Complete Guide to YouTube SEO

By Editorial Staff

When it comes to increasing your views, engagement, and audience on YouTube, mastering the algorithm and SEO is crucial. To do so, knowing the important steps to boost SEO is a necessary first step in expanding your growth. According to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, perfecting your thumbnails, titles, and description text is a giant leap forward in terms of making the YouTube algorithm work for you, but the work doesn’t stop there. For YouTube SEO, much of the optimization work can be encapsulated into a simple process that you can apply to all of your old videos and each of your new videos to earn high views and even a spot on the trending page. Here’s what you need to know to master YouTube SEO:

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1. Include Keywords in Your Title

Not only should your title draw attention and be concise, but you should also include one or two important keywords that correlate to what users will be searching for. According to Hootsuite, the two most important places the algorithm impacts are search results and recommendation streams. Search results are ultimately based on factors such as your video’s title, description, and the included keywords. In other words, paying attention to which keywords you use can help you end up as one of the main videos that pop up if you choose and use them intelligently.

2. Perfect Your Description Text

Besides linking your social media accounts, you should also include the same important keywords from your title in the first sentence of your description to improve the chances of your video popping up when YouTube users search for that related topic. By hooking people in with the first sentence, they’re more likely to click “Show More” and find your website, social media, and affiliate links. Many YouTubers also choose to wrong long, descriptive texts that are full of information and chock full of relevant keywords to improve SEO. 

3. Include Relevant Tags 

When tagging your videos, make sure to use both phrases and singular keywords for even better chances of popping up in search results. For example, if your video is about grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, tag your video with these to cover all of your bases:

  • grocery shopping
  • shopping
  • Trader Joe’s
  • grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s

4. Add Accurate Closed Captions on Your Videos

 Digital Discovery Networks performed a study that proves captions on YouTube boost SEO and video views. Now that YouTube automatically transcribes your videos, the platform’s auto-captions can often be inaccurate and lead to some gibberish appearing while your video plays. According to 3PlayMedia, Google rewards helpful search results but penalizes spam. By uploading inaccurate closed captions on your videos, you risk being labeled as spam and losing high search ranks.

To optimize YouTube SEO, adding accurate captions can keep you safe from being mislabeled as spam and allow you to fill up your video transcript with relevant keywords that can improve your rank. It’s also smart to send your video to professional translators that can caption your videos in multiple languages to further boost SEO and views for your video and channel.

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5. Use an Eye-Catching Thumbnail 

Choosing the right thumbnail for your video and knowing how to edit it in effective ways can make a huge difference for your click-through rates. Besides using high quality, colorful thumbnails that relate to your title, including words or keywords in your thumbnail is also extremely helpful. Especially for mobile optimization, when users turn to the YouTube app to watch a video, the thumbnail appears the largest on the page as opposed to the title. Thus, they’re most likely to read the words on your thumbnail before they even take a look at the title. By including relevant keywords, your title, or fun buzz words in the photo, you can draw in potential viewers with one look.

6. Engage With Your Audience

You can easily grow your subscriber base by engaging with your audience through comments and likes. YouTube SEO greatly takes into consideration how viewers respond to your content, favoring those videos or channels that keep users on the platform the longest.

The more you engage with your community, the more inclined they will be to subscribe, watch more of your content, or go a step further and read your description to find your socials. It’s also smart to ask thought-provoking questions in your video or your description to encourage viewers to comment or start discussions that can increase your engagement. Or, give them incentives by liking your video.

7. Keep Viewers Invested

 As long as you keep your viewers engaged in your content – the better off you’ll be. To do so, it’s important to boost your watch time by hooking your viewers at the beginning of your video and avoid having a long intro without speaking. This will encourage people to skip through your video or exit out of it entirely which you want to avoid. Why? Because session watch time is also crucial for YouTube; the algorithm pays attention to factors like if a viewer left the site after watching your video. The more you encourage them to keep watching your videos, or to watch other videos like it, the more your SEO will increase.

Another great tip that can help you here is to use playlists that allow you to share multiple videos at a time. Or, you can link another one of your videos in the description after teasing it in your video to encourage viewers to watch another video.

8. Adhere to YouTube’s Guidelines

YouTube has recently undergone many changes in terms of its community guidelines in order to make content more ad-friendly. In 2019, YouTube claimed that the algorithm changed and as a result, watch time for content that was harmful or misleading decreased by 70%. YouTube tends to reward or boost content that follows its guidelines, which is great for SEO and beneficial for your channel.

If you’re eager to grow your subscriber base or gain a significant amount of views, this checklist will give you a huge leg up against the competition. While the YouTube algorithm or YouTube SEO can seem like an ever-changing mystery to some users, these tips have proved to be effective over the years and will last for years to come. Along with these tips, always remember to trust your gut and continue to create content that’s true to you, and that will make people want to keep coming back for more.

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This article was written by Selena Ponton

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