YouTube SEO: How To Optimize Videos For Ranking

Last updated January 15, 2021

user Written by Nhat Kieu Minh

Despite focusing solely on videos, there is no denying that YouTube SEO is the second-largest SEO market right now. Nothing aside from Google, its parent company, can even come close to the amount of traffic YouTube receives each day. 

If you pay attention, you will see that at least 7/10 search results from a video search are YouTube videos. Obviously, with this dense traffic and a long history, there must be lots of content already available on YouTube. 

So, how can one avoid getting lost in YouTube’s ocean of videos?

Yes, improving your video’s quality is an excellent long-term solution, but it won’t bring any short-time success. The best bet you have to solve this issue is using a solid video SEO strategy. 

After all, search engines crawl mainly through texts, so making good use of tags, titles, descriptions, etc., makes a huge difference.

What Is YouTube SEO?

Before delving into what exactly is YouTube SEO, we must first understand SEO itself as a whole. 

What Is SEO?

Search engine optimization, or SEO as we usually call it, is an ever-changing practice mainly focusing on plotting web content. SEO’s primary goal is always to improve your web page’s ranking factors, thus increasing its rank.

However, have you ever thought about how the search engines rank their lists? All search engines currently use the Google strategy, which utilizes a crawler bot to gather all the content available on the Internet. 

Next, the search engine builds an index from the information the crawler provided, then feeds that index through an algorithm. Here is where all the search engines differ, as each of them uses a different algorithm to determine their lists. That’s the SE of SEO.

Now, we move to the O (optimization) of SEO, with which we all would like to familiarize ourselves. 

A successful SEO campaign is one where your blog post achieves a high rank on the search engine results pages. Naturally, as that name is too long, we often simplify it as SERPs. 

As search is the thing gatekeeping your site’s content, thus optimizing your content to it is vital in finding new traffics and growing subscribers. 

In simpler terms, you must make it so that the search engine algorithm understands to whom your message is aiming at. The search engine’s mission is to recommend a result to someone who explicitly wants something. 

If you make the job easier for the algorithm and YouTube users, your page will certainly rank higher.

There are many ways to optimize your content, but the best way is to follow the target keywords. Aside from this, you can also make your content look more inviting with internal and external links.

How Does YouTube SEO work?

After acquiring YouTube ownership, Google has improved its status to the world’s best video search engine. This success’s main reason is the seamless way Google has incorporated YouTube into its existing search engine.

SEO is important
YouTube SEO is very much like Google SEO.

Thanks to this incorporation, a new video on YouTube will immediately get indexed by the Google crawler. Unlike other websites, the bots can crawl the video immediately, requiring neither wait time nor a video site map.

Of course, you will need to optimize according to Google’s standard given this close link between these search engines. There certainly are some differences, as YouTube’s main focus is entirely different from Google. However, all the leading practices have the same principles.

All in all, you must make sure that the search engine can understand your video content, namely your video description, video thumbnail, video title, etc. Search engine bots are not yet able to properly analyze videos, so they rely on the text accompanying your videos.

Why Is YouTube SEO Important?

As mentioned above, YouTube is now an extension of Google, so all the benefits you get from SEO on Google; you get on YouTube. Here are some specific advantages.

Increase Organic Traffic

There is no denying that organic traffic is a YouTube channel’s most vital element. Yes, you can also get traffic from other social media platforms and paid advertisements. However, all of these cannot compare to the search engine’s organic traffic.

Anyone who has an interest in marketing knows full well that Google, by itself, has a significantly larger proportion of the search market than all of its competitors combined. 

It is not at all an overstatement to say that a huge percentage of people who can access the Internet use Google at least once a day.

This kind of traffic, coupled with the fact that YouTube video results will always be favored, means a huge opportunity. If you can signal to Google that your YouTube videos all have good ranking factors, you can tap into a huge traffic reservoir.

Increase organic traffic for video with Youtube SEO
Increase organic traffic

Keep in mind that any YouTube channel’s most vital goal is to acquire new traffic. Only after someone has watched and liked your videos can they decide on whether or not they should subscribe. Thus, audience retention only comes after audience acquisition.

Increase Trust And Credibility

After letting the crawler know what content you are putting out, you will enter the next phase, in which you will have to compete against countless opponents to rank higher on the list. To put it simply, you have obtained a seller’s permit, and now you must build trust with your customers.

In normal SEO, trust and credibility are important, but YouTube takes this emphasis up a whole new level. Ultimately, you want subscribers, as they will provide your YouTube channel with a steady traffic flow. Thus, if you can improve your brand authority, you have already succeeded.

However, establishing a stable brand requires lots of effort, patience, and commitment. The only way you can do so is through SEO; you can imagine it as an upgrade on a store’s appearance. A tidy and sparkling store is always more appealing than messy ones, don’t you think?

Better User Experience

Back in the day, not many people know about the importance of user experience. All you need to do then is focusing on communicating with the Google algorithm, but things change with time. With the evolution of Google A.I., the algorithm can act just like a standard searcher these days.

As such, Google and YouTube can now interpret an unfavorable to a favorable user experience. With this change, user experience is now among the most critical aspects of any content. Customers know their own goals the best, so there will be a problem if they cannot find them.

More User Engagement

If you come across a messy shop, you will quickly leave after buying, even if it has what you need. On the other hand, if the shop is tidy and the employees seem knowledgeable, you may stop and chat. That is the idea of user engagement.

After the last core update, Google has placed quite a significant emphasis on your content’s interaction. Namely, comments have become a hot commodity, significantly affecting how your content looks in the algorithm.

For this reason, it has become incredibly profitable to engage with people watching your videos. Answering some easy questions can shoot you up the ranks!

The Steps To Optimize Your YouTube Videos

There is quite a lot to do to properly optimize your YouTube channel. To make it easier for you, we have grouped them into steps you can do one at a time.

Keyword Research

Even before making a video, the first thing that you must do is none other than carry out keyword research. Thanks to the widely available tools, you can easily find proper keywords with high search volume. Nonetheless, that is not the end to keyword research.

Hierarchy Of Topics

Some people make the big mistake of going after the broadest topics due to their humongous search volumes. You should never do this, as creating too broad of a YouTube video means there will only be irrelevant audiences. Naturally, doing the opposite means there will not be enough people.

To solve this issue, you must first map out a hierarchy of topics that you can cover. 

For instance, say you want to do some unboxing YouTube videos; “unboxing” will be at the top of this hierarchy. Then, you can add in some famous brands like Google, Samsung, and Apple. That is a simple hierarchy; you can expand it by listing specific models, etc.

There is a small tip that can help you tremendously while picking out ideas for the hierarchy. You can enlist the help of YouTube autosuggest alongside the * (wildcard) operator. Doing so, YouTube will provide you with a list of possible results.

Keyword Generation

After putting together a topic hierarchy, utilize a keyword research tool to see what people are seeking. The keyword obviously needs to be related to the topic list.

In this aspect, there is one thing to keep in mind. Many tools on the market only show you search volumes from Google, not YouTube. As YouTube, being a video search engine, has an entirely different search trend from Google, this method is inadequate.

Therefore, you need to find the tools that can give you good keyword ideas for YouTube. Most tools also give rounded annual search volume estimated averages, so it’s better to check for seasonal or declining trends.

Search Intent Checking

If your content fails to match the searchers’ search intent, it will be dead on arrival. Essentially, YouTube is just another Google, but for videos; it wants to give users the results they want.

A simple example of this statement is the query “apple.” If you search this on YouTube, the results are all about Apple, the electronic company, not apple fruit.

Determining search intent is a vital aspect of keyword researching, but it is quite easy to master. All you have to do is asking yourself this simple question:

“What would someone searching for this keyword want to see?”

For the majority of keywords, you can easily come to an answer. For instance, “Galaxy S9 unboxing” obviously means the user wants to see the unboxing of a Galaxy S9. On the contrary, something like “iPhone apps” can mean just about anything.

Optimize Video Title

We are sure that you are familiar with how SEO titles operate in search engines. They are the first thing you will see after entering a search query, then the URL and meta description. Thus, before people check a web page, they will read the SEO title.

Optimize video title
Optimize video title

In general, SEO titles are there to enchant people, making them click on the link and visit the site. If you did not craft a good title, most people would look past your result, despite its higher rank. 

This fact will directly affect the click-through rate (CTR), which will decide how relevant your content is to the result. For this reason, even if you have a high rank, it will deteriorate over time if nobody is clicking.

Naturally, if you have a lower ranking, but many people click on your content, your rank will surely improve consequently. Hence, we can confidently say that a good SEO site title will always help in improving your rank.

How To Optimize

Despite focusing solely on creating videos, YouTube is still an extension of Google, so it plays by the same rule. In other words, your video title should be able to tell crawlers and visitors what they can expect. However, the video title must do so most concisely and shortly as possible.

This requirement is due to title tag truncation, where Google will cut off SERP’s title. Generally, the cutoff range is somewhere from 50 to 60 characters. The main reason for this unclear number is due to Google’s cutoff being dependent on pixels.

Some people must be thinking about the all-caps title trick that YouTubers have been using for a while. 


Using all caps in your title is now an incredibly poor etiquette of title tag utilization. Honestly, it has been a while since we saw an all-caps title rank in the top 3, famous YouTubers notwithstanding. 

Right now, we have two options for formatting a video title. The first is to capitalize only the first word’s first letter, also called the sentence case method. As for the second, we capitalize every first letter of every word, called the title case method.

Each of these methods can accept some all-caps words if you are big on emphasis. All you need to remember is to never go all-caps, as doing so will only attract the wrong kind of attention.

After you have done your keyword research, determine a keyword that you like. Then, craft your video title according to the guide above; remember to add the keyword somewhere in there.

See more: How to optimize video title? 5 Tips To Nail The Title

Optimize Video Description

Before delving into the “How?”, let us first go through with the “Why?”.

Are you familiar with the “About” pages? There are millions of websites on the Internet, and almost all of them have “About” pages. These pages are there to let Internet users and crawlers know about the site and its main focus.

In the same vein, a YouTube channel description lets viewers know exactly which type of content you will put out. A YouTube SEO video description lets viewers and crawlers understand what that specific video is about.

YouTube descriptions will boost your video SEO, view counts, subscriptions, and watch time if you do it right. There is also a chance of them helping your content to rank on the “suggested search.”

So, how does one craft a good video description? You should click here!

First of all, you need to find some specific keywords, those that can accurately describe your content. Then, add them into the video description; remember to limit to one or two keywords for each video.

Repetition of the keywords let YouTube know that this specific term is quite relevant to the video or channel. Thus, it is best to repeat the keyword two or three times, never more unless you want to be flagged.

To increase this method’s effectiveness, you need to find some complementary keywords and add them to the description. This inclusion will provide both the crawlers and viewers with extra info about your content. 

Of course, you need to keep it as truthful as possible, or else viewers will feel cheated. You don’t want to know how much damage something like this can do to your brand. After you have optimized your video description, check it again.

Using YouTube Tags

Again, YouTube SEO functions according to Google search engine’s rules, hence things like YouTube tags will always be vital.

When you add a tag to a page, that page will be put into the tag’s archive within your site. If you add a tag into a YouTube video, this video will be put into the tag’s archive across YouTube. Do you see the difference? 

Using video tags
Using video tags

Due to this reason, using the YouTube meta tags properly will surely broaden the reach your videos have. Many people will also find out about your YouTube videos, but the condition is you use the tags correctly. If you don’t, there will be penalties, something we won’t like one bit.

Types Of YouTube Tags

There are three unique types of YouTube tags in total; each of them has its specific purpose.

First of all, we have specific tags, which are keyword-oriented, specifically about your video content. With this type of tag, your video will be highlighted alongside the keyword tags. Typically, when you type these tags, YouTube will suggest keywords and phrases.

The compound tags, which never have less than two words, come next. Most of the time, users use them to tag a YouTube video’s whole title. The one thing you must keep in mind is not to include any preposition, such as and, as, or, etc.

Lastly, there are the generic tags, which describe your whole video within one to two words. These can be seen in most videos.

How To Optimize YouTube Tags

The more tags relevant to your video you can add, the better it will be. YouTube does not have a specific restriction on the number of tags, but adding irrelevant ones will hurt your brand. There are some ways to tag smartly.

For example, you can try brand-specific tags. No business does not want their brand to show up on YouTube and Google’s search results. Tagging the brand name with variations can let more people know about your brand.

After determining the tags you want to use, you can narrow them down again. Focus on tags that can let YouTube precisely know what you produce, even if they have less volume.

Get YouTube Watch Time

Before we can talk about improving YouTube Watched Times, we should first understand what it is.

Prior to the legendary 2012 core update, YouTube’s main ranking factor was the total number of views. After that update, Watch Time became the indisputable No. 1 ranking factor.

Learn more: How to get more youtube watch time on youtube?

Watch Time is the sum of time viewers aggregately spend on your videos. Videos that have more Watch Time tend to be more successful.

How To Optimize YouTube Watched Times

Firstly, you can try to create playlists linking your best videos. Creating playlists is the best way to make a potential viewer watch more of your content. Organizing videos into interesting sequences may result in viewers feeling a sense of curiosity toward your content.

If you want to use this method, remember that the YouTube start and end time function can enumerate each video’s ins and outs. Correctly utilizing these can lead to an impressive user experience.

You should also consider getting rid of your videos’ intros and outros. If a viewer sees them one too many times, the repetition may drive him or her to disinterest, consequently, stop watching your videos.

Increase Audience Retention

As its name suggests, audience retention means keeping the audience interested. Yes, it is slightly similar to YouTube Watch Time, but focuses on each video.

YouTube itself has confirmed that if you can keep viewers watching your video, there will be rewards. Nevertheless, the time window they provide is extremely short, within seconds. More specifically, research from YouTube has stated that the first 15 seconds will make or break your video.

Due to this reason, it is always a good idea to start things off using a compelling hook. There are currently three effective types of  hook:

  • Sneak Peek: starting the video off with some appealing moments that would appear later.
  • Preview: letting the viewers vaguely know about your video’s later content.
  • Clearly-Stated Value: letting the viewers know precisely what they will get after watching your content.

Using one of these methods smartly and you will get your audience hooked. However, that is not the end of your task. 

Monitoring The Audience Engagement Report

There is absolutely no point in having millions upon millions of views if your viewers don’t interact with you and your videos. In this department, the YouTube Audience Engagement Report can give you a general idea about your viewers’ quality.

The first thing you need to track is the subscriber report. It records the number of people so enchanted by your content that they don’t want to miss the next one. If you see a significant loss in this chart, there is a high chance that you might go the wrong way with your content.

Next is the likes and dislikes report, which records the number of people who liked or disliked your content over time. This graph’s best use is to reflect the users’ emotional reactions. If there is a huge dislike increase, you should double-check your content.

Add Accurate Closed Captions

There is an automatic transcribe function YouTube offers to every single YouTuber. Nonetheless, this feature is only accurate 70% of the time, resulting in potential embarrassing and incomprehensible captions.

YouTube and Google are prone to penalize spammy content, and one definition of spam is “automatically generated gibberish.” See the connection?

Hence, we recommend never to use the ASR captions YouTube provides. Instead, you can hire someone to do a full transcription of your video and upload that file. Doing so will cancel out any chance of YouTube punishing your entire channel.


The road to successfully performing YouTube SEO is one of hardship, commitment, and sheer luck. Nonetheless, you can always lessen the misery by using legal tricks, as we should never follow the rules blindly.We hope you can now improve your YouTube channel’s rank through this guide without worrying about penalties.


Nhat Kieu Minh linkedin

CEO & Founder of EazyViral

Continuously growing is our main target to become one of the best trustable providers in social networking services.

Oops! We could not locate your form.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *