YouTube SEO: How To Optimize Your YouTube Videos For Higher Search Rankings

youtube seo

YouTube is the new ultimate source of traffic and credibility. Videos take a lot of time to produce, and this gives people the impression that you are dedicated to your work.

More importantly, showing your face on camera tells people that you are not hiding behind a fake profile—that you stand for your convictions and you are willing to be identified.

After creating your video, your next problem is how to get traffic. Today, you will learn how to optimize your YouTube videos for higher search rankings.

Here are the methods:

  • Name your video with keywords
  • Use keywords in your video description
  • Tag your videos with relevant search terms

In this walkthrough, you will learn actionable items to help you rank better on YouTube. Let us get started!

Name Your Video with Keywords

Search engines, like YouTube, do not have the ability to read what is in the video. Perhaps this technology is underway, but machines still read the file name of a video or a photo, and then they get indexed. 

If you name your video file as bob1234, YouTube will not know what it is about. It will not know that your video is about “how to stay motivated at work”.

That alone is a long-tail keyword, which you should use as a file name. Naturally, your file name will have an extension, like .MOV or .MP4. This does not matter. What matters is your file name.

Do the same with your video title. The title is like the headline that you use for blogs. You have to optimize this title for two reasons:

  • This is what the search engine reads
  • This is what people see

If your video title is simply named “motivation speech”, no one is really going to care. But if you use the title “5 Tips to Stay Motivated at Work”, the search engine would know that you are offering tips about that subject matter.

Also, people who get to read this title will have a greater likelihood of clicking on it because that is what they were exactly looking for. And the more clicks you get, the better you will rank. 

Use the Right Keywords

Keyword research is the first step to succeeding in getting ranked. Without the right keyword, search engines will not be of much help to you.

But how exactly do you do this? 

The first step is by using the alphabet soup, not on the Google search engine but on YouTube itself. Go to YouTube and pretend like you are somebody searching for a topic—your topic.

As you would notice, YouTube will attempt to auto-fill the search box. These suggestions should not be taken for granted. They are what people are searching for. Use this to guide you in determining what keywords to use. 

Next, validate it. Go to Google trends and find out if your chosen keyword is being searched. Many people think that Google Trends is a tool for bloggers only. But no, you can actually check the popularity of a search term in Google Trends for YouTube only!

In Google Trends, there is an area where you can select the duration, categories, and country of your search. On the far right, there is a drop-down menu where you can select how the search was made. 

Your selections are: 

  • Image search
  • News Search
  • Google Shopping
  • YouTube Search

Choose YouTube, and Google Trends will show you how the search term has performed on the YouTube platform only. 

A score of 50 means there is little interest, and a score of 100 means there is so much interest in this search term in the Google universe. Naturally, you want to use only the search terms that score 75 and above. What this means is that there is a high search volume for this term.

The higher the search volume, the more people are interested. And if you produce content for these terms, YouTube will push your videos in the rankings. 

Tag Your Videos with Relevant Search Terms

After uploading your video, YouTube will ask you to tag it. A tag is like categorizing an item. If you go to a big box store, some items have orange tags, yellow tags, and green tags. Each tag color means something like it is on sale for 50%, or maybe more.

The internet works in the same way. If your video is about “5 Tips to Stay Motivated at Work”, it makes perfect sense to tag it under terms like personality development, or career tips. A tag on YouTube is similar to a hashtag. 

A tag compiles various content relevant to it. It does not only help you get more traffic and higher rank, but it also helps the YouTube machine to identify how to properly identify your content apart from the keywords.

To optimize your tag, the first tag must be your keyword. Next, use broader tags. In our example, you can use the tag “motivation at work”. If you can find a tag that uses your entire video title, then, by all means, use that as your first tag.

For your send tag, use something like “career tips”. 

Use no more than eight tags. Many people on YouTube use 20 tags. This is a mistake. If you do this, the machine will now get confused and won’t know what your video is really all about. 

And if the machine does not know, it cannot rank your video.  

Create Great Content

What is great content? 

Great content is one that helps a person. If your title promised five tips, then you must provide five tips. Content can make or break your ranking. 

Even if you used the right keywords, YouTube still uses other factors to decide whether you should be ranked high or not. For one, if people only watch 2 minutes of your 30-minute video, it basically tells YouTube that you are not adding value.

And if you are not adding value, you are not giving the best YouTube experience. YouTube does not like this. If people go away from their platform because the users think the content is garbage, YouTube cannot advertise.

No advertisement, no money.

So, how does this relate to you? 

If you create great content, your viewers will watch your videos from start to finish, and YouTube will know this. In this day and age, no one is going to watch a useless video from start to finish because we are inundated with choice. 

If people watch your videos, it means that they are engaged. And if they are engaged, you are doing YouTube a favor—keeping people inside the platform so YouTube can show their ads.


There go our tips on how to optimize your YouTube videos for higher search rankings. Four simple tips, but highly effective. 

YouTube is a search engine. If used right, it can be a great source of traffic. But this does not occur by chance. You need to put in a lot of work to make it happen.

Start your journey to a higher ranking by using the right keywords. Create content that people are looking for, and make sure that this content is great so people watch it. Next, understand that YouTube is a robot and it needs help. Use the right tags and keywords, and your video is ready to rank on the top of the heap.

John Kilmerstone

I'm an Aussie living in Japan who enjoys traveling, photography, and blogging. Please visit this website and explore the wonderful world of blogging. Discover how to turn your passions and pastimes into an online business.

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