I’m no YouTube sensation, but I’ve gotten 50,000+ views on many of my videos. I contribute this to YouTube video SEO.
Of course you should use the keyword in the video title, description, file name, and upload a nice custom thumbnail, but YouTube also relies heavily on engagement signals to rank videos. That’s why aiming for 10+ minutes, writing a script, and promoting your video is so important.
It’s also why I like creating videos in conjunction with my website content (embedding the video on my blog gives it more views, watch time, likes, etc). The video also improves my blog content and helps attract links, shares, and people spend more time on my site. It’s a win-win.
Here’s what to do.
How To Rank Videos In YouTube
- YouTube Ranking Factors
- Choose A Video Keyword In Autocomplete
- Learn The Keyword’s Competition
- Create Your Video
- Use The Keyword In The File Name
- Write A Descriptive, Keyword-Rich Title
- Write A Long Description With Keywords, Timestamps, Links
- Add Tags (Conservatively)
- Design A Nice Custom Thumbnail
- Upload A Transcript
- Add A Location (Local SEO)
- Create A Blog Post Targeting The Same Keyword
- Tips On Embedding Videos
- Respond To Comments
- Promote Your YouTube Video
- Design Your Channel
- Results = 1st Page In YouTube And Google
- Equipment I Use
1. YouTube Ranking Factors
2. Choose A Video Keyword In Autocomplete
The best video keywords are specific (long-tail) phrases that show up in both YouTube and Google Autocomplete. This way you can rank your video in both places and get more traffic. Start typing a keyword into YouTube and it will complete the phrase, or use the underline character _ to have it fill in the blank with more ideas. You can do this anywhere in the phrase.
Choose Specific Phrases – targeting broad keywords can you get more views, but are much more competitive than specific phrases. Whether you should target broad or specific phrases depends on the keyword’s competition, video quality, and how well you optimize your video.
Google Trends is another place to find video keywords:
3. Learn The Keyword’s Competition
MozBar Chrome Extension – install the extension on Google Chrome. Now Google your keyword while searching YouTube, like this: site:www.youtube.com your search term. If top results have a higher PA (page authority), the keyword is more competitive. Broad keywords are naturally more competitive and require you to make a better video, so choose a specific phrase from YouTube/Google Autocomplete and create a better video than the top results.
vidIQ Chrome Extension – install this Google extension, search your keyword in YouTube, and check out a few videos in the top results. You will see an SEO score based on how many likes, dislikes, views, comments, social shares, subscribers, view times, video engagement, and other metrics about the video. You can also see what tags are used and the video description length.
You can see most signals without the extension:
4. Create Your Video
SayYour Keyword – verbally saying your keyword a few times is like keyword density for videos. Say it naturally, don’t just say it to say it. Including partial matches is also good.
Length Is Strength – this applies to both videos and content on your site. Longer videos rank high because people can find everything they’re looking for, especially tutorials and reviews. People will spend more time watching your video and you will probably get more engagement. There is no perfect length, but try to make videos at least 10 minutes, you’ll see better results.
HD Quality – you can use your phone, but a nice HD video camera makes a big difference. If you’re recording your computer make sure you check the settings for optimal video + audio.
Get To The Point – edit out ALL unnecessary pauses (I use Screencast-O-Matic) and be concise. I am super picky about this and noticed a huge difference in my video’s engagement.
Make Yours Betters – better than whoever’s in the top results, that’s what SEO’s all about.
Cards – cards are the little i (information) button. These can link to related videos, an associated website, polls, donations, or another YouTube channel. They are mobile-friendly (unlike YouTube’s outdated annotations) and you can add them in YouTube’s video manager.
5. Use The Keyword In The File Name
Before uploading your video, label the video file as your keyword. If you already uploaded the video, there is unfortunately no way to change this (however, it’s only a small ranking factor).
6. Write A Descriptive, Keyword-Rich Title
A good title has 2 things: your keyword, and an enticing headline. Google typically displays the first 50–60 characters, so try to stay within that range. You don’t ALWAYS have to use an exact match of your keyword, but each individual word should at least be present in the video title.
7. Write a Long Description With Keywords, Timestamps, Links
Long descriptions are great for YouTube video SEO and give you a place to add timestamps, useful links, and an overall summary. Text is super important for ranking any type of content.
Include Keyword In The First Sentence – both YouTube and Google use the first 160 characters as the meta description which appears in search results. Craft this sentence (or two) wisely since people will read this to determine whether they will click on your video. A rule of thumb is to naturally use your keyword about 2-3 total times in your video description.
Timestamps – lets viewers jump to sections of the video so they can find what they’re looking for, which also improves engagement with your video. This is especially helpful for long videos.
- :21 (21 seconds)
- 1:21 (1 minute and twenty one seconds)
- 1:30:21 (1 hour, 30 minutes and 21 seconds)
Links – Google follows links to determine the relevancy of a video (similar to internal links on your website). Add a few helpful links to your other videos, blog articles, or helpful resources.
8. Add Tags (Conservatively)
Don’t fuss over this, just add a few…
9. Design A Nice Custom Thumbnail
Upload a custom thumbnail in the video manager under Info & Settings (you will need to verify your account first). Dimensions should be 1280(w) x 720(h) pixels. This will appear in search results and the “related searches” section in YouTube. Try writing something in BIG LETTERS.
10. Upload A Transcript
Google doesn’t go a good job in transcribing videos into text (look at how sloppy it is in the photo). You will need to transcribe it manually, otherwise the keywords you mention in your video will go to waste. You can also outsource this to a freelancer for cheap on upwork.com.
11. Add A Location (Local SEO)
If your video includes a localized keyword like “Chicago Wedding Photographer” or you just want to target a location, you can specify this in the video manager under Advanced Settings. Just remember to also include the localized keyword in your title, description, file name, etc.
12. Create A Blog Post Targeting The Same Keyword
Why You Should Do It
- Both the video + blog post can rank on the 1st page of Google
- Traffic to your blog post = views for your video, and vice versa
- You already created the video so the post should be relatively easy
- Adding videos to your website/blog improves it’s engagement + SEO
- Gives you more views, likes, embeds, and metrics used in YouTube ranking factors
13. Tips On Embedding Videos
Tweaking The Iframe
Option 1: Copy the YouTube link and paste it to your content (WordPress will do the rest).
Option 2: Go to the YouTube video you want to embed, then copy and paste the embed code into your HTML. This method allows you to specify the video’s width and height:
Option 3: Open a video when you click a link using the WP Video Lightbox Plugin.
Hide YouTube Video Title
<iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ymdkFIHsTBA?showinfo=0" width="680" height="380" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe>
Hide YouTube Video Controls
<iframe width="680" height="380" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ymdkFIHsTBA?showinfo=0&controls=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
14. Respond To Comments
What makes videos rank higher? Comments. What gets more comments? Responses!
15. Promote Your YouTube Video
You need to promote your video – views don’t just come by themselves. Embed it on your website/blog. Share it on social media and use it in your newsletter and marketing materials.
16. Design Your Channel
Create a Banner – canvas.com makes this easy. Image should be 2560(w) x 1440(h) pixels.
Channel Homepage – upload logo, fill in about section, add a featured video. Not that hard.
Playlists – if you’re creating a video series, consider creating an extensive video playlist.
17. Results = 1st Page In YouTube And Google
That video is pretty old, but my blog (or video) is still on page 1 of YouTube and Google.
18. Equipment I Use
- HD camera (a good phone works)
- Editing program (I use Screencast-O-Matic)
- Basic graphic design skills (for a custom thumbnail) – I use GIMP
- $25 to hire a freelancer for video transcription (saves time)
- A blog (I use StudioPress themes and SiteGround’s hosting who is also used by Yoast)
And that’s how you rank YouTube videos higher in both YouTube and Google! I’m a 1-man show so 100,000 views between my videos is a good amount for me. Surely if you have a small business and people to help with this, you can do it too. If you have questions, leave me a comment and I’ll be glad to help you out. And if you found this helpful, please give it a share.
Frequently Asked Questions
🍎 What are 5 top factors of YouTube SEO?
Finding keywords (in YouTube Autocomplete) and analyzing the keyword's competition are 2 important factors and will help you learn whether you will even be able to rank for a specific keyword. Next, use that keyword in the title, description, and create in-depth videos to improve engagement are 3 other factors. A catchy title and thumbnail helps.
🍎 How do I learn the competition of a video keyword?
Search the keyword in YouTube and look at the top results to see how many engagement signals the top videos have. The VidIQ Chrome Extension is also a great tool to learn the competition of video keywords.
🍎 Where do I find keywords for YouTube videos?
YouTube autocomplete is a great place to find video keywords. Try using the fill-in-the-blank trick (shown in this guide) to find even more keyword ideas.
🍎 Where do I use my keyword?
Use your keyword in the file name (before uploading the video), the title, and a couple times in the video description.
🍎 How important is engagement with the video?
YouTube relies heavily on engagement signals to determine how useful a video is and how high it should rank. That's why likes, comments, views, watch time, and shares are key.