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Definitive Guide to YouTube SEO: How to Optimize Videos for Greater Visibility

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If you’re looking to get more out of your YouTube marketing, then you need to optimize your videos for greater visibility. In this definitive guide to YouTube SEO, we’ll show you how to do just that! By following these simple tips and techniques, you’ll be able to improve your rankings on YouTube and attract more viewers. So what are you waiting for? Start optimizing your videos today!

Here’s a quick overview of what we’ll be covering:

– The importance of title tags and descriptions

– How to optimize your video thumbnails

– Using keywords effectively

– Creating transcripts and closed captions

– And much more!

So let’s get started!

Anyone who has ever tried to rank a video on YouTube knows that it’s not as easy as just uploading the video and hoping for the best. YouTube SEO is a process that can help you increase your chances of ranking high in YouTube search results, and there are a few different things you can do to improve your chances.

Related reading: Video marketing guide

Top performing content types for YouTube

YouTube SEO Checklist

YouTube SEO
Definitive Guide to YouTube SEO: How to Optimize Videos for Greater Visibility 1
  • Rename your video file using a target keyword.
  • Insert your keyword naturally in the video title.
  • Optimize your video description.
  • Tag your video with popular keywords that relate to your topic.
  • Categorize your video.
  • Upload a custom thumbnail image for your video’s result link.
  • Use an SRT file to add subtitles & closed captions.
  • Add Cards and End Screens to increase your YouTube channel’s viewership.

Keyword Research For YouTube SEO

One of the most important things you can do is choose keywords wisely. When people search for videos on YouTube, they use keywords. You want to choose keywords that are relevant to your video, but also ones that aren’t too competitive. If you choose keywords that are too competitive, you’ll have a hard time ranking for them. If you choose keywords that aren’t relevant to your video, people will find your video in search results, but they won’t be interested in watching it because it’s not what they’re looking for.

The first step in YouTube SEO is to conclude proper keyword research. Well-done keyword research and deciding on the main keywords to use in the next steps is essential.

Find Most Relevant Keywords On YouTube

  • Search with a keyword in mind on YouTube and look at the search results carefully (these will be the most natural keywords and results you will find) Essentially, your biggest friend when looking for keywords in YouTube itself.
  • Carefully look at how YouTube suggests autocompletion on the keyword you’ve just written. The autocompletion is an excellent indicator of additional ways people search for the topic and might give you insightful ideas.
  • Look at the top video results and analyze the words they use in their titles and descriptions and take notes for your future videos.
  • When analyzing the top results, note that if all search results have a similar keyword in them. In some cases, you might find out that not every video will have the same keyword.
  • It might entail an opportunity for you. For example, if there are only one or two videos that match the keyword you’ve entered and rest are near the topic but not exact. Creating a video that matches the keyword query accurately might rank your video higher than the competition as it would match the users intent the best.
Youtube SEO keyword research
Definitive Guide to YouTube SEO: How to Optimize Videos for Greater Visibility 2

Find Most Relevant Keywords On Google Search

  • While YouTube itself is more effective in finding relevant keywords on the platform, you can expand your research using Google Search.
  • A key benefit when using Google Search for keywords is that you can find keywords which results show videos on their top results.
  • Think it like this: if your video can achieve a high rank on Google Search, that will bring more viewers to your videos. And that is an opportunity you can’t dismiss easily.
  • Depending on the nature of your video, these rankings can essentially become highly valuable for you in the long-term, and it expands your traffic sources to more than YouTube only.
youtube seo relevant keywords
Definitive Guide to YouTube SEO: How to Optimize Videos for Greater Visibility 3

Analyze The Competition On YouTube

  • Competition in YouTube SEO boils down to how hard it will be to rank on these keywords. Going for highly competitive keywords for a new channel is not a good idea, but as you grow, you can start implementing more difficult words to your videos.
  • Your goal is to find keywords that you might have a real chance of ranking high and start building an audience for yourself.
  • Related reading – Competitor analysis
youtube seo competition analysis
Definitive Guide to YouTube SEO: How to Optimize Videos for Greater Visibility 4

Always Answer Search Intent

youtube seo - answer the search intent
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A crucial step in YouTube keyword research is to find out what kind of videos ranks higher on each keyword. 

Type of videos is essential because if your videos don’t match the general search intent of users, it will lead to a lower engagement even if you’d rank high initially.

When doing keyword research, do those searches yourself and see what kind of results you’re getting:

  1. How-to and other guides videos
  2. Listicle videos
  3. Video essays
  4. News video
  5. Educational videos

Realistically speaking, if you want to rank for a specific keyword, you need to create similar content that you can already see ranking.

For example, if you want to create a video called “X” and searching the keyword on YouTube gives you “Y” results, you need to modify either your video or preferably the keyword.

Slight keyword adjustment can improve your search intent matching, so look for it.

The next steps in this guide are about how to use keywords in YouTube SEO after finding the best keywords for yourself.

Optimize Video Titles For Higher SEO Rank And Improved Click-through Rate

youtube seo - optimize video titles
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Another important thing to do is optimize your title and description. Your title should be attention-grabbing and include the main keyword you’re trying to rank for. Your description should give viewers an idea of what your video is about and include any other relevant keywords.

A title has two functions in a Youtube video: Entice a viewer to click on it and tell YouTube that it’s relevant and searchable by users.

To construct the perfect YouTube video title, you need to:

  1. Include your main keyword in the beginning
  1. Have long enough title (Short title with a keyword can look very spammy)
  1. YouTube recommends using 60 characters or less in a title (about five words)
  1. A too-long title will not show entirely in the search listing, and maybe cut off awkwardly, you want to have total control of the visibility of a title.
  1. Have a title that is relevant to the search (always fulfil search intent!)
  1. A good title is also natural and easy to read. For example, a complete sentence is better than just a random arrangement of keywords.
  1. Enticing to click, in the end, you want the viewer to watch your video instead of the others, no matter how high your video is currently ranked.

Optimize Your YouTube Video Descriptions

youtube seo - video description optimization
Definitive Guide to YouTube SEO: How to Optimize Videos for Greater Visibility 7

A description of a video helps YouTube understand what your video is all about. Inserting your relevant keyword naturally within it will make it clear for YouTube that your videos are all about the keyword.

Remember that the full description is not shown immediately to viewers in search results; in fact, it’s roughly 120 characters. It’s crucial to utilize the first 120 characters to explain to your viewer why they should click on your video and include your keyword within the first 120 characters.

Remember to have a clear call-to-action early in your video description, because your viewer will only see the first of three lines of description before a read more button appears. Give a reason to read more and even to click further links.

Add Video Chapters or Timestamps or Key Moments

Optimize Your YouTube Video Tags

Youtube SEO - optimize video tags
Definitive Guide to YouTube SEO: How to Optimize Videos for Greater Visibility 8

Tags give context to your videos and help YouTube understand your content and recommend it to new viewers.

Utilizing your primary keywords and relevant keywords that fit your video topics helps YouTube categorize your video better and recommend it to viewers interested in said topics.

Just make sure the keywords are always as relevant as possible and include long-tail keywords and synonyms that would fit the topic.

How to auto-generate YouTube video tags quickly

Also Use VidQ YouTube seo plugin to find tag of your competitions.

Optimize Your YouTube Channel description

Youtube SEO - optimize channel description
Definitive Guide to YouTube SEO: How to Optimize Videos for Greater Visibility 9

Write a keyword rich description for your youtube channel.

Go to your channel advanced setting and Add channel keywords which best describes the content you post on your channel.

Write a description that covers the most crucial things about your brand, and make it interesting for the viewers. A good description on YouTube can increase your subscriber conversion rate from the viewer engaging with the channel page.

When done correctly, viewers can find your channel featured on top of the first search results on relevant keywords.

Optimize Your Thumbnails

Youtube SEO - thumbnail optimization
Definitive Guide to YouTube SEO: How to Optimize Videos for Greater Visibility 10

A good thumbnail can increase the number of clicks you’ll get, and gaining a higher CTR than your competitors will rank your videos higher than theirs.

The thumbnail in YouTube SEO is the most visible part that you can optimize, making it crucial for standing out from your competitors.

A thumbnail should include the topic of your video. The thumbnail of a YouTube video is your chance to convert viewers into your video directly from all the possible positions YouTube can display your video.

Utilizing Closed Captions

Youtube SEO - closed caption (CC)
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Closed captions offer an almost a hidden opportunity for further optimization. While you can let YouTube automatically create the caption of your videos, they will never be perfect. Adding subtitles or closed captions to your videos is a great way to improve your YouTube SEO. Not only will it help hearing-impaired viewers understand your content, but it will also give you a boost in the search rankings. That’s because YouTube can transcribe your video and use those transcriptions to determine what your video is about.

Optimizing the captions makes sure that everything you say in the video is portrayed perfectly to those who use them.

Add your keywords at the starting of your video captions.

Optional: Optimize Translations

In the bigger picture, translations will not be an essential method to grow your video viewership, as original content in a specific language will probably rank higher. But using translations can make your video ranking easier in other languages.

But for further optimization, it could be worth it, depending on your channel scope and the part of the world it reaches, for example, in countries with more than one dominant language.

Create Video Transcripts

Another great way to optimize your videos for YouTube SEO is to create transcripts. Transcripts are basically a written version of your video’s audio track. They can be helpful for viewers who prefer to read rather than watch videos, and they’re also great for search engines. That’s because transcripts provide another way for YouTube to determine what your video is about.

Optimize Your File Name

Youtube SEO - filename optimization
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It’s an easy step to do before uploading your next YouTube video. For example, just change your file name to your title name (that has the relevant keyword on it!)

For example, changing the original filename of “2020N01C3.mp4” for “what_is_digital_marketing.mp4″

Boosting CTR: YouTube Cards and End screens

Youtube SEO - cards & end screens
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Taking every step to increase the engagement within your video is essential and utilizing cards and end screens to promote your other videos to keep viewers engaged.

End screens and cards can boost your viewers’ ability to binge-watch your content, which is a critical signal for YouTube. That will lead YouTube to promote your video even further to people that are likely to do that.

You can increase engagement with the use of cards, as you can place YouTube cards at the right time when you mention a topic you have created a video already.

Build Links In YouTube SEO

Youtube seo - linking back to your website and other urls
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While you should always link related videos that you published earlier on your new videos, you should try to achieve new backlinks to your channel and videos themselves.

A backlink you gain for a video of yours shows YouTube your authority on the topic of your video.

Building authority is a crucial step in YouTube SEO. Building links for your videos works as a cycle, as the more links you get to your videos, the more it’s seen; therefore, even more, links you’ll get, and cycles repeat itself.

Create Playlists For Your Videos

youtube seo - playlists
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Creating and including old and new videos into playlists is important for the engagement of your viewers, and YouTube ranks them as well. Giving you an alternative method to gain more views with YouTube search results.

On YouTube, viewers can easily find the keyword-heavy playlists, and for viewers searching them, playlists are often a great way to engage with videos.

Increasing Viewer Engagement Is The Core Of YouTube SEO

Viewer engagement is a critical ranking factor for YouTube and, therefore, a crucial step in your YouTube SEO strategy.

Optimizing engagement will not only benefit your ranking, but a side effect is, your viewers will enjoy the content more and get recommended for your new uploads faster.

YouTube likes videos that have the potential to be popular, and user engagements are how it can determine if a video is engaging enough to recommend to similar users.

All the possible ways a viewer can engage with a video includes:

  • Subscribing your channel
  • Clicking on the bell
  • Liking and disliking your video
  • Sharing the video
  • Engaging with cards and end screens
  • Watching your video till the end
  • Commenting
  • Binge-watching more of your uploads

Tips On How To Increase Engagement In YouTube Videos

Give your viewers a reason to engage: Promote discussion in the comment section, or some YouTubers have seen it effective to use a call-to-action like “comment for the algorithm” for showing support for the creator.

Try to answer comments and engage with your audience. Remember to have a new call to -actions within your video to promote commenting, liking, subscribing, and more.

For example, you will need at least 1,000 subscribers to qualify for monetization.

Analyze Data From YouTube Analytics

youtube seo - youtube analytics
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A core method of improving your YouTube videos and their rankings is to utilize YouTube analytics and track key metrics. By analyzing key metrics of YouTube videos, you can more deeply understand how viewers watch your videos, how they found your videos, and how engaged they were in your video..

Improve the following with the collected data:

  • Improve subscriber conversion rate to build an even larger audience
  • Improve content relevancy to top viewers
  • Improve call-to-actions
  • Learn who watches your videos
  • Learn who is likely to subscribe
  • Track your videos rankings
  • Find the keywords people searched to find your videos:
  • These keywords are probably used in your videos, but the point is to research any keyword variation you might have missed earlier. Especially looking through the traffic source report, you will discover new opportunities for videos for the future.

Embed, share & promote your videos

Don’t forget to promote your video once it’s uploaded. You can promote your video on other social media platforms and embed them on your blog or websites.

So there you have it! These are just a few of the many ways you can optimize your videos for YouTube SEO. By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to attracting more viewers and getting higher rankings in the search results. So what are you waiting for? Start optimizing your videos today! Want to learn YouTube marketing? Check our YouTube marketing course

YouTube SEO PDF eBook

Debajyoti Banerjee is the Founder, Director & CEO of Seven Boats - A leading digital marketing agency & digital marketing training institute in India since 2011. He is a Google & LinkedIn Certified Digital Marketer & Trainer, Brand Strategist, Consultant & Entrepreneur. Debajyoti has 17+ years of domain expertise & successful track records in Digital Marketing & emerging technologies. Learn more Schedule an appointment with Debajyoti Banerjee

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