How to Optimise YouTube Videos for SEO

11 December 2020

In our comprehensive guide, we explain the fundamentals of Youtube SEO and how you can increase rankings and visibility for your videos.

As a marketer, you will know that YouTube is one of the most visited sites on the internet and many will just treat it like any other social media platform. YouTube success won’t come from just posting any old content, you need to optimise it just like you actively do on your website. 

The Importance of a YouTube Optimisation Strategy 

YouTube is basically a platform that has all the answers, if you want to learn how to do anything from cooking a turkey at Christmas to learning the fundamentals of marketing, YouTube will likely be your go-to. It provides unlimited entertainment, music, and a platform for everyone and anyone to get their voice heard. The site has more than 2 billion active users logging on every month and every day people watch over a billion hours of video and generate billions of views.

68% of YouTube users use the platform to make a purchasing decision, so as a marketer how can you use video to help move these prospects along in the buyer journey. The best place to start is of course to develop a YouTube SEO strategy for your business channel. A YouTube SEO strategy will make your business channel search friendly for both in-app users and those who arrive through regular search engines through rich snippets.

YouTube SEO: The Basics

Before you launch yourself and your business right into the world of YouTube, you need to consider and understand the following information. 

YouTube Keyword Research

Just like any strategic content optimisation strategy, your YouTube SEO strategy needs to begin with keyword research as this will allow you to find the right keywords to be used for your YouTube videos. To start off, you want to generate a list of keyword ideas and you can do this by using the YouTube suggest feature. Simply type in your word or phrase and YouTube will give you a list of related keywords. This then tells you what your audience is interested in and how they talk about it online. 

youtube search results suggestions

Now that you have the brainstorming part complete, you want to compare the different keywords to see which are searched more often. Thankfully, there’s a completely free YouTube keyword research tool that can help you do that which is Google Trends. A lot of marketers and SEOs don’t know that you can change to ‘YouTube Search’ underneath the ‘Web Search’ option, giving you all the YouTube-specific search volume data (percentages only). 

google trend report example

Another tip is to find a popular video within your niche and copy the keywords that video has been optimised around. Keyword optimisation is a key part of YouTube SEO so if a video has lots of views, chances are it has been optimised for a popular keyword. Sort the video results by most popular and review the keywords that have been used in the title, description and also throughout the video. 

Content is King! 

To compete with all the creators in the fast-paced world of YouTube, the first thing you need to know is that your content needs to stand out from the crowd - as SEOs say, CONTENT IS KING! It’s not all about views, you want to build a subscriber base and form long-term relationships with viewers - similar to the goals you have for every social media platform. 

In order to do this, you need to produce quality content and publish on a regular schedule. If you’re not consistent with posting, you will likely lose subscribers and people will lose interest. For Google, they love to see links pointing to your site and consider it to be a vote of confidence but for YouTube SEO, it’s all about audience retention giving your channel that vote of confidence. Here a few of the signals YouTube use to determine how well your channel and content are performing:

  • Video Comments: If someone comments on your video, that sends a signal to YouTube that they enjoyed it and are interacting with your content. Encourage your viewers to comment and actively engage with them in the comments. 
  • Subscribers: If someone subscribes to your channel after watching your video, this is another signal sent to YouTube that your content is good. 
  • Social Shares: How many of your viewers are actively sharing your content on social media. 
  • Click-Through Rates (CTRs): Are users clicking on your video in the search results or are they clicking on a different video? The higher your click-through rate is, the better. 
  • Thumbs Up & Thumbs Down: This one is self-explanatory.
  • Video Length: SEOs will always tell you that longer content tends to rank better on Google, similarly, longer videos tend to rank better on YouTube. One of YouTube’s ultimate goals is to compete with TV so they can charge TV-like advertising rates. What they’re looking for is high-quality, long-form content that will allow them to run more ads and keep users on the site for longer. 
  • Watch Time: Not just for each video but your channel as a whole. Ideally, both the business and YouTube want to see monthly increases in watch time as your channel grows. 

The Critical 48 Hours

Similar to Instagram & Facebook algorithms, YouTube algorithms are known to be unforgiving. When you’re getting ready to upload a new video, be sure to have all your critical SEO optimisations ready to go. Never post a video with the intention of leaving the optimisation process until later! While you can always go back and optimise titles, descriptions, thumbnails and so on, most of the damage has already been done in the first 48 hours. 

Optimise Your Channel 

Building a professional homepage that encapsulates what your channel is about is also a crucial part of your YouTube SEO strategy. A well-optimised channel for YouTube SEO is going to help your videos rank better, firstly because your channel itself can rank in the search results and secondly because great channel pages can lead to more subscribers. Here are some tips: 

  • Create a strong banner image with your logo and appropriate calls to action, whether it be subscribing to your channel or visiting your social media pages. 
  • Use keywords in your channel’s about section - particularly those keywords you want to rank for on YouTube. 
  • Channel trailers are 1 or 2-minute videos that can cover off everything your channel is about, make it fun and interesting 
  • Take advantage of YouTube’s promotional tool, playlists. Use keyword research to figure out what people are searching for in your niche and create the playlists based on those topics. 

SEO Best Practices for Optimising YouTube Videos

Now that you understand the basics of YouTube and how it works, you’re ready to begin optimising videos. 

Video Titles

The video titles you choose are incredibly important to the success of the video you just uploaded to YouTube. Writing a good title is extremely important and here are some tips to keep in mind for creating a strong video title: 

  • Keep titles within the 60 character limit so they don’t become truncated in YouTube search results (similar to Google meta title optimisation with a 70 character limit). 
  • Keep the most important information about your video to the front of the title, such as what exactly your video is about - ‘How to Optimise YouTube Videos for SEO | Loud Mouth Media’.
  • Consider using top lists, questions, exclamations and other techniques to grab people’s attention - ‘Top 10 YouTube SEO Techniques | Loud Mouth Media’, Are Your YouTube Videos Optimised for SEO? | Loud Mouth Media’
  • After all that keyword research you have completed, make sure to put one into your title! 

Video Thumbnails

Some marketers will agree when we say that the thumbnail is actually more important than the title when it comes to enticing a YouTube user to click on your video. All other YouTube SEO efforts will be wasted if you don’t have a strong thumbnail image. If you have a verified YouTube account, you can create custom thumbnail images that include the graphical text: 

youtube thumbnail examples

Notice how these thumbnails are well lit, have text and strong graphics, they look professional, the top two have used ‘RANK #1 ON YOUTUBE’ and ‘#1 SEARCH RANK’ as a way of enticing you to click through. Some things you want to avoid with thumbnails are those that look unprofessional, using all text and clashing colours. 

Video Descriptions 

YouTube video descriptions are just as important as the title because they help viewers understand what they can expect to hear from your video. Here are some best practices for writing video descriptions: 

  • First 2-3 sentences need to be attention-grabbing. 
  • The optimum length for Youtube descriptions is 300-500 words.
  • Give only key information about your video.
  • Include links to subscribe to your channel, social media accounts, website and even any additional materials you may feel the viewer will find useful under ‘Show More’ that a user can click for extra information. 

As we touched on above, YouTube descriptions have a ‘Show More’ section. Before the ‘Show More’ you should have the most engaging part of your copy. Be as creative as you like and be sure to include a keyword or two here! 

Video Transcripts 

The video transcript you provide serves as an additional piece of copy that Youtube uses in it’s ranking algorithm. It’s also important to include your target keywords a few times throughout the video for this reason! Don’t rely on YouTube using it’s automated transcription process as you’re guaranteed to have a few errors. 

Video Tags

Video tags are words and phrases you can use to give YouTube more context about a video, they have a moderate impact on the rankings of your video and for this reason, you need to get them right. 

  • Choose around 5-8 tags that accurately describe what your video is about.
  • Use both broad and specific tags. 
  • Make sure the primary keyword is the first tag in the list.

You can find tags to be used in your video from the keyword research you carried out at the beginning, as well as the competitor research. 

A good way of finding out what tags your competitors are using is through the Tags for YouTube Chrome extension which highlights and displays tags on YouTube videos. Use this to identify if there are any tags your competitor is using and if there are any you have maybe missed. 


Video marketing strategies may not be the desired form of outreach for all brands, but even if you just have one YouTube video, you should be optimising them. If you’re not too sure about a YouTube SEO strategy, or any YouTube strategy for that matter, get in touch with our team of experts here at Loud Mouth Media today!