YouTube SEO: 13 Tips That Will Make Your Videos Rank

Are you wondering why your videos don’t rank on YouTube? Although your keyword appears in the title, description, and file name and you have set 153 great tags? I have put together the ranking factors that matter to you.

YouTube is the second largest search engine and the largest video platform in the world – and this in times of constantly increasing online video consumption, goldfish attention spans, and the all-round desire for snackable content. Videos are processed faster than text and the content remains better in the memory. It’s high time to look into video SEO in this area too.

Video SEO ↔ YouTube SEO

Is there a difference between YouTube SEO and Video SEO, or are they just synonyms?

Video SEO describes comprehensive video optimization. So it doesn’t just concern YouTube and all other video portals, but also video content on websites.

However, since videos are consumed via video platforms and because YouTube is by far the largest video platform, the term video SEO is usually used in the same way as YouTube SEO.

What are the main ranking factors for YouTube SEO?

More traffic with the right video length

The more traffic your video generates, the better it ranks – this also applies to YouTube. Clicks do not simply determine traffic.

Watch time is the most important ranking factor on YouTube. YouTube wrote back in 2012 that this was the focus. The watch time is the product of the number of views multiplied by the video time consumed. A longer video length, therefore, ensures a better watch time and brings your video forward. Of course, this does not mean that you should stretch your videos excessively and thus dilute the content. In any case, make sure that the content is or remains interesting.

Brian Dean examined 1.3 million YouTube videos. His study found that longer videos rank better than shorter ones. If the topic permits, he recommends a video length (from 8:20):

Video Introduction

The first five to 15 seconds decide whether the user wants to continue watching your video.

For this reason, you should offer your visitor an optimal introduction in three steps:

  1. Confirm right at the beginning that it is really about the subject teaser in the title. The topic is the reason why the user clicked on your video. A confirmation ensures that the interest of the user is maintained or awakened again – keyword goldfish.
  2. Explain your expertise: Provide your user with evidence of why he can believe you. References to your experiences and give exact numbers here, for example: “The 12 exclusive tips that I will tell you have ensured that my videos on YouTube have regularly ranked among the first five results for two years.
  3. Confirm the topic again and highlight the user benefits by giving a short preview of the content: “You will learn from me 12 tips that will ensure that your videos are among the top search results on YouTube within a very short time being found.”

Also Read – Tips To Earn From Youtube

Video Keyword Research

Before you shoot the video, you should find out which keywords are being searched for on YouTube and what you want to rank for. For this reason, you should first of all research relevant search queries.

You can find the step-by-step instructions for extensive keyword research. This essentially also applies to YouTube SEO. The basic extensions of YouTube keyword research compared to “normal” keyword research are as follows:

  • Use the Suggest option in the video platform (analogous to Google Suggest):
  • Use tools that search YouTube keywords (e.g., Keyword FinderSemrush).
  • See which keywords your competition is ranked for. Go to a competitor channel that is about as successful as your channel. Click on “Videos” and sort by “Most Popular”:
youtube video optimization

Check out the titles and descriptions of the most popular videos. Here you will find one or the other interesting search query.

Channel Optimization

An important ranking factor on YouTube is channel trust. The higher the frequency of publication, the engagement, the number of subscribers, and the age of the channel, the higher YouTube ranks the Channel Trust.

  • Make sure your channel description is resourceful and content, and always up to date — set links to your website and your social media channels. The channel-relevant search queries should also appear in the description.
  • Create an interesting header (recommended size: 1,546 x 423 pixels) and avatar (maximum 240 x 240 pixels) that catch the eye.
  • Create a welcome video (trailer) that will be played to non-subscribers. YouTube also advises this:

Non-subscribers to your channel will see a video that welcomes them and introduces the channel. The video will no longer be played to subscribers. You can customize the content in this area as you wish.

Make your channel presentation interesting and concise. Briefly explain who you are, what the user can expect on your channel, and when there are new uploads. The video shouldn’t be longer than a minute. Again, you should pay special attention to the introduction . Give users good reasons to subscribe to your channel and ask them to do so.

Product Quality

Adequate video quality can already be achieved with common smartphones. Also, it is worth investing a little in your equipment. The emphasis here is on “little” because each of the following products can be purchased online for 30 – 100 euros:

  1. (Tripod) tripod (for your smartphone)
  2. Studio lamps
  3. Pop-protected microphone
  4. background


What does the perfect YouTube title look like?

A good title makes you want to watch the video. It should be concise and should be created in coordination with the preview image. More than 100 characters are cut off: in addition to the required conciseness, another reason for short titles.

video title optimization

Put your main keyword at the beginning. According to the snippets of other search engines, YouTube shows that this approach pays off. In this way, the YouTube algorithm quickly recognizes which topic the video is about – this should, of course, also be true – otherwise, you will, of course, not be able to rank for the chosen keyword. (You should (of course) also name the relevant keywords in the video.)

Brackets are a good attribute. A study by HubSpot and Outbrain found that titles with parenthesized explanations perform 38 percent better than those without parentheses.

Punctuation goes sexy: Brackets in the title have been proven to increase the click rate.

Another proven strategy to make your video title even more attractive is to signal that the user is up to date. You can easily do this by naming the year in the title.


The first one to two lines of text (100-120 characters) of your video description will appear in the search results. Everything else only appears after clicking on “show more.” This means that you should use the beginning of your description to convince users that they should watch your video. Under all circumstances, avoid wasting this precious space with a notice such as “You can find the complete article here:” or similar. Instead, introduce your video topic here and include your main keyword, important secondary keywords (also long-tail kewords), or W questions.

In general, you should formulate your descriptions in a little more detail. This helps YouTube (and other search engines) understand the context of your video. Your description can count up to 5,000 characters – you should aim for 100-250 words as a reference value. However, avoid filling your description unnecessarily. In this way, spammy texts are created without great radiance. If you lack the content for such a description, choose a not so long (natural) description.

Use jump labels on long videos

In the case of particularly long videos, jump tags are available that lead the user directly to the point of interest. It may be argued that watch time suffers as a result. However, I believe that users who use jump labels in long videos would not even watch the video without these jump labels, but would continue to search for a shorter or more suitable video. So: Use jump marks in the descriptions of comprehensive videos.

Arouse curiosity without revealing too much

You should also describe the content without disclosing the details. If the user has already read everything worth knowing in the description, he may no longer need to watch the video. You should, of course, avoid that.

Also, in the description, you should make sure that your main keyword appears relatively far upfront: if possible, under the first 25 words. It should appear two to four times in the entire description without affecting the legibility.

You should also use your description to link more of your videos.


The click-through rate (CTR) is also an important ranking factor on YouTube. So that the users click on your video, you should make sure that you stand out from the YouTube environment. Use colors that stand out from white, red, and black (e.g., blue or green) that are mostly used on YouTube. It is also helpful to contrast the foreground and background: in terms of color and / or with brightness.

Use a uniform channel design for your thumbnails (channel identity).

Whether or not you should add a font to your preview picture depends on how entertaining your preview is and the subject area your channel is in. Vlogging can do well without additional text if the preview is interesting. In contrast, tutorials perform better with writing. In principle, an additional font on the preview image gives you another option to inform your audience and arouse their interest, so I advise you: Use them.

The font on thumbnails works best when it is large and bold. You should not put more than 30 characters, but make sure that the writing and image (elements) harmonize well and that the balance is right.

By Day

Tags are important. They signal YouTube what your video is about.

But don’t make a mistake and set too many tags. This only means that the video portal receives conflicting information and does not recognize what your video should rank for.

Instead, use a few (four to ten) specific tags: your main keyword should be the first day. Set two or three tags in which you specify your main keyword a little and describe it in more detail.

Optionally set two or three LSI keywords. LSI keywords (LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing) are those search queries that are related to the main keyword in terms of content.

Last but not least, add a tag or two that describe a slightly wider context.

An example:

Your video introduces the care of moth orchids (phalaenopsis).

The main keyword is “moth orchid care”. Other more specific keywords here are “moth orchid care tips”, “moth orchid care irrigation”, “moth orchid care moist”.

The following LSI keywords are available: “Malay flower care” and “phalaenopsis care.”

You can describe the larger context with the following tags: “orchid care”, “flower care”, “floristry”.


This is certainly not the biggest lever to get your videos forward. I still believe that the file name should contain the main keyword because this sends another character to YouTube that it is the topic in question.


The setting of categories is not SEO-relevant but decides which users your video may be displayed on the homepage. You should not miss this chance.

Subtitle / transcript

Subtitles or transcripts are intended to help the hearing impaired. However, they can also be read by search engines. YouTube usually creates quite good subtitles. However, since speech recognition is not yet fully developed, you should check the transcript and correct it if necessary.

Be on the safe side that your content is understood by both your audience and YouTube.

YouTube Engagement

If users interact with your video, this is a sign for YouTube that they like your video. This ranking factor is becoming increasingly important on YouTube. If your video is liked, commented, shared by many users, and your channel is subscribed to after watching the video, YouTube will register and honor it.

Many users would like to subscribe to your channel, but they don’t always think about it. So definitely call your users to do so. Do not just do this at the end of your video, but also in between fades. At the end of the video, you should also verbally request it again. Provide a reason here why a subscription makes sense.

You should also show requests for likes and shares during your video.

Above all, you should call for comments. Brian Dean also examined Engagement Signals in his study mentioned above: the number of comments had the greatest impact on the ranking. You can favor comments with topic-specific questions such as “Which of the strategies presented will you try out first?”

Get comments from your audience! They bring your video forward.


YouTube SEO is not rocket science. If your videos haven’t ranked well yet, it doesn’t mean that it will stay that way. You can still apply some tips for existing videos; you should include some in the preparations for your next video.

If you produce good videos with added value – and, as we have learned, you don’t need a large budget for this – then you only need to heed the tips presented here, and nothing stands in the way of your YouTube happiness.

What tips have worked for you? Do you think I forgot an important point? Leave a comment.

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