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YouTube SEO – How To Rank YouTube Videos

By September 21, 2016June 20th, 2020, SEO

Why is YouTube SEO super important?

YouTube is the second biggest search engine after Google.
It has over a billion users (almost a third of all people on the Internet) and every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours of videos!
By utilizing YouTube you can drive an enormous amount of the traffic to your website, as a matter of fact, most of the traffic to my website is from YouTube.

At this point in time, there is 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute!
This means that you need to put in some extra effort to ensure that your video gets seen.
You may have the best video in the world but without applying any YouTube SEO, your hard-work will be buried under all of the other videos.

YouTube SEO is very similar to Google SEO but much easier.
Below you will learn step-by-step how to rank YouTube videos on the top of YouTube.


YouTube SEO – How To Rank YouTube Videos


    1. 1. Video File Name

Ensure that your video file name includes your keyword before you upload it.
For example, I named my video YouTube SEO – How To Rank YouTube Videos.mp4.

YouTube SEO - File Name

Pro tip: You can upload your YouTube video faster by using Handbrake to reduce the file size without losing quality!


    1. 2. Video Title

Include your keyword in the video title but avoid keyword stuffing.
The video file name and the video title tend to usually be the same.
For example, the video title I used for the video above is YouTube SEO – How To Rank YouTube Videos (Ultimate Guide).

Pro tip: It’s slightly better to include your keyword at the beginning of the title.


    1. 3. Description

What you write in your description is very important.
Just like a blog, you need to include your keyword multiple times within your description.
You should also ensure that your description is at least 250 words long.

Pro tip: Include your keyword within the first sentence and links to your social media accounts at the bottom.


    1. 4. Tags

From my personal experience I have found that adding between 3 to 6 tags works best.

Pro tip: By creating a unique tag for all your videos, you can make them show up as related videos in the sidebar.
For example, I tag all of my videos with

You can also use the most unique tag that the #1 ranking video on YouTube is using so that your video shows up on the sidebar as a related video.

How to view YouTube video tags:
1. Right-click on the grey and select View page source.
2. Press Ctrl+F on your keyboard to bring up the search bar.
3. In the search bar type keywords.
4. On the right, after content=”, you will be able see the keywords that are being used.


    1. 5. Transcript

Adding an accurate Transcript to your video is important for two reasons:
1. You can reach a larger audience because the hearing impaired can also enjoy your video content.
2. Increases your SEO efforts because Google cannot see videos or images but they can see your transcript since it is text.
This will not only help rank your video higher on YouTube but Google as well.

Pro tip: Avoid using YouTube’s auto transcribe feature as it is often inaccurate and therefore does not benefit SEO and may even frustrate your viewers.


    1. 6. Compelling Thumbnail

Use an attractive thumbnail image to make your video stand out from your competition and to encourage people to click on your video and not theirs.

Pro tip: Thumbnails look best in YouTube when they have a resolution of 1280×720.


    1. 7. Video Watch Time

The longer your video is watched, the better it is for SEO as it indicates to YouTube that your video is valuable to their users. Ultimately you want people to watch your video until the very end.

YouTube SEO - Watch Time

Pro tip: At the start of your video, tell your viewers exactly what you are going to be showing them.
For example, at the start of my video I said “In this video I’m going to teach step-by-step how to do YouTube SEO, as well as some pretty neat tricks you can use to help you rank your videos at the top of YouTube”.

You then need to jump right into your content.
People have clicked on to your video to see specific content and they do not want to listen to you ramble on and on.


    1. 8. Subscribes after watching

If a user subscribes to your channel after watching your video, it is a very good indication that you have a great video.

Pro tip: Encourage people to subscribe to your channel by adding a subscribe button at the end of your video or by simply asking them.

For example, at the end of every video I have a subscribe button.

YouTube Subscribe

Alternatively, at the end of the video you could say something like “If you liked this video, don’t forget to subscribe and give it a thumbs up”.


    1. 9. Thumbs Up

The more thumbs up the better.
YouTube SEO - Thumbs Up

Pro tip: Add a little note during the video that tells the viewer to click the Thumbs Up button.
I always add a note to all of my videos that says “Good video so far? Click the like button” as people are not thinking about the Thumbs Up button while watching your video and by reminding them they are more likely to click on it.


    1. 10. Comments

The more user interaction, the better.
This means that your viewers have probably watched your video and liked it.

YouTube - Comments

Pro tip: It’s a good idea to reply to every single comment, not only on your YouTube videos but also the ones on your blog and social media accounts as it increases user engagement and helps you build relationships and loyalty with your viewers.


    1. 11. Shares

The more people that share your video on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter the better.

YouTube - Shares


    1. 12. Favorites

The more people that favorite your video or add it to their “Watch Later” playlist the better because it means that you really had an impact on them.

YouTube - Watch Later


  1. 13. Video Views

The more people that view your video, the higher it ranks.

Pro tip: Views need to be real, do not try to trick YouTube by buying fake views.
YouTube is owned by Google and Google is much smarter than you may think πŸ˜‰

You can give your video views a massive boost by linking to them in Blog Posts, Forums and Q&A sites such as Quora.

Did you find this YouTube SEO guide useful? If so, you may be interested in Google SEO For Beginners.

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Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. I have a strict policy to only promote products I personally use to run my business. If you decide to purchase a product through an affiliate link I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you. This is how I fund the blog – thanks for your support!

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