YouTube SEO: Improve Rankings with Video Optimization

youtube seo guide to improve youtube video rankings

Designing online content to rank well in search engine results pages is a constantly evolving process, also known as search engine optimization (SEO). Out of the numerous SEO practices, YouTube search optimization of your content is essential to generate organic traffic and expand your audience, as search is frequently the gatekeeper to your content. Unlike Google, which evaluates rank based on backlinks and other factors, YouTube SEO includes optimizing your playlists, channel, metadata, descriptions, and videos. Thus, making your videos search-engine-friendly inside and outside YouTube is essential.

But is it really that essential?

You may know the fundamentals of SEO for YouTube videos, such as using keywords in the channel name, meta-description, and tags. However, you can improve YouTube SEO by making videos more accessible. As search engine bots cannot view videos, they must be indexed using the accompanying text data. Using text in your video in the form of closed captions, transcripts, and subtitles is an important part of a YouTube SEO strategy as it can improve user experience, watch time, engagement, viewership, and SEO.

Is It Worth Optimizing Videos On YouTube?

benefits of doing youtube seo for videos

With 2 billion users globally, about 500 minutes of content is published every minute, making YouTube the second-largest search engine. There are several eCommerce prospects, with 90% of users finding new companies or goods within the network. 

The foundation of every YouTube success story is engaging content, but it is only the first step. Brands can increase video interactions and online visibility by utilizing SEO strategies. Not only this but it also:

  • Generates new ideas for video content,
  • Has an indirect impact on video engagement metrics,
  • Helps improve website ranking over Google by embedding YouTube videos 
  • Boost paid media statistics.

What Are The YouTube Ranking Factors?

To identify the most relevant results for a query, YouTube's search ranking engine sifts through more than 500 minutes of video uploaded every minute. When prioritizing its search results, YouTube Search gives special consideration to these three factors:

1. Relevance: 

When assessing the relevance, YouTube's ranking optimization system considers numerous criteria. Without going into great detail, YouTube mentions elements, including the video's title, tags, description, and the actual content.

2. Engagement: 

The watch time of a specific video for a given query is one example of the aggregate engagement signals from viewers that YouTube's search algorithm takes into account. According to the business, engagement signals are valuable for assessing relevance.

3. Quality: 

YouTube uses signals to assess quality, which is quite familiar to search marketers. Search marketers can utilize their expertise, authority, and trustworthiness to improve their brand.

4. Personalization: 

In addition, YouTube considers a user's search and viewing history when evaluating relevance for each user. Search results for the same question might vary from user to user rather often. The search and viewing history on YouTube can be erased at any moment, in which case these signals will not be taken into account by the search results.

How Can You Rank Videos On YouTube?

Mixing your SEO and video strategies to boost your marketing is straightforward. By accomplishing this, you'll lengthen your videos, engage your viewers, and advance your YouTube remarketing campaigns. The following YouTube video SEO best practices will help you improve your YouTube SEO to drive more visitors and get more video views:

1. Rename Your Video File Using A Target Keyword

Changing the file name of your video is the first step in YouTube SEO. Before YouTube uploads, ensure the file name corresponds to the video title. Put a hyphen between each word in the file name.

For YouTube SEO, titles are crucial. Two essential purposes of video titles are to increase the visibility of videos in search results and to entice people to watch the video. Create a title that fulfils both goals as effectively as possible. To improve the rating of your video on YouTube and Google, use essential keywords in the title. Additionally, to make the title more searchable, put the YouTube SEO keywords at the start of the title. Writing evocative and appealing video titles should be the aim.

2. Insert Your Keyword Naturally In The Video Title

Using a keyword naturally on youtube video title

Competition for SERP positions grows every month. The top ranks are being competed for by new rivals, products, and services. Therefore, it's critical to discover ways to vary your offering and yourself. Do your YouTube keyword research, and unless you can compete with highly competitive ones, use terms that can generate traffic but are less competitive.

graph showing relation between using exact match title and youtube rankings

You can use keyword research tools for YouTube, PPC or SEO keyword research, such as

  • Free Keyword Tool from WordStream.
  • Google Keyword Tool.
  • SEMrush or Moz.
  • Google searches, related searches, search suggestions, and more!

3. Optimize Your Video Description

One of the most important ranking factors for YouTube SEO is having an intense and structured video summary. YouTube will reassess the video if you modify or update the video description, closed captions, thumbnails, or any other aspect of the video. Getting it correctly the first time is crucial since this might turn out well.

example of a optimized youtube video description

Using your most pertinent keywords in the first few sentences and restricting your description to no more than 200 words are two YouTube recommendations. In general, be specific with your description. If it doesn't help a user, delete it.

  • A natural-language summary of your video rather than just a list of keywords.
  • Usage of the most crucial keywords.
  • Choose one or two key phrases to represent your video, emphasizing the title and description.
  • Find popular keywords and their synonyms using keyword tools 
  • Avoid including unnecessary words in your description 

4. YouTube Hashtags Optimization

Using hashtag on youtube videos

Users may now utilize Youhashtags (#) on social media to look for content that answers their questions across several websites. To make it easier for viewers to locate your video, you may use hashtags in your YouTube videos' names and descriptions in case viewers do specific hashtag searches.

Particularly, SEO tags for YouTube aid in advancing search since they highlight essential patterns. A hashtag will first show above the video's title when it is included in the description before changing into a hyperlink. Remember where you set the hashtags for your videos here as well. If you use a hashtag in the title, it won't appear next to the video's description.

5. Tag Your Video With Popular Keywords

using a keyword as a tag on youtube vidoes

To help people understand your video, YouTube advises using tags. However, you're not only educating your audience; you're also educating YouTube. The purpose of tags, according to Dean, is to help the platform "understand the content and context of your video."

In this manner, YouTube learns how to link your video to other related videos, which can increase the audience for your material. However, pick your tags carefully. Use relevant tags instead of irrelevant ones if you want to boost views; otherwise, Google may punish you. A decent balance of popular and more specific long-tail keywords should be used as the first sentence, just like you did with your description.

6. Categorize Your Video

A video can be categorized after uploading it under "Advanced options." Another strategy for arranging your video on YouTube with relevant content is to choose a category. This will increase the likelihood that more people will see your video in your target audience since it will appear in more playlists.

It might not be as simple as it appears. In reality, selecting each video’s category requires careful consideration. Respond to inquiries like:

  • Who are the leading creators in this genre? What do they excel at, and what are they recognized for?
  • Exist any trends among the viewers of comparable channels within a specific category?
  • Do the videos in a category have anything in common, such as production quality, duration, or format?

7. Upload A Custom Thumbnail Image For Your Video's Result Link

The primary picture visitors see in your video's thumbnail can be shown as you scroll through a list of video results. The content of the video is conveyed through the thumbnail and title, which may influence how many clicks and views your video receives.

Although you may always choose from the auto-generated thumbnail options YouTube provides, we strongly advise creating a personalized thumbnail. According to YouTube, images with a 16:9 aspect ratio and a size of 1280x720 pixels should be utilized. These images should be stored as 2MB or smaller .jpg, .gif, .bmp, or .png files. Following those guidelines might assist in guaranteeing that across all viewing platforms, your thumbnail shows in the same crisp quality.

8. Use An SRT File To Add Subtitles & Closed Captions

Use closed captions and subtitles to navigate YouTube search, which is the final advice. While video subtitles are used to interpret video speech for viewers unable to grasp the video language, closed captions are meant for viewers unable to listen to the audio.

The text of what is stated in the video is included in both closed-caption files and subtitles, much like a transcript. Additionally, the file will consist of timing information for when each passage of text should be shown in the movie so that it can correspond with voice or another visual component. Another benefit of having a transcript for your video is that, similar to a blog, major search engines may find it. You may choose your file and video language on the upload video screen. There are several excellent tutorials available for creating an SRT file for your video.

9. Add Cards And End Screens 

Don't leave anything to chance if your audience wants to take specific action from watching your video. Send them a clear message with a compelling call to action (CTA). It not only helps reduce decision fatigue but also ensures that your audience will behave appropriately and not miss the opportunity.

YouTube Cards:

i button on youtube video
Youtube cards example

Naturally, spoken CTAs are an excellent addition to your material, but you should also take advantage of YouTube’s built-in tools, such as YouTube cards and end screens. Preformatted visual notifications called YouTube cards are positioned in the top-right corner of your video.

YouTube End Screens:

Example of youtube endscreens

Users are encouraged to explore more videos, links, playlists, and other content by the interactive nature of the cards. The cards act as internal and external links and end screens provide you with the chance to keep viewers' attention in the crucial final few seconds before they decide to move on to other information.

10. Create A Playlist About Your Video’s General Topic

adding and organising playlist for youtube viidoes

YouTube playlists are groupings of videos that play one after the other automatically. You may make playlists with your own videos, curate other people's videos, or do both at once. Playlists are often made up of related or comparable videos on a given topic.

Playlists on YouTube help organize your favorite videos for personal use or sharing with others. Playlists are a means for video producers to keep viewers interested for more extended periods and increase the likelihood that their films will be found in the first place.

  • They provide extended watch times.
  • They facilitate discoverability.

By making a playlist out of your current videos, you may target additional keywords as playlists show up in search results independently.

11. Focus On Various Reports To Improve SEO

Monitoring your statistics is the only method to determine whether your YouTube SEO approach is practical. Metrics may show you where your films are succeeding and where they may need some improvement. You may track your progress using the various analytics data provided by YouTube.

Among the various analytics, you may monitor the following, which any YouTuber should be familiar with:

  • As watch time is an excellent sign of engagement, YouTube prioritizes videos and YouTube channel optimization with longer watch durations in their search results.
  • The number of people who view your video after seeing it on their homepage, recommendation area, or trending section 
  • You can make your card CTAs, timing, length, and placement better by looking at the click-through rates for your cards.
  • The estimated number of people who watch your movies over an extended period may be used to gauge engagement and determine the size of your audience.

You can determine which videos receive the most interaction and the elements contributing to their success by tracking these numbers over time. Keep an eye out for what distinguishes these films from those that don't do as well; you may spot trends in the subject, format, duration, or publishing schedule.

12. Optional: Leave A Pinned Comment On Your Own Video

pinned youtube comment example

As a brand, you are welcome to and encouraged to leave comments on your own videos to interact with other commenters and provide viewers with additional content. While adding a comment to your video can seem overkill, it's brilliant. More comments improve your video's ability to rank, but if you play your cards right, they can also increase viewer engagement. Make sure your comment advances the conversation or provides value to the readers.

Now, most of the SEO above advice depends on choosing the correct term and advertising your video. And not all those suggestions can be implemented only through YouTube. Consider using tools like Google Keyword Planner, TubeBuddy, YouTube Studio, and several others to optimize your video for search if you want to get the most out of your cinematography investment.  

call to action image to contact for youtube seo services


Since so many people use YouTube daily, it is a competitive place to publish your work. Even if the level of competition might be discouraging, you must always keep in mind that there are still plenty of strategies to rank better. Using these strategies, you can also enhance your YouTube SEO to increase your channel's profitability and your brand's videos. You can also opt for reliable YouTube marketing services to increase organic views and overall YouTube performance. So, what are you waiting for? Start exploring them to achieve the ultimate result. 


It takes time to execute YouTube SEO. YouTube SEO can take up to twelve months to produce results, whereas most professionals expect results in as little as two months.

The ideal frequency is once every three months, but if your time constraints are too tight, you may consider reviewing your keyword use once every six months.

With the help of SEO, it is possible to develop organically in both Google and YouTube and increase video interaction metrics.

You can use the YouTube keyword ranking checker tool to verify your SEO ranks on Google without counting the results separately.

Jagdish - Digital Marketing Professional


Jagdish Mali
Jagdish Mali is a professional digital marketer (specializing in SEO) with years of expertise in organizing and executing effective marketing campaigns across multiple channels.

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