How to Optimize YouTube Videos to Rank High

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Search engine optimization experts are obsessed with Google.

It is our first thought in the morning and last one before we go to bed.

Even though this is a quite unhealthy habit, there is a good reason for it.

Most internet users rely on Google to reach end pages.

As such, this search engine is a connection between a potential visitor and your website.

When making comparisons to Yahoo! and Bing, SEO experts like to present this behavior as rational: the percentage of Google users is simply much higher.

google search engine market share

YouTube is lost somewhere in the shuffle.

Although YouTube gets over 1 billion (you heard it right!) unique users each month, we still tend to focus on Google.

So, why is this so?

“Majority of SEO experts are still not accustomed to video content”

We constantly talk about Google rankings because it is much easier to create textual content.

Videos are still relatively unexplored territory and quite honestly, a lot of entrepreneurs are scared to start optimizing for YouTube.

Nevertheless, you need to consider it as it can provide a completely new audience for your brand.

What is so special about YouTube?

YouTube draws around 17.9 % of all the Internet traffic (2015).

If this number isn’t impressive enough, here is another thing you have to keep in mind.

People are watching more and more videos and this trend will surely continue in upcoming years.

Have in mind that younger generations are much more inclined to watch videos than read articles so it is another thing that needs to be considered.

“By starting your own YouTube channel today, you are investing in future”

But here is an interesting bit.

By optimizing a video, you have a chance to rank both in Google and YouTube.

In other words, you can get traffic from two different major sources.

Just keep in mind that it is much easier to penetrate the queries that already have some videos ranking.

How do videos affect your website traffic?

First of all, it is necessary to mention that YouTube is a completely independent entity.

You can make a lot of money without ever having a website and by simply focusing on YouTube traffic and subsequent profit from ads. This is the way a lot of people nowadays got rich.

But there are several secondary affects you need to consider:

  1. You are able to advertise/ link to your brand

SEO experts often focus on YouTube as the secondary source of traffic.

As I mentioned, you are able to reach people who otherwise would come into contact with your website.

This also means you can “lure” them to your pages by simply linking our and branding.

There is no need to commercialize your YouTube channel if you can get much more profit from it by simply driving traffic to your website.

  1. You can use videos for improving website content

Diversification of content is very important.

Whether we are talking about videos, images or captivating graphic solutions, these are some things that can propel your page and improve rankings.

You can always embed some of the videos in your articles.

How can this help?

Besides the fact that the content will be better it will also force people to stay on page for a while longer as they watch embedded video.

Given how important time spent on page is nowadays, it definitely shouldn’t be neglected.

  1. Videos can help you penetrate certain queries

When it comes to certain search queries, site content may have trouble entering top 10 results in Google.

But YouTube videos can.

By reaching top positions with an optimized video, you can get those sweets spots that would otherwise be out of your reach.

Later on, you can drive this same traffic through your channel as described in step 1.

As you can see, there are several direct and indirect benefits for your website.

Always have in mind that YouTube channel and videos posted on it are another form of a message from which you can only benefit.

How to do YouTube SEO?

Here is step-by-step guide that will help you optimize your YouTube channel and videos on it.

Start with keyword research

Similar to your own blog, keyword research is a process that you always need to begin with.

Unlike regular keywords though, these are called video keywords.

What are the best phrases for YouTube optimizing?

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Tutorials
  2. How to’s
  3. Sport related
  4. Entertainment related
  5. Music related
  6. Animal related

There are two main reasons why people visit YouTube: for educational and entertainment content.

Besides these specific groups, there is another element that makes for a good keywords.

That is whether or not this phrase can rank in Google.

“Start your keyword research by checking Google results”

Even though videos are so popular nowadays, they are still not so present among top Google results.

Part of the issue is the fact that Google has a separate tab for videos and is rather reluctant when it comes to placing videos among their regular results.

If there are some videos among top 10 results this is a clear indication that the query can be penetrated.

In other words, if you create an amazing optimized video, you have a good chance of appearing in both Google and YouTube search engine.

Lastly, I have to mention keyword difficulty score and keyword volume.

Same rules apply here as with any other keyword.

In a nutshell, you need to find keywords that have low difficulty with high potential traffic.

Of course, you should always keep conversion in mind too.

Have in mind that this only pertains to Google.

This will allow you to reach top positions and still have some traffic as a benefit.

You can use Google Keyword Planner or any tool that extracts data from it such as

Creating a video

Upon finding a great keyword, you are ready to start producing.

Before I mention anything else, make sure to get good audio and video equipment.

With such high quality videos all over the place, it is really hard to compete if you do not have proper tools at your disposal.

Similarly, if you’re doing a podcast or any other type of streaming, make sure to have a good Internet connection.

Otherwise, you may be disconnecting during the show which will result in low quality video on your YouTube channel.

But what is the real secret behind a video that goes viral?

“Innovation is the key”

Never underestimate the power of sharing and liking!

Topic that might seem boring to you can be incredibly interesting to another person as long as it provides a fresh view, ideas or something that hasn’t been seen before.

As long as you have something completely new there is a high chance it will reach its target.

Length of the content is another thing we need to consider.

Generally speaking, people are willing to stick with you for more than an hour as long as you provide something that is beneficial or entertaining.

Nevertheless, you should shy away from short content.


Because dwell time is among the most important UX factors.

That being said, by providing more “time”, you have a higher chance of boosting this stat.

Nevertheless, make sure that this content isn’t purposely prolonged as it can backfire and negatively affect some other data.

Ranking factors you need to consider

Almost everything that a user does will affect video’s ranking in YouTube.

The list consists of:

  1. Likes and shares
  2. Number of subscribers after watching the video
  3. Number of “Favorites” or “Watch later” tags
  5. Total views
  6. Total time spent watching the video
  7. Average view duration
  8. Links to the video
  9. Velocity of acquiring views

Like with standard Google results, there are numerous factors that have to be considered.

As you might have noticed, these factors are mainly user orientated.

Because of that, people who have a good relationship with their viewers tend to get better stats and response.

Maintaining those contacts may prove to be crucial for your YouTube career.

How to optimize YouTube videos

In order to properly optimize your video, you have to rely on data received during keyword research.

YouTube video optimization mainly comes down to a proper usage of phrases.

What do I mean by that?

  1. Catchy title

Same as with regular pages, title is something that will affect the number of views.

Snippets are also important here as this is the way you present yourself to audience.

Snippets should be of similar style so its easy for a person to tell they are from one and the same author.

When it comes to keyword, they can be from 5 to 7 words long (don’t make them too long) and they need to be descriptive enough.

Do not forget to add your main keyword.

  1. Good descriptions

Descriptions should be at least 200 words long.

Make sure your main keyword is mentioned in initial paragraph and several times during the text.

Have in mind that this description shouldn’t only serve YouTube search engine; it also needs to be informative for users.

  1. Tags

Tags are necessary as they allow YouTube to categorize your videos.

Why is this important?

Because this way you will be shown to users that have previously watched similar videos.

As long as you put proper tags (and avoid misleading categorization) you will be able to get more views and with it, higher rankings.

Content promotion

Again, same as with regular content, it is necessary to heavily promote your YouTube videos.

Here are some things you need to know when it comes to promoting YouTube clips:

  1. Relevancy is important

Share content with people who actually care about it. This is important for your statistics and also help you increase your base.

  1. Every view counts

Unlike regular content promotion where you focus on high quality links, here you are more interested in people who will subscribe and visit regularly.

I am not saying that having an influencer promote your video is bad; I am just saying you need to focus on quantity regardless of how you reach it.

  1. Embed videos on your website pages

Another way of promoting them is by embedding them on web pages. Not only will this spread your message but will also help your textual content.

  1. Share it within groups and on social media

Needless to say, one of the best channels for sharing YouTube videos is in groups and on social media.

Unlike emailing, this type of promotion is not intrusive and it allows people to either watch a video (if they wish) or easily ignore it.


YouTube platform is in many ways similar to a website.

Connections are important as well as your relationship with viewers.

YouTube videos are an amazing content form that will explode in future. Start using it before it is too late and your market gets oversaturated.

Do you have a YouTube channel? What are your biggest issues with videos? Let me know in the comments below!

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Brett Cairns
3 years ago

Hi Nikolay have you done any trials on whether or not a video is best used on the home page or an article specific landing page? Tried adding an overview video on my real estate site home page and it slowed it down so I removed it. Perhaps the gain in having it there offsets the loss in page speed?