Vimeo vs YouTube – Which should you be using?

You’ve got a client who wants their videos online and optimized. But they prefer Vimeo to YouTube.

vimeo vs youtube

Should you let them build their campaign on Vimeo? Recommend they  focus on YouTube? Or is a two-pronged approach in your client’s best interest?

That’s this week’s hot topic in the Market Motive discussion forum. And although I’ve already weighed in with the members on the forums, I thought I’d share my opinion here as well.

Vimeo vs YouTube: The Search Algorithm

Both sites have robust search engines, and they’ve got their differences. Vimeo search has several elements to its internal search algorithm that YouTube doesn’t have … which may or may not be an advantage.

vimeo vs youtubeYouTube’s algorithm looks at:

  1. relevance
  2. upload date
  3. view count
  4. rating

The default is “relevance”, but you can sort other ways.

youtube vs vimeoVimeo lets users search by:

  1. most relevant
  2. newest
  3. oldest
  4. most played
  5. most commented
  6. most liked
  7. alphabetical

In Vimeo, the default sort is also “most relevant”, so to that extent the algorithms are similar — but YouTube ignores comments, while Vimeo factors those in. Why is that?

YouTube has good reasons to ignore comments: because most are pretty juvenile. The Vimeo community seems to be populated by more creative types (including my daughter, who attends the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Go MassArt! ;) ).

Vimeo vs YouTube: Google Universal Results

youtube vs vimeo - search resultsIt’s true, if you’re trying to optimize videos for Google universal search, Google will show videos from Vimeo as well as videos from YouTube in its results. Of course, there are significantly more videos uploaded to YouTube, which is why Google tends to display significantly more YouTube videos in universal search results.

In fact, according to the latest data that I saw from Hitwise, the ratio was 86 to 1 (YouTube to Vimeo). So, your client won’t be handicapped by solely using Vimeo. The Vimeo video will show up.

But your client will probably be outnumbered by competitors who understand the value of YouTube.

Vimeo vs YouTube: Why being Vimeo focused can hurt

That’s where your client will actually be hurt — by not having any content at all in the world’s second largest search engine, which happens to be YouTube.

The last time I checked, there were more than 3.6 billion searches a month conducted on YouTube in just the U.S. So, Vimeo or not, if you don’t upload your content to YouTube, then your content likely won’t get found when YouTube searches are conducted.

That’s why even Hulu has a channel on YouTube.

The Conclusion

Yep, even YouTube’s direct competitor understands that it needs to have a presence on the largest worldwide video-sharing community.

So a two-pronged approach is your only real responsible plan.

And now that you know, so does your client.

Their Vimeo preference notwithstanding.


Greg Jarboe is resident Faculty Chair for Online PR and YouTube Marketing Training at Market Motive, and author of “YouTube and Video  Marketing: An Hour a Day“.

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