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How to Do SEO for YouTube

by Justin Davin
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YouTube is the second most visited site in the world, only second to Google.  But with so many videos being uploaded daily, how is it possible to have your video appear on the first page for a given search query?

We have simplified the process into 5 actionable tips to get your videos rankings ASAP.

1.) Find The Right Keywords to Rank For

Since YouTube is a search engine, you must begin the SEO process by finding the right keywords to target.

There are two places you can conduct your keyword research:

  • Google

Type in a string of keywords into Google and analyze the search results. If you find a query that is poorly answered by the list of search results you have found your golden keywords.

Ideally, your keywords will not generate any video results within Google, this will then provide you with the opportunity of ranking your YouTube video within Google for that search query.

When a YouTube video is suggested for a particular Google search query, it is situated at the top of the page and very difficult to ignore, this is real estate worth pursuing.

  • Youtube’s Search Engine

You can also use the search engine within YouTube to find the best keywords to use.

Start typing your search query into YouTube. Before you press enter, the search bar will auto-complete your sentence with suggested search queries. These suggestions are based on actual performed searches.

Whenever you press enter for a search query, watch as many of the videos as necessary for you to get a feel as to whether the provided content satisfies the search intent.

If you find that most videos poorly meet the searcher intent, you may decide to create a video that best satisfies that search query, which, over time, will outrank other results.

2.) Strategically Incorporate Your Keywords

Your keywords should be included in two areas:

  • The Headline

Write a headline that includes your keywords while at the same time clearly summarizing the solution or information you will be offering.

This will eliminate any surprises and increase the chances of viewers choosing to view your video because it meets their search intent.

For example, typing the search query “how to build big triceps” within YouTube will yield a series of exercise videos.

If you perform this search, a video encountered on the first page is titled:

“4 Exercises for Bigger Triceps (Dumbbells Only)”

The title of this video suggests that the exercises presented in the video will only require a pair of dumbbells.

If I am a searcher that only has a pair of dumbbells, I would most likely choose to click on this video over the others because I will instantly conclude that it has a high chance of satisfying my search intent.

  • The Description

Use your focus keyword as early as possible within your video description. Make sure you incorporate it naturally without it sounding too robotic or forced.

3.) Increase ‘Watch Time’

Increasing the watch time of your videos is a powerful indicator to YouTubes algorithm that your videos are satisfying user intent.

The key to increasing watch time is for searchers to be aware of the information being presented in your content as soon as possible. This will ensure that the viewers that watch the video until the end are doing so because they are interested in the information being presented

This can be achieved by writing a relevant title (as mentioned in point 2 above) and also by summarizing the information you will be provided in the video within the first 20 seconds of the video.

A great tip is to also ‘hook’ your audience with an added sense of intrigue in your introduction.

Here is an example:

“Today I will be talking about the top 5 tips for overcoming your public speaking fears, and also how simply eating an apple could be your most powerful defense against nervousness.”

Of course, besides providing a clear and intriguing summary, the best way to ensure viewers watch your videos until the end is to provide a highly valuable response to their search.

4.) Outbound Links to Your Videos

Getting outbound links from related niche sites to your videos will give you an authoritative boost in rankings.

These outbound links could be from your website if you embed your YouTube video on your blogs, or from social media platforms.

If your video is answering a particular question or centered around a topic prone to discussion, posting your video within a Quora post could yield highly valuable (and qualified) traffic.

Just keep in mind that in order to entice Quora users to actually click on your video, you must also supplement its posting with highly valuable and relevant text that answers the question at hand.

Give them a reason to trust you and want to learn more.

5.) Have A Really Good Thumbnail.

Searchers click on the thumbnail they find most visually appealing.

But never sacrifice visual appeal. Clickbait is never appreciated, and so your thumbnail should never attempt to allude to content that will not be presented in your video.

There are a few things you can do to ensure your thumbnail is appealing and clickable:

  • Incorporate Text and/or Symbols

Text and symbols within your thumbnail help the content stand out. Your choice of text should help summarize the content within your video.

  • Add Aesthetic Appeal.

Your thumbnail should be visually appealing and ideally evoke a particular human emotion. If your video is presenting a particular concept with humor, your thumbnail should encourage your searchers to laugh while at the same time staying true to the content message.

Like any search engine, the key to achieving a high rank for your YouTube video is by successfully satisfying searcher intent. Keep that as your main focus and all the other SEO elements will align naturally.


  • https://rocketium.com/academy/video-thumbnail-importance/
  • https://neilpatel.com/blog/youtube-seo/
  • https://merchdope.com/youtube-stats/
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