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When you think of SEO, you think of Google. Both these terms come hand in hand. Google after all is the biggest and most powerful search engine in the world. YouTube on the other hand is the second biggest, only to its parent company. There are numerous video creators out there, uploading videos about their own expertise or about anything they enjoy. Seriously, they’re too many to count. And with such an amazingly competitive environment, it is very important to rank your videos on top of the YouTube SERPs. But with 500 hours of videos getting uploaded on YouTube every minute, how do you not get lost in the sea of videos? Let’s find out in this section of YouTube Optimization.

What is YouTube SEO?


YouTube SEO is the process of optimizing your videos, playlists, meta-descriptions, descriptions and channels in order to rank higher in YouTube’s SERP for any given query.

A key component to YouTube SEO is improving the power of your video’s text in the form of transcripts, closed captions, and subtitles.

How does YouTube Optimization work?

There is one rule about SEO that remains constant. And that is original and unique content. A well-optimized content gives the search engine the necessary indicators to find and index your YouTube videos.

Google’s bot obviously cannot see the videos and rank them on the basis of likability. These bots use a number of factors such as likes, dislikes, average watch time, screen clicks, and card clicks etc.

Let’s get down to our guide to YouTube Optimization.

1. Keyword Research

If you’re into SEO, you must probably know that keyword research techniques are a must.

The first thing to do is to develop a list of keyword ideas. But, keyword research for YouTube is slightly different than normal SEO for Google.

One of the most effective strategies is to use keyword search suggestions.

You just need to go over to the search bar. Enter any of your brainstormed keywords and YouTube will hand you a list of keywords related to your keywords.

These are the keywords people actually search for. These are decided on the basis of search volume and content.

You can also use Google to figure out keywords.

This is because there are many YouTube keywords that start with ‘how to’. So if you search ‘how to make a chocolate cake’ on YouTube, you’ll see a list of video results and at least a few of them from YouTube.

YouTube Optimization - Keyword Research

And, as per usual you can also use a bunch of Keyword research tools.

2. On-Page Video Optimization

When we talk about On-Page Video Optimization, we mostly talk about Title, Description, Tags and Thumbnail.

If you are a video creator, you must make it a habit to say your keyword. When YouTube sees that you mention your target keyword in the video, they’ll hear it.

YouTube will better understand the video if you’re saying the keyword that your video is optimized around.

  • Title – Video title plays a huge role in ranking the videos. So, make sure your video title is punchy and eye-catching. Avoid keeping the title too wordy, it should just tell the user what the video is about and what’s inside it. So, just make sure that the title is at least five words long and includes the keyword that you want to rank for.
  • Description – Descriptions also are very critical when it comes to ranking videos. It helps YouTube to understand the context of your videos better. This is where you can give in extra information about what your video is about. Some things to remember while writing the description is that it should be at least 250 words long for better understanding. Don’t forget to use your keywords at least 3 -4 times.
  • Tags – Tags are another way of giving context to your video which can help you rank better. It isn’t complicated at all. Make sure you use phrases as well as single keywords as tags. For example, if your video is about Public Speaking, then make sure your tags are such as ‘public’, ‘speaking’, ‘public speaking tips and techniques’ etc.
  • Thumbnails – Thumbnails are the picture you see that represents the video. Hence, it is far more important than the video title in terms of attracting the user to click on your video. You can customize your thumbnail with titles an graphics and make sure that it’s well lit. You must avoid using clashing colors and don’t keep the thumbnail all text.

3. High-retention videos

Google is very careful about how much time people spend on your video, because that’s what keeps users on their website. Therefore, user watch time is very important.

If the viewer watches your video up till the end, then your video has a high-retention capacity. This can be ensured if your content is high quality and engaging.

The result of high retention is often awarded in likes, comments, shares and higher rankings.

So what can you do for higher retention?

  • Plan your videos before creating them – All the creators plan well before recording a video. You need to research and plan about the kind of content that your audience would want to watch. One should know what they’re creating, who’re they creating for and then deliver.
  • Start with a strong statement – You need to grab your audience’s attention in the first 15 seconds so that they get hooked to the video. You need to spark the curiosity in the viewer that makes them stick to the video. Start of by sharing relatable content so that the viewer feels involved. Keep a proposal in front of them that answers their queries that they came searching for, which should be the reason for them to stick around.
  • Ask people to like, share, comment, subscribe – If you won’t say it, they won’t do it. Each of these metrics are really important engagement wise. Say things like, ‘leave a comment below about what more topics you’d like for me to cover’. This will not only give you more insight about your audience but also boost engagement.

4. In-Video Optimization

  • Cards – When you’re watching a video, have you ever seen a small white, circular icon with an ‘i’ in the right upper corner? Those are cards. YouTube cards is an interactive feature that encourages viewers to take actions such as Donate to a Non-Profit, or Answer a Poll, or Discover another YouTube channel etc. Rather than stuffing as many cards as possible, add relevant cards where a user may want to actually want to know about a sub topic.

YouTube Optimization - In-Video Optimization
  • Closed Captions – YouTube reads Closed Captions to better understand the context of the videos. YouTube now automatically creates a transcript file and does a decent job catching most words. But don’t rely completely on them. Either proofread and edit that automated transcript or use a transcription service.
YouTube Optimization - In-Video Optimization
  • End Screens – They’re similar to cards, but the motive is to keep viewers on YouTube platform. This can help you get more subscribers and keep viewers consuming your content.

5. Promote your video

The next 24 hours after uploading the video are the most crucial.

  • Find the best time to publish your video. The best time is when your target audience is watching the videos. You can monitor your peak points by seeing real-time reports.
  • Respond to comments and boost your engagement. Replying to comments gives the people a feeling of involvement and shows that you care.
  • You can also improve a great deal on popularity by promoting your content on social media. If you don’t have an audience then you can answer relative questions and drop a link on Quora, collaborate with other creators.

Final Note

YouTube is not just for famous music videos and game streaming. If a creator is putting in efforts and buying a microphone and a camera and a lighting set up and what not, then they might as well get some results out of it. YouTube Optimization is the need of the hour if you’re not getting any results. The most challenging part of YouTube optimization is engaging your audience.

Take these processes and tips seriously and make it your mantra to entertain, engage and rank!

Also Read – Image Optimization for SEO