SEO | April 25, 2014

Youtube SEO (Search Engine Optimisation): How to Make Your Video Rank Well

Our YouTube SEO tips will help you get the most out of this digital platform.

After Google, YouTube is the world’s largest search engine. Search engines are what we term even “onsite” search bars, like what you see on YouTube. With 3 million different enquiries made every month and 1 billion monthly users, it goes without saying that the video sharing service is big news.

Therefore, YouTube SEO represents a big opportunity for marketers. And if you’ve created a video that you think could go viral, you’ve got to give it the best chance of doing so. How can you rank well on YouTube? Let’s take a look:

YouTube Ranking Factors:

The below factors are perceived to be YouTube’s ranking factors:
• Average view duration for all videos across your channel
• Top videos or channels listed by watch time
• Audience retention data for a specific video for different time frames
• Relative audience retention for a video compared to the YouTube average for similar videos

Other YouTube ranking factors surrounding engagement:
• Video comments
• Subscribers – after watching a video
• Video shares
• Click-through rate
• Thumbs up/thumbs down
• Watch time
• Channel authority
• Positive sentiment and engagement
• Broad match keyword targeting across title, description, and keyword tags

First things first, know that YouTube isn’t very personalised

Unlike Google, which is becoming increasingly personalised thanks to the integration of Google+, search results on YouTube search don’t depend on who you are or what you know. The search results you’ll find will be near enough identical whether you’re signed in or signed out.

That means the playing field is relatively level. Getting your optimisation right can make all the difference.

Get your tags right

When uploaded to YouTube, the video should have the correct tags. Some tags are more general, and some will be identified within the keyword research.
Using the correct tags works in a similar way to keywords within Google search, and they will make the video much more visible to searchers within the platfrom.. We would recommend the use of up to five tags, including at least one keyword.

In 2012, YouTube removed the visibility of tags from video pages, but that’s not to say they’re no longer there. Nor are they irrelevant. If you’re looking for your video to rank well on YouTube, it makes sense to tag it with relevant terms and keywords.

What’s more, you should also tag your YouTube channel name in every video you upload. This helps YouTube to link your videos with each other and give them a higher chance of appearing in related fields.

How to find the right YouTube keywords

Like Google, YouTube has a Keyword Tool which allows you to enter in keywords and see the search volume that they enjoy. This can help you to generate great ideas (for onsite content as well as video content) and see what people are looking for on YouTube.

What’s more, consulting YouTube’s Autosuggest feature, which works the same way as Google’s, can offer you inspiration and insight into how users behave on YouTube.

Write a decent video description

YouTube spiders can’t watch a video, so it’s your job to tell them what it’s all about. Be detailed and compelling and give the reader plenty of reasons to watch your video. Make sure that your video description is at least 200 words and include relevant keywords throughout – particularly in the first couple of lines.

The description is also a great place to put a link to your blog or social networks to encourage viewers to interact further with your brand.

Could you include a transcript?

Alongside a description you could also include a transcript, which states verbatim what your video as about. Again, this gives YouTube a greater understanding of your video and makes it more likely to rank well for YouTube search results.

Craft terrific titles

Video titles are just as important in YouTube SEO as they are in Google or Bing SEO. The headline of your video is the most important aspect – so ensure that you’re including as many target keywords as possible while, of course, still catching the eye of browsers online.

Like Google, a YouTube video title shouldn’t really exceed 65 characters or look spammy.

Build your own brand channel

As it strives to push the quality of its content up, YouTube wants videos from authoritative, respected sources. That’s why it makes sense to build your own Youtube channel. A popular channel will stand a greater chance of its videos ranking well for relevant search terms.

YouTube will take a number of factors into account when discerning the popularity of your channel, including:

• The amount of subscribers

• Your cumulative views

• The popularity of your playlists

• Video interactions

• Your channel’s title and description

• Your channel’s age

Remember, your channel will be your brand’s public face and you’ll be able to stay consistent with the aesthetics and written tone of your website, as well as other social networks and relevant marketing campaigns. YouTube SEO is certainly worth the effort if you constantly post of that digital platform.


If the video will be featured onsite it is important to use an embed code. Again, If the video is going to be outreached, an embed code which includes the link to the post should be used, this will ensure a backlink is achieved.


Transcripts are a really important way for YouTube to understand the content of the video. Submitting a transcript of the video will be a necessity. Consider weaving keywords into your video script before filming, so they appear naturally when you transcribe it

Search Specifications

When posting the video content onsite, it will be important for the meta information to be optimised – Liberty can provide support with this. If the video solves a specific problem, it should also be optimised to appear as a featured snippet. These are hard to achieve but highly effective if they are successful. Again, Liberty can provide support with schema mark-up for this.

Social Purposes

If you are sharing your videos through Facebook, the in-newsfeed video autoplay does not automatically trigger sound. So, if the core of the content is in the dialogue, the messaging may be lost and the content may be less effective. Therefore, it’s worth considering creating different videos specificallycatered to each channel.

It’s also worth considering publishing teaser videos to share on social channels such as Facebook. These will encourage users to click through to YouTube to watch the full video and engage with the content there.


Include a call to action (CTA) at the end of the video and also in the description box to ensure that you funnel the viewer to the next stage in the journey (e.g. to an appropriate page on your website).

Make sure your thumbnails are clear and compelling to encourage click through – these could incorporate CTAs also.

YouTube SEO Tools

Many SEO tools can be repurposed to become YouTube SEO tools.

Ahrefs has it’s own dedicated YouTube keyword research tool that allows you to see how may searches a term gets in your country on YouTube

youtube seo-search-volume-tool

Google Trends also has supported YouTube SEO options. You can swicth to the YouTube tab to findout how a keyword has trended over time on the YouTube platform. You can even compare terms to findout how 2 diffrent search terms compare.

google trend youtube seo example

Keyword tool has a super useful front end interface which makes it easy for you to select a selection of social media and digital platforms including YouTube.

keyword tool youtube search exmaple

Get popular, stupid!

Tags, content, titles: YouTube optimisation all sounds very similar to Google right now. However, while Google doesn’t seem to judge a web page on its bounce rates and page view times, YouTube rankings do depend on the popularity of content.

If your video has high levels of engagement, with lots of views and a decent number of reactions and comments, then you’ll be more likely to rank well in searches.

What’s more, since 2012, YouTube has placed increased emphasis on how users behave when they’re watching online. Videos with a high ‘average watching time’ will enjoy better search rankings.

Sharing is caring 

The popularity of YouTube videos also manifests itself in sharing. Videos with plenty of organic links that have been shared on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ stand a great chance of ranking in YouTube.

In most part, the secret to YouTube SEO & ranking well in YouTube searches is markedly similar to Google. You can do the little things well and give your content a decent chance of attracting views, but it’s only through creating cracking content that you’ll get shares, likes and, as a result, increased ROI from the world’s second-largest search engine.

This infographic from Tag SEO shows all the many factors that go into ranking a YouTube video:

How to rank well in Youtube

(Image: Rego Korosi)

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