YouTube is reported to be the second largest search engine in existence, placing well above Yahoo! and Bing in terms of traffic. However, unlike Google, Yahoo! or Bing, there's little you can do to drive your videos to the top placement; short of being wildly popular. And if that's the case, you're probably not reading this blog post. YouTube while having the second largest search volume, they have less than .1% of web pages indexed by Google, providing a dramatically less competitive environment to get placed.
Based upon various online discussions, I concluded that searches within YouTube were subject to unintended but effective optimization techniques - just like normal search engines. To prove this, I setup a test with a well known brand (name withheld) that had less than 50 videos and less than 1500 lifetime views.
Cleaning up their tags, links and descriptive text was the first step, to make sure they were consistent, but the break-through was enabling Closed Captioning (as in for the deaf closed captioning) for every one of their videos. Essentially, we created our own closed caption script and uploaded the videos with them vs. using YouTube's automatic option.
The results were impressive – a 508% sustained improvement search results.
It appears that Youtube/Google uses the text from the closed-caption to index your video. When a user searches for a topic the words placed in your closed captioning text will be matched and placed higher in the search results. In cases where your keywords are clouded by unrelated videos and hash tags, closed captioning may enable you to consistently place above other videos.
Optimizing search for images, videos and other rich content is untapped territory with a big payoff for relatively little effort. The simple technique of adding closed caption text to every video out performed paid sponsorships, link building and generating content.