YouTube SEO: How to Increase Rankings for Your Videos

YouTube SEO: How to Increase Rankings for Your Videos

6 min read

Do you want to improve your rankings on YouTube? In this article, we will discuss what YouTube SEO is and how to better improve your rankings. We will give you effective tips on how to optimize videos and the best practices you can do for better rankings.

What is YouTube SEO?

Like website SEO where you optimize webpages to achieve better rankings in the SERPS, YouTube SEO aims to optimize videos to get higher rankings for a certain keyword. The goal is to improve rankings both on the YouTube website and on Google.

Optimizing videos include working on the title, thumbnail, description, transcript, tags, links, call to action and even translations. To get maximum results, you need to also optimize your channels and playlists to get even better rankings.

How YouTube’s search engine algorithm works depends on a variety of factors. The videos are ranked based on how each video’s content, title and description match a user’s search query.

While it’s imperative to write punchy titles and descriptions, keep in mind that high engagement is the main ingredient to getting more visibility on YouTube.

Engagement metrics include comments, likes/dislikes, average watch time, card clicks, audience retention and end screen clicks. When you publish a video with good content, you are likely to engage your audience.

We’ll show you how to be successful with YouTube and improve video rankings.

How to Optimize Your Videos?

You can significantly improve your rankings when you work on the things we discuss below:

Keyword Search 

Next to Google, YouTube is the second most visited site on the web. It works as a search engine so it would help to find out what keywords your target audience are using on YouTube.

The key is to target keywords with search volume to get more traffic. You will need to utilize other third-party tools such as Google Keyword Planner or Google Trends because YouTube does not have its own keyword tool.

Fortunately, YouTube’s search engine works similar to Google. When you type in certain keywords in the search box, you will see a list of relevant queries containing those keywords. Use this for finding out what users are searching for a certain topic.

With Google Trends, there is a YouTube Search option that gives you search volume data in percentages. You can use this to find out how popular a certain keyword is on YouTube.


Titles should be under 60 characters and should grab a user’s attention. It should be witty enough to pique a user’s interest. Also, make sure that you use the main keyword in the video’s title.

If you’re not confident about writing good titles for your video, hire a copywriter to help you craft a short yet punchy title for your video.


First impressions last. Keep in mind that the title and the thumbnail are what the users will see first. If you have a good thumbnail image for the video, users are more likely to click on it.

Use fun graphics for the thumbnail or perhaps get professional shots for it. You can also take advantage of stock photos or Google images for your thumbnail. The key is to make it not just captivating but also intriguing for the users.

Never use texts as a thumbnail image and avoid intrusive images.


Both Google and YouTube work similarly especially when it comes to helping your website or video show up in search results. You need to have the right keywords not just in the title but also in the description.

If you know the keywords you’re optimizing for, check out the top ranking videos for these keywords and read through the title and the descriptions. Check for common keywords that they use and consider incorporating them in your descriptions.

Apart from the description, tags can also help you rank in the YouTube search. Add related phrases and keywords to the tags to optimize your videos.

Transcript and Translations

The transcript is also considered in YouTube’s algorithm. While the website has its own automated transcription process, it’s always best to either write it yourself or hire a 3rd party to do it for you. Keep in mind to time-stamped the transcript.

If you want a global audience for your video, why not add a foreign translation to it? It helps with rankings and it also increases your chances of getting more subscribers to your channels.


YouTube has interactive features that let users stay on the website. When you add a card, it will let users:

Discover another YouTube channel
Visit and external link
Answer a survey poll
Donate to an organization
Watch another playlist or video

You can add these to keep users on your channel too.

Promoting Your YouTube Video

It’s not enough to just post content on YouTube. If you want to maximize your chances of getting more subscribers, start promoting your videos.

First, find out the best time to publish your videos. If you measure your metrics, you should see patterns as to how many views you get on a certain hour.

After publishing it on YouTube, promote your video on all your social media platforms or to your existing audience. Facebook and Twitter are good places to promote your videos.

You can also add a link of the video to your newsletters or email marketing campaigns. If you don’t have an existing audience, you can embed the video to your Quora answers. Just find a related question and then post an answer along with your video.

Promoting your video to other platforms also help with engagement and increase your chances of getting more subscribers.

Engaging with your audience

High engagement is one of the factors that contribute to getting higher rankings on YouTube. You can improve engagement by consistently responding to video comments. Engaging with your audience also promotes a good relationship with them. They are more likely to connect with you or watch your other YouTube videos if you are responsive to them.

You can also proactively ask your viewers to comment, subscribe or like your videos. Ask them if they have suggestions in mind or whether they would want you to post a similar video. You can also engage with them by asking what they like about your video. Doing these can greatly boost your engagement.

YouTube Best Practices for Improving Rankings

Viral videos can improve your rankings but remember that the goal is to acquire an enormous subscriber base, form a good relationship with your audience and build your credibility.

You can achieve this by consistently publishing high-quality content. Commit to a regular schedule for posting and stick to it. As much as possible, never skip a scheduled post to gain your subscriber’s trust.

Avoid Publishing Short Videos

Ideally, you should publish videos that are at least 5 minutes in length. They tend to perform better as YouTube can run more ads with them.

Plan Ahead

Remember that the first 48 hours after publishing a video is the most critical. Do make sure that you have already figured out the keywords you are trying to rank for, have written punchy titles and descriptions for it. Your video optimization plan must be ready when publishing the video. Otherwise, you may have already missed your chances of getting better rankings. You can still fix it but it may be more difficult to rank after 48 hours.

Measure YouTube Metrics 

Measuring key performance metrics are important if you want to improve your rankings. Important metrics you need to watch out for include the watch time, average view duration and percentage views, engagement, click-through rate, playlist engagement and Who’s watching your views.

Take note of the videos that are performing well and ensure that you create similar videos or even better videos. Also, watch out for the different types of people that are watching your videos. You should have their gender, geographic location and age. This would tell you who your engaged audience is and if you are targeting the right audience.

Create Playlists

Do you want a larger subscriber base? Consider creating a playlist. You can use the keyword search to find out what your audience wants and start publishing videos centered on the topics. This is a good way to build credibility and engagement with your audience

Never Forget a Call to Action

A call to action would motivate your audience to do something — either to buy a product or a service or to subscribe to your channel.

You could say something like, “If you think this video is helpful, kindly subscribe to our channel.”

Remember that the more subscribers you have, your watch time also increases. As a result, you are more likely to rank on YouTube.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is to publish good content first. Next is to search for the right keywords and incorporate them in the video’s title, description and tags.

We hope that this article helps. Let us know if you need help optimizing your videos.

Sarkar SEO
[email protected]

Mohit Parnami aka Sarkar is an entrepreneur, marketer and Co-Founder of SarkarSEO. He is passionate about SEO and lifelong learner to learn new things. He has been in the internet marketing industry for 10+ years.