undercuts the assertion that I’ve just made.

Nevertheless, “David After Dentist” is still worth including in my list of the top viral videos of all time.

Uploaded in January 2009, it has 138 million views and 517,000 engagements.

[embedded content]

The Backstory

David DeVore Sr. took the video of his son, David Jr., in May 2008. For the next seven months, he only shared the video with family and friends.

Then, he uploaded it to YouTube to make it easier to share. David Sr. has said:

“Due to the limit YouTube has for the number of emails you can send the link to for private sharing, I chose to make it public thinking no one would think it was as funny as we did. Shows you what I know.”

The video went viral and the DeVore family was soon invited to join the YouTube Partner Program, which enabled them to monetize “David After Dentist.”

And, according to Time, “the DeVores have made nearly enough to cover David’s (eventual) college education.”

What Lessons Does This Teach Marketers?

First, slice-of-life videos can go viral. Who wouldn’t share a video that features a kid who asks, “Is this real life?”

Second, if YouTube invites you to include one of your more unforgettable videos in its Individual Video Program, just say, “Yes.”

8. Susan Boyle – Singer – Britain’s Got Talent 2009

Now, let me share a powerful example of a viral video from YouTube’s fourth year that doesn’t include funny cats, cute kids, or old dance moves: “Susan Boyle – Singer – Britain’s Got Talent 2009.

Uploaded in April 2009, this video had 96 million views as of August 2010, when the clip was removed from the Britain’s Got Talent channel due to a copyright claim by Alain Boublil Music Ltd.

But, there are 1,360 copies still on YouTube, with a collective total of 734 million views and 2.4 million engagements.

This includes “Susan Boyle – Britains Got Talent 2009 Episode 1 – Saturday 11th April | HD High Quality,” which has 236 million views and 924,000 engagements.

[embedded content]

What’s the Lesson You Can Learn From the Viral Videos Featuring Susan Boyle?

Dr. Karen Nelson-Field conducted some rigorous research on this topic at the University of South Australia’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science. And she published her findings in Viral Marketing: The Science of Sharing.

She reported:

“When a video included a creative story of personal triumph, it was shared more than other creative devices” (including baby/young child, animal, and dancing/singing)…. She added, “Interestingly, despite being a more applicable creative device for ensuring sharing success, personal triumph is rarely displayed in viral video content. In our sample of 800 videos, it appeared in less than 3 per cent of all videos.” She concluded, “Personal triumph therefore represents the best opportunity for marketers.”

Year 5: May 29, 2009 to May 28, 2010

9. JK Wedding Entrance Dance

In YouTube’s fifth year, one of the more memorable viral videos was “JK Wedding Entrance Dance.” Uploaded in July 2009, it has 98.1 million views and 447,000 engagements.

[embedded content]

OK, so this video features dancing. And, the next one includes a man on a horse, which is an animal.

Of course, I’m talking about “Old Spice | The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.”

10. Old Spice | The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

This video was uploaded in February 2010, it has 56.2 million views and 239,000 engagements.

[embedded content]

Now, maybe I don’t need to point out the obvious, but this viral video is an ad.

In fact, it was part of a campaign that consisted of eight YouTube videos, which tallied a total of 98.7 million views and 337,000 engagements.

And the campaign was for an everyday hygiene item, so who would have guessed that it would go viral?

But, that’s not all.

In July 2010, Noreen O’Leary and Todd Wasserman of Adweek reported that monthly sales of Old Spice Body Wash had increased 107 percent after the campaign.

What Lessons Does This Teach Marketers?

This viral video features a “talking head.” That’s the derogatory term given to TV commercials that consist of a pitchman extolling the virtues of a product.

Now, many agency people argue that talking heads aren’t “creative.” But, as David Ogilvy said in his classic book, “Ogilvy on Advertising“:

“When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.”


Year 6: May 29, 2010 to May 28, 2011


This is another viral video that doesn’t feature animals, babies, or dancing. Uploaded in July 2010 by Schmoyoho, it has 143 million views and 1.2 million engagements.

[embedded content]

The Gregory Brothers took the quirky television interview that Antoine Dodson gave after his sister’s attempted assault and turned it into a chart-topper for Auto-Tune the News.

12. Rebecca Black – Friday

This viral video, which features singing, was originally uploaded on March 2011 to Ark Music Factory’s channel. This version got more than 166 million views before it was removed from YouTube in June 2011 due to legal disputes between ARK Music and Black.

However, the “official version” was uploaded to Rebecca’s channel in September 2011 has 131 million views and 1.8 million engagements.

[embedded content]

The Backstory

It didn’t go viral in March until sites like BuzzFeed and Reddit posted it as “the worst song ever.” That’s right, Rebecca Black’s pop anthem went viral solely because people were making fun of her.

But Jeremy Scott, the founder of The Viral Orchard, thinks we all got trolled hard. In March 2011, he wrote in Tubular Insights:

“We’ve been set up and manipulated – played like a second-hand guitar. Not by Black, mind you – I remain fairly convinced that she’s just a normal 13-year-old. I think the real puppet master here is Ark Music Factory.”

He added:

“Ark Music Factory is the company that produced the video, and I think they made this whole thing happen. To be clear: I think they knew the song was bad… I think they uploaded it anyway… and I think they set about using social bookmarking and social media sites to specifically gain the video some views based on its poor quality.”

Now, he admitted at the time, “I don’t have any proof… obviously. But I do have plenty of red flags and circumstantial evidence.”

This included:

  • The video was initially on Ark Music Factory’s channel, not Rebecca Black’s.
  • This video was picked by the Internet as the one to mock on the same day.
  • Ark’s website had banner ads to buy their artists’ songs on iTunes.
  • Talent and respect are no longer required for riches or fame.
  • People often game curated sites for marketing purposes.

What Lessons Can You Learn From All This?

Well, there are 3,769 videos on YouTube that are mostly parodies and remixes of Rebecca Black’s “Friday.” They have a total of 595 million views and 6.8 million engagements.

So, even if you’re somewhat skeptical of Scott’s theory, you should still carefully consider his conclusion:

“The adage that ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ has never been more true than it is today. If it weren’t true, then Charlie Sheen and Rebecca Black would both be broke and without prospect. If you think marketing companies aren’t savvy enough to know that and attempt to capitalize on it – even to the point of mocking the thing they’re charged with promoting – then you’re pretty naive.”

Year 7: May 29, 2011 to May 28, 2012

13. KONY 2012

This viral video from YouTube’s seventh year was made by a little-known nonprofit. Uploaded on March 2012, it has 102 million views and 1.8 million engagements.

[embedded content]

The incredible success of this 30-minute video demonstrates how a relatively unknown entity can still make a global impact in social media with powerful content and a savvy marketing strategy.

What Lessons Can You Learn From Its Success?

In July 2007, Mary Madden, a Senior Research Specialist for the Pew Internet & American Life Project, had said, “Young adults are the most ‘contagious carriers’ in the viral spread of online video.”

And in March 2012, a new report on the viral “KONY 2012” video by Lee Rainie, Paul Hitlin, Mark Jurkowitz, Michael Dimock, and Shawn Neidorf for the Pew Research Center found the same pattern.

According to Pew’s new report, those 18 to 29 years old were much more likely than older adults to have heard a lot about the “KONY 2012” video.

And they were also much more likely than older adults to have learned about it through social media, rather than traditional news sources.

In addition, younger adults were more than twice as likely as older adults to have watched the video itself on YouTube or Vimeo. So, this should be your target audience, too.

14. Uncle Drew | Chapter 1 | Pepsi Max

This video by Pepsi went viral in May 2012 and got 54.6 million views and 213,000 engagements.

[embedded content]

Now, this video is 4 minutes and 59 seconds long. So, it doesn’t look like an ad, does it?

And according to the video’s description:

“Pepsi MAX went to a pick-up game in Bloomfield, NJ, pretending to shoot a documentary on a basketball player named ‘Kevin.’ When his Uncle Drew came into the game, some magical things happened.”

You can learn some useful, valuable, and practical lessons about creating a parody/comedy skit/prank that goes viral just by watching Uncle Drew.

Year 8: May 29, 2012 to May 28, 2013

15. PSY – GANGNAM STYLE (강남스타일) M/V

Now, I realize that you probably think I’m excluding all music videos from this list, but if you go back and re-read what I actually said, it only “excludes major label music videos.”

Why am I quibbling over what’s excluded? Because I really, really wanted to include the next viral video in this list.

It’s “PSY – GANGNAM STYLE (강남스타일) M/V.” Uploaded on July 2012, it has 3.3 billion views and 21 million engagements.

[embedded content]

As Kevin Allocca, YouTube trends manager, said in a post on the Official YouTube Blog, “This year, Korean Pop music transcended boundaries and took the world by storm.”

And as Chris Atkinson added in a post on Tubular Insights, “This is a gigantic breakaway hit because, yes, the song is catchy, but the video has everything you want: lunacy, hot girls, and a funky dance.”

16. Dove Real Beauty Sketches | You’re more beautiful than you think (3mins)

This three-minute video by Dove went viral in April 2013 and garnered 68.5 million views along with 180,000 engagements.

[embedded content]

As the video’s description says:

“In one of the most famous Dove films, Real Beauty Sketches explores the gap between how others perceive us and how we perceive ourselves. Each woman is the subject of two portraits drawn by FBI-trained forensic artist Gil Zamora: one based on her own description, and the other using a stranger’s observations. The results are surprising…”

Why Did This Video Go Viral?

Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, wrote an op-ed in Adweek that said:

“These video ads don’t just generate impressions, they leave impressions. Women ages 18-34 are twice as likely to think highly of a brand that made an empowering ad and nearly 80 percent more likely to like, share, comment, and subscribe after watching one. We also ran ad recall studies on eight of the campaigns on the Empowering Ads Leaderboard, and all performed in the top 25 percent of their categories, with most in the top 10 percent.”

Then, she asked a question of her own:

“So if empowering ads are so effective, why are we only seeing them now? Partly because women are being called upon to advertise to women. Despite the disappointing fact that only 11 percent of creative directors are women, half of the creatives responsible for the empowering ads on our Leaderboard were women. With women expected to control two-thirds of consumer spending in the U.S. over the next decade, creative agencies would be wise to empower women not just in their video ads but in their own ranks.”

Year 9: May 29, 2013 to May 28, 2014

17. Ylvis – The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?) [Official music video HD]

Here’s another music video that wasn’t created by a major label. Uploaded in September 2013, it has 838 million views and 7.2 million engagements.

[embedded content]

Now, if I need to defend my inclusion of this music video, I can point to Allocca’s post on the Official YouTube Blog, which listed “What Does The Fox Say?” as the top Trending Videos for 2013 instead of one of the Top Music Videos for the year.

Why Did This Video Go Viral?

A cute kid does appear in the video at the 1:04, 2:15, and 2:24 marks, it features people dressed in animal costumes, and there’s lots of funky dancing.

OK, so maybe that’s just a strange coincidence. But, it’s the best theory that I was able to come up with.


One of the other viral videos from YouTube’s ninth year, “FIRST KISS” was uploaded in March 2014. It got 138 million views and 641,000 engagements.

[embedded content]

As the video’s description says: “We asked 20 strangers to kiss for the first time….”

The Backstory

WREN, a relatively unknown brand outside of fashion circles, took the industry by storm, and showed how a small brand with limited resources could create one of the most talked-about marketing campaigns of the year.

Just a month after its release, “First Kiss” had increased website traffic by 14,000% and sales by 13,600 percent. Not bad.

Not bad at all.

Year 10: May 29, 2014 to May 28, 2015

19. Always #LikeAGirl

One of the viral videos from YouTube’s tenth year, this video was uploaded on June 2014, it got 67 million views and 331,000 engagements.

[embedded content]

As the video’s description says:

“Using #LikeAGirl as an insult is a hard knock against any adolescent girl. And since the rest of puberty’s really no picnic either, it’s easy to see what a huge impact it can have on a girl’s self-confidence.”

The description also quotes Lauren Greenfield, the filmmaker and director of the #LikeAGirl video. She says:

“In my work as a documentarian, I have witnessed the confidence crisis among girls and the negative impact of stereotypes first-hand.” She adds, “When the words ‘like a girl’ are used to mean something bad, it is profoundly disempowering…. I am excited to be a part of the movement to redefine ‘like a girl into a positive affirmation.”

20. 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman

Uploaded on October 2014 by Rob Bliss Creative, a viral video agency, the video has 48.3 million views and 175,000 engagements.

[embedded content]

This video also generated 279 response videos, which got a total of 147.7 million views and 1.6 million engagements.

This included “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman in Hijab,” which got 17.8 million views and 209,000 engagements.

And, as we’ve all been told, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Year 11: May 29, 2015 to May 28, 2016

21. Obama out:’ President Barack Obama’s hilarious final White House correspondents’ dinner speech

And now for something completely different.

In YouTube’s 11th year, who would have guessed that one of the videos that would go viral would be then-president Obama’s hilarious final White House correspondents’ dinner speech.

What’s more, who would have guessed that it would have been uploaded by Global News in April 2015 and go on to get 28.3 million views and 283,000 engagements.

[embedded content]

As President Obama was getting set to leave office, he took a look back at one of his most memorable moments.

He didn’t hold back in his final speech at the White House correspondents’ dinner, firing barbs at himself, Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Ted Cruz.

Obama said, “If this material works well, I’m going to use it at Goldman Sachs next year. Earn me some serious Tubman’s.”

Hey, there are lots of lessons that marketers can learn from this guy. Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign team was named #1 in the Fast Company 50. The magazine said:

“This year’s most successful startup took a skinny kid with a funny name and turned him into the most powerful new national brand in a generation.” Fast Company added, “The team has become the envy of marketers both in and out of politics for proving, among other things, just how effective digital initiatives can be.”

22. Laughing Chewbacca Mask Lady

Another video that went viral the following month has changed the viral video landscape as we know it.

Uploaded by Candace Payne to her Facebook page in May 2016, the video was initially called, “It’s the simple joys in life….” There, it got 175 million views and 6.4 million engagements.

Then, Kohl’s uploaded a version of the video to their Facebook page, entitled, “Woman happy to wear Chewbacca mask.” There, it got 34.9 million views and 1.3 million engagements.

Finally, a version was uploaded to YouTube, where it was named, “LAUGHING CHEWBACCA MASK LADY (FULL VIDEO).” There, it got 11.6 million views and 137,000 engagements.

[embedded content]

Altogether, 613 videos of the “Chewbacca Mask Lady”, “Chewbacca Mask Woman”, or “Chewbacca Mask Mom” were uploaded to Facebook (273), YouTube (252), Instagram (66), and Twitter (22).

They got a total of 131 million views and 3.2 million engagements. But, the lion’s share of both views and engagements were on Facebook, not YouTube.

And, what lessons can marketers learn from that?

Well, shortly after Payne’s video went viral, Facebook started making moves to become “video first” in July 2016, according to USA Today.

And shortly after that, Mark Zuckerberg started talking up Facebook’s “video first” strategy in November of that year, according to USA Today?

And shortly after that, the process of going viral started mutating in unexpected directions. Coincidence? I think not.

Year 12: May 29, 2016 to May 28, 2017

Up to this point in time, YouTube content creators had relied on their imagination to create great content that might unexpectedly get an intense psychological response like happiness, exhilaration, amazement, inspiration, hilarity, warmth, and surprise that would trigger the social motivations to not only watch, but also like, comment on, and share their video.

But, from this point on, many (but not all) YouTube content creators could leverage the large base of subscribers that many (but not all) YouTube influencers had built over the years and borrow a page out of the YouTube creator playbook, which shared the know-how developed by a generation of YouTube content creators to develop content strategies that would resonate with 21st-century consumers.

And up to this point in time, YouTube content creators had relied on advertising to monetize their views and engagements – earning five figures per year at first and then six figures per year on YouTube.

But, from this point on, many (but not all) YouTube influencers started creating sponsored videos for brands, as well. The next video is a good example.

23. Ping Pong Trick Shots 3 | Dude Perfect

Uploaded to Dude Perfect’s YouTube channel in April 2017, which has 39.5 million subscribers, this sponsored video for Oreo got 197 million views and 5.4 million engagements.

[embedded content]

24. Get clever with your clutter…and these 7 organization hacks!

Up to this point in time, viral videos had been uploaded to YouTube first and then shared to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

But, from this point on, many (but not all) videos that went viral started being uploaded to Facebook first and then shared only on Facebook.

And up to this point in time, many viral videos had featured personal triumph, a baby/young child, a parody/comedy skit/prank, dancing/singing, an animal, or some other creative device.

But, from this point on, many (but not all) videos could go viral by providing useful, valuable, and practical tips, tricks, and hacks.

For example, check out “Get clever with your clutter…and these 7 organization hacks!

Uploaded to Blossom’s Facebook page in May 2017, which has 43.8 million subscribers, it got 442 million views and 16.2 million engagements.

Top 25+ Viral Videos of All Time

Top 25+ Viral Videos of All Time

Year 13: May 29, 2017 to May 28, 2018

The need to build a large base of subscribers in order to increase the odds of having your videos “go viral” has prompted some (but not many) brands to start acting as if they were media companies.

Instead of creating “hero” content once a year, they started creating “hub” content once a day.

What’s “hero” content?

It’s the kind of content that you want to push to a big, broad audience.

You know, your Super Bowl moment. A brand might have only one hero moment in a year, such as a product launch or an industry tent-pole event.

What’s “hub” content?

It’s the kind content that you develop on a regular basis to give a fresh perspective on your target’s passion points. This content was initially uploaded once a week on the same day and rapidly evolved into daily content.

25. Red Bull & NBA’s Social Media Videos

For example, check out “Door in the Sky.” Uploaded to Red Bull’s Facebook page in November 2017, which has 49 million subscribers, it got 258 million views and 5.8 million engagements.

Top 25+ Viral Videos of All Time

Top 25+ Viral Videos of All Time

But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Red Bull uploaded 2,484 videos to its Facebook page from May 29, 2017, to May 28, 2018.

It also uploaded 1,883 videos to its Instagram account and another 581 videos to its YouTube channel during that period.

And these 5,302 videos got a combined total of more than 3.5 billion views and 158.8 million engagements over 365 days.

And 106 of these videos got more than a million views and 100,000 engagements. These are viral videos by anyone’s definition. And, on average, Red Bull is creating more than two of them a week.

Want another example?

Then, check out @kingjames takes it and wins it with the Tissot Buzzer Beater! #ThisIsYourTime.”

Uploaded to the NBA’s Instagram account in May 2018, which has 35.2 million subscribers, this sponsored video for Tissot, which makes luxury watches for men and women, got 3.9 million views and 807,000 engagements.

Top 25+ Viral Videos of All Time

Top 25+ Viral Videos of All Time

But, we’re just scratching the surface.

The NBA uploaded 133 sponsored videos to Instagram from May 29, 2017 to May 28, 2018.

It also uploaded 170 sponsored videos to Facebook and 2 sponsored videos to YouTube. And these sponsored videos got 267.4 million views and 29.9 million engagements over 365 days.

And 112 of these sponsored videos got more than a million views and 100,000 engagements. So, these are also viral videos by the definition that we’ve been using.

So, on average, the NBA is creating more than two of them a week.

And if you consider that the regular season begins in late October and the playoffs end in early June, then the NBA’s sponsored videos are going viral about three to four times a week when basketball games are actually being played.

Year 14: May 29, 2018 to May 28, 2019

Now, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that YouTube completely recognizes the strategic threat that Facebook and Instagram pose to the video sharing site’s long association with viral videos.

Which is why I believe the process of “going viral” is about to mutate again – in radically different directions.

The signs that big changes are coming are hidden in plain sight.

In January 2019, Debbie Weinstein, the VP or YouTube and Global Video Solutions at Google, wrote an article in Think with Google entitled, “A new way to think about online video’s role in the purchase funnel.”

In it, she said:

“Today’s consumers are in complete control of their path to purchase and the number of touchpoints have proliferated. People move seamlessly across channels and devices — from discovery to consideration to conversion — on their own terms. But what may come as a surprise is the outsize role that online video now plays. It can help create demand and also fulfill it.”

She also cited a couple of studies to back up her point of view:

  • More than 90 percent of people say they’ve discovered new brands or products on YouTube.
  • Over 40 percent of global shoppers say they’ve purchased products that they’ve discovered on YouTube.

Weinstein emphasized:

“Marketing success has always hinged on building meaningful customer connections. But the formula for achieving it — largely driven by consumer behavior — is constantly evolving.”

Then, she shared three case studies.

One then was from Adidas, which used YouTube’s video ad sequencing tool to develop a video campaign featuring a new soccer shoe across multiple ad formats to reach people at different touchpoints over time, based on their level of engagement.

Check out the six-second long unskippable bumper ad entitled, “Ocean Storm Stadium,” which was part of the campaign.

[embedded content]

Now, this unlisted video didn’t go viral.

The sequence that included it along with two long-form videos and a product video helped deliver on Adidas’s brand and performance goals to provide a simple path for viewers who wanted to engage with them.

It saw a double-digit lift in brand awareness and ad recall, as well as a 317 percent lift in product interest.

More significantly, the average view-through rate increased 20 percent as the sequence progressed from the long-form video to the product video, confirming the value of tailoring the sequence for engagement.

But, there’s another strategic competitor to YouTube lurking in the wings that we haven’t talked about yet.

It’s Amazon.

And YouTube doesn’t want you to turn to your virtual assistant and say, “Alexa, how do I get my video to go viral?” Which brings me to the second initiative that I suspect will redefine the intrinsic value of a viral video.

What is it?

Well, in early April 2019, “Rice Krispies Treats’ Success Story | YouTube Advertisers” was uploaded to the YouTube Advertisers channel.

Yep, this is the same channel where the “Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats Case Study” was uploaded 10 months ago. But, this new video tells a whole new story.

[embedded content]

The net-net: Rice Krispies Treats paired Google Assistant and YouTube creators (including Trav and Cor, which has 2.1 million subscribers, My Cupcake Addiction, which has 3.2 million subscribers, and Daily Bumps, which has 4.4 million subscribers) to build brand love – and drive consideration – during the busy holiday season.

Now, this was the first-ever voice activation for a Kellogg’s brand, and Rice Krispies Treats partnered with Google to bring families an interactive and immersive holiday experience.

The “Krispie Kitchen” on the Google Assistant took parents and kids on a fun, guided adventure with holiday characters, both new and old, to bring a magical twist to making holiday treats.

With three unique stories to choose from, families could create new memories of making their favorite holiday treats together.

If you want to check it out, just say, “Hey Google, talk to Krispie Kitchen.”


So, do you really need your videos to go viral in order in order to generate results these days?

Or, do you absolutely have to advertise on an influencer’s video to get a total of 1.7 million views and best-in-class consideration in a brand lift study?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Now, this is not the end of the viral video. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Years from now, we may all look back at this year and say that was when a handful of marketers started to say, “Screw viral videos.”


Because that’s when some (but not many) of us started to accomplish our marketing objectives and reach our business objective without them.

However, the really key period wasn’t May 29, 2018, to May 28, 2019. This was just a transition period.

The really interesting developments took place the following year.

Hey, I realize that this is just a scientific wild-ass guess (SWAG). So, let us know what you think will happen next.

More Resources:

Image Credits

Screenshots taken by author, April 2019

Top advanced YouTube SEO tips to boost your video performance

YouTube is not just a social media platform. It’s a powerful search engine for video content. Here’s how to make the most of its SEO potential.

There are more than 1.9 billion users who use YouTube every month. People are spending over a billion hours watching videos every day on YouTube. This means that there is a big opportunity for brands, publishers and video creators to expand their reach.

Search optimization is not just for your site’s content. YouTube can have its own best practices around SEO and it’s good to keep up with the most important ones that can improve your ranking.

How can you improve your SEO on YouTube? We’ve organized our advanced YouTube SEO tactics into three key areas:

  • Keyword research
  • Content optimization
  • Engagement

Advanced YouTube SEO tips to drive more traffic and improved rankings

Keyword research

It’s not enough to create the right content if you don’t get new viewers to actually watch it. Keywords can actually help you understand how to link your video with the best words to describe it.

They can make it easier for viewers to discover your content and they also help search engines match the content with the search queries and their relevance.

A video keyword research can help you discover new content opportunities while you can also improve your SEO.

A quick way to find popular keywords for the content you have in mind is to start searching on YouTube’s search bar. The auto-complete feature will highlight the most popular keywords around your topic. You can also perform a similar search in Google to come up with more suggestions for the best keywords.

Example of using YouTube's auto-fill feature to find the best keywords

If you’re serious about keyword research and need to find new ideas, you can use additional online tools that will provide with a list of keywords to consider.

When it comes to picking the best keywords, you don’t need to aim for the most obvious choice. You can start with the keywords that are low in competition and aim to rank for them.

Moreover, it’s good to keep in mind that YouTube is transcribing all your videos. If you want to establish your focus keywords you can include them in your actual video by mentioning throughout your talking. This way you’re helping YouTube understand the contextual relevance of your content along with your keywords.


  • Use the auto-complete search function to find popular keywords
  • Perform a Google search for more keyword ideas
  • You can even use SEO tools for additional keyword ideas
  • Say your keywords as part of your videos

Content optimization

There are many ways to improve the optimization of your content and here are some key tips to keep in mind:

1. Description

Example of using video descriptions to rank on YouTube

Your description should facilitate the search for relevant content. A long description helps you provide additional context to your video. It can also serve as an introduction to what you’re going to talk about. As with blog posts, a longer description can grant you the space to expand your thoughts. Start treating your videos as the starting point and add further details about them in the description. If your viewers are genuinely interested in your videos then they will actually search for additional details in your description.

2. Timestamp

Example of using time stamps to rank videos on YouTube

More videos are adding timestamps in their description. This is a great way to improve user experience and engagement. You are helping your viewers to find exactly what they are looking for, which increases the chances of keeping them coming back.

3. Title and keywords

Keywords are now clickable in titles. This means that you are increasing the chances of boosting your SEO by being more creative with your titles. Be careful not to create content just for search engines though, always start by creating content that your viewers would enjoy.

4. Location

If you want to tap into local SEO then it’s a good idea to include your location in your video’s copy. If you want to create videos that are targeting local viewers then it’s a great starting point for your SEO strategy.

5. Video transcripts

Video transcripts make your videos more accessible. They also make it easier for search engines to understand what the video is about. Think of the transcript as the process that makes the crawling of your content easier. There are many online options to create your video transcripts so it shouldn’t be a complicated process to add them to your videos.


Engagement keeps gaining ground when it comes to YouTube SEO. It’s not enough to count the number of views if your viewers are not engaging with your content. User behavior helps search engines understand whether your content is useful or interesting for your viewers to rank it accordingly.

Thus, it’s important to pay attention to these metrics:

  • Watch time: The time that your viewers are spending on your video is a good indicator of its appeal and relevance to them.
  • Likes, comments, and shares: The starting point of measuring engagement is to track the number of likes, comments, and shares in your videos. They don’t make the only engagement metric anymore but they can still serve as a good indication of what counts as popular content. Likes may be easier to achieve but comments and most importantly shares can skyrocket the engagement and views of your videos. It’s not a bad idea to encourage your viewers to support your work. It is actually a common tactic. However, make sure that you’re not trying too hard as this is not appreciated. Every call-to-action needs to feel natural in your videos.
  • Subscribers after watching a video: The number of subscribers serves as an indication of your channel’s popularity. People who actually subscribe to your channel after watching a video make a very good indication of your content’s engagement.
  • CTR: The click-through rate (CTR) is the number of clicks your video is receiving based on the impressions, the number of times that it’s shown. For example, if you optimize your content to show up high in rankings but it still doesn’t get too many clicks, then it means that your viewers don’t find it appealing enough to click on it. This may not be related to the quality of your content but on the first impression that it gets. You can improve the CTR by paying attention to your title and your thumbnail. Bear in mind that YouTube is not encouraging you to clickbait your viewers, so you shouldn’t create misleading titles or thumbnails if you want to aim for higher rankings in the longer term.

Learning from the best

A good tip to understand YouTube SEO is to learn from the best by looking at the current most popular videos. You can also search for topics that are relevant to your channel to spot how your competitors are optimizing their titles, their keywords, and how thumbnails and descriptions can make it easier to click on one video over another.

Examples of using thumbnails and optimizing titles and descriptions to improve CTR

Have any queries or tips to add to these? Share them in the comments.

Related reading

How to perfectly balance affiliate marketing and SEO
international insight from google analytics
how to make SEO-friendly Javascript websites
Complete guide to Google Search Console

YouTube Tests New Internal Metrics For Measuring the Success of a Video by @MattGSouthern


YouTube is reportedly testing two new internal metrics for determining which videos should be considered successful.

Previously, YouTube relied solely on engagement for measuring the success of a video.

If a video received enough views, comments, and likes and it was considered a success regardless of what was in the video itself.

According to a report from Bloomberg, YouTube is testing ways to measure the time spent watching “quality” content.

Quality Watch Time

Sources tell Bloomberg an internal metric called “quality watch time” is being tested to identify content that offers something constructive.

It has not yet been determined how that will work, but ideally, the “quality watch time” metric will measure content that does more than keep users glued to YouTube.

Another metric being tested tracks the total time people spend on YouTube, as well as the comments they read and post.

YouTube has been working on these metrics for the past 2 years, the report says. The goal is to reduce the spread of deceptive clickbait clips.

The company’s current focus on watch time has been the subject of criticism. People say it rewards outlandish and offensive videos, especially when it comes to recommendations.

YouTube’s two new metrics will impact more than just recommendations, according to Bloomberg’s sources.

The new metrics will also determine how YouTube ranks search results, runs ads, and pays video creators.

It’s not known when the new metrics will officially roll out. From the report, it sounds like YouTube is quite a ways off from finalizing everything.

I suspect YouTube will issue a formal announcement if and when it begins using these metrics.

Google featured snippets: A short guide for 2019

Google featured snippet - A short guide for 2019

When you ask any question in Google or search with any keyword, a special block of information may appear, which is known as a featured snippet.

This block will contain an extracted summary of the answer from a webpage, a link to that page, and most of the time, a related image. Google extracts the summary programmatically. If you can place in any particular keyword for the featured snippet, you will get special attention of the person searching about that topic. The result? More clicks, more traffic.

Here is one example of a featured snippet, from our main site The competition of that long tail keyword is relatively low, and there were not many resourceful articles about this topic on the internet. So achieving this Google snippet was easy for us.

Example of a Google snippet

You can opt out from featured snippets (using <meta name=”googlebot” content=”nosnippet”> tag on your page). But according to Google, there is no way to mark your page with a featured snippet. It is a fully programmatic process.

In my research about Google featured snippets, I have found some interesting things about this special block of information. In this post, I will cover them. Using these insights you can get success in your featured snippet SEO.

First of all, let’s see a featured snippet.

My search query “who was Alexander the great?”

Example of a Google snippet for a particular search queryThere is an image of Alexander the great in this snippet. If you click in that image you will see the image is taken from the same webpage of

Example of where a snippet image is fetched from

But this is not the case for every featured snippet. Sometimes the Google bot takes the picture from one site and text from another site. Look at these images below, where I have searched for two other historical figures.

Example of Google snippet

Example of Google snippet content and image fetching from two different sites

If your image has related text of the search query, it may appear in the featured snippet. I have found some of these kinds of featured snippet images, one is for the keyword SEO.

Example of Google snippet image for query SEO

The featured snippet image can come from YouTube videos, too.

Example of Google snippet image fetching from YouTube videos

Sometimes a table of facts can appear in the special information block. Here is one example of the search phrase “Ibn Khaldun quotes”.

Example of table of facts in a Google snippet

The webpage of this snippet has a table of quick facts about historian Ibn Khaldun in an article. Googlebot grabs the information box from there.

How to get a place in the featured snippet for a particular keyword?

1. Structure your post better than your competitors for that particular keyword. You can use snippet bait for this. Snippet bait is a 40 to 60 words block of information designed to be featured on FS. This short block of information should clearly answer the question you are targeting.

2. Optimize your content for mobile search. If your site is not mobile friendly, it will be hard for you to get a place in the featured snippet.

3. Use lots of H2 and H3 tags. These will help Google bots to identify your information fast.

4. Use a table of facts for quick summarization. Summary and table of facts also useful for readers to get a quick picture of the content.

5. List a bullet point summary with 40 to 60 words. As a reader, I find it very helpful. An example from a blog post.

Example of how to create content for a Google snippet

6.  Find competitors’ featured snippets using SEO tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs. And then in your content, write a better snippet bait.

7. Get connected with more high authority sites by linking to them. And hopefully getting links in return.

8. From all types of the snippet (paragraph, table, and list), a paragraph snippet performs better. So, spend more time to optimize your contents with little information boxes.

9. To rank for a list snippet, a step by step guide content is most suitable. Use H2/H3 subheading tags for every step name.

10.  If you want to rank for table snippet, use tables in your content with quick facts. Table structure should be simple, well formatted so that the Google bot can easily pull data from it.

11.  Increase the site loading speed. You can read more about that here, here, and here.

12. Adopt HTTPS and secure your URL.

A case study of featured snippets: Your site’s ranking doesn’t matter much

It is not about your site’s SEO ranking or how many backlinks you have.

Mostly a featured snippet depends on the quality of the content and structure of your content. If you search by “how much muscle can you gain in a week?” you will see a featured snippet from a site named This bodybuilding site is defeating in featured snippets while in the actual search result, it is in the number two position.

Example of how site ranking doesn't affect rich snippets

The content of is well structured, very suitable for skim reading. Also it has useful information in boxes.

Example of a Google snippet that's skimmable

Besides the content of the is just a typical structured one. We can see the SEO position of these two sites from MOZ’s link explorer tool.

Screenshot of Moz's result for

Screenshot of Moz's result for

Another David and Goliath story, where the underdog is defeating the stronger. So, the basic point is, well-structured content can defeat a high ranking page in Google featured snippets.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Muradul Islam is a Business Analyst at WeDevs.

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