You know what? YouTube is the first largest search engine for videos and the second-largest search engine in the world. Besides, YouTube is owned by Google, which means YouTube videos appear in Google search results more often than videos from other platforms. So, just as you use SEO for your web pages, you need to use YouTube SEO for your videos as well.

Today, in this post, I’m going to show you EXACTLY how to use YouTube SEO to rank your YouTube videos. In fact, this is the exact YouTube SEO process that I used to grow my YouTube channel. So if you wish to get more subscribers, views, and traffic for your YouTube channel, then you’ll love this new YouTube SEO guide. Let’s dive right into the YouTube SEO guide!

The Queries That Prioritize Video Results on SERP

There are specific queries that prioritize video results over regular organic results on SERP. Here are some examples of those queries.

  • Sports and training queries like power yoga and full-body home workout
  • “How to” queries about instructions and tutorials
  • Reviews and unboxing queries about new products, movies, etc.
  • Entertaining videos queries like funny animals and stand-up comedians

The queries mentioned above are best satisfied with visual content. If you really want to rank for these types of search queries, you have to include video content as a part of your content marketing strategy and follow the best YouTube SEO practices to optimize your YouTube videos for search engines.

The YouTube SEO Ranking Factors

As I said earlier, YouTube operates as a search engine, So, we need to consider the YouTube SEO ranking factors that will help our videos to rank in YouTube SERP. So, here is a list of YouTube SEO ranking factors.


In YouTube, if a user has watched at least 30 seconds of a video, that will be counted as a view. Repeated view from the same user is counted as a new view; however, the same user’s numerous views per day might be considered spam. One more interesting fact is that YouTube’s business is trading views. It buys views from YouTube video makers and sells them to advertisers. That’s why views are essential for ranking on YouTube and it’s one of the important factors in YouTube SEO.


Subscribers are the real people who follow your YouTube channel through their YouTube accounts. Closed YouTube accounts and spam subscribers (artificially gained through third-party services) will not be counted as subscribers by YouTube algorithms.

Audience Retention

Audience retention is a measurement that shows how many people watch your YouTube videos till the end and at what point they stop watching the videos. This is one of the ranking factors that YouTube considers even more important than video clicks and views, so your main goal is to create YouTube videos that make people watch your videos till the end.


Your YouTube videos need to have activities like comments, replies to comments, and new subscribers after publishing a fresh video on your YouTube channel. The more activities your videos have, the better the chances of being ranked by the YouTube search engine.

Video Quality

High-resolution YouTube videos are valued by both YouTube AI and your YouTube audience. So, it’s good to switch to HD format videos; also, several studies prove that quality YouTube videos do get higher ranking positions.

Channel Authority

YouTube provides great monetization possibilities, but it requires a lot of analysis and thoughtful content creation to make a good amount of money on YouTube. When your YouTube channel reaches impressive figures, generally around 100,000 subscribers, you can go for badge verification and make your YouTube channel an official source. This will increase your channel authority and give you more opportunities to make money on YouTube.


The best way to make your videos rank high on YouTube SERP is to make them match a relevant search query. Take your time to analyze what your target audience searches for on YouTube and what is a trend these days. Then create relevant videos accordingly.

So, now, let’s see how to optimize your YouTube videos for YouTube SEO. Let’s check out!

7 Ways to Optimize Your Videos for YouTube SEO

1. Keyword Research

Kick start with keyword research for your videos. Get an idea of what your target audience is interested in and how they refer to the information while searching it on YouTube.

Make Use of YouTube Search Suggest

You have two options to find keywords for your videos with the help of YouTube autocomplete:

Get keywords manually from YouTube’s search bar: Type your selected keywords on the YouTube search bar to see YouTube auto-suggestions in the drop-down list. These queries/keywords are good because they are what people actually type when searching for a video on YouTube.

Use a keyword research tool to check all the keywords for your video at one time: You can use any keyword generating tool to find the relevant keywords that are related to your keyword phrases just as you would find on YouTube. The keyword tool will show you the list of the most popular keywords related to the keywords you have added in the keyword research tool.

Find Keywords for Videos in Google

YouTube has very limiting options for keyword research, so it’s a good idea to look for related keywords in Google. Keywords found on YouTube and Google are not 100% substitutable, but there is some connection in popular search queries.

Check Out Video Results in Google Trends

Google Trends is a great option to use when you’ve already come up with a list of keyword ideas and need to compare them to choose the most popular keywords. To search in Google Trends: Open Google Trends > enter search query > click search > select Web search > choose YouTube search. You can check the keywords’ popularity by using the filters like “Related Queries as Top” (with the most search traffic) and “Rising videos”.

2. Add Video Meta Tags

Video meta tags are the textual and visual information that describes the video to users and search engines. Nowadays, YouTube algorithms can recognize objects in your videos and understand the content, meaning meta tags are no longer as important as earlier. Still, meta tags prevent YouTube algorithms from misinterpreting the content of your video, Meta tags are also what users see first when they come across your video. So, you need to arrange your meta tags in a way to make them appealing, relevant, and clickable.

Add Keywords in the Meta Title

Your video’s meta title reflects the topic of your video. Therefore, the meta title has to include the keyword phrases that you want to rank for. According to the Backlinko study, videos with an exact keyword match in the meta title do rank better. If you want your videos ranked by both Google and YouTube, make sure the meta title fits the 60-character limit to avoid being cut off on result pages. Don’t overhype your video meta title, avoid click-baiting, and ALL-CAPS meta titles.

Add Keywords in the Meta Description

A well-optimized meta description helps viewers to find your videos through search results. In the meta description, add a call-to-action and put related keywords closer to the beginning of the meta description. Because the first two or three lines of your video meta description will show up in the video search results. Although YouTube allows meta descriptions of 5,000 characters long, you don’t need to take up all the space. Contrary to popular opinion, content length doesn’t influence your search rankings. So, only add the necessary information in your video meta description. Also, under the Show more button of the video description, you can hide all of your marketing information, such as your website and social media links, as well as playlists of related videos on your channel. Besides, in the description, you can add relevant #hashtags as well.

Create Captivating Thumbnails

Actually, a thumbnail is the first thing that catches the viewer’s eye. It lets the viewers understand the contents of your YouTube video and decide whether to watch the video or not. While YouTube can generate a selection of thumbnails from your video, uploading a custom thumbnail for your videos is recommended. As per the Creator Academy report, 90% of the best-performing YouTube videos have custom thumbnails.

Optimize Your Video Tags

As per the YouTube statement, tags will be helpful when your main keywords are commonly misspelled. YouTube does not restrict the number of tags, so you can use up to 10-12 relevant tags in your videos, and tags are different from hashtags. In YouTube SEO, tags work similarly to keywords.

Provide Closed Captions

Closed captions (CC) help Google quickly analyze your YouTube videos’ contents as artificial intelligence is more successful in recognizing text over audio. Google can suggest its AI-generated closed captions for your YouTube video. Still, it’s always better to create your own closed captions that will help you avoid any mistakes due to pronunciation issues or poor audio quality. You can use keywords in your closed captions to make your YouTube videos rank in SERP. Closed captions are a written demonstration of a video, so make sure to include relevant keywords throughout your textual script of the video. You can create closed captions for your video manually by simply writing what is said or using tools like 3Play Media or Cielo24 to generate them automatically.

Add Timestamps

Providing timestamps for your long YouTube videos will help you increase Engagement and help users navigate through video sections. Not only that, but timestamps also help Google to index the specific parts of your video as search results for related queries.

 3. Improve Audience Retention

Audience retention is a calculation of the amount of time a viewer spends watching your YouTube video. As YouTube prioritizes long videos (the longer a video is, the more ads YouTube can add to it), you need to make your viewers watch as much of your video as possible by keeping their attention and interest. Backlinko research suggests that longer videos perform better than shorter ones when it comes to audience retention. But, there is no ideal length for a YouTube video to rank; just make sure to give value to viewers and encourage their activities like comments, shares, and likes on your videos.

4. Provoke Engagement

The audience’s engagements with your YouTube videos increase the organic outreach of your videos. Suppose the viewers are active in comments, likes, shares, and willingly click other videos on your YouTube channel. In that case, the YouTube SEO algorithm will start recommending your videos to a broader range of people. To provoke the Engagement, you can do the following things:

You can add a video link in the end screen of your video to encourage more interaction with your YouTube channel. By adding a video link at the end of your video, you can encourage your viewers to watch another video of yours or subscribe to your channel.

At the end of the video, you can ask a direct question for our viewers to provoke conversation. Consider asking your audience’s opinion on a subject you like or disapprove of in your video, or encourage them to ask you any questions they have after watching your video.

Be active in the comment section and show appreciation to your viewers through your comments. People are more willing to interact when they have a feeling of a community. So, show your audience you appreciate their efforts and activities on your YouTube channel, and talk to them, too.

5. Share Your Videos Via Your Own Social Channels

YouTube SEO is important, but it’s not the only way to get traffic to your YouTube videos. According to Hubspot latest report, Facebook is used by 70% of video marketers (YouTube with 87%). In a February 2019 survey, around 50% of US Facebook and Snapchat users replied that they used these social media platforms to watch videos. And, the Covid-19 pandemic has only made this percentage grow; further, that’s why social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram can be the best promoting and advertising platforms for your YouTube videos. The more social channels you share your video to, the better its traffic and Google ranking will be.

6. Build Authority

Brand recognition is one of the most crucial YouTube SEO ranking factors. If a user is offered several seemingly similar search results, the first thing they will check is whether they recognize any of the YouTube channels. So, building a YouTube channel that users can trust and remain consistent will help you brand your YouTube videos.

Here are some practical tips to earn credibility and trust for your YouTube Channel

  • Have a unique and recognizable name for your YouTube channel
  • Add a high-quality logo for your YouTube channel and videos
  • Add links and contact details at the header of your YouTube Channel homepage
  • Create a short trailer about your YouTube channel
  • Be authentic and original in your self-representation on YouTube Channel

7. Monitor The Performance

You must monitor your channel’s YouTube Analytics to improve your YouTube SEO. YouTube Analytics includes metrics such as demographics, traffic sources, engagement stats, search statistics, and many more. A comprehensive report of YouTube Analytics will show the general performance metrics for your videos: traffic sources, impressions, and clicks. Pay attention to click-through rates (CTR). If you optimize your videos well, the CTR will get higher. Also, YouTube Analytics’ engagement report will show you top videos, top playlists, and top elements of the videos on your YouTube channel, so you can compare the YouTube SEO optimization of the top videos to those videos that fall behind. And, the YouTube Analytics’ audience report will help you discover your viewers’ interests and watching habits. Here you will get insights into how to rank YouTube videos for your target audience. By linking your YouTube Analytics to Google Analytics, you can track transactions and conversions on both platforms, also it helps you to better optimize your videos for YouTube SEO.


You may think that the YouTube SEO process is a complicated thing, but it’s actually not. After reading this YouTube SEO guide, I hope you gained a clear understanding of how the YouTube SEO algorithm and Google algorithms work and how to best optimize your videos for YouTube SEO.

Do you have any experience with YouTube SEO? Or Do you have any concerns with the YouTube SEO tips listed in this article? Feel free to share them in the comments!

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