How to Optimize YouTube Videos for SEO


Note: This article was updated on June 24th to reflect more up-to-date information.

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. There are over 3 billion searches per month on YouTube, making it a behemoth of a search engine [source]. YouTube SEO Optimization is so important based on the amount of exposure it can bring your business, if executed properly.

Yet more businesses post videos onto Facebook versus YouTube [source]. They are so focused on their website SEO that they lose sight of the second largest search engine, YouTube.

We’re going to do a deep dive in the following YouTube SEO Optimization Tips:

  • Strategically Select Topic
  • Choose Proper Title
  • Include Description
  • Put Advertising Dollars Behind Video
  • Make Video Substantial in Length
  • Garner Interaction

I’ll provide a real-life example of a video I posted on YouTube for our marketing agency that achieved page one rank. I was able to formulate the strategy for this YouTube SEO Optimization blog after following this blueprint. The video example within this article only has 3,500 views. The point I’m trying to get across is you don’t have to generate millions of views to be successful with your video SEO for YouTube.

It’s important to know why most people fail to get started with a solid YouTube SEO strategy.

  • Lack of Proper Equipment 
    • Poor video and audio quality will make your business look unprofessional. The last thing you want to do is record a shaky video that has poor audio and bad lighting. Businesses have a challenging time starting with Video SEO because they lack the proper equipment.
  • Lacking On-Camera Personality 
    • Most businesses needs to have someone comfortable performing on-camera. If the owner of your business is more of an introvert and likes staying out the spotlight, getting started on YouTube can be more of a challenge.
      • Tip: You can utilize someone who isn’t the owner to be the face of the company.
  • Lacking Strategy 
    • There needs to be a strategy prior to ever recording a video to solidify the following: Topics, Location, Date and Time to Record, On-Camera Personality and Script. Most people miss these important planning components, which means the videos never get filmed.
  • Lack of Time 
    • Recording video takes time and effort. Since the person on-camera tends to be an authoritative figure within your company and a product or service expert, their time is valuable. It’s important to solidify time and dates on a calendar to bring your ideas to fruition.
  • Lack of Post Production 
    • Recording the video is only half the battle. You still need someone to edit the video prior to uploading it to YouTube. Make sure you have this resource available.

If you’ve crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s by utilizing the checklist above you should have a professional looking video with the right person delivering the message on a relevant topic that potential customers will search for. It’s now time to optimize your YouTube videos so you can generate more video views, increase brand exposure and improve organic visibility.


When optimizing a website, the title tag is one of the most important components to improve rank. According to Moz, the title tag of a web page is meant to be an accurate and concise description of a page’s content. They are a major factor in helping search engines understand what your page is about, which is why it’s so important.

The same holds true for titles of an SEO video. It’s telling the search engine of YouTube what your video is all about.

Don’t just guess on your title tags. You can utilize a free tool like Google Ads Keyword Planner to determine search volume and other related keywords. You can see in the screen shot below how it tells you the keywords with the most search volume. By typing in 1-2 keywords, it’ll also provide you with other keyword ideas that you might not have otherwise thought of.

There are a lot of topics that don’t register a lot of average searches but that doesn’t mean people don’t search for them on YouTube. You can simply do a Google search for the title you think will be a good match for your video. As you are typing in your desired title, it’ll show you other recommendations right in the search bar. If you scroll down to the bottom of Google, it’ll also show, “searches related to,” which will show what other people are searching for pertaining to the search you’re conducting.

Below are the top ranked videos for “YouTube Optimization.” You’ll start to notice a trend where the titles are very similar to the most popular searches referenced above. 



YouTube allows for a description for each video. Per Google, the official character limit for YouTube video descriptions is 1,000 characters.

Within this area, you can better describe what your video is about, add links to other relevant videos and blogs while providing more information that couldn’t be incorporated into the video.

Backlinko points out that optimized descriptions can help you populate in the suggested video section. They did not find a correlation between including more characters in the description and YouTube rank. A best practice for YouTube descriptions is to provide a good user experience if someone wants to learn more.

Ahrefs does a good job on their description (see below). It’s organized to provide additional resources while summarizing what their video is all about in easy to read bullets. There are also helpful links included.


Backlinko analyzed 1.3 million YouTube videos. They found that video views and shares has a direct correlation with strong SEO rankings.

We recommend putting advertising dollars behind your video. Google owns YouTube so you can easily set-up video ads through Google Ads. In the screen shot below, you can select “Video” as the campaign type. The views you get through YouTube advertisements are displayed within the video. Rather than waiting on organic video views to happen, be proactive and set-up an advertisement as you’ll have a higher likelihood chance of ranking well once more views continue to amass.



Longer videos outperform shorter videos [source]. This makes sense. If you record a 45-second video, there likely isn’t going to be as much value included in the video since there’s only so much you can say in that time span. The longer your video is, the more detail you are providing, which provides a better user experience.

Backlinko states that the average video on the first page of Google is 14 minutes, 50 seconds. This seems a bit excessive but we would recommend recording videos that are no shorter than two minutes.

In the example below, I recorded a video about opening up a second Google My Business location [read blog]. The length of the video was 4 minutes. It took me this amount of time to properly explain the process. This ranks on the first page of Google, which proves the theory that length of video matters, as does the topic selection.



Video likes and comments have a strong correlation with rank, once again according to Backlinko.

Below is a screen shot showcasing the engagement for the video about opening up a second Google My Business location. It’s not like this video has a million views. There’s nothing crazy about the engagement but it’s healthy interaction. There are 30 likes, over 3,500 views and 5 comments. This means people are engaging with the video by asking questions and either liking or disliking. This ranks on the first page of Google, which holds true to the theory of strong engagement correlates in first page rank.


YouTube SEO optimization is not overly complicated. Most people lack the strategy and aren’t willing to put in the time to succeed with YouTube SEO. If you map out a plan and carve out time while following the YouTube SEO tips above, your business should see positive momentum on YouTube.

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