YouTube SEO: 5 Step Guide To Rank YouTube Videos

Have you given any thought to how you’re executing your YouTube SEO Strategy? Over 4 billion YouTube videos are viewed daily. The popular platform also gets visits from nearly a billion unique visitors each month.

YouTube Optimization

YouTube reports mobile video consumption rises 100% every year.

Throw in the fact that roughly 2 billion of the planet’s 7 billion or so inhabitants are connected to the Internet in some way and it’s easy to see how impactful marketing via YouTube can be.

Plus, searchers have a natural tendency to gravitate towards video content over text-based content. More than 70 percent of businesses admit that video improved their conversion rates.

That being said, your videos aren’t likely to get all that much attention if you’re not optimizing your YouTube SEO techniques.

With the right approach to optimization, you should be able to rank YouTube videos in a way that benefits your business. Not sure where to start?

Take a moment to keep reading to learn how to make YouTube optimization work for you in five easy steps.

1. Use The YouTube Keyword Tool To Do Your Keyword Research

YouTube Keyword Tool 1

YouTube SEO requires keyword research if you want to increase your odds of getting the right eyes to see your content. The YouTube Keyword Tool is a keyword tool you can use to find long-tail keywords to attract viewers

Enter the topic or title of your video and the tool will generate results based on the most relevant and frequency-related search queries related to your video topic or title. You can then use the keywords generated to adjust your video titles and descriptions.

However, make sure you are using your keywords naturally. Keyword stuffing is also a big no-no when it comes to YouTube SEO especially as it negatively impacts the user experience.

“Orlando HVAC Service Professional demonstrates how to perform an Orlando HVAC Service Check in Orlando, Fl”

That’s one ugly video title, right?

Still, there are certain strategies with keywords that can work well on YouTube. Here’s a great example of a local plumbing company.

Let’s say you plan to post DIY Videos to show homeowners how to do quick fixes for minor issues. Include the keyword “Quick Fix” in your title to optimize for popular searches.

How To Find Keywords For Your Videos

When building a keyword list, filter your search based on terms likely to work well for your business. Make sure they are highly relevant to your video.

You can easily find relevant keywords by utilizing the Ubersuggest keyword tool. It’s a free keyword tool designed to allow users to find related keywords and includes search volume and competition metrics so you can find the best match for your video.

Keyword Suggestions from Ubersuggest

With keyword selections, pay particular attention to:

– Search volume: You definitely want terms with a fairly high search volume.

– Competition: However, you don’t want keywords that are SO competitive that you can’t rank well with them. Do some experimenting to see if you can rank well with less-competitive terms that are a bit more relevant to your videos and business.

Marker fit: This means you ask yourself one question before you make a final keyword decision: Would your intended audience likely use the keywords you plan on using to find your video?

2. YouTube Search Optimized Titles and Descriptions

You’re not going to be able to rank YouTube videos for your business if you don’t put some thought into your titles and descriptions.

Remember, the only way for YouTiube to understand what your videos are about is through the metadata. This includes your titles and descriptions.

If you’re not optimizing them, you’re not going to get found. It can be a daunting task. If you understand what people are looking for (audience intent) then you’ll be able to outRank all your competitors.

Let’s start with the title since this is the first thing people look at when searching for video content.

Video Titles

YouTube Video Titles

With titles, it helps if they match what the viewer is actually searching for. Remember, you don’t just want to get clicks for the purpose of just getting clicks. You actually want people coming to your YouTube channel to watch and share your videos.

In general, videos with optimized titles tend to be more effective if you keep the following guidelines in mind:

Keep it short since longer titles will likely get cut off on search results pages – 60 characters or less is a good rule of thumb.

Use your main target keyword in your title to up your SEO power.

Consider using exact match keywords since videos with exact keyword-title matches tend to rank better.

Video Descriptions

Video descriptions are important for YouTube SEO because of Google’s limitations. Their crawlers aren’t yet capable of “listening” to or “watching” your videos. There’s only one way to determine what type of content they contain.

Make sure you keep the character limit in mind. Google says the “official” character limit for video descriptions on YouTube is 1,000 characters.

Gary Vee Video Descriptions

It’s perfectly fine to go up the limit. Just be aware that YouTube only displays the first two sentences of the description. Then the “Show Me More” prompt comes up.

A great example of this is Gary Vaynerchuk’s channel. His videos provide a comprehensive description that’s so long we can’t include the entire thing in a screenshot here!

Long video descriptions give you the opportunity to link out to other resources to drive engagement across other marketing efforts.

Why wouldn’t you take advantage of all those impressions by linking out to your other campaigns or links?

So what goes into creating a correctly optimized YouTube description?

Clearly explains what’s being shown in the video.

Provides a few added incentives to watch the video – e.g., a few “teasers” to let people know what’s included in the video.

Includes a relevant mention of your business – e.g., “If this DIY plumbing video doesn’t help with your situation, give ABC Plumbing a call and we’ll arrive quickly to take care of the problem.”

3. YouTube Captions: Subtitles are essential for YouTube optimization

YouTube video caption service

Another important goal with YouTube optimization is to extend the watch time with your videos. One way to keep viewers of your videos engaged with captions.

YouTube captions increase viewership because you’re stimulating the viewer in a way that goes beyond what’s being said or shown in your viewer. Captions can also emphasize your main points.

Captions can be especially important and beneficial in mobile viewing environments. This is because there may be instances when audio is either disruptive or simply not accessible.

If you need a tool to help you out with your YouTube captions, consider They provide captions at a low price, and their captions can be used across other mediums, too!

All you need to do is upload your content and they’ll transcribe the video for you. Then you can download the SRT file and upload that to YouTube.

You can also do this for videos on other platforms like LinkedIn.

4. Link-building Is Crucial To Rank YouTube Videos

Links definitely matter for YouTube SEO purposes. Internal linking has the potential to extend SEO power to your other YouTube videos.

Backlinks help with both driving traffic and PageRank to your videos. A combination of these will help you rank new videos quickly and efficiently.

Leverage Internal Links

Did you know that internal links on YouTube are actually Dofollow links?

This means when you interlink your videos, you can get them to rank faster than linking out to your own website.

Dofollow links matter because Google only uses these links when determining search engine rankings. Nofollow links, on the other hand, won’t improve rankings for your linked videos.

While internal linking with do-follow links is a key ranking factor, you’ll want to make sure you are linking one video to another one that’s somehow related. The reason for doing this is to take advantage of people’s natural tendency to want more information on a similar topic.

Backlinks Help Build Your Search Engine Rank

Building Backlinks for YouTube Videos

Backlinks are just as important because they can increase the visibility of your YouTube videos. These are the links that go back to your videos from outside sources.

Remember to keep track of the sources of backlinks to confirm that they are coming from relevant and trusted sources. You can do this with an Ahrefs account.

Getting backlinks to your YouTube video starts with using the right keywords so you can get your videos in front of people likely to link back to it.

Next, you’ll want to boost your odds of getting backlinks by creating the best videos possible. This means you want videos that are:

Relevant to your target audience

Easy to watch (e.g., consistent audio, clear visuals)

Not all about selling – informative videos tend to be more likely to attract backlinks

On a related note, your YouTube videos can also be used to get viewers to click links back to relevant landing pages on your website. One way to do this is with YouTube annotations. There are boxes that pop up when videos are being watched.

YouTube cards (the little “i” icon in the corner of videos) can also be used to get more links back to your site. Cards can also be set up so that they promote your brand and other videos on your YouTube channel. You can add up to five cards to each video.

One other way to get links leading back to your YouTube videos is to promote your videos outside of YouTube. This can be done with your other social platforms, emails, or even with YouTube videos directly featured on your website.

5. Thumbnails Matter: Increase Your Click-Through-Rate!

A compelling thumbnail will increase click-through-rates for videos. A video thumbnail is the image of your clip that viewers see when scrolling through video results.

Thumbnails are important because they are often what convinces searchers to click on one video over another one offering similar content.

Just look at this example from Neil Patel’s YouTube channel. It’s no wonder he has some of the highest video views in the industry. His content LOOKS appealing right from the first impression.

This means that thumbnails can give your videos some SEO juice by generating more clicks. So, how do you control what thumbnails are associated with your YouTube videos?

YouTube SEO Thumbnail images

One method is to choose from the thumbnail options auto-generated by YouTube. If you find an option that’s reflective of your video’s content, this method may be just fine.

However, it’s been reported that most of the best-performing videos on YouTube are ones that have custom thumbnails. A good rule of thumb for your thumbnails is to use ones that are, at least, 1280×720 pixels – which is a 16:9 ratio.

You’ll also want to save your thumbnails as 2MB or smaller files (.bmp, .jpg, .gif, or .png).

You want to make sure your thumbnails are nice and clear when they show up on the results page. Make sure you use the above dimensions at a minimum to maintain a high-quality image.

These guidelines also tend to help make your thumbnails viewable across multiple platforms and on mobile devices.

Also with thumbnails, you’ll need to have a verified YouTube account in order to upload a custom thumbnail for a video. Go to and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Final Thoughts

Follow these steps and you’ll definitely be on the right track with your YouTube SEO efforts. It’s also important to keep track of your stats to determine how your videos are performing.

After all, what’s the point of randomly cranking out videos if they’re not resonating well with the searchers you want to view them?

Also, pay attention to the feedback your videos generate to make sure you are providing the kind of visual information your intended audience is looking for.

The comments you get with your videos can also give you some clues about what kind of additional video content your intended audience may want.

If you need some help implementing an effective YouTube optimization strategy, take advantage of our YouTube SEO service and our other marketing capabilities.