How to Optimize YouTube Videos for Search Engines

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Video is the future of media! According to Cisco, video will make up 82% of all internet traffic within the next 3 years. According to Animoto, 4 out of 5 customers would prefer watching a video to reading about a product. We are increasingly turning to video for education and entertainment as a culture.

Internet Video StatsWith these stats in mind, it’s no wonder YouTube has become the internet powerhouse that it is. It happens to be one of the most visited sites ever, only second to Google. 

YouTube started out back in 2005 by the creators of Paypal. Before it had even been up and running for a full year, Google bought the site for $1.65 billion. Today, YouTube draws more than 1.3 billion users and 5 billion videos are watched each day! 

With such whopping numbers, there’s a significant audience to tap into by creating YouTube content. In addition, uploading your video content to YouTube automatically places it in Google’s index, speeding up your overall SEO.

We want to help you rank high on YouTube’s search engine. Their current algorithms take into consideration watch time, keywords, subscriber count, and engagement. With that in mind, here are our 6 tips for optimizing your YouTube SEO!

YouTube Logo

 Tip 1: Include your keywords! 

Like with all SEO, keywords help YouTube figure out what you content is all about. It can’t understand video, it can only interpret text.

The first place fit in your important keywords is the video title. This is also one of the first things viewers will see in their search, so make it both interesting and informative!

Next, you have 1000 characters available to you in your description. This is a gold mine for including keywords. It’s also the best place to inform YouTube more broadly what your video is about.

Keep in mind, the first 100 characters are what’s visible for viewers when they search -- so make these the most important! That way, you are more likely to get views.

Finally, you have the ability to create tags for each video. This is another place to use keywords. Tags will connect your videos to others with the same tags, which can help garner views via their “suggested videos” feature.

 Tip 2: Customize your thumbnail 

As we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words. Your thumbnail has the power to capture the attention of YouTube viewers and break through the clutter. Many people choose which video to click on solely based on the thumbnail image.

While YouTube has automated thumbnails available, using a custom one is worth the extra few minutes. The Creator Academy disclosed that 90% of the best performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails.”

To customize thumbnails, you must verify your account. Doing so is super easy and only takes a few seconds. Make sure your thumbnail photo is visually attractive, engaging, and gives a good glimpse into the video content.

 Tip 3: Provide awesome, relevant content that’s worth staying for! 

Watch time is a YouTube metric that can help boost your SEO. You want viewers to click… and stay! If not, it will hurt your SEO. Watch time is slightly more important than number of views, so it’s better to maintain viewers than to collect them.

Make sure your content is entertaining, informative, or emotional (take a note from those cute cat videos!). If your viewers feel something or learn something, they are much more likely to stay engaged.

Cute Cat Videos-663165-edited

Keep prospects interested by using highly engaging content.

 Tip 4: Organize your videos into playlists containing keywords 

YouTube allows you to group your content into playlists, based on what it’s about. Once you have 10+ videos, it’s time to start organizing them. Integrate keywords into the playlists’ titles to boost SEO.

Another perk is that autoplay on playlists can garner your videos more views! If someone is YouTube-binging, they might just watch the entire playlist. It also ensures viewers can find all of your content on a specific subject easily and quickly (just one more reason to emphasize Tip 3).

 Tip 5: Share your content with communities who care 

Using keywords can speed up the process of helping viewers find you. However, you can also find them. Seek out communities made of people that would value your content. Check out Facebook groups and forums surrounding your topics of expertise.

Having your video linked to also boosts its general SEO. Getting linked makes your content appear trusted and valued by others in Google’s eyes.

One warning -- be cautious of appearing like spam. Make sure you really pinpoint your audience. Share where you know your content will be appreciated. That way, you gain points for view count, watch time, and you might even gain a few interested subscribers.

 Tip 6: Don’t be afraid to ask your viewers to like and subscribe! 

If you’ve been in the YouTube community long enough, you know how common this little trick is. This call to action is simple. At the beginning of your video, introduce yourself and give a brief overview of the content you produce.

Then, politely ask for your audience to like and subscribe if they have interest in your future videos. This little reminder can have a big impact on your subscription numbers.


Please like, comment, and subscribe!

It also doesn’t hurt to ask a question and prompt viewers to comment on their thoughts. This increased engagement will also improve your SEO.

These 6 tips are sure to boost your YouTube SEO. They are small ways that can make a big impact when done all together. Who knows… if you implement all of these, your video might just rank up with those cute cat videos someday!

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Videos are a vital content for inbound marketing strategies. To learn more about inbound marketing, check out our post,  How Inbound Marketing Creates Lead Generation for Healthcare. 

digital marketing, YouTube, SEO


My name is Carolyn. I am from Orange County, California. I am currently a senior at University Of San Diego pursuing a degree in marketing. I love reading, music, traveling, and finding new vegan resturaunts. IG:@carolynking_

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