12 Tips On How To Optimize And Rank Your YouTube Video for SEO (The Ultimate Guide)

By Andre Oentoro December 4, 2021

Do you know that YouTube is the second biggest website on the internet, just right after Google?

This social media platform has been an excellent tool for marketers and businesses to show their products and services to local people and a lot of internet users worldwide.

If your business is already on YouTube, you will probably want to know how to optimize your videos for SEO so you can get more views and boost your sales in the process.

You may have heard that YouTube is owned by Google, which means that if you’re able to improve your search engine ranking, then there’s a big chance that you will also be able to rank high on YouTube.

That’s why most marketers will work on improving their YouTube content in order to rank higher both in Google search engine and YouTube platform.

The Determiner Factors For YouTube SEO

Google indexes YouTube videos just like any other website, which means that the more popular your video is on YouTube, the higher you will be ranked on Google.

There are several factors that go into how well your video ranks on the search engine results page (SERP), some of which include:


The title should be as descriptive and engaging as possible.

Also, make sure to keep it under 70 characters long, as this is what displays in their lists and where much of your focus should be when writing it.


The description of your video serves as its first impression for anyone who may come across it in the future, so adding clear and concise details about what your video is about can give you a significant edge over others.

Remember that this field allows for 5,000 characters. However, YouTube’s search algorithm uses certain rules when indexing information.


Adding one or more tags will help YouTube categorize your video better (e.g., “sports” if you upload a football game clip, “technology” if you make a tutorial video). You should follow some general rules here.

For example, don’t use the names of any other videos uploaded by other users.

Watch Time

Though this isn’t a technical SEO element for YouTube, watch time is one of the more crucial variables to see how well your video ranks on YouTube and gets recommended to others.

To improve your watch time, you’ll need to use quality YouTube editing software and have interesting content for the viewer to enjoy.


Make sure you choose an appropriate category that best describes your video and where it would be most likely found on the site.


Choose a language that makes sense for your video (e.g., “English” for videos in English).

In addition to this, you can also select multiple languages. You should use your native language wheneducating a local audience. That way, you’ll reach out to the right end users.

Privacy setting

Select either Public or Unlisted so that your video may show up in search results, depending on how people have searched YouTube before.

If you choose Private, then only those who have been given a direct link to the corresponding video will see it.

12 YouTube SEO Tips For Your Channel

If you want to improve SEO on YouTube, you should consider optimizing the determiner factors that help you rank higher.

Below are a few examples of how you do it right.

1. Select the right keyword

A keyword is an essential part of a successful YouTube marketing strategy.

So how do you come up with good keywords for your videos?

Use the Google AdWords keyword tool to find out what people search for on Google and YouTube.

You’ll need a Gmail account in order to try it out, but it’s free to sign up.

Enter 2-5 words related to your video topic, and you’ll get a list of search terms that people use when they’re looking for stuff like yours.

2. Add keywords in your video title

Use video titles that are SEO friendly when you’re first adding a video to your account.

Make sure to put some thought into the title. If possible, make sure that you’ve used relevant keywords already throughout the title.

Put an asterisk (*) by each keyword, so YouTube will know what words are most important to the video.

Also, try to keep each title under 70 characters and above 12 words. Keep in mind that spaces and underscores ( _ ) also count towards your character total.

Keep in mind to include your chosen phrase or quote from your video in the video title so that more people will click on it from search results.

Let people know what your video is about in the description, and include a link to another related page on your site and your main site.

3. Include keywords in the video description

Just like you did with your video titles, include keywords where appropriate when you’re adding a description for your videos too.

This way, it works well even if people search for something else entirely (though including relevant titles and descriptions is always best).

Try to make sure that these sentences don’t take up the whole description. Go for 200-300 words at most per description box.

4. Enhance your metadata

Metadata is just fancy talk for tags. It refers to information that you give a file so that it can be identified easily.

Think of metadata as a way to categorize and bring attention to your video – you might include categories like sports, news, kids & family, or pets.

You’ll also want to list the most important tags that reflect what your video is about.

For example, a title “how to plant a tree” will make good possible tags, such as tree planting, how to grow grass, landscaping tips, and many more.

A documentary from DWdocumentary includes the “agriculture” tag because the video is about the topic.

This will improve search results when people are looking for agriculture-related videos as the content will quickly show up.

5. Add annotations to your video

Annotations allow you to place clickable links on the timeline of your video, so instead of just linking the description or title, you can include a link that shows up at a certain point during the video.

This is pretty important as these links will help you rank for those queries as well as drive traffic directly to your website.

For example, “Click here if you want to see how it’s done.” Make sure these words are also in the description and title of your videos – they need to be front and center for this technique to work. You should also make use of more general keywords like ‘click here.’

Annotations can help direct people towards other trending videos, which could also be useful to their searches.

Again, try not to overdo this, as it needs to be subtle enough to distract viewers too much.

You can also use annotations at the end of other videos where possible so that viewers will watch more than one of yours and get more value out of your channel overall.

6. Customize your thumbnail images

Thumbnail images should match the content of your videos, so don’t just stick them with some pretty stock photos or regular screenshots.

Display the same contextual relevance that you would in any other promotional material for your video.

You can customize these images without editing your actual videos since YouTube allows you to upload custom ones under the ‘Video Manager’ tab.

Custom thumbnails persuade more people to click through to watch your video – and they can even boost views greatly.

Try using an image that accurately reflects the content of the video as well as is eye-catching.

7. Enable subtitles/CC

You’ve probably seen these options before where you can either choose a closed caption track or add a subtitle for better accessibility.

Here’s what most people don’t know: adding subtitles is one of the best ways to help with SEO rankings on YouTube, more importantly, if they contain optimized, keyword-rich titles. This has been tested by several sources and was covered by many SEO blogs, including Moz and Search Engine Journal.

8. Promote your videos on other sites

It’s important that you give people a reason to subscribe to your channel.

One of the best ways to do this is by promoting all of your other social media profiles within your videos.

Now, if you’re just starting out with YouTube, these may include LinkedIn and Twitter, but as time goes on, you should be able to expand into Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.

You may as well need a link back to blog posts or website articles related to the video you are currently uploading.

This helps create engagement within the YouTube platform, which helps drive up rankings.

You can leverage the power of your website to get more views on YouTube by sending out some ‘video sitemaps’ or simply posting a link with a description on forums and social media websites.

If you have a built-in audience from another source, this is a good way to optimize more keywords in just one go.

9. Optimize for local search

If you’re running a brick-and-mortar business that targets specific locations, optimizing your video content for local searches will help you get more targeted traffic.

In most cases, people searching for businesses like yours are also looking for extra information such as product recommendations.

10. Pick a video category

This is important to make sure you don’t lose traffic from people looking for something that your video isn’t about.

For example, if your video is about making hamburgers, losing traffic because someone was looking for food recipes wouldn’t be good.

Make sure the category you pick is the one most relevant to your video content.

11. Include keywords in your video file names

One way to tell Google what your video is about is by using keywords in the file names.

Check out the screenshot below that shows multiple ways of naming a video file, so Google knows which keyword you are optimizing for.

Doing this will help your videos rank higher on YouTube results pages as well as other search engines.

It’s not guaranteed to work 100% of the time, but it may give you an edge over other videos competing for the same spots on these search engines.

12. Add YouTube timestamp

Timestamps help increase SEO because they provide specific terms/phrases users want to know from the very beginning.

YouTube timestamps boost views, and traffic performance as the queries will direct to a video section where a keyword is highlighted.

Therefore, adding a timestamp will help end-users find your content faster because you’ve provided important moments in a video that answers their questions.


YouTube provides easy access for users wanting to find information quickly because videos are now more preferable than other types of content marketing.

However, posting videos on YouTube doesn’t guarantee you to get discovered easily, especially when your competitors post the same thing.

YouTube SEO strategies help you improve your search result without spending dollars on paid searches.

First of all, you need to understand what counts in determining YouTube search engine results.

A few elements to consider are:

  • Keywords on the video title and descriptions.
  • Using customized thumbnails.
  • Adding meta tags relevant to your content.
  • Adding timestamps. 

You can optimize these elements so that users can find your videos right away.


YouTube videos have become a staple for both marketers and companies looking to reach a wide demographic.

But it’s important to always optimize your videos from an SEO perspective, so be sure to follow the tips laid out in this article.

YouTube is the second most trafficked website on the internet (right after Google), which means there are huge opportunities for marketing online through video marketing.

Using keywords correctly is one of the best ways of getting results when using YouTube.

The first step of optimizing your YouTube video is using relevant keywords within your title, description, tags, and annotation text.

The more relevant these are, the better they will rank on search engines like Google who recognize metadata like descriptions and tags.

Good luck!

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Andre Oentoro

Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order).


  1. Hi Andre,

    I really loved this post! I have started using YouTube recently, and I learned a lot from this article. Since some of my friends also have YouTube channels, I will also be sharing this resource with them. Thank you for sharing such amazing tips, I really gained a lot of insights from this article, and I really appreciate you taking the time and curating such an in-depth guide. Looking forward to reading more of your articles.

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