13 YouTube SEO Tips: How to Optimize YouTube Videos

Kiley Peters

Content Marketing,

How to Optimize YouTube Video Content

One of the beautiful things about people becoming more aware of how important a solid content marketing strategy is to their brand is their increased awareness of SEO. As any current multimedia content strategist will tell you, video has become a cornerstone of many content marketing strategies. However, one question clients often ask is "How do I optimize my videos on YouTube for search?" This is a great question! After all, why spend time creating content that isn't going to end up being found by people searching for it, regardless of if it's written or video? So let's wander over to SEO land and take a gander of which steps you can take to optimize YouTube videos.

YouTube is the second largest search engine and almost always appears with results on the first page of Google, it's a huge opportunity to capitalize on!

13 SEO Tips for Optimizing Content for YouTube

  1. Establish a keyword strategy.

    As always, when creating content, there needs to be a strategy behind the content and the reason you're creating said content. The best and most effective way to derive this strategy is by a well-thought out, comprehensive keyword strategy based on the interests and needs of your target audience. What are they searching for? What questions are they asking? Create a keyword strategy that addresses these items. A robust long tail keyword strategy is the key to optimizing your on-site web content.

  2. Front load video titles with major keywords and key phrases.

    Now you know your keyword strategy, so let's put it to good use. Make sure your video title speaks to your audience in the way they may be searching for content. Include your main keywords near the beginning of the video title. Or if you're creating a series of "how-to" videos for your business, have the video title be the entire question that you're answering.

  3. Include brackets in your video titles.

    Hubspot found that content titles that include brackets tend to see up to a 33% increase in average views than those without. Add brackets/parenthesis to the end of your video titles!

  4. Include the main keyword or key phrase in the name of the video file.

    Again, it's not a bad thing to include the same keyword strategy from your video title on the YouTube platform in the video file name. Actually, it's recommended.Optimizing-keywords-YouTube

  5. Leave a very specific call-to-action (CTA) at the end of your video.

    It's not surprising to find that videos with higher engagements tend to be favored in YouTube's ranking algorithm. So how do you get more people to like, share and comment on your videos? Optimize your CTA. Don't leave it open-ended, be very specific about what you'd like them to do. End cards are a great way to capitalize on this, but don't overwhelm your audience. Keep your ask specific.YouTube-Title-CTA

  6. Write a keyword friendly description.

    Your video description is really important. Along with your video title, tags, etc. it provides additional context for Google and YouTube to help determine if your video content is the best to serve up for specific search inquiries.Here are a few basic best practices to help provide context:

    • Include your main keyword/key phrase in the first 25 words
    • Include your main keyword/key phrase 2-4 times (but don't be spamtastic)
    • Write out at least 250 words
  7. Use "Subtitles/CC" (closed caption) feature.

    According to DigiDay research, 85% or more of video is consumed without audio. So in an effort not to ask more of your audience, make sure they are able to still consume your video content even if they aren't watching with audio enabled. By doing this you also take control of your content messaging. For anyone who lives in a major metropolitan city, you know how annoying it is when that one person on the subway/train decides they HAVE to listen to that one video but they forgot their headphones at home. So rude!

  8. Use relevant keywords in YouTube tags.

    While tags aren't as important as they once were, they do still have relevance. The goal of tags is to help Google and YouTube identify the content of your video. So you don't need to overload your content with a crazy number of hashtags, but instead pick out a few specific ones that match the content you're uploading. Make sure to include your main keywords first and then you can also include a few variations based on other searches you think people may be conducting that would be relevant to your video. You can also include more "category" type tags, think of these as the "category" that your content might be labeled as. Is it "fashion" or "recipes" or "healthy recipes" or "european travel destinations?" Include those as well to help add additional context for YouTube to reference.A great competitive advantage here is to take a look at similar videos to yours and see which ones are most popular. If your video is high quality and shares similar tags and content to highly trafficked videos, you could increase your likelihood to appear as a suggested video. Bingo, bango!

  9. Create longer videos.

    We've seen numerous sources report that longer videos tend to rank better on YouTube, similarly to longer content on web pages ranks better on Google. Brian Dean, from Backlinko says the sweet spot in video length is between 8-15 minutes (around the 9 minute mark), and we don't disagree!

  10. Organize your videos in relevant playlists.

    Just as you may color code your clothes and organize your shoes by style so they're easier to find, the same rule applies to your videos. Anything that comes in volumes and can be categorized should for easy access. Make it easy on your viewers to quickly find the content they're looking for and make sure to utilize your keyword strategy with your playlist titles too!Another bonus with playlists is that they automatically play the next video in the playlist once the "clicked on" video ends. This could result in significant additional views to your content and who doesn't want that!?

  11. Choose engaging thumbnail images with short copy.Choosing-thumbnail-image-YouTube

    You only have a few brief seconds (if you're lucky) to capture someone's attention and get them to click on your video. You'll have your video title and your thumbnail and that's about it. Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating your thumbnail (and here are a few more):

    • Choose an image that represents action or sentiment from your video content. If you can get people to feel something, that's a home run.
    • Use colors that don't blend into YouTube's branded platform. YouTube's brand colors are primarily red, white and black. Use colors that stand out from that colors scheme.
    • Add a few key words/engaging title as copy into your thumbnail. Studies show that thumbnails with copy tend to perform better than those without.
  12. Create links to your videos.

    As any good content marketer will tell you, reuse and repurpose all day long! Hopefully you have a robust content marketing strategy underway and you have other channels you can share your video content. If you have a blog, make sure to embed videos in those blog posts! Include links in your emails and social media content too. Build that backlink street cred!

  13. Build your YouTube subscriber base.

    Well, duh, right? Easier said than done, we know. But it's true. Just like any social media platform, the more captive audience you have, the more eyeballs that have potential to see your content and the more likelihood you have for engagement. Once you've mastered these techniques to optimize your YouTube videos, you might want to expand and work on growing your overall YouTube channel. However, at the end of the day, keep in mind that content is still king!


*After properly optimizing this YouTube video, it was the very first listing in search result of 1,040 videos.YouTube SEO


Founder & CEO

Kiley Peters is the Founder and CEO of Brainchild Studios, a boutique audience research, content strategy, and website creation agency primarily serving brands targeting Millennial Moms or business owners. She is also the Founder of the Work From Home Playbook, a series of online courses guiding aspiring entrepreneurial moms through the steps of starting a virtual business. She also launched the Brainchild Fund, a nonprofit initiative to support women and girls in business and entrepreneurship Follow her on Instagram.

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