YouTube Channel SEO, How to Rank YouTube Videos

YouTube Channel SEO: How to Rank YouTube Videos, Many YouTubers ask people to like, comment, and subscribe

Aug 6, 2020 - 10:39
Mar 8, 2022 - 03:40
YouTube Channel SEO, How to Rank YouTube Videos
YouTube SEO, How to Optimize Videos for YouTube Search

YouTube SEO: How to Optimize Videos for YouTube Search in 2020

  1. Rename your video file using a target keyword.
  2. Insert your keyword naturally in the video title.
  3. Optimize your video description.
  4. Tag your video with popular keywords that relate to your topic.
  5. Categorize your video.
  6. Upload a custom thumbnail image for your video's result link.
  7. Use an SRT file to add subtitles & closed captions.
  8. Add Cards and End Screens to increase your YouTube channel's viewership.

1. Rename your video file using a target keyword. 

Just like you would when optimizing written content, you'll utilize a SEO device to initially recognize keywords you'd like your video to concentrate on (you can peruse popular YouTube SEO tools below these tips, or just snap that connect earlier in this sentence). 

With a keyword recognized, the primary spot you should put it is your video file - before you even upload it to YouTube. Why? YouTube can't actually "watch" your video to perceive that it is so relevant to your target keyword, and as you'll learn in the tips below, there are just so many places you can safely embed this keyword on your video's survey page once it's published. In any case, YouTube can read your video's file name and all the code that accompanies it when it's uploaded. 

In light of that, replace the "" file name (don't be embarrassed ... we've all been there during after creation) with your ideal keyword. In the event that your keyword is "house painting tips," for example, your video's file name ought to be "house-painting-tips" followed by your preferred video file type (MOV, MP4, and WMV are probably the most widely recognized that are compatible with YouTube). 

2. Addition your keyword naturally in the video title. 

When we search for videos, one of the principal things that our eyes are drawn to is the title. That's frequently what decides if the viewer will snap to watch your video, so the title ought not exclusively be convincing, yet additionally clear and concise. 

Although your keyword plays a major part in your video title, it also helps if the title closely matches what the viewer is searching for. Research conducted by Backlinko found that videos with an exact keyword match in the title have just a slight advantage over those that don't. Here's a linear representation of those discoveries

So, while "using your target keyword in your title may help you rank for that term," report author Brian Dean explains, "the relationship between keyword-rich video titles and rankings" isn't always a strong one. Nonetheless, it's a good idea to optimize your title for this keyword so long as it fits naturally into a title that tells viewers exactly what they're about to see.

Lastly, make sure to keep your title fairly short -- HubSpot campaigns manager Alicia Collins recommends limiting it to 60 characters to help keep it from getting cut off in results pages.
3. Optimize your video description.

First things first: According to Google, the official character limit for YouTube video descriptions is 1,000 characters. And while it's okay to use all of that space, remember that your viewer most likely came here to watch a video, not to read an essay.

If you do choose to write a longer description, keep in mind that YouTube only displays the first two or three lines of text -- that amounts to about 100 characters. After that point, viewers have to click "show more" to see the full description. That's why we suggest front-loading the description with the most important information, like CTAs or crucial links.

As for optimizing the video itself, it doesn't hurt to add a transcript of the video, especially for those who have to watch it without volume. That said, Backlinko's research also found no correlation between descriptions that were optimized for a certain keyword and the rankings for that term.

Dean is careful not to encourage ditching an optimized description altogether, however. "An optimized description helps you show up in the suggested videos sidebar," he writes, "which is a significant source of views for most channels." 

4. Tag your video with popular keywords that relate to your topic. 

YouTube's official Creator Academy suggests using tags to let viewers know what your video is about. Be that as it may, you're not just informing your viewers - you're also informing YouTube itself. Dean explains that the platform uses tags "to understand the substance and setting of your video." 

That way, YouTube figures out how to associate your video with similar videos, which can broaden your substance's reach. In any case, choose your tags wisely. Try not to use an irrelevant tag because you think it'll get you more views - in fact, Google may penalize you for that. And similar to your description, lead with the most important keywords, including a decent blend of those that are normal and all the more long-tail (as in, those that answer a question like "how do I?"). 

5. Categorize your video. 

When you upload a video, you can categorize it under "Advanced settings." Choosing a category is another way to amass your video with similar substance on YouTube so it winds up in various playlists and gains exposure to more viewers who relate to your audience. 

It probably won't be as simple as it looks. In fact, YouTube's Creator Academy suggests marketers experience a comprehensive process to determine which category each video belongs in. It's helpful, the guide writes, "to think about what is working well for each category" you're considering by answering questions like: 

Who are the top creators within the category? What are they known for and what do they progress admirably? 

Are there any patterns between the audiences of similar channels within a given category? 

Do the videos within a similar category have share qualities like creation value, length, or format? 

6. Upload a custom thumbnail image for your video's result link. 

Your video thumbnail is the main image viewers see while scrolling through a list of video results. Along with the video's title, that thumbnail sends a signal to the viewer about the video's substance, so it can impact the number of clicks and views your video receives. 

While you can always pick one of the thumbnail options auto-generated by YouTube, we highly recommend uploading a custom thumbnail. The Creator Academy reports that "90% of the best performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails," recommending the use of images that are 1280x720 pixels - representing a 16:9 ratio - that are saved as 2MB or smaller .jpg, .gif, .bmp, or .png files. On the off chance that you follow those parameters, it can help to ensure that your thumbnail appears with equally high caliber across different viewing platforms. 

It's important to note that your YouTube account has to be verified in request to upload a custom thumbnail image. To do that, visit and adhere to the instructions listed there. 

7. Use a SRT File to add subtitles and closed captions. 

Like a great part of the other content we've discussed here, subtitles and closed captions can boost YouTube search optimization by highlighting important keywords. 

In request to add subtitles or closed captions to your video, you'll have to upload a supported book transcript or planned subtitles file. For the former, you can also legitimately enter transcript text for a video so that it auto-syncs with the video. 

Adding subtitles follows a similar process, however, you can limit the amount of text you want displayed. For either, head to your video manager then snap on "Videos" under "Video Manager." Find the video you want to add subtitles or closed captioning to, and click the drop-down arrow close to the edit button. Then, choose "Subtitles/CC." You can then select how you'd prefer to add subtitles or closed captioning. 

Find out how to add closed captions to your YouTube video in the video below

8. Add Cards and End Screens to increase your YouTube channel's viewership. 


When you're watching a video, have you at any point seen a small white, circular symbol with an "I" in the inside appear in the corner, or a translucent bar of text asking you to subscribe? Those are Cards, which Creator Academy describes as "preformatted notifications that appear on desktop and portable which you can set up to advance your brand and other videos on your channel.

You can add up to five cards to a single video, and there are six types:

  1. Channel cards that direct viewers to another channel.
  2. Donation cards to encourage fundraising on behalf of U.S. nonprofit organizations.
  3. Fan funding to ask your viewers to help support the creation of your video content.
  4. Link cards, which direct viewers to an external site, approved crowdfunding platform, or an approved merchandise selling platform.
  5. Poll cards, which pose a question to viewers and allow them to vote for a response.
  6. Video or playlist cards, which link to other YouTube content of this kind.

For detailed steps on adding a card to your video, follow these official steps from Google, or check out the video below

End Screens 

End screens display similar information as cards, yet as you may have guessed, they don't display until a video is finished, and are a bit more visually detailed in nature. A genuine example is the overlay with a book image and a visual link to see more on the video below

There are a number of detailed instructions for adding end screens depending on what kind of platform you want to design them for, as well as various types of content allowed for them by YouTube. Google outlines the details for how to optimize for all of those considerations here. 

It's important to note that YouTube is always testing end screens to attempt to optimize the viewer experience, so there are times when "your end screen, as designated by you, may not appear." Take these factors into account as you settle on using either cards or end screens. 

These factors may seem a bit complicated and tedious, however remember: The time individuals spend watching YouTube on their television has dramatically increased year over year. There's an audience to be discovered there, and when you optimize for YouTube, your chances of being discovered increase. 

Presently, most of the SEO tips above rely on you identifying a keyword and promoting your video correctly. And not all of those tips can be carried out through YouTube alone. To get the most bang for your videography buck, consider some of the tools below to optimize your video for search

  1. Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
  2. Canva
  3. HubSpot Content Strategy
  4. VidIQ Vision
  5. TubeBuddy
  6. Cyfe

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