YouTube SEO - Tips for Improvement

YouTube now sees over 2 billion users logged in monthly. It began life a little over 17 years ago, and it is now under the Google umbrella. With 6 out of 10 people using online video platforms over live TV, YouTube on mobile reaches more teens to 50-year-olds than any other broadcasting network. It has a reach of over 91 countries and navigation in over 80 different languages, making it is the universal place for all things video.

YouTube can be a fantastic platform for businesses to build a great following and answer questions about their services and products. However, it’s not enough to create your content and get it uploaded.  For true YouTube success, it’s essential to get those all-important views, which is where some businesses struggle. Just how do you get your content noticed?

Boosting YouTube SEO – How Can it Help?

It’s all about YouTube SEO, which, done correctly, offers vast opportunities to boost your rankings and gain brand exposure and thus increase traffic to your website and social media channels. YouTube features second only to Google as a search engine and most visited site. It’s also the second most popular social media platform, all from video hosting and sharing, so you can see how improving your channel’s SEO could provide benefit.

Your video will get lost without optimisation using the very best in SEO practices. With over 500 hours of video uploaded each minute, it’s essential to understand how SEO works and design your content accordingly so it can easily be discovered.

SEO on YouTube – What Do I Need to Know?

It’s reasonably easy to understand the concept of keywords, key phrases, and backlinks. They should be a vital element of any online content to rank highly in Google search rankings. But what ticks the boxes for YouTube, where content is a video and can’t rely on words to do the work. You can help matters with your content title, metadata, channel, playlist, tags and descriptions to optimise the video to maximise inside and outside YouTube searches, but there’s a bit more to it than that.

YouTube also relies on engagement, likes, dislikes, watch times and how many subscribers you have on your YouTube channel.

Search engine bots won’t watch your video, so you need to tell them in the video text, using transcripts, subtitles, closed captions that encourage engagement and impact the user experience. Still, even when all that is great, many videos are still only found by visitors using YouTube search, figures ranging from 50-80% in fact. What can you do to help?

Top Tips for Better YouTube SEO

We’ve broken down our top tips into sections below. Whether you go for a complete overhaul of all your content or focus on one part at a time, this could really help you get noticed on the world’s biggest video platform.


Much the same as with other SEO, it’s vital for keywords to not only be relevant but to feature in phrases that users may search for when looking for content like yours. A tip is to enter keywords and phrases for your industry into YouTube’s Search Suggest and see how others do it. YouTube’s Studio Traffic Resources can also help you pinpoint relevant keywords. Use ‘long tail’ keyword phrases to really hone in on your content. Ensure your title, description and video filenames are keyword descriptive too. Ensure that spoken content in a video contains your target keywords. Algorithms are becoming cleverer and can now understand what is being said without a transcript, so it’s important to make the audio count. It takes a multi-pronged approach to be noticed in the sea of new content.


Offer subtitles in many languages. You will improve your overall ranking with a better chance of ranking higher in the less crowded non-English keyword audience. The broader the appeal and accessibility, the more your viewings will increase, your audience will grow, and rankings will become higher.


Often, the thumbnail is as far as some people get. If your thumbnail isn’t engaging and high-quality, you won’t convert the onlookers to an audience. Use 16:9 aspect ratios with high contrast and quality, and you should make the most of the ability to choose any shot from a moment in the video as your thumbnail. Also, look carefully at how your video thumbnail appears, as you could have selected an image that has a crucial part lost because the YouTube overlay of the video duration covers it. Google also uses its image recognition to filter out some imagery. So not only do you want to make your thumbnail choice fantastic visual imagery of the target keyword and video contents, have a check at how your viewers will see it before finally committing.

User engagement

As we mentioned at the outset, user engagement metrics strongly impact how a video ranks. Higher rankings come with comments, likes, shares, and subscriptions, so encouraging such is essential. Google is interested in keeping people on their site. They measure how viewers respond to your video and rank accordingly, so you should be looking to encourage interaction and respond to comments and messages to strengthen exposure. User engagement is also measured by the time spent watching a video and the session times of users, more so than the percentage of a video watched. This may sound a little strange, but a three-minute video watched in full will rank lower than a half-watched ten-minute video. A way to keep people watching is to create a longer video, as YouTube automatically gives precedence to longer videos. Keep viewers watching a longer video by including a teaser at the outset of, say, 15 seconds, which will encourage viewers to keep watching to the end. Spark interest and then draw viewers through a story circle back round to the teaser.

Update regularly

Google reads user intents, and you will likely get the most generated watch time within the first week a video is live, so push across all and any channel to drive that initial interest. Post regularly to keep up engagement, ensure subscribers come back, and let them know when to expect new content.

To sum up, you can boost your YouTube SEO, with videos around 10 minutes (longer if it’s fascinating) containing verbal keywords and keyword phrases in metadata, titles. Use multi-lingual subtitles to appeal to lesser tapped audiences too. There are lessons to be learned from written content SEO keyword strategies, and don’t forget your thumbnail. It’s the window to a bigger picture.

Following this advice should see you achieve higher rankings and more watchers.

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