When people hear “SEO”, they usually only relate it to Google. While Google is the most widely used search engine out there, it isn’t the only one that you should focus on. Sticking to a single search engine for SEO means that you severely limit your online reach. This is because every search engine has its own pool of users. Take YouTube for example; it lets you reach users looking specifically for video content. YouTube has become a huge video sharing platform since its inception. Currently, it is the second most visited website right after Google. It goes without saying that the potential that YouTube holds is immense. Not only does it get a lot of traffic, but it also lets businesses engage customers in an engaging way.

YouTube is huge; however, it is also packed with content creators posting videos all the time. Meaning that YouTube is a very competitive space where remaining invisible is painfully easy. This is why YouTube SEO is so important. It is the single most important factor that determines your chances of success on the platform.

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How Does YouTube SEO Work?

Compared to Google’s SEO, YouTube’s processes are much simpler. However, this doesn’t mean that it should be taken lightly. YouTube’s search engine algorithm does pretty much the same thing as Google’s; it determines whether your video is worthy of getting a high position in the SERPs or not.

There’s a common misconception that all you need is subscribers and daily uploads to become visible on YouTube. This used to do the trick in YouTube’s early days; however, YouTube’s algorithm has become much stricter. You need to focus on these two factors along with additional factors as well, such as your Audience Retention. Your Audience Retention represents how long you can keep a user watching your video. Audience Retention has become really important on YouTube since last year. This is because YouTube depends on ads to make videos, and the longer people watch videos, the more ads they can see.

At the moment, YouTube’s algorithm takes the following factors into account:

  • Video title and tags
  • Audience retention rate
  • Video length
  • Number of subscribers
  • Likes and dislikes
  • Comments

To get the highest ranking in YouTube’s SERPs, you need to take all of these factors into account. Once you manage to optimize them, you can expect to become much more visible on the platform. Being visible on the platform means that you get more views and more subscriptions. Your channel can begin growing at a faster pace, and you can even begin generating ad revenue.

Picking The Right Keywords

Just like with any other search engine, you must first pick a relevant keyword. This keyword is going to go into your video’s Title, Description, and its Video Tags. You start by identifying keywords that you can use and make a list. This part is rather easy; you can go to YouTube’s search bar and type a phrase or word that is relevant to your video. Doing so will provide you with a list of search suggestions. Each of these suggestions is a keyword, and since the search engine itself is suggesting them, you can be sure that these keywords are common.

Another way to pick a keyword is to go to a high ranking video in your niche and take the keywords that it uses. Keywords are usually found at the start of a video’s title, in its description, and its tags. A video’s tags can be viewed from your browser with free add-ons and extensions like Tags for YouTube™.

YouTube’s search report in its Traffic Sources section is also a great place to go fishing for keywords. You can often find keywords in here that are commonly used but aren’t that obvious.

The best thing about all of the sources mentioned above is that they provide you with real keywords. The platform’s viewers frequently use each of the keywords that you find here.

After you have gathered a decent number of relevant keywords, you can begin identifying the best keywords. A keyword that is used frequently by the viewers, but not so frequently by content creators is what you’ll be after. Keywords with lower competition have a better chance of keeping you visible. This is because using these kinds of keywords minimizes the chances of you having to compete with bigger channels.

Every keyword that you obtain from the sources mentioned above are popular inputs. Checking the usage of a keyword is simple as well. Simply enter each keyword with this footprint (site:youtube.com “keyword”) into the Google search bar, head over to the video results and check how many results it produces. The “About xxxxxxxx results” counter right under the search bar will give you an approximated number for every search. You want to select a keyword that is relevant to your content and brings in as little results as possible.

To sweeten the results of your SEO even further, you could try using a keyword that will make your video visible on Google as well. You might have noticed that certain searches in Google produce YouTube videos. This is thanks to certain keywords that make you visible on YouTube and Google. If you manage to get a keyword like this and optimize it effectively, your video’s viewer count can skyrocket.

Google produces video results for keywords such as:

  • Reviews
  • Funny videos
  • How-to phrases
  • Sports and fitness related searches

You need to find keywords like these to make your content visible on Google as well. Identifying keywords such as these involves going to that keyword list that you made earlier. Begin searching each keyword in Google to check which ones produce video results. After you have identified a keyword that matches your criteria, you need to check for its search volume.

A keyword that isn’t searched for frequently won’t be of much use to you. For this part, you can use a tool like Keywords Everywhere. Keywords with a search volume of 100K and above are worth using. They will help you produce more organic traffic and aid your growth.

Creating High Retention Content

As we mentioned above, audience retention is incredibly important. The higher your video’s retention rate is, the more visible it will become. Think of it in this way; YouTube wants people to stay on the platform for as long as possible. The longer a user stays on YouTube, the more ads they see. YouTube promotes content that keeps people on the platform for longer. Your goal as a content creator is to make users stick around for long. This will result in YouTube giving your content priority over other people’s content.

Now, there are some factors that determine the engagement quality of your video. YouTube keeps a very close eye on each of these factors. Meaning that if you manage to optimize them, your content is going to be promoted. Funnily enough, top-notch audio and video quality aren’t major deciding factors over here. You need to focus more on the content of your video.

What makes YouTube SEO tricky is that you cannot rely on bogus backlinks to become more visible. Your content needs to be genuinely interesting, useful, and relevant to your niche. Otherwise, your video will fail, regardless of how nicely you optimize it.

The number of comments that your video gets shows YouTube that how many of your users engaged with your video. A higher number of comments is a sign of your video being qualitative. This is why so many YouTubers nowadays ask their viewers to leave comments. The best way to ask your viewers to leave comments is by asking them a question or saying that you want their opinion on a relevant topic. Also, make sure to reply to your user’s comments actively. This is a great way to produce comments out of comments and encourage your viewers to comment more frequently.

Your subscriber count was once the ultimate ranking factor on YouTube. While it is no longer that powerful, it is still a relevant factor. Every subscription that you get from a viewer shows that your content is of great value. Which is why you should remind your viewers to subscribe to you often. How do you do this? Simply by asking them to subscribe to you. YouTubers nowadays make a habit of asking their viewers to subscribe to them at the end of every video. Surprisingly enough, this technique works quite well.

A video that gets shared is a video that has something of value to offer. At least this is what YouTube’s algorithm thinks. If your video has genuinely good content, it might get shared to other platforms, and this can give it a significant boost.

The length of your video is also important. The longer the video, the better it gets ranked. The likes and dislikes that you get matter as well, and they are pretty self-explanatory.

A more obscure yet equally important factor is your video’s Click through Rate (CTR). Your CTR counts how many people click on your video once it gets presented to them in the search results. Getting a high CTR requires a good title, an attractive thumbnail, and a high ranking in the search results.

Optimizing Your Video Content

We cannot stress enough just how important content quality is on YouTube. To maximize the qualitative value of your video, you can also optimize its content.

You can do this by making sure to say your selected keyword in the video at least once preferably at the start of your video. This helps YouTube transcribe your video more accurately. YouTube’s automated captions are really useful and add value to a video. However, they aren’t always that accurate. Saying your keyword in the video gives YouTube an idea about your video’s topic, making its transcribing better. The more accurate your captions, the more your video’s quality improves.

Your video’s title must have a length of a minimum of five words. This lets you comfortably add your keyword into the title. Remember, your title should be attractive, informative, and shouldn’t feel forced. If your keyword is at the beginning of your title, then your SEO becomes a tad more effective.

Your video’s description helps the viewer and YouTube figure out what your video is about. This lets YouTube assess your video better, and as a result, you get a higher ranking. The description shouldn’t sound spammy or fluffy. A badly written description can easily make your video look bad in YouTube’s eyes. A great description has the keyword mentioned in it two to four times. The first mention being somewhere in the description’s beginning 25 words. Also, you should try to make your description around 250 words long and remember to break down your text. A big chunk of text is hard to read, so add plenty of paragraph breaks.

A video’s tags act as secondary references that help YouTube determine a video’s topic. They are not the most important factor, but they certainly help with your optimization. Your tags should include your keyword and a few phrases or words about your topic. Make sure that your tags are relevant to your niche. This can help land your videos in the suggested video section of other people’s videos. Copying tags from your competition is a great way to go about this.

These were all the steps involved in optimizing your YouTube content. Following all the steps can make your channel grow much faster and stay on top for longer. Now, let’s sum this guide by taking a look at what should you do after you’ve optimized your video.

What To Do after You’ve Optimized Your Content


In the end, it all comes down to how much views you get. Optimizing your content on YouTube makes you visible; however, it won’t generate views automatically. A funny thing about YouTube SEO is its ranking and view paradox. You need views to rank yourself higher, but you also need a high rank to get views. Fortunately, you can grease the wheels a bit by promoting your videos yourself. Every time you release a video, share it on your social media. If you have a blog, embed it there and send emails to your blog’s newsletter subscribers.

If your video is informational, you can share it on Q&A websites as well. YouTube has a notification feature as well that notifies your subscribers every time you upload new content. You can encourage viewers to turn on this feature just like you encourage them to subscribe to you.

Organize Your Video Collection

Every video that you upload on YouTube gets added to your collection. It is important to keep all these videos organized so that viewers can browse through them easily. YouTube’s playlist features comes in handy here. You can bunch videos that are part of a series or discuss similar topics into specified playlists. Not only will this make your channel look more organized and professional, but it can also get you more views. Once a viewer plays a playlist, your videos begin auto-playing one after another. This can help you get more views per viewer.

Optimize Your Channel

Your videos aren’t the only thing that need optimization on YouTube. Your channel needs to be organized as well. Think of your channel as your webpage within YouTube. You need to make it look appealing to retain viewers who visit it. Organize your content and give your channel a nice background. This alone can make a huge difference.

Your channel has a description as well. You should optimize it similarly to how you would optimize your video’s description. Add relevant and valuable keywords, keep it from sounding spammy, and focus on formatting. YouTube ranks channels as well, meaning that if you optimize your channel, you will get a better rank. And we all know that better rankings, combined with everything else that we mentioned, make a huge difference.