YouTube SEO 101: How To Rank Videos on YouTube (Optimize & Rank higher)

YouTube SEO Tips
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Want to know what are search engine ranking factors for YouTube videos?

Read on to learn everything about YouTube SEO?

We all know that YouTube is the second largest search engine on the planet after Google. It generates an estimated 92 billion page views per month, which also provides enormous traffic to various websites and blogs.

It is a platform where 400 hours of video is uploaded every minute!

YouTube also offers you ways to monetize the content of your videos.

If your content gets enough views, you can make good money from your YouYube videos.

However, uploading a video is not enough to get views on YouTube unless you are a big brand, for example, a music company.

There are techniques that you could follow to optimize your YouTube videos to rank higher on YouTube search.

In this mega post, I have shared how to rank YouTube videos higher.

Ok, so your video is uploaded on YouTube, but you are still not getting views?

If you did not know yet, YouTube videos also need to be SEO optimized just like your content in order to get ranking in the search result.

I assume you have good quality content and that you will share and promote your video to get more views.

In this article, I will talk about how you can get organic traffic to your YouTube videos and also how to work on SEO for better search results. These tips are implemented and tested by myself.

I’m a YouTuber with good views per month. I also make a fair amount of money from YouTube ads every month by targeting countries like the USA, along with implementing robust video SEO.

Recently, I crossed 65K followers milestone on YouTube by following the exact strategies that I’m sharing with you below:

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So, I know what I’m talking about and chances are it will help you as well to improve the overall SEO of YouTube channel and start ranking videos higher.

Read: 10 Killer Ways To Promote YouTube Videos For more views

YouTube SEO Guide: Nailing the YouTube Search Ranking

Before I share these tips, you need to understand that YouTube has its own algorithm to rank a video. Even if you buy inorganic YouTube traffic, it will not ensure that you will rank higher organically.

One of the well-known factors of high ranking YouTube videos is view time. If a user starts watching your video and quits in the first few seconds, your ranking is likely to go down. So, I assume you are already working hard on creating compelling YouTube videos and using a catchy thumbnail to get more CTR from related and embedded videos.

Now, let’s look at some of the most important YouTube SEO tips, which will help you to get more organic visits to your videos.

  1. Title Of The Video – Use Keywords
  2. Description Of The Video
  3. Naming Your Video File
  4. Optimizing existing videos using search data
  5. Use The Closed Caption (CC) Feature In Your Video On YouTube
  6. Tagging & Keyword Research For YouTube Videos
  7. Best Keyword research tools for YouTube

 1.  Title Of The Video – Use Keywords

The video title is how one will know what your video is all about. A title that perfectly matches your video content will be very friendly to the viewer and also to the YouTube algorithm for SEO.

Take advantage of  Google and YouTube auto-complete feature. This will give you an overview of what people are searching for on Google and Youtube and will help you optimize your content accordingly.

Youtube Title Tips
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Here, you can notice that once I have typed a few keywords, YouTube begins to suggest results. This is because these are the most searched queries regarding your keywords.

Similarly, you can use Google’s auto-complete feature to populate more keyword ideas.

Google's auto-complete feature
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Another way, which is my favourite is using TubeBuddy. This tool is a complete SEO tool for YouTube that let you research topics for YouTube.

Here is how it works:

  • Install TubeBuddy chrome addon
  • The click on toolbar icon
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Then click on Keyword explorer

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Enter the Keyword or topic that you want to make a video on, and TubeBuddy will show you the topics along with traffic and related keywords.

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Now, use this keyword to create a meaningful Video and title to improve your chances of ranking higher in YouTube search.

2. Description Of The Video

Write a description of your video content. The first couple of lines plays a major role in your video’s ranking in the search engine.

You can also use the search engine’s autocomplete keyword phrases as your description.

If the searched keyword matches the first two lines of your video description, the video is more likely to get a higher ranking.

YouTube Video Description Tips
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In the image above, you can see that my search keyword matches the video description which is in the first two lines. Using longtail keywords as your video description will also boost the ranking of your videos immensely.

Here are 6 Awesome Tools To Find Long Tail Keywords For Any Niche.

Enjoy the read and write your video descriptions wisely so that it can match the search keyword.

3. Naming Your Video File

You have created and edited your video and it is ready to be uploaded on YouTube, but if you rendered your video file as mov001.avi or random_name.mp4, make sure you rename your video as your_keyword.mp4.

Naming your video file as your focused keyword actually tells the search engine what is in your video, Search engines cannot look inside video content. It is the file name that tells the search algorithm what your video is all about.

Having the video title as your video file name helps search engine index videos easily, thereby aiding in achieving a higher ranking. So put your targeted keyword into the video file name.

4. Optimizing existing videos using search data

This is the golden nugget of optimizing existing YouTube videos.

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This will bring up the page as shown in the below screenshot.

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Click on the video that you wish to optimize. This will bring up the analytics page for your selected video.

Click on traffic source and select the YouTube search.

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This would bring up the page that shows all the queries that users are using to find your video. Now, you need to optimize your video title, description, and tags based on these queries.

Treat these queries as a keyword which your video should be optimized for.

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If you see a query and your video is not explaining that part, that is the idea for your next YouTube video.

5. Use The Closed Caption (CC) Feature In Your Video On YouTube.

Use the closed caption (cc) feature of YouTube. This shows your text over the video which helps viewers understand your video narration better. It can also be translated into different languages thereby reaching out to more people. Upload the transcript also helps.

Transcripts contain the text of what was said in the video. YouTube’s new algorithm automatically converts your voice into a transcript which makes it easier to activate it.

You can also write a closed caption if your video doesn’t contain voice.

CC - Closed Caption on Youtube
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Using closed captions gives the video a new way to get the index into the search engine since it has keyword written in there.

Also, write your transcript into the video description. Doing so makes your video keyword rich which is very friendly to the search engines.

You can also take advantage of services like Rev, to create captions for your uploaded YouTube videos.

6.  Tagging & Keyword Research For YouTube Videos

Tags are another important way to get a better ranking in YouTube search. Here are a few tips to put tags in your videos:

  • List specific tags first: Write your main keyword first. Doing this will put weight in algorithms.
  • List general tags: Write general and matching keywords. For example, if your main keyword is “Shoutmeloud”, general tags can be “Blogging tips”, “Harsh Agrawal”,” WordPress help” etc.

You can use the Tubebuddy tool which helps you find the right tags to be used with your video.

It also shows your ranking for the particular keyword. This tool is used by many pro YouTubers and is highly recommended for your YouTube channel as well.

TubeBuddy in action
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  • Also, include the misspelling of your tags: For example, if you have a keyword as “Real SEO”, also put “Reeal SEO”. Go to YouTube analytics and check for traffic resources to see how people are searching for you.
  • Include singular and plural of your tags: If your keyword is ” Tattoo Art”, also put “Tattoo Arts”,  and separate your keyword into different tags like ” Tattoo” & “Art”.
  • Include phrases into tags such as your longtail keywords.

Keyword Research For YouTube Videos

Getting the keyword idea is one of the important parts of SEO. You cannot think of all possible keywords to include in your video. I have already shared a strategy above (#1) about finding keywords for YouTube videos.

Here, I’m using the Google Display Planner tool to get keyword ideas.

Google has two such tools – Keyword Planner and Display Planner. I recommend you to use Display Planner in order to get relevant keywords.

Google display planner
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Also Read: Killer Keyword Research Tools For Dominating a Niche

Display Planner not only gives you a huge number of keywords but also provides an insight to the searched keyword.

Download these ad group ideas into an excel file and include these keywords and phrases into your tags, title, and description.

Having the same targeted keyword in the video title, description and tags will index and rank your videos higher in search engines.

Best Keyword research tools for YouTube

 1. TubeBuddy

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This is the most popular youtube keyword search tool that you can use right away. This is available as a chrome extension and also available as a mobile app (iPhone and Android).

The interesting angle of this tool is, it shows you how tough or easy it is for you to rank on a Keyword based on the existing content of your channel.

2. YouTube Studio

Using YouTube Studio you can find the keyword which is driving traffic to your existing videos. Using this data, you can optimize your existing videos to make them rank higher in YouTube search.

Just follow the steps mentioned below:

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  • Click on Traffic source > YouTube search
  • Click on any Keyword to reveal more data.
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Once you have the keyword that is driving traffic to your existing videos, you can start optimizing them.

  • Make your YouTube video description more targeted to the Keywords you found in the above step.
  • Add the Keyword as a tag on your YouTube video

3. VidIQ

Many of you might not be knowing this, but VidIQ is also a keyword suggestion tool for YouTube.

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There are more features offered by VidIQ which will help in improving the overall ranking of your uploaded YouTube videos.

4. Ahrefs YouTube Keyword Research

Ahrefs is a popular search engine marketing tool and they have recently integrated the YouTube Keyword research tool. If you don’t have an account, get an account here (they offer a trial account).

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Once you are inside the dashboard, click on Keyword explorer and start doing keyword research.

I will add more tools for YouTube Keyword research as I find them to be eligible enough to add it. For now, the above tools are the best ways to do YouTube keyword research.

Also see: YouTube video rank checker tools

In the end, it’s up to you on creating compelling and interesting YouTube videos, especially when you are working on tutorial videos.

You should focus on a target audience, and prepare your script targeting those audiences.

Ensure that you ask your viewers to like and share your videos on favorite social-networking sites.

Another good YouTube SEO tips are to embed your videos within the blog post.

It helps you get links to your YouTube videos and more views.

I religiously follow all the above SEO tips for my YouTube videos, and I recommend you to do the same.

If you know of any other SEO trick for YouTube, feel free to share with us via comments.

Don’t forget to share these useful resources with other YouTubers on your Facebook and YouTube community profile.

Here are a few other hand-picked guides for you to read next:

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Authored By
A Blogger, Author and a speaker! Harsh Agrawal is recognized as a leader in digital marketing and FinTech space. Fountainhead of ShoutMeLoud, and a Speaker at ASW, Hero Mindmine, Inorbit, IBM, India blockchain summit. Also, an award-winning blogger.

30 thoughts on “YouTube SEO 101: How To Rank Videos on YouTube (Optimize & Rank higher)”

  1. Agha Mike

    Hey Harsh,
    I really gave 5 stars to this post and I learned a lot from it. I was getting only 3 subscribers from last 6 months. I hope I will get it after follow your tips.

  2. Mike Benjamin

    Thanks for the information on how to do SEO for YouTube Videos.

  3. vivek shitole

    Hey this informations were really helpful. But I ain’t getting one thing I am having near about 1 lakh subscribes on YouTube and have got million views n my 2 to 3 videos among 23 (3 of them got most of the views from browse feautre)I am doing the same exact hard work on content, thumbnail, tags, description. Yet I ain’t getting that much of views on my other videos. I mean is that possible i am uploading videos on the public demand then why is that happening? Can you please help me to understand this.

    1. Arka

      For this only Traffic Source report can say everything. You are having 1L Subscribers, but check the watch time of those videos. I thing those videos are not that much engaging.

  4. RIYA

    Thanx a lot. i am running a food blog. I am going to launch my first Youtube video soon. You explained the ranking factor very clearly. I will apply it on my videos.

  5. Khurram Sipra

    Could you please share some ideas about keywords pricing on Youtube Videos for newbies ..
    Because i have a client who wants their videos ranked on youtube with specific keywords.
    What should i do if his keywords are with very high competitors?

  6. Er Rahul

    Great Tips

    I was always curious about ranking on Google with videos. I never would have thought about youtube keywords. Thanks

  7. Sandeep Singh

    Yeah, follow these tips in every video and you will get the great result, I am following these tips from last 2 year and my views are increased from 32K to 700K per month.
    But you have to be consistent and regularly upload videos.
    Engage with your subscribers and answer their questions.
    Create original videos, and do not copy.
    Stay away from paid views and subscribers.

  8. shobhit

    My youtube channel is closed for 1 month but now i want to reuse my channel, It is fine to start again uploading videos on this channel or i must make a new youtube account ?

    1. Harsh Agrawal

      It’s ok to restart the channel.

  9. amninder

    can you tell me the limit of the tags section for a youtube video. I think it’s 500. But on my youtube mobile app, I am getting 200. Is there a way to increase this length or is it that the app accepts only 200 characters?

    1. Harsh Agrawal

      Not sure about the app but on desktop it’s definitely 500.

  10. tony haigh

    Here are some of my tips for optimizing You Tube videos. Create a new email account based upon the title of the video. For example: ‘[email protected] Ping your video once its uploaded on You Tube. This lets the search engines know you have a new video or content, and it helps to index it quicker in the search engines. Depending upon the video and its content. Search groups on FaceBook to post your video with the same genre. this will get back links to your video. Find high ranking videos with a high view count, that has active comments, and copy the url of your You Tube video and paste is in the comments and write something cool ‘check out the awesome video that reviews the new ihpone 99’ you get the idea, this will get you some views also. Use google keyword planner to find long tailed keyword. If your just starting out i would recommend 500+ searches a month. For tags for videos you can use these long tailed keyword for your tags.

    Create playlists. Look for about 10 videos based upon the title or keywords or the title of your videos with the highest view count.

    I hope this will help you all out

  11. Pam De Guzman

    I am a blogger as of now and i was thinking of creating a youtube channel. This will really help me a lot. Thank you for this informative article! This is such a good read!

  12. Vikas Singh

    Hello Harsh,

    Nice article. Again I was searching for some topic and look I am here 🙂 Recently I came across a video “Dollar Shave Club” and then I have realised if you really want to rank write/shoot
    for the user not for SPIDER (Responsible for Google rank)

    This website got 18000 backlinks within the first month of release and it been a year and they have got 90000 backlinks
    from all the leading news channel and websites.

    So just be real, users do not want drama.

  13. Harsha

    This was one such important post which was expected from ShoutMeLoud because working on great video is much more important as people tend to connect more with video than spending time on reading content may be my idea appear bit futuristic also by creating our own video for our posts we would tell google bot that the video is connected to our article so we can get quality traffic who want to further explore on the topic discussed on our youtube video.
    I would expect you to include some online software that can help video creator in your future articles.

  14. Deewakar Tyagi

    I want to know that How we can rank keywords like “Funny Videos” “Funny Fails” etc. These keywords are literally very tough to rank on YouTube. If you have any tips (which I think you have probably) to rank these keywords please share it too!..

    Hope You’ll Reply. 🙂

  15. Harshil Patel


    I just created a video by using your tips. And if I am not wrong, I will rank my YouTube video within 10 days with exact keyword and description posted in the video.

    But if it doesn’t rank with these 5 tips, what other strategies can be used to rank highly competitive Video Keywords. Let me know if you have any source for me to read about Advanced YouTube ranking strategies.

  16. Ulises

    Hi there, you mention targeting countries like USA, where do you explain that?

    1. Sandeep

      It totally depends on the content you create, if you are creating a country specific content then you won’ get much views from other countries on your videos, but if you are creating global content then there are chances that you will get views from many countries, when I say focus on countries like USA means look for the content and keywords which has high search rate in USA or UK, as a quick example you can create a video related to Christmas, or one can create a tut about creating awesome and unique Santa hat. There are many things to discuss about but it also depends on your niche.

  17. Bharat Dixit

    I barely read any article completely but your’s is out of the box. I’ve never seen this type of article that covers a lot of important points. I learned a lot from your article just one question though lets say i am not uploading the videos on you tube but i am uploading them or rather copying their code to my site what else i can do except the Title and Description because putting keyword while uploading video, is not possible in my case and i want my site’s rank with the keywords of the video as well though i am trying to improve it by my content and my posts as well…

    Please answer i would really appreciate that.

  18. Chetan Gupta

    I have seen nowadays; people are getting more deep into YouTube SEO. Every Youtuber wants to rank their YouTube Videos, But very few got to succeed.

    I am also a YouTuber, and I love to upload interesting videos on my YouTube Channel.

    I had started my YouTube Channel before two months ago, and I was uploading interesting and helpful videos on a regular basis But I was still not satisfied with the results.

    I wasn’t getting enough views on my videos. My Videos were not getting ranked. So I decided to learn a bit more about YouTube SEO.

    I had learned so many things from this article, and I am sure, I’ll get better results after implementing these ranking tips.

    Thanks for sharing this great piece of content.

    Happy Blogging 😉

    1. sandeep singh

      Since the competition is getting tough on YouTube, you have to be original and need to do good video SEO in order to get rank and views to your videos, when I wrote this article I was getting around 32K views per month, now I am getting half a million views per month. I did nothing special but whatever I wrote here I followed in every video.
      You can also do great seo by following this article, and keep patience.

  19. Chase

    Great article. Couldn’t agree more on the part about closed captioning. People don’t realize how important closed captions are in helping their videos to reach a wider audience. They also don’t realize how easy and affordable it is to get them done these days. Outsourcing to a transcription service is very affordable nowadays (about $1 per minute), and there’s a service called, where you can just paste the URL of your YouTube videos to have them transcribed, you don’t even need to download the video.

  20. Andrew Scherer

    Great tips. The closed caption part is an integral part that many people forget about. I think what people don’t realize is that people from all over the world want to watch your video. If they can’t understand your video, there is no other way to do so if you don’t have the closed captions enabled. One more thing that I wanted to touch upon is the video length. Google places a large emphasis on videos that are watched longer. If you think about this, it makes a lot of sense. Why would Google want to make a video rank if people barely get past the 30-second mark? If you don’t believe me on this one, look up a few case studies on this topic.

    1. TechSandy

      Yes that is true, and watch time is the factor by which youtube algorithm recommend your video to viewers.

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