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A question that I’ve received quite a lot, regarding the YouTube courses available on the site, is “does YouTube SEO also work for larger channels?”. I’ve always known that the answer was “yes” (in fact, very small and new channels will find it slightly harder – you’ll still get results, but you’ll have to put in the effort, as you won’t have the initial views and comments to boost the video), but I haven’t had a solid case study to prove that – until now.
Say hello to BestInSlot/ForAdventure! He’s one of my favorite YouTube gaming channels, and I’ve been a big fan for close to 2 years now. BestInSlot has an amazing 25.000 subscribers (as of this post), 972 videos, and over 6.500.000 total views for his videos. He’s what I would call a, in the big picture, medium sized channel, on the highway to becoming a major one.
A few months back, I decided to send him a free version of the Rankify Advanced course, just because I really like his videos. If I could contribute a bit to him getting more views and fans, that would make me happy. After that, we continued to discuss SEO through YouTube and Email, and in the end, he was kind enough to let me do a case study on one of his videos. The video in question, is his first episode of Turok.
But you can’t really use a single video for anything, unless you have something to compare it to. To be more than fair, I have decided (and BestInSlot have been kind enough to provide me with analytics screenshots) to compare it to the first episode of his series on Spore, a much more popular game. The Spore video was done before BestInSlot got access to the Rankify Course, and has not been updated to be SEO “compatible”. It was released on his channel on April 23rd, roughly 3 months prior to the release of his Turok videos. While he has had some channel growth in between the release of the videos, I think it’s fair to say that 3 months is close enough to compare the two.
First, let’s just compare a few metrics between Spore and Turok, before diving in to the specific videos.
Spore was released in 2008, by Maxis and Electronic Arts, and it currently holds a rating of 84% on both GameRankings and Metacritic. According to Electronic Arts, the game sold 2 million copies in the first 3 weeks of its release.
According to the YouTube keyword tool, there are 129.900 monthly US-only searches on YouTube, for the search term “Spore”, 10.100 for the search term “Spore Gameplay”, and 15.400 for the search term “spore part 1”.
Needless to say, it’s a fairly well known game, and it has a pretty high search volume on YouTube. Keep in mind that the search metrics above, are only for English Language US searches.
Turok is an 2008 re-imagining of a series of games by the same name. As noted, it was also released in 2008, by Propaganda Games, Aspyr Media, and Touchstone Games. It currently holds a 64% rating on GameRankings, and 69% on Metacritic – both substantially less than Spore. There are no sales statistics for Turok, but considering that it’s estimated to have only sold 100.000 copies in its first week, we can safely assume it’s far less than Spore.
But how does it fare in search volume? Well, pretty badly. The search term “Turok” only gets 21.200 searches per month. The only other search term relating to Turok, that has enough monthly searches to be measured in the YouTube keyword tool, is the term “Turok 2”, which gets 8.900 monthly English Language US searches.
With Spore holding an 84% rating, vs Turok with 67% (in average), it’s clear to see which was the more well received game. Monthly searches also show a clear indicator that people are more interested in Spore, where it holds 129.900 searches for “Spore”, vs Turoks meager 21.200 searches for “Turok”.
At this point, I think we can all agree that Spore is the more popular game.
So, now that we have established a solid ground to compare on, let’s have a look at what the analytics say about the two videos.
First, let’s have a look at the Spore(UN-optimized) video.
We can see it’s a pretty standard screenshot of his views – opens to his subscribers, then drops down, gets a little boost from something, and then continues to drop. Eventually, after around 7 days, it settles at roughly 40-50 views a day, but continues a slow decline. For people that do YouTube videos, this should be a pretty common sight. Over the course of the 31 days, it has received an average of 103 views a day. If we remove the first two “opening” days, equal to roughly 700 and 300 views, and recalculate, it would be an average of 75 views a day.
So, how about the Turok (optimized) video?
The first thing you’ll notice, when looking at it compared to Spore, is that it drops off much much slower. The second thing that you’ll notice, is that the drop off isn’t nearly as steep or low, as it is in the Spore video either. And last, that it settles on a much higher view count.
In the Turok video, it takes roughly 10 days for the video to “settle down”, and once it does, it averages out at around 150-200 views a day, compare to the roughly 40-50 views in the Spore video. Over the course of its first 25 days, it has received an average of 246 views a day, compared to Spores 103 – a 241,7% difference. What if we remove the 2 opening days again? Well, that’s roughly 750 for the first day, and 900 for the second day, which means then it’s getting an average of 196 views a day, compared to Spores 75 views a day – 261,3%.
The winner is obvious.
Even though Spore has a search volume of 129.900 searches for “Spore”, vs Turoks 21.200 searches for “Turok”, a 612,7% difference in search volume, Turok is getting over 250% more views.
Turok ends up getting considerably more views, because Turok was optimized for SEO, whereas Spore was not. So even though more people are searching for Spore related videos, BestInSlots videos for Spore just aren’t showing up very much, and as a result, aren’t getting a lot of views. On the other hand, even though less people search for Turok related videos, his videos for Turok have been optimized far better, and as a result, ends up getting way more views, even though fewer people search for it.
What I did with the Turok video, was very basic stuff. After I did some basic keyword research, covered in lessons 4-6 of the Rankify Beginners and Advanced courses, I primarily focused on optimizing the description, which is covered in lessons 9 and 10, optimized the tags, covered in lesson 11, and optimized playlists, which is covered in lesson 17 of the Rankify Advanced course.
Even though I knew nothing about Turok as a video game, apart from playing the original at a friend’s house many many years ago, it only took me around 45 minutes to write everything up.
I also asked BestInSlot to consider certain things when creating his thumbnail for the video – and again, I cover thumbnail creation in lesson 23 and lesson 26 in the Advanced course.
Amazingly enough, the video could actually be getting even more views than it currently is. The reason for this, is that there were certain things that I couldn’t optimize for the video, due to the way BestInSlots channel is set up. These include:
Had I further optimized these points, which I didn’t touch upon in the video at all, I can guestimate that the video would be receiving 25-50% more views, than it currently is. Apart from the title (which isn’t horribly optimized, but could have been done better), and video replies (which carry crazy weight >if done correctly<), these are all minor additions to the video. The details, the icing on the cake. As such, I doubt the video would have gotten a completely different amounts of views, but I think that estimating around 25-50% more is reasonable, from past experience.
This all comes down to a very important aspect: to think of YouTube as not only a social platform, but also as a search engine. I’ve written about this before, and it’s really an important point to remember.
So why do people get such drastic, and relatively easy results on YouTube, when SEO is so extremely competitive on Google? Well, there are 2 reasons. The first, is that there are several ways to discover a video on YouTube, not only through search, but through related videos, recommended videos, and video replies. Apart from video replies, SEO also ups the chances of showing up in related and recommended videos, giving users an extra way to find your video.
Second, it’s because the vast majority of people either don’t optimize their videos at all, or don’t optimize them properly. Many still completely ignore the SEO aspect of YouTube, even though it’s an area which is really up for grabs right now, and I honestly can’t fathom why more people aren’t jumping at the chance.
But even if people do optimize their videos, many optimize them poorly, or based on wrongful information. For instance, as I wrote about in my last post, many still believe in the myth that spamming links to YouTube videos, will make them rank better. That’s just simply not true. In the same vein, I see people just putting several paragraphs of extra tags at the end of a short description, and expect that to work – it doesn’t. To make a comparison, saying that these types of videos are “SEO optimized”, is like saying you’re a rock musician because you learned the intro to Stairway to Heaven on your acoustic guitar.
If you want to learn more about YouTube SEO, then I recommend that you either check out my Beginners YouTube SEO guide here, or the Rankify YouTube courses available on this site, in Beginners and Advanced version. BestInSlot was also kind enough to write a review of the Advanced course a while back, which I’ll end this post with.
“Well, what can I say.
I’ve been running my Youtube channel for two years now and search-engine optimisation, proper tagging, descriptions… none of it ever really occurred to me. But thank god for Novelconcept!
I can’t really give anything but my absolute highest recommendation to this series, it’s three hours out of your life for a benefit and consistent view count that would take far longer to achieve in any other way. Philip’s always easy to understand, never overly complex, and always explains exactly why each aspect works and how it leads to a benefit for your channel.
I’ve started applying the techniques outlined in these tutorials to every single video I upload now, and views are consistently rolling in.
5 Stars. AAA+. Two thumbs up. Lots of other words that mean the same thing – it’s worth it, buy it.”
Rankify YouTube Courses
Rankify YouTube Advanced
Spore Official Website
Spore on GameRankings
Spore on MetaCritic
YouTube Keyword Tool
Turok on Wikipedia
Turok on GameRankings
Turok on MetaCritic
Rankify YouTube: Beginners
YouTube is a Search Engine
YouTube Keyword Tool
Does YouTube Backlinks Help