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The Definitive Guide to YouTube SEO

YouTube SEO

YouTube has reached a whopping 1.5 billion monthly users, only second in line to Facebook(2 billion), with an average amount of YouTube content being watched daily reaching 1 billion hours

Videos equivalent to 576,000 hours are uploaded each day on YouTube. That’s an astonishing number! This number not only strengthens the growing popularity of YouTube but also gives you an idea of the competition that it’s paving a way to.

When we talk about ranking, search engine optimization is the very first thought that pops into our mind. Just like Google, YouTube needs optimization as well.

So, for those of you who are aiming to start their YouTube channel this year or want leverage this ever-growing user base on YouTube for reaching out; read ahead to know how to nail YouTube SEO in 2018.

Picking the Video Topic

Consider this as the foundation step for YouTube video optimization. Why? Because if you do not know which keyphrase to target, how will you ever prepare a content around it?

Picking a keyphrase means deciding a theme or topic on which the video focuses. Make sure that you do not deviate from your theme and focus only on one theme at a time.

Tools such as KWFinder, Mondovo’s Keyword Research Tool etc. are free to use and help you find long tail keywords. Sort out the keywords based on search volume and jot them down with you. Prepare a write up of your observations and keep them handy for later.

Here is a snapshot of the Google Keyword Suggest tool by SEO Chat. Go to the suggest tool option and then select the YouTube checkbox to get the suggestions for queries.

YouTube SEO

Or you can also use KWFinder tool. Here is a YouTube tutorial guiding you to use KWFinder tool for finding out your keywords:

The main aim of finding the right keyphrase for your YouTube video is finding out the intent of users and creating content around it.

Analysing Competitors

Strengthen Your Keyword Game

Having prepared a list of your desired keyphrases, it’s now time to analyze your competitors. You have to check the number of videos that show up once you enter your keyphrase on YouTube.

In case it shows numerous results with a good amount of engagements, then you might want to reconsider. The aim here is to choose a less competitive keyword, even if you have to add another word or two to make it long tail.

Considering that you are a beginner and do not have that kind of following, competing with the mavens for those keywords at this stage is not advisable.


Video Length

After you’ve selected the theme of your video, it’s time to start filming! Film HD videos and check proper lightening and focus.

Video length is an important factor that determines a viewer’s video watch time. Avoid making short videos (2-4 minutes long) as YouTube tends to prefer longer videos.

In fact, after analyzing 1.3 million YouTube videos, this is what Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko concluded that videos found on the first page of YouTube results have an average video length of 14 minutes 50 seconds.

Video Length

Video Search Engine Optimization

Uploading & Optimizing Video Filename

Once you’re convinced that you have created a valuable and share-worthy video, the next logical step is ‘uploading’. You can upload your video with a click on the upload button present at the top right corner of YouTube.


Make sure to give a keyword infused video filename for your video after you’re done uploading your video. This does not affect the rankings directly but it does help the search encategorizeorise the video and index it. 

Optimizing Video Title

All that keyword hustle that was done in earlier steps comes in handy here!

YouTube is seen to give weight to titles that have keywords as the first few words of the title. Pick a title that is about 5-7 words long, having the main keyword in the beginning itself.

To increase the click-through rate of your video you might want to use parentheses and brackets. According to Hubspot, adding brackets increases the CTR by 38%. So give your viewers a title that gives them a clarity about your video.

Video Optimize

Use current year in your video titles to denote the freshness of the video. Many users tend to search for a keyword with the year for finding the current videos. Thus, consider it a very important aspect while performing YouTube SEO.


Optimizing Video Description

Before starting to optimize the video description, know why it is an important part of YouTube SEO.

Firstly, descriptions help viewers discover your videos in search results.

Secondly, it lets them know what they are about to see.

Together these two factors increase your views and watch time and that’ll ultimately make this the ‘go to’ guy for YouTube SEO.

So How To Optimize YouTube Video Description for 2018?

  • Write a minimum 100-200 words description. Use the above mentioned technique of mentioning the keyword early in the sentence. Do not stuff your description with keywords, instead use LSI keywords/ variants of the keywords for a natural flow.
  •  If your video has the kind of content that can use a long description, then go for a description that is about 300-500 words.Here’s an example of a video description that nails YouTube SEO. It covers the relevant keywords (chocolate cake, most amazing chocolate cake etc.) and has a comprehensive description including the ingredients and the instructions.

Optimize YouTube

  • Minimize the number of outbound links in your description. The last thing that YouTube wants is viewer clicking out of your video, leaving the site. The following snapshot shows how you can harm your YouTube SEO for good:

Outbound Links

  • Give links to your social media profiles in the description to drive more views and engagement.

Social Media

Optimizing Video Tags

Apart from giving context, video tags are beneficial for a YouTube video to rank in the suggestions as well.

You can enjoy a good number of views if you manage to rank in video suggestions of a highly ranked video of your competitor.

Adding way too many tags is not an advisable practice. YouTube does not need too many tags to understand what a video is all about.

The placement and type of tags that should be used in YouTube video are as follows:

aMain keyword  The initial tags of your YouTube video should be of target keywords.

b) Alternate Keyword– These are the tags based on synonyms of the main keyword. You can find these keywords from YouTube suggestions.

c) Broad Keyword– Use few broad keywords to help YouTube understand more context of your video.

d) Competitors Keywords– This increases your chances of appearing in the YouTube video suggestions of a similar video. All you have to do is add a few tags that are used by your competitors. You can find your competitor’s tags either by tools such as TubeBuddy, VidIQ or in the competitor’s source code by right-clicking on the space outside the video and selecting ‘View page source’.


Video Thumbnail

Just like titles, video thumbnails are crucial for CTRs. There two best practices this year to create attractive and clickable thumbnails.

Avoid Camouflaging With Youtube

Choose colours other than red, white or black for your thumbnails to avoid mixing up with the YouTube colours. Colours that show distinctly on thumbnails are more likely to get clicks by viewers on the pretext of grabbing their attention.

Check out the following colourful thumbnails for the cake recipes that stand out because of the colours they use:


Text It Up

The second best practice this year for the thumbnails that increases the CTR is including some text on the thumbnail. It turns out that the thumbnails that have text tend to get more clicks. Add anywhere between 25-30 characters of text in big bold letters on your video thumbnail. Here is how they look:

Text It Up


By now you must have understood that the YouTube algorithm clearly puts user engagement as its No. 1 ranking factor. Pay close attention to the following components for YouTube SEO in 2018:

  • Number of Video views
  • Number of Shares
  • Number of Subscribers of the Channel
  • Number of Links and embeds on other sites

It is crucial to promote your YouTube video in order to increase the numbers of views, shares, subscribers and embeds. Mere uploading of video won’t help you reach the numbers.

The following are some ways to promote your video and push it in front of the audience more effectively in the year 2018:

YouTube End Cards

Also known as outro card, slate card or end screen, a YouTube end card is a graphic that is displayed at the end of a video (last 5-20 seconds). These can be thought of as evolved versions of annotations.

They direct the viewers to take desired CTA. The CTAs can be in the form links to another video, brand logos directing to the brand’s landing pages, the next video in the playlist etc. An end card encourages the viewers to keep watching until the end thereby increasing the watch time of your video. This ultimately affects your YouTube SEO rankings as we discussed in the above sections.

There are many tutorials available on YouTube that will guide you to creating beautiful end cards.

Go YouTube Live

Going live is the way to go in 2018. Instagram and Facebook have recently joined the clan of live video streaming.

YouTube is no different. Going live gives you the opportunity of interacting with your fans in real time and also allows you to answer their questions on a personal level. Do a live video at regular intervals and watch your viewership move to the crest of the wave.

Cross Promotion of YouTube Video on Other Social Media Channels

Try to make your content available on as many platforms as you can. Direct your fans from your social accounts like Instagram, Twitter & Facebook to your YouTube video. You can use your social accounts to inform them about an upcoming video or share the relevancy and benefits of a video that you have just put up.


Helping the other brands can help you promote your video as well by getting their viewers see your content.

You can also have a cameo appearance in someone else’s video, whose audience you might not be able to reach otherwise. This kind of cross promotions helps you create more buzz about your videos in the YouTube community.

Email Marketing

This was, is and will be the cheapest way of promoting your video on YouTube. Include a summary of your video in your email newsletter and share your video in it. The summary should be problem-solving in nature and let the viewers know how it is going to benefit them.


Write blogs about your YouTube video to get it out there. Promote these blogs on social media to increase your reach. Explain the context of your video in the blog and provide a link for it.


It cannot be stressed enough how call to actions prompt viewers to take actions of subscribing, liking and commenting. Always put a CTA at the end of your video.


If you come to think of it, YouTube SEO is not a tough nut to crack. However, it should not be taken lightly either. 

With targeted approach and deep understanding of your audience, you can enjoy popularity on YouTube. So what are you waiting for?

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Uzair is the VP, Sales & Marketing at Enterprise Monkey; an Australia based website and app development company which helps Small-to-Medium Enterprises, Large Enterprises, and Startups to increase their productivity, efficiency and ultimately profitability. Uzair possesses a comprehensive experience in B2B and B2C marketing. Pursuing his vision to help Small and Medium Enterprises, he has successfully helped many such organizations to increase their productivity and revenue.

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