youtube optimization tips

With more than 300 hours of video content uploaded every minute, YouTube is not only the most popular video-sharing platform online, but also the second most used search engine on the web.

Knowing that you can reach such a large number of people, there are real opportunities for businesses to engage with their audience through online videos. But with so many competing videos and channels in the YouTube space, how do you ensure your videos rank highly in search results?

These are some of the methods we’ve found to help you work the rankings on YouTube.

1. Create A Vanity URL

Start by optimising your YouTube channel (page). There are a number of things you can do to make it more user friendly, which will boost its ranking. If your channel is more than 30 days old and you have 500+ subscribers, you can claim a vanity URL for your channel, which will give you a memorable URL.

2. Link To Your Website

Add your website URL in the ‘associated website’ section in your channel settings. This will help to establish your brand authority in YouTube search results.

3. Make Your Channel Homepage Engaging For Users

Spend some time on setting your home page up correctly and fully. Include relevant keywords in your description. Add links to your website and other social media pages. Use the ‘featured video’ facility to set a video to play automatically when someone visits your channel. You might like to create a special introductory video welcoming people to your page, telling them what makes you unique and directing them to popular videos. Highlight video playlists on your homepage so users can quickly navigate your content.

Happy you’ve got a great homepage? Great, then move on to optimising the videos themselves.

4. Retention Matters

In March 2012, YouTube made changes to their systems in order to prioritise retention time over the view count. With this change, instead of search results showing videos with just high view counts first, the results now take into account how long each video is viewed for before users stop playing or click away. So to get the best results, not only do you need to hook the audience in to watching your videos, but you must also ensure that they continue watching until the end.

5. Have A Clear Video Title And Description

Like using SEO tricks to optimise a blog post, it’s important to know that small changes can lead to a big difference, and one of the easiest things to implement are video titles and descriptions. You want your audience to know what type of video they’re watching from the title alone, so it has to be clear and easy to understand. Attempt to link in the subject matter and any keywords that might be used to search for the video, although do not do this at the expense of a video title becoming too complex. Video descriptions are your chance to expand on the subject, giving viewers a more detailed description of what is going to be covered in the video, as well as your chance to link them to any sources or extra material, alongside social links and other ways they can interact with you.

6. Tag The Way You Search

Like with other SEO techniques, tagging your videos correctly is an important step for them to appear in organic search results. A good rule to follow when it comes to tagging on YouTube is to “tag the way you search”. For example, if you were creating a video with SEO tips aimed at bloggers, then you could use tags such as “SEO tips for Blogs”, “SEO tips for WordPress”, “SEO blogging tips”. Using long tail phrases instead of tagging the single keywords (“SEO”, “tips”, “bloggers”) will increase the chances of your video being found for those terms, as there will be less competition on those more niche terms. By knowing and tagging the phrases that your potential viewers will be searching for, your video will likely match the search results more closely and appear higher in search results.

7. Use Video Transcriptions

One tip that is rarely talked about is that YouTube search results will often prioritise videos with transcriptions. Whilst these can be done automatically, auto-transcripts can often be incorrect, so manual intervention is advised. You can upload your own transcripts for your videos, to ensure the transcriptions are 100% correct. YouTube uses these transcriptions whilst searching for videos to rank the true content of your video. Therefore, by having an incorrect transcript, you may not be showing up in search results, due to YouTube believing that your video content is different from what is being searched for.

8. Name Your Video File Accurately

There’s some disagreement over whether naming your video files relevantly could help your video gain more exposure on YouTube. But since it is such an easy change to implement, there’s no downside in doing this. For example, a video with the filename ‘SEOTipsForBloggers’ may be more likely to appear higher in search results than a video with a filename of ‘Video006’.

9. Increase The Number Of Likes And Shares On Your Videos

The more likes and shares your video receives, the better it will rank. There are lots of things you can do to give these figures a boost. Include direct links and embedded videos on your website, and make sure you have one-click social sharing buttons on all your website pages. Share your videos on all your social profiles – better still, blog about them and then share the blogs too! Create regular email campaigns to your contacts and feature a video in each one. Use social bookmarking sites like Stumbleupon and Reddit to share your videos further. You could also consider approaching other bloggers and website owners with targeted videos you have created especially for their audience as part of a blogger outreach campaign.

10. Number Of Comments?

An active comments section will help your video rankings. To encourage comments, start by simply asking for them in your videos and on your social media pages! Reply to comments to get conversations going. And include the odd controversial video in your channel too.

11. Number Of Views And Subscribers

The number of subscribers you have on your channel and the number of views each video receives will affect how prominently your videos are seen on YouTube. If you’ve followed every tip in this advice post, you should see your channel stats increase and your video rankings improve.


By understanding how YouTube ranks its search results, you can begin to manipulate it in order to rank higher on search results and get more people subscribing to your YouTube channel.

Author: Jonny Ross
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