YouTube SEO Guide: Top 10 Tips to Rank Your Videos on YouTube
November 2, 2020
Ranking videos on YouTube has become an important marketing tool in the hands of successful companies. It helps you get views, builds brand awareness, and drives audience engagement.
In this blog, we have covered ten valuable YouTube SEO tips and all aspects of YouTube search engine optimization that you should familiarize yourself with to rank your videos on the platform.
But before we begin, let’s take a step back and look at what YouTube SEO is and how YouTube’s search engine algorithm works.
YouTube SEO Meaning: What is YouTube SEO?
YouTube SEO refers to the process of optimizing your YouTube channel, playlists, and videos. Its primary goal is to rank your videos for search queries or keywords on YouTube’s organic search results. Its secondary goal is to get your video featured on YouTube’s ‘related videos’ suggestions.
How YouTube Search Works
According to YouTube, its discovery and search algorithm works in the following ways:
Videos are ranked based on a variety of factors, including how well the title, description, and video content match the viewer’s query. Beyond that, we look at which videos have driven the most engagement for a query, and make sure it’s easy for viewers to find those.
This shows that hacking YouTube search has two key ingredients:
- Matching the user’s search query: If you want to rank on page one of a YouTube search result, your video should accurately match the user’s search intent. The more your video matches the user’s search query, the higher your video’s chances of ranking on YouTube. To achieve this, your video content, title, descriptions, etc. needs to be keyword optimized.
- Making engaging and relevant video content: Another critical element to perfecting YouTube SEO is driving engagement to your YouTube videos. To achieve this, you need to understand what your audience wants. This means that using the right keywords is not enough. Viewers may click on your video, but if it isn’t relevant to them, they will move on to the next best thing. YouTube’s algorithm will pick this up, and you won’t make it to the first page of a YouTube search result.
Now that you have an idea of what YouTube SEO is and how its algorithm works, we will teach you how to conduct YouTube SEO optimization to maximize views on your video collateral.
We have outlined ten valuable YouTube SEO tips below to help you rank your videos on this search engine platform. Read on.
Tip 1: Research relevant keywords for YouTube
What makes YouTube keyword research incredibly difficult is the absence of an official keyword research tool for YouTube. Most marketers have started picking up random keywords from Google Keyword Planner, hoping to replicate the same technique for YouTube.
Unfortunately, YouTube works differently.
Here a four YouTube SEO hacks to help you find keywords for this video platform :
- Use YouTube Suggest
- Use Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer
- Use Neil Patel’s UberSuggest Tool
- Use Google’s Search Results
Use YouTube Suggest
Given its simplicity in generating keyword ideas, YouTube Suggest can be designated as one of the most user-friendly and easy-to-use YouTube SEO tools.
YouTube Suggest works on a similar principle as Google Suggest. You have to enter your primary keyword into the search bar. Just like Google, YouTube will throw up a list of relevant queries that contain your keyword. This will give you long-form keyword ideas for YouTube.
Additionally, you can also attach the asterisk sign as a prefix right before your primary keyword to find top trending YouTube searches that have your keyword in it.
Use Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer:
Ahrefs is a leading SEO tool for marketers. It is also one of the best youtube keyword research tools you will find online. The beauty of this tool lies in the massive database it holds. All you have to do is enter your keyword on ahref’s keyword explorer to access five keyword idea reports for country-specific search volumes, clicks data, and global search volumes.
You can also use VidIQ or TubeBuddy chrome extension for bulk keyword analysis within Ahrefs.
Here’s how it works:
- Add the VidIQ or TubeBuddy extension on your google chrome browser.
- After you complete this step, go to YouTube and enter your search query.
- After you enter your search term, look to the top right sidebar.
- If you’ve installed the VidIQ extension, click on the ‘related queries’ section.
- If you’ve installed the TubeBuddy extension, click on the ‘most used tags’ section.
- Now select and copy all the relevant keywords as shown by these extensions and paste it on Ahrefs’ keyword explorer.
- Ahrefs will sort through the list and show you all the keywords you have entered alongside their YouTube search volume.
- You can now target relevant keywords with a high YouTube search volume, as shown by the tool!
Use Neil Patel’s UberSuggest Tool
Given that there are no official YouTube keyword research tools available online, it makes sense to explore all possible avenues for researching keywords for YouTube search engine optimization.
Neil Patel’s UberSuggest is a great place to look for both keywords and the monthly keyword volume of each keyword. Here’s how you can use this tool:
- Go to Neil Patel’s UberSuggest tool on his website.
- Enter your primary keyword on the keyword search bar and click enter.
- After this step, click on Keyword Ideas in the left bar.
- With this, UberSuggest will show you a list of related keywords with an exhaustive detail of each keyword’s monthly search engine volume on Google.
- Once you have this data, you can make a list of the top keywords to prioritize for YouTube SEO.
Use Google’s Search Results
When you type in your query on Google’s search box, you will often see video results for your search query. This means that Google is relevant for companies with a YouTube presence as Google presents them with the opportunity to feature on its SERPs.
This also means that your YouTube video has a good chance of attracting traffic directly from Google’s SERPs. In other words, you should optimize your video content for both YouTube and Google.
This way, you will get organic search traffic from both these search engines. Two is better than one, and that Google supports video results is a lovely testament to this.
Additional Read: YouTube SEO Tools for Best Video SEO Practices
Tip 2: Edit your YouTube videos strategically
Now that you know what keywords to target and how to source them, it is time that you move on to step 2 and edit your YouTube videos for maximum impact.
Here are some YouTube SEO tricks to help you make well-edited SEO YouTube videos:
- Add jump cuts to your videos: Jump cuts show a transition between two video shots. They remove the need to re-shoot an entire video and are generally used by YouTubers to conceal video mistakes and make them look presentable. We encourage you to use jump cuts in your videos to cut through the monotony and make them look more dynamic.
- Add visual effects to steer audience attention: Are there parts in your YouTube video where you want your viewers to pay extra attention? If the answer is yes, use visual aids. You can use text screens, custom animations, shapes, and objects to illustrate your point better and divert your viewer’s attention to key focus areas in your video.
Tip 3: Select the ideal length for your YouTube Video
According to Backlinko, videos that appear on the first page of a YouTube search result are typically 14 minutes and 50 seconds long on average.
What this suggests is that the length of your YouTube video is a potential ranking factor. Given how YouTube’s algorithm favors videos with a high retention rate for ranking, it is safe to say that the more you optimize your video length, the better your retention rate will be.
However, it is important that you don’t take this statistic at face value as the viewer retention rate of your video depends on your video niche and the interest of your target audience.
For example, you might have noticed that most makeup tutorial videos are over 30 minutes long. Despite the video length, they get likes, shares, subscribers, and comments. Similarly, TV episodes and movies on the platform also enjoy a high retention rate despite being over 1 hour long.
Taking all this into account, we can say that ‘14 minutes and 50 seconds’ may not be the ideal video length for your niche. We can further infer that the ideal length of a video content will vary from niche to niche.
Here are some YouTube SEO tricks to help you choose the ideal video length for your YouTube channel:
- Conduct independent research of the videos in your niche.
- Compile a list of search terms to see what your competitors are doing.
- Analyze the video length of the top-rated videos on YouTube for your niche.
- Scout through the comments to identify potential gaps and growth opportunities.
- Make a note of your observations and decide the ideal video length for your videos accordingly.
Tip 4: Optimize your YouTube Video Title, Description, and Tags
Optimizing your YouTube video for SEO demands that you add relevant keywords to the YouTube video title, descriptions, and tags. Here are some YouTube SEO hacks you should follow to optimize them:
- Use your focus keyword in the title: Use your primary keyword in your YouTube video title. Focus on long-tail keywords and stick to YouTube’s prescribed 60 characters limit. If possible, choose long-tail keywords that have your primary keyword in the beginning. Lastly, but most importantly, make sure that your title is concise and helpful. Remember that your YouTube video title should be click-worthy as it attracts viewers.
- Optimize your video description using keywords: The key to optimizing your video description is easy. You have to strategically place primary, secondary, and related keywords in the video description. This will optimize your video for searchability on YouTube. As a result, your video will appear in search results, and your views will go up. To further optimize your video descriptions, look for keywords that are common to the top 10 video descriptions for your target search term. After you do this, use them strategically in your video description.
- Choose 5-10 relevant tags: Tags help you give context to your video. The goal here is to use tags that are most relevant in your video content. Use LSI keywords that most resonate with your focus keyword and add them as tags. Additionally, you can browse through competitor videos to look for common tags. At the end, compile a list of 10 most relevant tags and incorporate them in your YouTube videos. Make sure that you don’t use more than ten tags per video.
Tip 5: Conduct in-video optimizations
Would you like to optimize your YouTube video content for better user experience? If the answer is ‘yes’, here are some tips that can help:
- Add transcripts to your video content.
- Choose a card or cards that best suits your video goals.
- Optimize your end screens.
Add transcripts to your video content and translate them
So far, we have discussed how you can improve the searchability of your video content on YouTube. While that can help you feature on the glossy first page of a YouTube search result, it does not guarantee viewer retention.
To retain your audience, your video needs to create a good user experience. Additionally, it needs to be supportive and engaging. While we can’t help you with the latter, we can help you optimize your videos for better UX. Here’s what you can do:
- Add transcripts to your YouTube videos: Adding transcripts to your YouTube videos is a critical YouTube SEO practice. The algorithm analyzes your transcripts and ranks your video accordingly. Moreover, transcripts help YouTube understand the context of your videos.
- Translate your video transcripts into multiple languages: YouTube allows you to upload foreign language translations in the same time-stamped format of your transcript. Additionally, you can provide more than one language translation and upload it. When you do this, your users can watch the video in their preferred language. It also helps you target a wider audience base and allows you to rank for keywords in foreign languages. Isn’t this neat?
Choose a card or card(s) that best suits your video content
YouTube cards are a feature offered by YouTube. These cards can appear as a square box at any point in your video. It can include outside links, images, and playlists too!
You can add up to five cards in any of your video content. These are:
- Video or Playlist Card: Using this card, you can promote your video content.
- Channel Card: Using this card, you can endorse your channel or another channel.
- Donation Card: This card allows you to promote a nonprofit or cause of your choice.
- Poll Card: With this card, you can encourage viewers to engage in a multiple-choice poll.
- Link Card: Using this card, you can link to an approved website outside of YouTube.
Using YouTube cards, you can drive actionable results from your YouTube video as it makes the entire video experience more interactive for your viewers.
To add a YouTube card, follow these steps:
- Go to YouTube Studio → Click on videos Tab → Click on Edit.
- Click the “Cards” option on the video page.
- On the page that appears, click on the ‘Add Card’ button.
- You will see a drop down menu of options.
- Choose a card (video or playlist, channel, donation, poll, link).
- Click on the ‘Create’ button.
- Select the time code at which you want the video to appear.
Here’s an example of what your screen will look like at the time of selecting the card:
Optimize your YouTube video end screen
A YouTube video end screen refers to the last screen of your video. What you display here matters. The purpose of an end screen is to provide your user with a call to action. Its other functionality includes keeping the viewer on your video for a longer duration.
Here are some ideas for your end screen display:
- Add a subscribe button: You can ask your viewers to subscribe to your YouTube channel. You can also get creative here and ask them to subscribe for email newsletters.
- Add a suggested video: If your viewers have made it to the end screen of your YouTube video, it means that they have enjoyed watching your video. Why not prompt them to watch other videos from your channel by suggesting to them what to watch next.
Here’s what the end screen of Ahrefs’ YouTube video looks like:
Backlinko’s analysis of some 1.3 million videos on YouTube shows that the number of videos, shares, and comments received by a video has a strong correlation with higher YouTube rankings. This means that when you receive more shares, likes, and comments on your video, your ranking chances go up.
Creating good engaging videos that resonate with your target audience is key to attracting voluntary views, shares, comments, and channel subscribers for your YouTube videos.
If you are like most people, you probably want this to happen organically. But that does not mean that you should wait for good things to happen. You will not get likes, comments, shares, and channel subscribers overnight. Sometimes, you need to take charge and encourage your viewers to take action, especially if you have recently started a YouTube channel.
Here’s how you can do this delicately without coming across as too eager:
- End your YouTube videos with a Call To Action (CTA): You might have noticed that a lot of YouTubers ask their viewers to like, share, comment, and subscribe. It would help if you did this too. But while you’re at it, make sure that your video is both informative and engaging as this will encourage your viewers to take action on their own. If your viewers make it to the end of your video, it is likely that your audience will like your video, if nothing else. Asking them to take action will steer your audience in the right direction.
Tip 7: Promote your YouTube videos to your existing audience to drive engagement
Making YouTube videos and optimizing them is not enough. You need to engage in promotions to scale your views and video visibility. Here’s what you can do to drive video engagements:
- Promote your YouTube video in newsletters: Your email subscribers are a perfect audience for your YouTube videos because they have voluntarily subscribed to your emails. Make use of this opportunity and send a newsletter to all your email subscribers informing them of your latest video update within the first 48 hours of uploading it.
- Promote your YouTube video on social media: Another way to attract traffic from your existing audience is through social media. Since people on social media have a short attention span, it makes sense to make short teaser videos of your YouTube video and upload it on social media platforms with a link to your YouTube video.
- Embed your YouTube video on your blog posts: Blog posts are a great way to share information and build organic traffic to your website. But why stop at that. Most of us have already started engaging in the practice of embedding relevant YouTube videos to our blogs. So in case you run a blog and a YouTube channel simultaneously, you can consider embedding your YouTube video in a blog post that talks about the same topic.
Tip 8: Promote your videos to non-followers and non-subscribers
In the previous section, we discussed how you can promote videos to your existing audience. But that does not mean that you should stop at the audience you already have.
Here are some ways you get non-followers and non-subscribers to watch your videos:
- Embed your YouTube videos on Quora answers: Quora is a popular question and answers platform and a perfect place for building brand awareness. You can look for trending questions in your niche on Quora, answer them correctly, and embed your YouTube videos in your Quora answer with a link to your YouTube video. People who find your answer helpful are likely to watch the embedded YouTube video.
Additional Read: How does Quora Marketing generate leads and engagement?
- Pay for YouTube ads: Advertisements are a great way to reach out to a new audience. You can target people on the platform based on keywords, interest, and target audience.
- Collaborate with YouTubers: A good way to reach out to your target audience is through YouTube collaborations with YouTubers from a similar niche. But while you’re at it, collaborate with only those people you’re not directly competing with. Post collaboration, create videos for each other’s channels and recommend your audience to each other’s channel.
Tip 9: Optimize your YouTube videos for session watch time
Session watch time refers to the total time spent by a user on a YouTube video without leaving the platform. Optimizing your YouTube videos for session watch time refers to executing certain practices and tricks to keep your audience on your YouTube videos for a long time.
Session Watch Time Optimization is an important ranking factor. It is an aspect of YouTube SEO. Here are some ways you can optimize your videos for a longer session watch time:
- Give bonus tips after a prescribed time interval: To increase the session watch time of your video, your audience needs to find value in your video content. Adding bonus tips after every 5, 10, or 15 minutes can help you keep the video fresh and relevant for your viewers. Just make sure that you talk about this in the beginning of your video so that your audience knows that they have something to look forward to throughout the video!
- Give out freebies but don’t announce when: To optimize your video’s session watch time, give out freebies but keep the announcement timings discreet. If your audience knows that you’re giving a freebie at the end of your video, they’ll simply fast forward to the end. You do not want that. On the contrary, if your audience knows that they will get a freebie but don’t know when, chances are that they will watch your video with unwavering attention! This might not work for everyone but it sure is a tactic worth exploring.
Tip 10: Conduct a post video publication analysis and optimization
You have published your video, optimized it for YouTube SEO, and promoted it across all possible social media channels and other platforms. Now what?
Now you sit back, wait a few months, and track the performance of your YouTube video. Here are two ways to achieve this:
- Analyze your audience retention graphs
- Check if you satisfied search intent
We will now look at these closely.
Analyze your audience retention graphs
Whether your YouTube SEO practice was a success or not can be gauged by how short or long a time your audience spends on watching your video. You should know the answers to the following questions as it can help you make better and more optimized videos for your YouTube channel in the future:
- Has your audience watched the whole video or did they skim through it?
- Did they spend just a handful of seconds before moving on to the next best video on YouTube?
- If they watched your video in entirety, what made them stay?
- If they left your video immediately after clicking on it, what did not connect with them?
Analyzing the Audience Retention Graph can present you with the answers to these questions. To get your hands on this data, follow the steps we have outlined below:
- Click on Analytics on the left sidebar on your YouTube dashboard.
- Select a video you want to analyze.
- After you choose a video, YouTube will present an Audience Retention Graph.
This graph shows you the average view duration and video percentage viewed by your users. It also shows you the maximum engagement point in a video and also showcases strong drop off points. You can use this data to create more engaging videos in the future.
An analysis of the combined data presented by the Audience Retention Graph will also help you get a better sense of the questions we have shown above, and give you a fair idea of what you should and shouldn’t do in your next video.
Check if you have satisfied your user’s search intent
What makes YouTube truly special is that it shows the average video duration for all the keywords you have ranked for. Here’s what you should do:
- Click on YouTube Studio > Select the video you want to analyze > Click on Analytics
- When you click on Analytics, YouTube will show you a table.
- This table will illustrate the traffic source for that video, total views received in terms of volume and % for different keywords, average view duration, and average percentage viewed.
- This data will give you a clear idea of which keyword has generated a high average view duration.
- It will also show you how closely you have met the user’s search intent based on the volume of viewers you got for each keyword or search term.
By conducting effective search engine optimization for your YouTube videos, you can get the word out that your brand exists and that you know what you’re talking about.
YouTube SEO is not necessarily new, but not many people have tapped into this resource. Take advantage of this business opportunity and optimize all your video content for YouTube SEO.
Begin with the basics and take it from there. Go through the YouTube video SEO tips that we have covered in this YouTube SEO Guide to get a better understanding of how to begin.
Let us know if you found this blog helpful in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!
Additional Read: Video Marketing Strategies