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How to optimize videos for YouTube search

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How does YouTube SEO work? What are the steps to optimizing your YouTube videos for search? The answer to these questions is more accessible.

While it may seem difficult to have a presence on YouTube, you can employ specific strategies to ensure the algorithm favors you in search results.

How to place videos on YouTube

To place videos on YouTube, we first need to understand the YouTube algorithm and YouTube’s ranking factors.

Just like any other search engine, YouTube wants to deliver content that answers the user’s specific search query. For example, if someone searches for “how to tie a tie,” YouTube will not deliver a video titled “how to tie shoelaces.” Instead, it will display search results that answer that specific search query.

If you try your hand at YouTube SEO, consider how you can incorporate terms and phrases used by your target audience.

It would be best if you also thought about YouTube analytics and engagement. When ranking videos, YouTube considers a metric called “dwell time” – in other words, how long viewers stay with your video. A long dwell time means you’re providing valuable content; a short one means your content should be ranked elsewhere.

If you want your video clips to be placed, develop enhanced content for longer view times. For instance, you can get individuals to remain up until the completion of the video clip by promising a surprise or giveaway.

Is it worth it to optimize videos on YouTube?

Trying to place videos on YouTube is a losing proposition. Only the most widely known influencers and material designers appear to prosper on this platform.

However, that’s not the case. As a business, you can enjoy your videos’ views, comments, and likes – provided you find the right audience for your content. Searching for and targeting the right audience is even more vital than creating a “stunning” video. If you’re actively solving your potential client’s problems with your YouTube videos, you’ve done 90% of the optimization work.

Just a decade ago, inbound video marketing was a brand-new idea. Marketers were learning that not only could they publish a large amount of content, but it also had to be high-quality and optimized to be found as well as possible in search engines. Furthermore, video placement on YouTube is a critical element of your inbound marketing strategy, even though it may seem like something other than it.

This content used to be limited primarily to the written word. Today that is no longer the case. Today’s comprehensive content strategy includes written content such as blogs and e-books and media such as podcasts, visual content, and videos. And with the emergence of various other material styles comes the demand to optimize them for search. An increasingly important place to do this is YouTube.

If you’re feeling lost, don’t worry. Below are the top YouTube SEO tips to help you effectively optimize your content for YouTube search.

YouTube SEO Tips

1. Rename your video file with a target keyword

Renaming Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

Like optimizing the written content, use an SEO tool to identify keywords you want your video clip to focus on.

Once you’ve found a keyword, you should add it to your video file – even before uploading it to YouTube. Here’s why. YouTube can’t look at your video for its relevance to your target keyword phrase. As you’ll discover in the tips listed below, there are only a certain number of places where you can safely insert the keyword on the display page after your video is published. However, when uploaded, YouTube can read your video’s filename and associated code.

Therefore, replace the filename “”  with your desired keyword. For example, if your keyword is “house painting tips,” the filename of your video should be “house painting tips,” followed by your preferred video file type (MOV, MP4, and WMV are the most common ones compatible with YouTube).

2. Include your keyword in the video title, of course

30,982 Key Words Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock | Key  words with icons, Key words icon, Medical key words

When we search for videos, the title is one of the first things our eyes are drawn to. The title should be compelling, clear, and concise. That often determines whether the viewer will click on your video or not.

Although your keyword plays a significant role in your video title, it also assists if the title is what the viewer wants. A study conducted by Backlinko found that videos with an exact match of the keyword in the title have only a slight benefit over those that do not.

While using the target keyword in the title can help you rank for that term “the relationship between keyword-rich video titles and rankings is not always clear. Nonetheless, optimizing your title for that keyword is a good idea as long as it fits naturally into a title that informs viewers specifically what they will see.

3. Optimize your video clip summary

137,780 Search Engine Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock  | Search engine optimization, Search engine optimisation, Marketing

First things initially: according to Google, the official character limitation for YouTube video descriptions is 1,000 characters. While it’s OK to use this room to its most remarkable, remember that your visitor probably came below to watch a video clip, not check out an essay.

If you compose a more extended summary, remember that YouTube shows the first two or three lines of text – about 100 characters. After that, viewers must click “View More” to see the full description. For this reason, we recommend filling the description with essential information, such as CTAs or links.

As for optimizing the video itself, it would be good to add a video transcript, especially for those who need to watch it without volume. However, Backlinko’s research also found no correlation between descriptions optimized for a specific keyword and rankings for that term.

4. Tag your video clip with prominent keywords that connect to your subject

Product Tag Videos Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

YouTube suggests using tags, so viewers know what your video clip has to do. However, you’re not simply informing your viewers but additionally YouTube itself. The system uses tags “to understand the material and context of your video clip.”

And similar to the description, you should include the most relevant keywords, including a good mix of familiar and long-tail keywords (e.g., those that answer a question like “How to do I?”). That way, YouTube figures out how to connect your video to similar videos, which can increase the reach of your content. But choose your tags wisely. Don’t use irrelevant tags because you think it will get you more views. Google might penalize you for it.

5. Categorize your video

19,569 Youtube Banner Illustrations & Clip Art - iStock | Youtube banner  template

Once you’ve submitted a video clip, you can classify it under “Advanced Settings.” Picking a category is another way to group your video clip with similar material on YouTube. For this reason, it appears in different playlists and reaches different audiences identifying with your target market.

It’s essential to undergo a detailed procedure to determine which group each video belongs in. It may be more complicated than it looks. Response inquiries like:

  • Who are the leading developers in the group? What are they recognized for, and what do they do well?
  • Do the videos within a similar category share common characteristics such as production value, length, or format?
  • Are there any patterns between viewers of similar channels within a given category?

6. Submit a custom-made thumbnail image for your video’s outcomes connect

31,401 Youtube Stock Videos and Royalty-Free Footage - iStock | Video,  Youtube icon, Youtube background

When scrolling through a listing of video clip outcomes, your video clip thumbnail is the visitors’ primary image. With the video’s title, this thumbnail signals viewers about the video’s content and can therefore influence the number of clicks and views your video receives.

While you can always choose one of the thumbnails automatically generated by YouTube, we strongly recommend uploading a custom thumbnail. YouTube recommends using images that are 1280×720 pixels in size – corresponding to a 16:9 aspect ratio – saved as 2 MB or smaller .jpg, .gif, .bmp, or .png files. By sticking to these parameters, you can ensure that your thumbnail will display at the same high quality on different platforms.

Your YouTube account must be verified to upload a custom thumbnail image.

7. Utilize an SRT file to add subtitles and captions

739 Subtitle Illustrations & Clip Art - iStock | Video subtitle, Subtitle  template, Subtitle screen

Like many other texts, subtitles and closed captions can optimize YouTube searches by highlighting important keywords.

You’ll need to upload a supported text transcription or a file with timed subtitles to add subtitles or closed captions to your video. In the first case, you can also enter the transcript text directly for a video to synchronize it automatically.

Adding subtitles follows a similar procedure, but you can limit the text displayed. In either case, go to your Video Manager and click Videos under Video Manager. Locate the video to which you want to add subtitles or captions and click the drop-down arrow next to the “Edit” button. Then select “Subtitles/CC.” You can then choose how you want to add subtitles or closed captions.

8. Include cards and end screens to increase the viewership of your YouTube channel

End Screen Stock Videos and Royalty-Free Footage - iStock


Have you ever seen a little white round icon with an “i” in the middle in the corner when watching a video or a transparent text bar asking you to subscribe to the channel? Those are cards that YouTube describes as “pre-formatted notifications that appear on desktop and mobile that you can establish to promote your brand and other video clips on your channel.”

You can amount to five cards to a single video clip, and also there are six kinds:

  1. Channel cards to direct viewers to another channel.
  2. Donation cards to encourage fundraising for nonprofit organizations in the US.
  3. Fan funding to ask your viewers to support the creation of your video content.
  4. Link cards to direct viewers to an external website, an approved crowdfunding platform, or a platform for selling merchandise.
  5. Poll cards that ask viewers a question allow them to vote for an answer.
  6. Video or playlist cards that link to other YouTube content of this type.

End screens

End screens display similar information to cards, but as you might have guessed, they are only displayed when a video is over and are more visually detailed.

It’s important to know that YouTube is constantly testing end screens to optimize the viewer experience, so your end screen as you’ve designed it may not appear. Consider these factors when deciding whether to use cards or end screens.

These aspects may seem challenging and lengthy, yet bear in mind: the time individuals invest in enjoying YouTube on their TV has greater than doubled yearly. There’s a target market to discover; if you enhance YouTube, your opportunities to be found are boosted.

9. Add hashtags to boost the reach

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Hashtags are a new addition to the YouTube user interface that allows you to add related terms to your content, just like LinkedIn or Instagram. Hashtags appear above your video title, so you can easily click and discover them.

We also suggest using hashtags in your YouTube description but do just what is necessary: the YouTube algorithm is constantly checking for spam. If you use too many hashtags, you may get accidentally tagged. Use only some hashtags you can think of, but choose 2-3 most accurately describe your video.

10. Create a playlist around the general theme of your video

103,423 Playlist Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock |  Mp3 icon, Music, Streaming music

As you include many video clips in your content collection, team them into keyword-optimized playlists. That signals to YouTube what your videos are about and ensures that viewers click from video to video, increasing views and thus your rankings.

11. Optional: Leave a pinned talk about your video

3,812 Like Comment Share Stock Videos and Royalty-Free Footage - iStock |  Like comment share icon, Like comment share subscribe, Like comment share  icons

It might appear too much to leave a talk about your video, yet it’s an intelligent approach. A lot more remarks will undoubtedly enhance your video’s positions, and if you play your cards right, they can create a high level of target market interaction.

YouTube SEO Checklist

  1. Select a target keyword for your video: That can be a topic, a question, or a search query. If you need help determining the right target keyword, use a keyword research tool or take inspiration from the existing YouTube content library.
  2. Consist of the target keywords in the file name: Do not use spaces between words, but use hyphens (-) or underscores (_).
  3. Insert the target keyword in the title: Next, incorporate the target keyword into the title of your video, but be creative and make sure it comes across naturally. The title should not simply be “[keyword].” The title is the first thing users see. Try to create interest and help the viewer in some way.
  4. Include the keyword and keyword variations in the video description: The video description is the heart of your YouTube search engine optimization technique. Compose an all-natural description with 1-2 discusses of your target search phrase and variations of that keyword.
  5.  Add related tags to your video: Although most users don’t use tags to find videos, they can help YouTube’s algorithm categorize your video and present it to the right audience. Add 5-8 industry tags, and do just what is necessary, so you don’t get classified as spam.
  6. Add your video category: Categories are not as specific as tags, but they help users find your video, and the YouTube algorithm understands what your video is about. Categories are used on the home, page, explore page, and sidebar menu.
  7. Upload a custom video thumbnail: Create a thumbnail with either a keyword variation or a brief phrase that might create clicks (e.g., “1,000 organic followers, fast!”).
  8. Add subtitles and closed captions: Subtitles and closed captions are a much-needed component to the accessibility of your videos. They also help you optimize for YouTube searches by providing YouTube with a text version of your video content.
  9. Add maps and end screens that relate to the theme of your video: Cards are synonymous with interior and external linking. End displays permit you to engage visitors in the critical final seconds when they might be tempted to click on other content.
  10. Add hashtags to your video. Hashtags are different from tags: They appear above the video title and help you increase your video’s reach and authority by making the video’s topic even more transparent.
  11. Create a playlist around your overarching theme: Producing playlists is one of the best ways to enhance YouTube video clips. Discovering and including some associated video clips in a playlist can bring in more customers and aid YouTube’s algorithm in comprehending just how your video associates with others in your upload collection.
  12. Optional: Leave a pinned comment to create interaction or include value. As a brand name, you must discuss your video clips to respond to others and offer value to readers.

Most SEO tips above require identifying a keyword and adequately promoting your video. And not all of these tips can be implemented through YouTube alone. To get the most out of your video, consider using some of the tools listed below to optimize your video for search.

YouTube SEO Tools

1. Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

Ahrefs is a complex search engine optimization system that enables you to monitor a website’s ranking, approximate organic website traffic for every key phrase, and research search phrases for which you may want to develop new web content.

A popular feature of Ahrefs is the Search Phrase Traveler, which permits you to seek out many details concerning a search phrase that fascinates you. And also, as you can see in the screenshot, you can filter your keywords and results by an online search engine – including YouTube.
Ahrefs Keyword Explorer shows you a keyword’s monthly search volume, the number of clicks on videos that ranked for that keyword, related keywords, and more.

2. Canva

You may know Canva as a design template for creating cards, photos, logos, etc. Coincidentally, this popular product has a thumbnail creator specifically for YouTube videos.

As the tips above mention, thumbnails are crucial for promoting your material in YouTube search engine results and enticing users to click on your video clip. With Canvas Thumbnail Creator, you can create the perfect thumbnail for your video in 1280 x 720 pixels – the size required by YouTube for thumbnails.

3. VidIQ Vision

That is a Chrome extension available from the Chrome Web Store at the link above. It helps you analyze how and why specific YouTube videos perform so well. That includes the tags a video has been optimized for, the average viewing time, and the speed at which the video gains traffic.

The vidIQ device then offers an SEO “rating” that you can use to produce web content that suits (or surpasses) the outcomes you currently see on YouTube.

5. TubeBuddy

TubeBuddy is an all-in-one video platform that assists you in handling the production, optimization, and promo of your YouTube web content. Functions consist of an automated language translator (which assists you in ranking for non-English keyword phrases), a keyword traveler, tag recommendations, a ranking tracker for your published video clips, and extra.

6. cafe

Cyfe is a comprehensive software program suite that supplies, to name a few things, a YouTube analytics system. On this system, you can track performance on YouTube and your internet site.

Appears a lot like Google Analytics or Moz. That’s because Cyfe incorporates information from both tools and even more. In addition to web traffic evaluation, Cyfe can show you which key phrases you’re rating for and which are most preferred in different online search engines.

No matter which SEO tip or tool you use, a successful YouTube channel starts with good content. Ensure your viewers have something high quality and relevant to watch when they find you.

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