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23+ YouTube SEO Tips: How to Optimize Videos for Higher Rankings

YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google, with over 2 billion logged-in monthly users. Ranking highly on YouTube can bring huge traffic and viewership for your videos. But thr youtube platform is extremely competitive, with 500 hours of content uploaded every minute.

Implementing strong YouTube SEO (search engine optimization) strategies is important to ranking your videos higher in both YouTube and Google search results. In this comprehensive guide I have covered all the essential tips and best practices for YouTube SEO.

Keyword Research

Choosing the right keywords is the foundation of ranking highly and getting views on YouTube. Here are some main steps for keyword research:

Analyze Competing Videos in Your Niche

Use incognito mode to identify keywords your competitors are already ranking for. See what search terms drive traffic to top videos in your niche and identify opportunities to create better content that ranks.

Use Keyword Planner Tools

YouTube Autocomplete, Google Keyword Planner, and tools like VidIQ or TubeBuddy provide keyword search volumes and difficulty scores. Generate long-tail variations around core keywords with decent search volume and low competition.

Incorporate Semantic Keywords

Include closely related words and synonyms in your video’s metadata as well. For example, use “review”, “tutorial”, “tips”, “guide” etc. for a “how-to” video to hit more search queries.

Perform Ongoing Keyword Research

Continuously analyze your analytics to see what terms visitors searched for before landing on your videos. Double down on those winning keywords while phasing out ones driving little traffic.

Optimize Video Title

Your video’s title plays a major role in YouTube algorithm’s assessment of relevance, driving 70% of your video’s search traffic.

Include Primary Keyword

Naturally incorporate your most important keyword in the first 2-3 words of the title without over-optimizing. For example, “Speed Painting Tutorial for Beginners”.

Keep it Concise and Attention-Grabbing

YouTube cuts off titles longer than 70-80 characters. Use intriguing language without being clickbaity. For example, “I Tried Every Speed Painting Technique” is better than “Here’s a Bunch of Speed Painting Methods”.

Use Formats Like Numbers, Brackets

Numbered lists (5 Speed Painting Tips) or brackets ([How To] Speed Paint Tutorial for Beginners) tend to perform well. Just don’t force them if they make the title messy.

A/B Test Multiple Titles

Try out a few title variations for each video when first published to see which gains more impressions and CTR over time. You can always change the title without affecting past performance.

Write Strong Video Descriptions

The description box offers a prime opportunity to include relevant keywords and optimize text around them. Here are some tips:

Insert Keywords Naturally

Organically incorporate target terms in sentences within your first 1-2 paragraphs, like “In this landscape painting tutorial for beginners, I show you my easy techniques for mixing colors and doing washes”.

Provide Value To Viewers

Use concise paragraphs highlighting timestamps linking to each section rather than a dense block of text. Include links to resources mentioned.

Use Complete Sentences and Paragraphs

YouTube treats text in descriptions and metadata just like a web page. Use proper grammar, punctuation and formatting. Avoid spammy repetitive keywords.

Tag Video Appropriately

Adding relevant tags signals to YouTube what your video is about, similar to categories.

Use All 500 Character Tags

Include primary keywords, semantic variations, related words, even misspellings. Separate them clearly with commas for readability.

Be Specific

Tags like “tutorial” and “guide” are too broad. Use niche-specific phrases like “color mixing techniques” instead.

Research Competitors’ Popular Tags

See what tags commonly used by top-ranking videos in your niche. These tend to drive more search traffic, while still closely relating to your content.

Optimize Thumbnails

Custom thumbnails give a strong visual cue summarizing the content, increasing CTR.

Create Intriguing, Recognizable Visuals

Zoom into an intense expression, showcase revealing examples from the video, include attractive color contrasts – anything eye-catching.

Use Contrasting Text

Overlay big, bold white or black letters – like the promise shown in the title – for easy readability against colorful backgrounds.

Convey Emotion

Facial expressions signaling delight, surprise or concentration pique curiosity. Ensure these match content.

Test Multiple Options

Leverage A/B testing for thumbnails too. YouTube Studio and many third-party tools allow easy comparisons between potential thumbnails.

Promote Audience Retention

YouTube cares about keeping viewers engaged throughout videos – not just click-throughs. High audience retention signals relevant, high-quality content.

Hook Viewers Early

Catch attention immediately explaining what’s coming in the video. Summarize value right at the start.

Structure Content Strategically

Break up longer videos with interesting sections in chapters, graphics, b-roll sequences between talking-head portions.

Pace Smoothly

Ensure logical flow between points. Use transitions when changing topics or visuals become disjointed.

Refine Through Analytics

Check audience retention reports in YouTube Studio. See where dropoffs happen, then tweak those sections to be punchier.

Encourage Engagement

YouTube also tracks metrics like comments, likes, shares and subscribers gained to gauge engagement.

Prompt Comments

Ask viewers questions about specific sections, or their own experiences with techniques shown. Pin interesting comment threads.

Remind To Like & Subscribe

Gently suggest liking at the start and subscribing closer to end – but don’t sound desperate. Feature appealing end cards and links.

Share Interesting Statistics

Sprinkle in surprising facts, polling result data relevant to your content. This taps into the human tendency to share fascinating information.


The YouTube algorithm is always advancing, but focusing efforts on these critical elements will help build a solid foundation for ranking higher in YouTube search. We are working on another article which has few more youtube advance SEO techniques. Stay tuned for more tips in Part 2.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How many tags should I use?

A: There is no optimal number, but 15-20 well-chosen tags work well. Avoid stuffing too many as it appears spammy.

Q: Does video length impact YouTube SEO?

A: Yes, typically videos over 5 minutes have higher retention and rankings. But quality trumps length for relevance.

Q: Can I edit titles/descriptions after publishing videos?

A: Yes, you can update YouTube video metadata anytime. But drastic changes may temporarily impact performance.

Q: Should I include links in description?

A: 1-2 contextual backlinks from authority sites are allowed. But avoid link dumps, or YouTube may remove all links.

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