Every brand will be familiar with the video sharing giant that is YouTube. But what they may not realise is the huge role the platform has in generating positive rankings and traffic.

Since Google took over the platform in 2006, YouTube has become arguably the world’s second largest search engine, and the third most visited site according to Alexa and SimilarWeb. Not only do its videos feature in search engine results pages (SERPs) for YouTube, Google Video and Google Web searches, it’s now also found a place in Google Trends, suggesting its search traffic is strong enough to be shaping key views and topics across the web.

Whether you’ve chosen to harness the power of video or not, it’s worth noting the invaluable benefits. First off, video is a more dynamic way of selling information, bringing a greater depth to the user experience and helping to reduce bounce rates. Secondly, it offers brands the chance to tap into certain keywords that may otherwise be just out of reach, as well as strengthening their offering for any keywords they may already be ranking for.

So what’s so special about YouTube itself, and why should brands be optimising for it?

1. YouTube video-rich snippets have the edge.

In order to weed out any potential competition, Google started prioritising video-rich snippets from YouTube in 2014. According to data from Wistia, YouTube has a 92% percentage share of video-rich snippets in Google, meaning other video platforms will find it hard to get a look-in.

And, as we all know, video snippets in themselves are capable of driving more click-throughs than regular snippets.

2. It's a chance to leverage certain keywords

As mentioned earlier, video opens up a brand’s ability to cover certain generic keywords which might otherwise escape them. Searches related to ‘how to’-based keywords have rocketed in recent times, growing 70% year-on-year. It’s a flexible keyword that lends itself really well to certain industries, along with other types of video such as product demonstrations and video reviews.

There’s also the option to set specific keywords for your channel, as well as optimise the videos themselves. If a brand isn’t utilising YouTube in this way, it could be missing out on a whole load of keyword booty.

3. It's a further indicator of brand authority

This is another opportunity to shout your brand’s presence to the world – who wouldn’t want that? When setting up a YouTube channel, brands have the option to ‘link’ their site (or blog) to their channel, also known as an ‘associated website’. This is strongly recommended, as it tells YouTube this channel is the official representation for your brand on the platform, and willboost your ranking in YouTube search results.

4. Easy links; big engagement

Brands are encouraged to add all of their essential links to their channel so users can find out more – be it their website or social media platforms. Although these are no-follow links (they don’t boost your page rankings), these links are still massively important for creating awareness and driving traffic to the places you want your audience to see most.

YouTube videos  also provide opportunity for engagement through the embedment of calls to action and links, which can appear throughout the video wherever you choose. So if you’re trying to engage with audiences directly or monitor how effectively your video content is working, these call-outs are a great place to start.

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