For you to drive more traffic to your videos on YouTube, you need to know the ins and outs of YouTube SEO.

We all know what it feels like to create a video, upload it, and then nobody views it.

Trust me, I’ve been in that situation before and it’s not fun.

If you’re reading this article, you probably already know that video is a very powerful tool for marketing your business.

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In fact, almost one-third of the internet are YouTube users (over one billion users).

And this is the kind of traffic you do not want to ignore.

It may also surprise you to know that:

  • Viewers watch over one billion hours of videos on YouTube daily.
  • 45% is people watch over an hour of YouTube or Facebook Videos weekly.
  • About 72 hours of video are uploaded on YouTube every 60 seconds.
  • 55% of people watch online videos daily.

The importance of video in digital marketing cannot be overstated.

But the problem is that most people don’t see results because nobody sees their videos.

They just upload a video on YouTube and hope that one day it’ll go viral.

Unfortunately, this hardly works out.

Well, if you’re also a victim of this practice, fret not!

Because in this article, I’m going to show you the best practices to optimize your videos on YouTube and other search engines like Google, Yahoo, etc.

What you learn here helps you to become a highly profitable YouTuber.

In addition, you’ll be able to boost brand awareness and recognition.

So stick with me here.

Firstly, What Is YouTube SEO?

Search engine optimization is a marketing discipline focused on creating web content that will rank highly in Organic (non-paid) search engine result pages (SERPs).

YouTube SEO involves optimizing your videos, description, metadata, playlist, and your channel.

But before we go into details, let’s quickly look at some of the YouTube ranking factors.

These are optimization factors that can affect the visibility of your videos on YouTube.

They include:

  1. Title tag information
  4. Keywords in description tag
  5. Tags
  8. Video length
  9. Number of subscribers after watching
  10. Exact keyword match in the title
  11. Video quality
  12. The size of your audience
  13. Watch time
  14. Video quality

With that, it’s time to show you how to leverage these signals so that you can drive more traffic to your videos and also increase brand awareness.

Let’s jump right in.

What Is YouTube SEO?

YouTube SEO Best Practices:

1. Find the Perfect Keyword for Your Video

Keywords are those words or phrases that internet users type into the search box of search engines to find relevant information that matches what they are looking for.

So first, brainstorm a whole bunch of different ideas about what people might be searching for.

Think about real words that people would use if they were looking for videos like yours.

Ideally, you want to target long tail keywords.

These are keywords or phrases that contain at least three words.

Here’s an example of a long tail keyword:

Typical keyword: Digital marketing
Long tail keyword: Best digital marketing agencies in Los Angeles.

This is so important because the “typical keyword” would be too competitive to rank for.

But the long tail keyword would be less competitive because it is much more targeted.

It is also likely to yield the best click-throughs.

Secondly, conduct a research to figure out which of those words are actually most popular.

An easy way to do this is to just type these different keywords into the search bar of YouTube or Google.

When you do this, you’ll see a number of suggested searches pop up.

These are the things that people are searching for most often.

Basically, you need to look for keywords that have lots of searches but aren’t very competitive.

But the reality is that most keywords that people are searching for are going to be fairly competitive.

You just need to find a good balance.

A good keyword is one that is moderately popular and moderately competitive.

As your YouTube channel becomes more popular, you’ll be able to rank for more competitive keywords and also get better rankings for your videos.

So when you start out, it’s better to target those less competitive keywords.

This will enable you to rank higher on YouTube.

2. Front-Load Keywords

It is a common practice to put target keywords in a video title.

But what you should know is that videos that have their keywords at the beginning of their title rank higher on YouTube.

Okay, great, front-load keywords.

Now, how do you actually do that?

Here’s how:

If you want to rank your video for the keyword “email marketing campaign”.

Most people will use a title like this:

“My top 7 tips for email marketing campaign”.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with that title but you can make that title, even more, SEO friendly by putting your keywords at the beginning.

A title with a front-loaded keyword will look like this:

“Email marketing campaign: my top 7 tips”.

3. Mention Your Keywords in Your Video

Now, when you find these words that people are using a whole lot, the best practice is to mention those words verbally in your videos.

When implementing this strategy, you need to mention these keywords only a few times.

Think of it as keyword density for video.

Just say those keywords naturally and do not stuff your videos with keywords.

The key here is to use your keywords strategically without spamming.

4. Use Your Keywords as Your File Name

One of the most common optimization mistakes that I see is improper naming structure.

This happens both in raw video files and video title.

Before you upload your video to YouTube, make sure the name of the video file is related to the information that is contained in the video itself.

The best practice is to use your keyword as your file name.

So here’s how to go about it:

if your keywords are “digital marketing”, then your video file name should be “digital marketing.mp4”.

It’s really that simple.

This may seem obvious but most people give their video files names like:


This is a bad practice.

Your video file name has to reflect the information contained in the video itself.

This is so important because YouTube indexes the file name along with the other metadata you include.

5. Use Keywords in Your Title

Now, this shouldn’t come as a news to you.

Everyone kind of knows this because using keywords in your title has been around for a really long time.

You’re going to have a difficult time ranking your videos is your keywords are not in your title.

Your title helps YouTube understand what your video is all about.

Also, this is what viewers look at to evaluate whether your video will provide the answers they’re looking for.

So when you create a video, write an enticing title that includes your keywords.

Show the value of your video in a clear and concise way.

The limit for titles on YouTube is 100 characters.

But the best practice is to write a title that contains about 70 characters( including spaces).

Summarily, make sure your title caters for both your prospective viewers and YouTube’s ranking system.

6. Write a Long Video Description

Long descriptions help videos rank better on YouTube.

This is because longer descriptions help YouTube better understand what your video is all about.

Maximize the 5000 characters that YouTube gives you to play with in the description field.

Make your video description unique.

Don’t recycle content from your previous videos because this will result in duplicate content.

And trust me, YouTube and Google will hold it against you.

Treat each of your videos as separate and write a different description for each of them.

It is the best practice to make your video description at least 200 words long.

Use keywords variations in your video description so that YouTube does not penalize you for keyword stuffing.

For example, if your main keywords are “business continuity plan”, you can use keyword variations such as:

You might be wondering:

“What do I actually write in my description?”

Well, in your description, you need to give an overview of your video.

Make it compelling so that when someone reads the description, they still need to watch the video to see the actual content.

Make sense?

7. Place Tags in the Tag Box

Tags are as important as they used to be.

They still make a difference.

So it’s important to spend some time on them.

Sadly, many people on YouTube use tags in a very wrong way.

Remember, your video tags are designed to help YouTube understand the content of your video.

So, you don’t need too many tags to get the job done.

In fact, if you use too many tags, you’re just going to confuse YouTube and Google.

They’ll have no idea what your video is all about.

And when this happens, they’re not going to rank your video for anything.

That’s why it’s important to use a small number of highly specific tags.

So here’s how to go about it:

Firstly, make sure your first tag is your target keyword.

For example, if your target keyword is “email marketing”, make your first tag “email marketing”.

Secondly, create 2-3 tags that are closely related to your main keyword.

For example, use variations of “email marketing” such as:

  • Email marketing for beginners
  • Email marketing techniques
  • Best email marketing campaign etc.

You can easily find these variations when you type your main keyword into YouTube’s search field.

You will get a list of suggestions which are perfect variations of your keywords to use as tags.

Finally, your last set of tags should be one or two broad terms of your main keywords.

Use these tags to describe the overall topic of your video or industry.

Broad keywords for email marketing can be “content marketing”, “digital marketing” etc.

9. Use Custom Thumbnails to Increase Click-Through Rates (CTR)

It’s no news that YouTube uses click-through rates to rank videos.

Now, how can you get more clicks?

Well, you can get more clicks and subscribers by just optimizing your thumbnails.

This will, in turn, increase your video ranking on search engines.

YouTube immediately uploads a default thumbnail image whenever you upload a video.

Often this image is neither appealing nor truly reflects the information contained in your video.

Below are a few things you should do to optimize your thumbnails:

Use Non-YouTube Colors in Your Thumbnails:

So what are non-work YouTube colors?

Well, I’m sure you already know that the main colors on YouTube’s website are white, red, and black.

It’s the best practice to use colors that contrast with YouTube’s color scheme.

Some of these colors include blue, green, purple, grey and orange.

These colors will help your results stand out from others which will, in turn, give you more clicks.

Include an image that reflects the content of your video

If your thumbnail does not make any sense to the viewer, you’re not going to have any clicks.

Your thumbnail should show the viewer that your video has the information they’re looking for.

choose images that meet the expectations of the viewer.

Have a Consistent YouTube Thumbnail Design and Font:

This can be a very effective way to make your audience familiar with your brand.

To begin, choose a professional image from a stock photo website or you can use an image of yourself.

Secondly, you can add a text to the image with a font style that represents your brand.

Now, this is everything you need to do to rank your videos on YouTube and other search engines.

But in the next few steps, I’m going to show you how to get a flood of traffic to your videos.

So stick with me here.

10. Publish Videos on a Regular Schedule

Releasing videos at regular intervals will strengthen your YouTube channel.

This is because your subscribers know when to return to your channel for new content.

It is easier for newly published videos to rank higher during the first week they’re published because they get an SEO boost.

So publishing content regularly will help you get a video higher up in the search engine result pages.

This can also result in regular views and repeated visits.

Regular views and visits signal YouTube that your channel is active, has valuable content, and deserves a higher search rank.

11. Build Your Channels and Use Playlists

So the stronger your channel is, the easier it’s going to be for you to rank your videos.

Now the question is, how can you increase the power of your channel?

Well, you can increase the power of your channel when you keep it active by uploading content regularly.

When you keep your channel active, you’ll be able to:

  • Get more real views
  • Increase the number of your real subscribers
  • Get more real comments and likes on your videos.

All these factors will help your videos rank higher on the SERPs.

Think of it this way:

If Moz publishes an article about video marketing, and I set up a website, 2 days later I publish an article about video marketing.

Who do you think Google will rank higher?

Of course, they’re going to rank Moz’s article higher.

But why is it so?

Well, it is because Moz is a big site and they’re always uploading content.

The same process goes for YouTube channel.

The more active your channel is, the easier it will be for your videos to rank.

Now when it comes to playlist, all you need do is to create a playlist using your main keywords and then put your videos in there.

This will send a signal to YouTube that the videos in that playlist are related to your keywords.

And then YouTube is going to rank your videos for those keywords

12. Include the Current Year in Your YouTube Video Title

No YouTube user wants to see content that is outdated or irrelevant.

When you include the current year in your video title, it tells the viewer that your content is current and relevant.

This will help your video stand out in the search engine result pages and suggested video sidebar.

And you’ll also get more clicks and views because many people search for keywords and the year on YouTube.

So here’s how to go about it:

Keyword: “email marketing campaign”
Keyword + Year: “email marketing campaign for 2017”.

Summarily, a YouTube video title with the current year will instantly give you a higher click-through rate.

13. Get More Social Indicators

Social indicators are quickly becoming important ranking factors to your video.

Things like Facebook likes, Twitter shares, and pins are very important for your videos.

If you have a Facebook profile, Pinterest board, or Twitter profile, just upload your videos there and share it with your audience.

When you do this, encourage your audience to hit the like and share button so that you can maximize the number of social indicators from one post.