YouTube SEO: Strategy, Tips, and Tools [2021 Guide]

 • 10 min read

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Youtube SEO
#1 SEO Company for Small Businesses.
Table of Contents

YouTube is one of the best platforms out there for businesses to promote their brands. However, you can’t just film a video, upload it, and expect it to go viral. There are specific ways to get your videos to rank by using YouTube SEO strategies.

Luckily, we are here to help you learn all about SEO for YouTube. This guide will help you grow your business’ YouTube channel and ultimately drive traffic to your website. We will share YouTube SEO tips and tricks, different tools you can use, and YouTube SEO best practices.

Let’s dive into the good stuff!

What is YouTube SEO?

SEO for YouTube is very similar to SEO for websites. The purpose of using YouTube SEO best practices is to get YouTube to rank your videos higher in search results. When someone searches on YouTube for a topic you have a video about, you want to show up on the first page of results.

YouTube SEO consists of many different ranking factors that we will review in a little bit. YouTube can be a highly effective tool for small businesses to drive traffic to their websites and convert users into customers. That’s why we created this comprehensive guide. We want to see your small business grow through the search optimization of your videos.

Why is SEO for YouTube Important?

YouTube SEO is important because, without it, the videos you post would never get viewed. If you want visitors to watch your videos, you need to get your videos in front of them; if they can’t see it when they search for something like it, they won’t ever watch it.

The good news is you can avoid this from happening by educating yourself on search engine optimization and implementing the strategies we are going to talk about today. Moreover, here are some of the top reasons why SEO matters for YouTube.

Increases Visibility of Your Videos

First and foremost, YouTube SEO is important because it increases the chances that users see your videos online. If you utilize an SEO strategy when it comes to how your video is represented in YouTube’s listings, they are more likely to rank higher and therefore be found and watched more frequently.

There are millions upon millions of videos that populate YouTube’s platform. You don’t want to get lost in the pile, right? Of course not. That’s why YouTube SEO is vital to the success of your channel.

Grows Brand Awareness

Secondly, as a small business, you constantly want to be growing your brand awareness. Whether that’s through blog posts, social media, or YouTube videos is up to you. YouTube is an amazing platform to get your brand noticed because there are so many visitors who use the platform each and every day.

Drives Traffic To Your Website

This is a big one. YouTube SEO is all about getting people to watch your videos, which in turn, can drive traffic to your business’ website as they look to further engage with your business. If your YouTube channel is popular and getting lots of views, it means people are interested in your product or service. They are likely to check out your website’s content while and after they browse your videos and become leads generated from your website.

Promotes Conversions

The more traffic you are sending to your website, the higher your conversion rate will be. Statistically speaking, if there are more people interested in your business than ever before, and if they have a high-intent to purchase, you will be increasing conversions on your site.

Increases Revenue

By increasing traffic and conversions, you will be increasing your revenue as well. YouTube is a powerful way to build your business and gain higher revenue. Whether it be through YouTube ads or brand awareness leading to more site visitors, you will see increased revenue eventually.

Now that you know why SEO for YouTube is important, let’s move on to talking about how YouTube ranks videos.

Youtube SEO

How Does YouTube Rank Videos?

You might have never thought about why certain videos rank on the first page of YouTube search results before. But, you know how much more likely you are to click on one of those top results, right?

YouTube, like Google, is complex and uses many different ranking factors to decide which videos are worth showing at the top of the list. Here are some of the many ranking factors YouTube uses.

Titles and Descriptions

YouTube looks at titles and descriptions first to see if they match a user’s search intent. If a user searches for “How to Write a Blog Post,” then odds are that the top-ranking results will use that keyword in their title and descriptions.

Many people don’t think much about YouTube descriptions and sometimes even leave them blank. They are missing out on sending signals to YouTube that their video is relevant to a user’s search query — there’s only so much you can include in a title!

Audience Retention

Audience retention, or getting people to watch the full length of your videos, is uber important to YouTube. User engagement and audience retention show YouTube that your content must be high-quality if visitors are watching the entire video.

In fact, most viewers only watch 50% to 60% of the way through videos and don’t watch until the very end. The more people you can keep on your videos until the end, the better. Keeping viewers engaged with your content will help increase your audience retention which affects video rankings. Check out this quote directly from YouTube:

Youtube SEO

Video Comments

The number of video comments is another ranking factor for YouTube. Comments on your videos show user engagement which tells YouTube that people care about your content. If users weren’t interested in a video, they would exit after a brief period and go to something else, not comment with a question or observation.

Subscribing After Watching a Video

When a user subscribes to your channel after watching a video, it sends a signal to YouTube that the person likes your videos and wants to see more. Subscribing ultimately is equivalent to following someone on Instagram. YouTube alerts your subscribers on their subscriptions page every time you upload a new video.

Video Shares

YouTube tracks how many times your video is shared. There is a share feature on every video; in addition, people can simply copy and paste the URL to their social media pages. Every time your video is shared, YouTube sees it as more and more valuable and therefore will boost its rankings.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Just like Google, YouTube pays close attention to click-through rate when ranking videos. Click-through rate is the percentage of people who click on your video after they see it in search results. This measures how often your video is clicked on vs. when users pass by it choose a different video. CTR = clicks / impressions.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

The thumbs up and thumbs down or like and dislike buttons are pretty self-explanatory. Users can express their opinion of your video which YouTube then takes into account for ranking purposes. The more the thumbs up, the higher engagement, the more likely YouTube will recommend your video.

So, now you know how YouTube ranks videos. And you can probably sense that you need to make a high-retention video to rank high on YouTube, but how do you do that, exactly?

How Do You Create a High-Retention Video?

Great question! It’s a little tricky to get your audience to watch your full videos without clicking off of them before the end. Here are some tips for how to create a high-retention video for YouTube.

Start With a Summary

Starting with a summary of what the video is about and introducing the topic is shown to fare better than starting without an introduction. This is because it ensures viewers know immediately what they can expect and if it matches what they are looking for in a video.

Don’t Ramble

It’s easy to start rambling at the beginning of videos — but don’t. After the introduction, jump straight into the content. Unless you’re a vlogger, viewers usually don’t care about side stories and just want to learn about whatever your video’s topic is that they searched for.

Provide Valuable Content

Your video should provide viewers with some kind of value. Whether it be educational, entertainment-based, or informative, it needs to be valuable. Viewers don’t want to waste their time on a video that has no point. So, be creative and make videos that are genuinely useful to your audience.

Use Open Loops

“Open loops” are when you verbally preview what is coming up next in your video. They are statements that tend to keep your audience engaged longer and wanting to continue to hear about what is next. It’s a smart tactic you can use several times throughout a video to keep your viewers interested.

Along with creating high-retention videos, read on to learn 10 ways to optimize your videos with YouTube SEO that tackle other ranking factors.

Youtube SEO

10 Ways To Optimize Your Video for YouTube

Using YouTube SEO best practices, you can optimize your video for YouTube effectively. We highlight 10 different ways to optimize videos.

1. Do Keyword Research

Just like writing blog posts for your business’ website, you need to do keyword research for YouTube videos. First, you will need to create a content strategy to follow. You can do this by researching what is trending and what keywords have high search volume. We will share a few keyword research tools for YouTube later on.

2. Create High-Quality Content

When we say high-quality content, we don’t just mean using a high-end camera and production lights. The visual and audio quality of videos are important and affect user experience; however, high-quality content should provide value. Getting an external microphone and filming in 1080 HD is helpful, but it really comes down to value.

Why should someone watch your video? Are you sharing how to do something? Answering a question? Be sure that whatever the video is about, you have the user in mind. Create something of value.

3. Design an Appealing Video Thumbnail

Thumbnails are the first thing most people see when sifting through video results. They can make or break your video’s click-through rate. Entice users to choose your video by designing an aesthetic and professional thumbnail. An eye-catching thumbnail is way more likely to grab the attention of users than a freeze-frame image from a random part of the video. Get creative and have fun with it!

4. Optimize Your Video Title

Title your video appropriately. Be sure to use the keyword you are targeting in your video’s title. Including the keyword at the beginning of the title has proven to be the most effective. Keep titles simple but make sure they are at least five words long. For more information on how to use keywords for SEO, see our guide.

5. State Your Target Keyword

Not only should you use your keyword in the title, but also speak your keyword aloud in the video. Saying your target keyword aloud helps YouTube understand the relevance of your video. YouTube also automatically transcribes the audio of your video so the keyword will be noted.

6. Write a Detailed Video Description

Many people don’t realize how important it is to write a detailed description for every video you post on YouTube. The description should be at least 250 words long and feature your keyword a few times. Explain what your video is about in the description to help YouTube understand your content when it analyzes your video. Be sure to also use topically relevant keywords, too.

7. Include Video Tags

Video tags are used to classify your video. Use your keyword as the first tag you include, then add relevant keywords or related phrases. This helps your video show up in the suggested results section. Remember to stick to under 10 tags to avoid looking spammy!

8. Ask Viewers To Answer a Question in the Comments

Another YouTube SEO tip is to ask viewers to answer a question in the comments section of your video. Ending your video with, “Let me know what you think about XYZ in the comments,” significantly promotes user engagement which affects your ranking.

This also can give you great content ideas that are in demand from your audience. Make sure to read through your videos’ comments to see if anyone asks questions or brings up topics you could create content around.

9. Encourage Users to Like and Subscribe

At the end of each video, you will also want to remind viewers that if they like your content, give it a thumbs up and subscribe to your channel. This will increase your views if people are subscribed and likes are a metric for ranking.

10. Promote Your Videos and Channel

Lastly, promote your business’ videos and YouTube channel. This will help you get backlinks from authoritative sources and drive traffic to your channel. Post on social media sites alerting followers that you uploaded a new video to YouTube. You should also link to the video from your website to get more traffic. Your channel along with your website should work together to drive traffic to each other.

Now, we are going to share a few YouTube SEO tools we think you might find helpful. Keep reading to find out what tools we recommend.

Youtube SEO

YouTube SEO Tools

There are plenty of YouTube SEO tools out there that could help you grow your channel, but here are a few of our favorites.

Google Trends

Google Trends is a great tool for finding out what search terms are trending right now. You can use Google Trends to find topics to make videos about those that are in high demand. The analytics will show you the search volume over time along with what specific areas people are searching from.

YouTube Analytics

YouTube Analytics is a feature of the YouTube Studio for your channel. It is the hub for all of the data related to your videos. It will show you the latest performance metrics such as likes, comments, shares, views, etc.

The Reach tab gives you access to how your audience finds your channel by showing where traffic is originating from. The Audience tab will show you demographics about your audience such as a viewer’s age range, gender, watch time, geographic location, and more.

YouTube Auto-Suggest

The auto-suggest feature of YouTube is very similar to Google. You can use the YouTube search bar to get ideas for what content to make next by typing the beginning of a query and skimming the top suggested results.

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer is a paid tool, however, it has the ability to pull thousands of suggested keywords for you to choose from when creating your content strategies. You can even filter your search by difficulty, clicks, search volume, and more. Luckily, if you don’t want to pay for Ahrefs, they do offer a free YouTube Keyword Tool that will give you basic information about keywords related to your search term.

Check out these amazing YouTube SEO tools to help elevate your content!

Start Doing SEO for YouTube Today

So what are you waiting for? Start implementing YouTube SEO today and watch your channel grow! We hope you found this guide helpful and now have some ideas for how to improve your videos and channel.

Drive some traffic and enjoy creating quality content!

More from Markitors