What Is YouTube SEO? [Plus Tips and Tricks]

Since its inception in 2005, YouTube has come a long way in the social media world. 2023 data shows that there is an estimated 2.077 billion YouTube users aged 18 years or older. This equates to 36.9% of all adults across the globe.

Whether you’re looking for video content from your favorite artists and influencers, or looking to create your own YouTube videos, having the right YouTube SEO strategy is essential. YouTube SEO helps your YouTube videos stand out better in the video rankings. 

If you’re interested in discovering more information on YouTube SEO, keep reading below for tips and tricks to optimize YouTube videos.

What Is YouTube SEO and How Does It Work?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Search engines, like Google, rely on algorithms and specific search terms to find relatable and relevant content. Conducting SEO keyword research lets you find the right search terms for your business website or social media page.

Search Engine Optimization works for online content on websites, like blog posts, to help websites rank more organically in search results. Targeted keyword searches help boost search rankings.

YouTube was acquired as a property of Google in 2006. This means it uses many of the same SEO algorithms for video rankings as it would for web page content. 

SEO is a vital component of digital marketing. But it isn’t just a matter of stringing together a lot of keywords and expecting your search result ranking to catapult. Google has protocols in place that can tell when content is high-quality and free from spam and plagiarism. 

YouTube has exploded into a vast library of global content in recent years due to an influx of digital content creators. Current data shows that YouTube receives a staggering 500 hours of content uploaded every minute. So how can you make your video stand out in a sea of digital content?

YouTube SEO lets you optimize YouTube videos so that users can find the right content easier and quicker. Just like you would with your website’s blog content, you’ll want to use the right keywords to enhance your YouTube videos as well. This means targeting all areas with text like the title, description, and tags.

YouTube also considers different elements to rank video content such as:

  • channel popularity
  • video performance
  • likes and dislikes
  • comments
  • average video viewing time
  • click-through rates

YouTube utilizes search and browsing histories as well as similar video content viewed to determine video rankings and recommendations. 70% of content watched was recommended to viewers by YouTube. 

When used in conjunction with YouTube SEO, these factors can help you dominate the YouTube video search feature.

Tips and Tricks for YouTube SEO

While a main focus should be on high-quality and professional-looking video content, there are some ways you can use YouTube SEO to your advantage. Follow these tips and tricks to make your YouTube videos command the attention they deserve. 

Use Target Keywords to Rename Your Video File

Your video file name is a prime location for utilizing YouTube SEO. Instead of just using the default numbered and lettered file name or a generic file title like “APRIL_AD_CONTENT265.MOV” when you upload to YouTube, change it to one that uses your primary keyword.

For example, if your page has content geared towards cake baking, use a primary keyword like “cake baking tips” in your file name along with the desired file type.

Believe it or not, YouTube’s algorithms can actually read your file name. So, this is a valuable YouTube SEO trick you can leverage.

Insert Keywords Organically into Your Video Title

Like the video file trick above, it is also important to use your YouTube SEO tactics for the title of your video as well. Your title is how YouTube users find your video. So it is very important to make this title applicable to relevant search terms. 

You should keep your title as concise as possible so it’s easy to find. It is also recommended to keep it under 60 characters. This will prevent an overly long title from getting cut off in the search results. 

Optimize the Description for Your YouTube Videos

The description section is one of the best areas for you to put YouTube SEO to work for your YouTube channel. You have 5,000 characters at your disposal to describe your video and help boost it in the video rankings section. Many cooking and baking channels may use this section to post a full recipe or a transcript to accompany the video.

You should note that YouTube will only show about 100 characters of text at first. Users will have to click on the “See More” portion to read the rest. But this can still be a great way to give viewers an upfront view of important information, links, and CTAs. 

With so much content available on YouTube, using specific keywords helps you narrow down and highlight your content. This is one of the key benefits of SEO. Having a detailed description can also help optimize YouTube videos for the Suggested Videos sidebar. 

Tag Videos with Relevant Keywords

Tags are another element of YouTube SEO that lets you inform your users what your video is about. Tags are also a way to tell YouTube about the context and information in your video content. YouTube uses this information to show your video alongside similar content in YouTube video search results.

You get 500 characters to include tags for your video content. It is recommended that you choose 6-8 solid and relevant keywords to complement your video content’s title and description. You’ll want to use a combination of short and long-tail keywords as well.

Avoid using irrelevant tags because you think it might give you an edge. YouTube, along with Google’s algorithms may flag or penalize this content as a part of its fair search protocols. 

Categorize Your Video Content

Once you’ve uploaded a video, you can access the Category feature in the Advanced Settings. You have the option of categorizing your video under 15 different categories including: 

  • People & Blogs
  • Howto & Style 
  • Comedy
  • Education
  • Music
  • Entertainment

Determining the best category for your video is a part of your overall YouTube SEO strategy. It lets YouTube find like-minded audiences and playlists for finding and viewing your content.

If your video touches on two different categories like Pets & Animals and Comedy because it has footage of a funny pet, go with the one that is most relevant to your YouTube content. This will further optimize search results.

Upload a Custom Thumbnail for Your Video

Auto-generated photo thumbnails are always available from YouTube for use after uploading a video. However, a custom thumbnail can help your videos stand out and get more clicks in search results.

It is recommended that you upload a file that is 1280×720 pixels or a 16:9 ratio. You should also have these images saved as 2MB or smaller in .png, .gif, .bmp, or .jpg file formats. This will ensure that your thumbnail always appears high-quality for viewing from device to device.

You will have to go to YouTube to verify your account before you can upload custom thumbnails. 

Incorporate Closed Captions and Subtitles

Video viewers may be watching your video in a place where they can’t turn on the full sound. Having closed captions or subtitles allows them to engage with your content even without sound. Subtitles and captions also make your video content more accessible to those with hearing impairments. 

Using closed captions and subtitles also adds to your YouTube SEO by highlighting keywords used in your video content. You will need to upload a timed subtitle file or supported text transcript to add subtitles or closed captions to your video. Subtitles let you control the amount of text displayed while closed captions will give a full transcript of video dialogue.

YouTube also gives the option of turning on an automatic CC/Subtitle feature. Though this feature does not always display text accurately. 

Use Appropriate YouTube SEO Hashtags

The hashtag is another form of social media promotion you can use with YouTube SEO. You should use them sparingly, however. Cramming too many hashtags into your videos can hurt your YouTube SEO strategy. 

Don’t use any more than 15 hashtags maximum. Doing so will cause YouTube to ignore them altogether and possibly flag your content as spam. Pick the most relevant ones to your video content so it adds to the organic flow.

Create a Playlist for Your Video’s Topic

Playlists are great for grouping similar video content together across YouTube profiles. Content creators on YouTube with many videos relating to the same subjects can also benefit from using the playlist feature for organizing their own content.

By grouping your videos into keyword-optimized playlists, you’re taking your YouTube SEO a step further into increasing engagement. You’re also telling YouTube which video content belongs together.

A playlist puts everything within reach of your YouTube page’s content. If you run a yoga page and organize all of your yoga workouts into easily viewable playlists, page visitors will be more likely to click from video to video or autoplay playlists.

This means your page will increase its engagement and view count. It will also improve your video rankings in the process.

Include Cards and End Screens Relating to Video Content

Cards and End Screens are two other great ways to promote your channel and boost your YouTube SEO. Cards usually appear in the video at some point during the video, like those little pop-ups that ask you to subscribe to the channel. They are either in the form of a text bar or as a circular “i” icon.

Cards are multifaceted notifications with 6 types to choose from:

  • Poll Cards-asks users a question and lets them vote for a response
  • Link Cards-leads to external sites such as crowdfunding or merchandise
  • Donation Cards-prompts users to donate to non-profit causes
  • Fan Funding Cards-allows viewers to support your page’s video creation efforts
  • Channel Cards-directs viewers to other channels for promoting branding collaborations or guest influencers
  • Video or Playlist Cards-links to similar YouTube content

End Screens, as the name implies, don’t appear until the end of the video. They could display similar video content like a similar recipe on a cooking page or as a box icon to display more clickable content links. 

Utilize a Pinned Comment on Your Own Video

A pinned comment is like a bonus YouTube SEO cheat code, but it is still a perfectly safe YouTube strategy. Leaving a simple comment about what inspired you to create your video can bring more awareness to your content and encourage users to continue the discussion by commenting on your pinned comment.

You can also further the discussion by asking an open-ended question such as “What content would you like to see me do next?” You can receive hundreds of replies and reactions along with valuable feedback.

Add a CTA to Your Video Content and Description

Your content should always have a reason for why it was created in the first place. YouTube SEO and blog content SEO are similar in this vein. Consider what is the ultimate end goal or purpose for your content and construct the right call to action (CTA) to reflect this.

Video content should engage its audience and not just become another static experience. Many video content creators now end their videos with a short segment that encourages viewers to like, subscribe, comment, bookmark, and share content. There is also an option to have viewers click on shared or affiliate links.

All of these calls to action are beneficial for your YouTube page. They drive up user engagement metrics which can help your videos rank higher and show YouTube that you have valuable and engaging content. You can also include relevant links in your video description for easy access.

Use a Tool Like VidIQ

VidIQ is a potent tool in optimizing your YouTube SEO strategy. It provides valuable insights and data-driven recommendations, enabling you to enhance your video discoverability. Its Keyword Inspector aids in comprehensive keyword research, allowing you to align your content with your target audience’s interests. The SEO Scorecard reviews your video metadata, offering advice for optimization aligned with YouTube’s best practices.

What Is YouTube SEO? [Plus Tips and Tricks] 1
Source: VidIQ

Additionally, VidIQ enables a detailed competitor analysis, providing insights into their performance and keyword usage. Its trending feature keeps you informed about trending videos within your niche, helping you to create timely and relevant content. In essence, VidIQ can significantly amplify your brand’s presence on YouTube by improving the SEO of your video content.

Elevate Your YouTube SEO Strategy with GHAX Digital Marketing Today

YouTube videos are integral components of digital marketing. YouTube SEO is a powerful tool that can help your business achieve greater reach and improve video rankings. GHAX Digital Marketing can help elevate your YouTube SEO strategy. 

GHAX Digital Marketing is a full-service digital marketing agency that understands what it takes to grow and evolve an online presence. We specialize in helping small and medium-sized businesses with their digital marketing strategies to thrive in the fast-paced online world. Come see what we can do for your business. 

Share this post

Antonio Calabrese GHAX

Hey, I’m Antonio Calabrese, Founder at GHAX. We love working with businesses who are serious about growth.

If that’s you, get in touch and be 1 of 20 this month to claim a free marketing strategy session.

ghax review
Simple Guide to Understanding SEO