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YouTube SEO: How to Optimize YouTube Videos for Search

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For someone starting as a YouTuber, the most difficult thing is to get views on videos. It can be disheartening to pour out your time, intelligence, and hard work only to see it flop and get lesser viewers than you anticipated. It’s even more challenging when you consider the fact that there are millions of YouTubers out there who might be doing the same thing as you. Somehow, getting noticed may not be that difficult—thanks to YouTube SEO.

One of the biggest reasons why you’re not getting the views you’re expecting is that your videos aren’t optimized to appear on search. Optimized means that your videos are showing up highly on YouTube searches for the topic. Think about the last time you looked for something on a search engine or even on YouTube. Do you check page two or page three of the results? What about all the other pages? These pages might contain relevant videos but the reality is no one ever really goes beyond page one. 

For your videos to get views, you need to optimize them for search. They must show up on top results or recommendations of a certain topic; otherwise, people won’t click on them. To do this, you have to take advantage of YouTube’s algorithm and arm yourself with the necessary SEO knowledge. Since this is a challenging task, getting the help of some YouTube tools can also help ease your workload. Here’s a handy guide on how to optimize your YouTube videos for search. 

What is YouTube SEO? 

Man viewing YouTube on tablet computer
Keyword research, content creation, and video optimization are the essential factors for YouTube marketing.

If you’re interested in optimizing your YouTube videos, one of the most basic concepts you’ll have to learn is YouTube SEO. As we all know, SEO is an ever-changing practice. There’s always something new or something to change if you’re doing search engine optimization. One reason for this is that marketers are continually coming up with new content, which is also designed to optimize, and you need to keep up with your competitors. Another reason is that search engines constantly update and change their algorithms. 

Now, you may ask: what is YouTube video optimization? YouTube SEO is the practice of getting your videos to rank higher in search by designing content that will ensure it. It doesn’t only involve optimizing your video but also arranging and curating your playlist, metadata, and your video description. Your descriptions, transcripts, and close captioning also play a huge role in increasing your SEO rankings. 

Are Google and YouTube Algorithms the Same? 

Analytics software
Google and YouTube are the top 2 search engines on the Internet. But they work differently on rankings and analytics.

You may think that they are, but Google and YouTube Algorithms aren’t the same. This is why you’ll find that Google and YouTube show different top-ranking videos when you search for a particular topic. YouTube usually ranks videos with the highest views at the top, while Google relies on relevant keywords and useful information. When YouTube shows a video to a user, It gives the highest-viewed or highest-rated ones, but not necessarily the most useful content.

Google ranks video content differently. Its primary concern is helping people find what they’re looking for, rather than showing the most popular result. Because of these algorithms, Google’s results will be different from YouTube. It tries to weed out unnecessary and irrelevant content—showing only the most relevant ones. Google doesn’t also show long videos; it prefers quicker and shorter ones. 

YouTube Ranking Signals

Watching YouTube video on tablet computer
To maximize your YouTube SEO, you should know the platform’s ranking factors and optimize them accordingly.

You may wonder: how do I SEO my YouTube videos? You already know what YouTube SEO is and the difference between Google and YouTube’s algorithms. Now, discover the ranking signals that you should optimize to get on top of YouTube search results.  

Video Title 

They say that first impressions are everything, and your video title is the first impression that YouTube’s algorithm will take. It helps a lot if your title contains keywords that are relevant to your video. However, don’t try to be vague or too creative with it. Your title should inform people of what your video is all about at first glance.

It might be tempting to throw in all the keywords you can find on your title, but it isn’t helpful to your optimization. Titles should ideally be short and long ones seldom work well. In some instances, long titles are cut off by browsers or sites, lowering your chances of getting seen on top results. To rank your video higher on YouTube, keep your titles short, relevant, and useful. 

Video Description

Here’s the thing. YouTube’s algorithm works in a certain way and it interacts only with written text. In other words, YouTube doesn’t watch your video to determine your content. The algorithm has to rely on other markers that signify your video’s relevance, such as the video description. After your title, the description informs the viewers of what your video is all about. It’s like a short introduction to your content.

You have greater freedom in making your video description than in writing your title. For one, it doesn’t have to be short. The standard length for video descriptions is 250 to 300 words. With this length, you can easily include all the keywords you want for your content. However, keep in mind that these keywords should be relevant to your video. Don’t throw all the keywords you want just because you can. 

Video Quality

Video quality is an underrated but important ranking signal for YouTube SEO. Go to YouTube and search for a particular topic. You’ll notice that high definition videos rank higher than non-HD ones. Having high-definition videos also improves your viewers’ experience—the days of ‘potato quality’ video are long gone. 

Although the video quality is part of YouTube’s ranking signal, the platform doesn’t directly measure whether your video is in HD. It relies on your viewers’ feedback to determine if your content is any good. If your viewers have negative feedback regarding your video quality, your ranking will get worse. To get started with video creation, read our Fullscreen review. 

Video Tags

Tags are short, two-word descriptions that you choose for your video when you upload them on YouTube. The platform allows you to choose as many or as few tags as you want. They might not seem much, but tags are important in improving your SEO rankings. They help YouTube identify your video along with your title and description. 

Like the ranking signals previously mentioned, your tags should contain the relevant keywords that you want for your video. However, don’t go overboard when selecting your video tags. The rule of thumb is that you should only include ten tags for your content, and make sure that they align with your channel and video keywords.

Channel Keywords

YouTube’s algorithm is heavy on metadata, and keywords are an incredibly useful way to harness this. To add a channel keyword, go to the advanced settings of your Creator Studio that can be found on your YouTube Dashboard. Keywords inform YouTube and your viewers about your channel, so make sure you select them carefully. 

You may ask: how do I optimize my YouTube channel for SEO? Check our comprehensive guide to learn more on how to optimize YouTube channel. 

View Count 

The more views you get, the higher your video will rank on YouTube. And views should come along with good engagement, including shares, likes, comments, and subscribers. However, it just feels like a catch-22 situation. To rank higher on YouTube, you need views. But to get views, you also need to rank higher. If you’re scratching your head at this point, don’t worry. The next section will tackle how to rank your videos on YouTube effectively. 

How To Rank YouTube Videos Fast 

YouTube dashboard on tablet computer
Getting your video recommended on YouTube isn’t an easy feat, but it’s not impossible either if you know the right tips and tricks.

Suppose you’ve already optimized the different ranking signals to rank your videos higher on YouTube. Here are other effective ways to ace your YouTube SEO and make the most of video marketing. 

Make Longer Videos 

YouTube’s game is all about retaining users to spend as much time as possible on the platform. Because of this, YouTube will prioritize longer videos. The idea behind it is simple. The longer the video, the more time a user will spend on YouTube. 

Longer videos are also an advantage for marketers. You can insert more ads on videos that are longer than 10 minutes. If you’re making a video and deciding whether to cut parts of it, remember that YouTube likes long content. However, your video content should be interesting and useful; otherwise, the viewers will ignore it.  

Give It A Good Name

What’s in a name? If you’re into YouTube SEO, words and names mean a lot. As mentioned, video titles tell the viewers all about the video. It’s the first thing that attracts them, aside from your video thumbnails. Unlike the first tip, this time, shorter is better. Short titles are preferred, so long as they’re able to hit all the keywords you want. 

Describe Your Video Well

If video titles are the first impression, your video description is the personality. Your description should capture the attention of YouTube’s algorithm and its viewers. You can do this by describing the content clearly and including the necessary keywords. When you write a description, include all relevant information—something that will inform and tease your viewers at the same time.    

Choose Your Thumbnails Carefully

Thumbnails draw in viewers. They light their curiosity and heighten their interest. If you want YouTube users to watch your video, you need to capture their attention through creative thumbnails. An intriguing thumbnail will attract more viewers than a bland one. This is especially true if your video is highly competitive or belongs to trending topics.

Create Playlists

YouTube loves playlists, as they induce people to spend more time on the platform. When creating playlists, make sure that your videos are related to each other to improve your ranking. Playlists are also a great way to get more channel subscribers, views, and engagements. The more people enjoy your content, the more they’ll follow you and even hit their notification buttons. 

Use Your Social Media 

Cross-promoting on social media channels is proven to be effective for online marketing. Sure, you can focus on one platform and give it your best shot, but audience targeting is better when you’re widely visible. You’ll get more engagements, followers, and potential customers. 

You might not automatically rank high on YouTube, but you can game the system by consistently cross-promoting your video to your other social media accounts. You can do this by posting links on your bio, stories, or simply clicking the share button on your video. On the other hand, influencers can also help with your video promotion. Read our review to get started. 

Make Your Channel Page Comes Alive

Don’t leave your channel blank, it’ll only hurt your chances of optimizing. Make sure to put relevant keywords on your channel and add tags. Upload a professional profile and high-quality banner. Most importantly, incorporate your website and social media links on the channel description to increase your reach and visibility. These factors tell YouTube and its viewers what your channel and videos are all about. So, make sure you know how to create and optimize your business YouTube channel.  

Work on Your Engagements 

Just like views, a higher engagement rate can increase your chances of ranking on top of YouTube search results. Engagements may include likes, shares, comments, and the time spent on the video. YouTube wants to gain more users, so it promotes videos with higher engagement to keep the momentum up.

Useful YouTube SEO Tools

Of course, this guide won’t be complete without giving you the top YouTube SEO tools for your video optimization. Check out the five tools we’ve picked below. 

Google Trends

Google Trends is a tool that shows trending topics. If people are interested in a topic, it’s a good idea to ride the trend and create a video about it. There’s no better way to acquire viewers than making video content that converts. 

Google Ads

Keywords are key to optimizing your videos. If you’re struggling with the right YouTube keyword tool, Google Ads is a good place to start. It has a Keyword Planner tool that fetches tons of keywords based on your seed keyword. It also includes the metrics for each keyword so you can better track your video optimization.


If you’re serious about video optimization, you have to know about the stats. What are your competitor’s stats? What’s the best performing video out there? VidIQ is a handy tool that operates as a browser extension, providing you with the necessary statistics you need for your video ranking.

YouTube Analytics

Aside from analyzing the trends and your competitors’ stats, you also need to look into your channel and find your weak and strong points. YouTube Analytics can help you with this. The tool provides reports about the interactions and patterns of your videos and channel. The best part of it? It’s free and easy to access—just right on your YouTube account.  


As mentioned, user engagement is a great factor in ranking your YouTube videos. Awario is the best tool for this. It tracks your user engagements and offers some strategies to improve your video content’s visibility.

Are you ready to optimize your YouTube videos?

Pros and cons of YouTube
If you want to invest in video marketing, you should know YouTube’s strengths and weaknesses. | Sources: Business2Community & SnobMonkey

At this point, you might still be wondering: does YouTube help with SEO? Yes, it does. Optimizing YouTube videos may sound challenging but with the right tools and directions, you can do it. All you need is dedication, elbow grease, and plenty of research. After all, it’s an investment in your brand and that’s never a bad thing.

To produce high-quality videos, check our post about the “Top 10 Best Video Editing Software for Beginners in 2020.” No need for advanced editing skills, the tools are handy even for non-editors.  

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