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YouTube Video SEO: 13 Tips to Skyrocket Your Video Rankings

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

Discover essential YouTube Video SEO tips to skyrocket your channel's performance and visibility.

Understanding the ins and outs of YouTube Video Optimization is crucial.

In this guide, we'll walk you through actionable YouTube SEO tactics that can significantly increase your video views and improve your YouTube search position.

Man optimizing YouTube video SEO settings

YouTube uses several factors to decide the ranking of your video in search results. These factors are similar to what other search engines and social media platforms use.

If you want to improve results by optimizing your videos, here are effective strategies and practices you can use:

Did you know that there are additional factors in your video that impact its visibility and engagement?

These factors can influence your target audience to see and interact with your video.

The key to YouTube Video SEO lies in fine-tuning these factors to maximize your video's exposure and engagement.

Here are some proven strategies and best practices you can use.

Table of Contents

What is YouTube Video SEO?

Discover the power of YouTube SEO, the driving force behind your videos' visibility.

By mastering the art of YouTube Video Optimization, you can ensure that your content reaches a broader audience and resonates with them effectively.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is about ranking web pages on search engines like Google.

But what about YouTube Video SEO?

The way SEO works on YouTube is quite interesting. YouTube's complex algorithm assesses various SEO components to rank your videos and channels. Elements like your video title, description, metadata, tags, thumbnails, viewer retention, and view count all get scrutinized.

The goal here? The algorithm aims to display the top YouTube videos to users, encouraging them to spend more time on the platform.

But here's a fun twist - YouTube isn't the only playing field. Your YouTube videos can also gain traction on search engines like Google. They can pop up in Google's primary search results, video search results, Google Images, and even the Discover tab. Pretty cool, right?

Google Search Options

Source: Google

To put it simply, an effective YouTube Video SEO approach hinges on two core elements:

  • Optimizing YouTube

  • Employing external SEO techniques

Blend these two search engine optimization tactics, and you're on your way to remarkable success with your YouTube Video SEO.

Google YouTube Search Results

Why is YouTube Video SEO important?

Grasping the importance of YouTube SEO can be a game-changer for your content strategy.

It's not just about visibility; it's about securing a spot at the top of the YouTube ranking factors, which can lead to increased engagement and conversion opportunities.

Here are some of the factors you should consider:

Boosts views: By appearing at the top of search results, more users can click on your videos and watch them. You've put in the effort to create them, now let them dazzle!

Increases conversion opportunities: More visibility translates into more views, shares, and engagement, not to mention potential revenue.

Enhances organic website traffic: When your videos feature in online searches, it boosts click-through rates to your website, build brand recognition and loyalty, and drives organic traffic from YouTube.

Cost-efficient: YouTube video SEO won't burn a hole in your pocket. It necessitates your time and maybe some additional effort to acquire the appropriate tools and software (we will disclose our preferred tools later in this blog post).

Provides competitive edge: Ranking high in YouTube (and Google) search results ensure your content is seen before your competitors. This upper hand can help you establish your authority in your industry.

YouTube Channel Example

13 Proven YouTube Video SEO Tactics

Here are 13 proven YouTube Video SEO tactics to boost your videos to the top of search engine results.

#1 - Discover Primary, Secondary, and Long-tail Keywords

Much like Google, YouTube also requires diligent keyword research as a foundational aspect of SEO. Keywords are words and phrases that your audience uses to find content like yours.

YouTube's search bar suggests related keywords as users type, so including different keywords in your video can make it more visible.

Here's how to undertake YouTube keyword research:

Primary Keywords: These are the big players with a high search volume. While they are frequently searched for, they're also more competitive and can be challenging to rank for.

Secondary Keywords: These keywords have a smaller search volume, but with less competition, they might be your pathway to ranking success.

Long-tail Keywords: These are extended and more specific phrases, often connected to your primary and secondary keywords. Suppose your keyword is "boost Instagram post." In that case, a long-tail version could be "boost Instagram post using ads manager."

And guess what? You don't need additional tools for this.

The keyword research tools you use for external SEO, like SEMRush, Ahrefs, and Google Keyword Planner, are suitable here.

#2 - Enhance your keyword research using the YouTube search bar

Captions help people understand and enjoy content better. They also have important words that make it easier to find. Use YouTube search to find more words to improve your keyword plan.

If popular videos are old, it's a chance for you to make new videos on the same topics and attract viewers.

Moreover, keep an eye on comparing the size of competitors' YouTube channels and the views their videos garner.

If smaller channels are generating high traffic, it could indicate that the keyword is trending and worth your attention.

#3 - Strategically Incorporate Keywords into Your Videos

Armed with your target keywords, it's time to embed them into your video. These keywords should find a place in the following sections:

  • File name

  • Video title

  • Video description

  • Tags

  • Title cards & overlays

  • Video chapters

  • Within the video script

Google recommends placing your target keyword at the beginning of the title, description, and tags for better results.

Also, consider blending long-tail keywords, synonyms, or related terms when crafting descriptions and adding tags.

As in any SEO approach, avoid keyword stuffing.

YouTube SEO aims to make your content more accessible to viewers and comprehensible for YouTube's algorithm. Overusing your keywords might confuse your audience or, worse still, lead to penalties from YouTube and Google.

#4 - Leverage Captions

Captions play a pivotal role in enhancing social media accessibility. Besides benefiting viewers with hearing impairments, they provide context and fill any audio gaps that viewers might overlook.

Most people, around 80%, are more likely to watch videos with captions, according to a survey by Verizon Media.

In addition to enhancing accessibility and user experience, captions provide a golden opportunity to include crucial keywords that can readily be identified.

You have the option to manually include captions by uploading either a text transcript or a timed subtitles document. YouTube also provides an option to enter transcript text directly, enabling the subtitles and timings to sync seamlessly with your video.

Adding keywords to your script is the best strategy to ensure you are included in captions.

Sometimes, YouTube's speech recognition technology may generate automatic captions once you upload your video. However, we recommend not relying solely on this feature as automated captions tend to lack the accuracy of manually created ones.

#5 Use Cards and End Screens

YouTube cards are interactive pop-ups you often see within videos, prompting you to watch more videos or subscribe. They're excellent for maintaining viewer engagement and driving traffic to related videos.

End screens function similarly to cards but appear during a video's final 5-20 seconds. They provide an opportunity to promote other videos, stimulate subscriptions, or guide users toward your most viewed playlists.

From an SEO perspective, cards and end screens sustain viewer interaction with your content. In contrast, the precise mechanics behind YouTube's video ranking system remain partly unclear. It is thought that video performance has a role to play. Therefore, the more you manage to captivate your audience with your content, the more enhanced your YouTube SEO outcome will be.

#6 Incorporate Timestamps into Your Video

Timestamps serve as markers, informing about the crucial segments within your video. This allows YouTube to grasp the context of your content more comprehensively, bolstering your YouTube SEO ranking in the process.

In Google search results, timestamps appear beneath video search results in a "key moments" section.

Suppose a user searches for a specific phrase, and Google identifies that phrase as a timestamp. In that case, Google will direct the user to the exact portion of your video that contains the relevant information.

I recommend adding timestamps, also known as chapters, to both your video description and the video itself. This facilitates smoother navigation for your viewers, making it easier for them to interact with your content.

#7 Leverage Categories

YouTube employs categories to cluster videos into overarching topics such as "Sports" or "Technology."

This facilitates the discovery of related content and enables YouTube to identify channels producing high-quality content within those categories.

Choosing the correct category for each video you upload provides YouTube with a clear indication of your video's subject matter. This information assists YouTube in deciding whether your video should be displayed in search results for specific topics.

#8 Add Custom Thumbnails

It is crucial to think about how your content looks in search results. This can significantly affect whether viewers decide to click on your video. Your YouTube titles should be clear and informative, and your thumbnails should stand out and attract attention among many videos.

The attractiveness of your thumbnails has a significant impact on the number of viewers and clicks your video receives. This, in turn, affects the SEO of your YouTube video.

If you own a verified account, we recommend designing custom thumbnails rather than depending on YouTube's automatically generated alternatives. YouTube suggests that:

  • In addition to being interactive in your titles and descriptions, hashtags on YouTube can also be used for conducting targeted searches. According to a survey conducted by Verizon Media, 80% of individuals are inclined to watch videos when they have captions available.

  • Thumbnails must be 1280x720 resolution (with a minimum width of 640 pixels) and can be uploaded as JPG, GIF, or PNG image formats.

  • Their size should be less than 2MB for videos or 10MB for podcasts.

#9 Integrate Videos into Your Blog

Cross-promotion is as important on YouTube as on any other social media platform.

This strategy, of course, assumes you already maintain an active blog.

When embedding videos into blogs, ensure that all videos are pertinent to the URL and keywords to which they are linked.

#10 Implement Hashtags

Hashtags significantly enhance the discoverability of your YouTube content. In addition to being interactive, hashtags in your titles and descriptions on YouTube allow you to search for specific hashtags.

Your YouTube titles should be clear and informative, and your thumbnails should stand out and attract attention among many videos. When picking hashtags for YouTube Video SEO, choose relevant keywords for your content and include your brand name if it's applicable.

Including multiple hashtags in YouTube, descriptions are also advantageous, but be careful not to overuse them. YouTube's algorithm views overindulgence in hashtags as spammy behavior.

Example of hashtags

#11 Curate Playlists

With YouTube functioning as a vast repository of video content, arranging your videos into playlists optimized with relevant keywords is critical. This assists YouTube in comprehending the subject matter your channel encompasses and allows viewers to navigate your content more effortlessly.

If you make a playlist called "Business Central Tutorials," make sure it only has videos about business and not unrelated topics. It might seem like a no-brainer, but it's an error often committed.

#12 Maintain Consistent Uploads and Edits

Maintaining a regular schedule for uploading and editing videos demonstrates to YouTube's algorithm that you are an engaged user. This can be achieved by consistently uploading and editing videos at specific times. By doing so, you are signaling to the algorithm that you are actively participating on the platform. This can potentially improve your visibility and reach on YouTube.

To boost the visibility of an older video, make changes to its title, description, tags, or thumbnail image. These modifications will assist YouTube's algorithm in rediscovering it.

It's worth noting that YouTube only allows a one-time cut or edit of a segment from an existing video. Try to make your content timeless by avoiding specific years in your script to prevent it from becoming outdated.

#13 Double Ranking Isn't a Problem

YouTube SEO differs from Google SEO because you can use the same keyword multiple times without problems.

Moreover, YouTube videos aren't evaluated the same way as web pages. So, you won't face any penalties if multiple videos appear for the same keyword on Google.

Useful YouTube SEO Tools

Many YouTube SEO tools are available now to help optimize your channel, analyze video performance, track keyword rankings, and more.

Allow me to introduce you to some of those:

#1 SEMRush

SEMRush's Keyword Overview tool is great for finding SEO content ideas on Google and getting inspiration for your YouTube channel. It offers detailed keyword information, such as monthly search volume, competition levels, and SERP positioning. It also creates a long list of related keywords from similar searches, which can help you expand your content topics.

Most crucially, SEMRush reveals which keywords yield video-rich results on Google. Keywords are useful for YouTube videos. They can help your video appear on a Google search page. This means that your video will not only be found in the Video tab.

It's important to note that all keyword research tools extract data from search engines (excluding YouTube). However, from our experience, this data also generally applies to YouTube.

#2 Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a similarly valuable tool for conducting keyword research, offering similar data and considerations as SEMRush.

One notable feature is that entering a YouTube URL into Ahrefs provides you with keyword data specific to YouTube. This includes the keywords your YouTube video is currently ranking for and any other YouTube videos that link to it.

#3 YouTube Analytics

YouTube Analytics is YouTube's built-in keyword research platform. It gives you insights into the search terms used on YouTube and identifies potential content gaps.

This tool shows what people search for on YouTube and how popular each keyword is.

Additionally, it gives access to location data, device data, data on card interactions, subtitle usage, and more.

#4 Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a great tool for YouTube SEO. Google Search Console is a useful tool for optimizing YouTube videos. It allows you to track the performance of your videos on Google Search. This is especially helpful when your videos are embedded in blog posts or web pages.

This tool helps you view YouTube impressions, clicks, and other SERP data. It also provides information on search queries, rank position, and video title/description updates.

Additionally, it informs you whether your embedded videos are being indexed successfully.


In conclusion, leveraging YouTube Video SEO is an ongoing process that can yield substantial rewards. By implementing these strategies and keeping up with the latest YouTube algorithm updates, you're setting your channel up for success.

Remember, YouTube SEO is about connecting with your audience through strategic optimization and compelling content. Start optimizing today and watch your YouTube presence flourish.

If you need additional help, then contact me at

About the Author

Jon Rivers, co-founder of Marketeery, has extensive experience with Microsoft, Oracle/JDE Edwards, MSPs, Technology Partners, and ISVs. He has been able to utilize this experience to enhance business growth and increase revenues for over 20 years.

Jon has been recognized as a partner community pioneer for his proven social media marketing skills. He deeply studies social media messages and how they bring people to the website and get them interested.

​He loves to write engaging content and works closely with our graphic designers to ensure the design elements stand out.

Jon also authors the following eBooks:

His knowledge in technology and sales helps him grasp solutions quickly and improve marketing campaigns effectively.

Jon speaks often at Microsoft events and technology events. He is also on multiple boards, including the Microsoft Directions North America Board.


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