YouTube Video SEO – How To Rank Youtube Video On First Page [Updated]

July 20, 2023 | Advanced SEO

Although YouTube is the second largest search engine, it still remains an untapped source of generating substantial traffic. Also, with a staggering rate of 5 Billion videos streamed per day and 300 hours uploaded every minute, YouTube has topped the charts when it comes to video marketing as well. 

And adding to this, the fact that Google includes YouTube videos in its search results, it would be fair to say that optimizing your video content can boost your online visibility drastically.

Note: Looking for a video? Here’s my Webinar on Tips & Tricks to Video SEO, where I discussed 14 hacks to increase your YouTube video rankings.

In this post, I’ll discuss the top 5 optimization tips that can help you rank your video on the first page of Google. 

But before we dive into them, let’s discuss the primary YouTube Ranking Factors.

YouTube Ranking Factors

YouTube ranking factors are similar to Google search ranking factors. So, if you’ve done your SEO homework, you’d find optimizing YouTube videos for better rankings easy.

Here are the 4 factors that affect your video rankings:

  1. Keywords in Meta tags: This includes your video title, description, and tags. YouTube uses these elements to determine how relevant your video is to a specific search.
  2. Video Quality: High Definition (HD) videos are ranked higher on YouTube. Did you notice the family resemblance here? Both YouTube and Google reward you for ensuring a high-quality experience for the users.
  3. Closed Caption: YouTube can crawl your video content too if you create closed captions. Hence, they can be instrumental to your rankings.
  4. User Engagement: This includes the number of views, likes, comments, social shares, inbound links, subscribers, video retention rate, and average watch time. As YouTube wants to show quality content to its users, it ranks high-engagement videos higher.

Now that you are aware of the ranking factors, let’s see how you can optimize your videos to rank better.

5 YouTube SEO tips from my strategy toolbox

1. Keyword Hunting and Optimization

Similar to traditional SEO, keyword research marks the beginning of YouTube Video Optimization. You should aim to rank your video not only on YouTube but on Google’s Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) as well. 

Start your keyword research by creating 2 buckets of search queries:

  1. Search queries that don’t generate video results on Google SERPs but have a decent search volume – by optimizing for these keywords, you can rank your videos on Google easily. And also drive a substantial amount of targeted traffic to your YouTube videos and website.
  2. Search queries that generate high search volume on Google SERPs – optimizing for this bucket will be more competitive because some videos might be ranking on the SERPs for these keywords already. But once you’ve optimized for these keywords and begin to rank for them, you’ll notice a sudden spike in your traffic.

Get keyword ideas:

You can get a lot of good keyword suggestions by using these three methods:

  1. YouTube Autocomplete search feature:
    Start typing your primary keywords, and YouTube’s search box will start displaying a dropdown list with additional keywords automatically. These are listed based on the searches performed by users. 

    YouTube Autocomplete search feature:

  2. Google Autocomplete search feature:
    Similarly, you can use Google to extend your keyword list. 

  3. Get more insights with a Rank Tracker:

Now, compile the keywords that you’ve gathered from YouTube and Google in one excel sheet. Then, upload them on RankWatch via .csv file and discover more suggestions and gain insights into your competitor’s keywords.

The results will show you the search trend and the search volume of each keyword.

Also, there’s LHF (Low Hanging Fruits) that list the keywords for which you have higher rankings but aren’t tracking them.

Make sure your keywords have a search volume of at least 350 searches per month. Targeting these keywords can generate a decent amount of quality organic traffic towards your video and ultimately, your website.

But how to optimize your video with these keywords?

How to optimize your video with keywords?

File Name: Instead of naming your video file randomly, place the relevant keywords organically. For example, I used the following file name for my webinar video: Tips, tricks, and hacks for Video SEO – Webinar. Here, Video SEO is the keyword.

Video Title: Make sure that the title of your video begins with a primary keyword.

For instance, I wanted to include 4 keywords phrases in my title:

  1. Video SEO
  2. Boost YouTube traffic
  3. Tips to Boost YouTube traffic
  4. Tips to do Video SEO

After bouncing up a few ideas and copies, I came up with the following:

Description: Make sure to include the relevant keywords within the first 160 characters (as the message is truncated beyond that).

Tags: Tags are again a way of communicating the content of your video to YouTube, and these are only visible in the Page Source. Include your primary targeted keywords here.

2. Effective hacks for better performance

Upload high-quality videos

HD enhances the user’s experience; therefore, YouTube prefers ranking HD quality videos higher. You can also try 4K, Virtual Reality (VR) and 360 Upload options. Since these have double the horizontal pixel count, they provide a better viewing experience.

Optimize your Thumbnail Image

Your thumbnail image creates the first impression of your video and can increase your click-through rates by 15%.

Therefore, it is crucial to invest a couple of minutes in creating an attractive thumbnail image which conveys what your video is about effectively.

Here are four ways to choose an appropriate image for the thumbnail:

  1. Download an image from a creative commons image websites (like Pixabay).
  2. Take a screenshot from your paused video.
  3. Take an image using a DSLR camera.

Once you have your image, head over to Canva and create a customized poster with the following dimensions 1280×720 pixels, this will ensure that you get a high-quality image which can fit the 2MB upload size limit of YouTube.

Also, the thumbnail image comes out so small on YouTube, so you really need to sharpen it:

  1. Increase the saturation by 30%
  2. Increase the contrast by 30%
  3. Reduce the blur
  4. Decrease the brightness
  5. Use a few words to describe the topic
  6. Increase the text size to improve the readability

All these tiny hacks will make your image stand out. Have a look at the thumbnail I used for the webinar:

3. Links and Call-to-actions

  1. Links in your description

85% of the customers are likely to purchase a product after watching its video, so you should always include related links in the description. It can either point to your homepage or any other pages of your website.

The second most vital link to include in the description is your call to action “Subscribe here” link. Lastly, you can include links of your social media channels as well.

Did you notice the timings that I have added for each chapter?

These are links that will direct you to a specific portion of the video. They are especially useful for long videos when you want to keep the viewer engagement. Also, by doing so, you’ll make it easier for the viewer to head straight to the essential portions of the video.

Moreover, they are effortless to create – you just need to write the timing, and YouTube will automatically hyperlink it.

Another way to link in your video is through annotations.

  1. Links in annotations

Annotations are those clickable buttons that pop up within a video.

They prompt the users to interact with your video content and thus, help you achieve your goals.

Make sure you add the appropriate time frame (start and end time of annotation) while adding annotations to your videos. Otherwise, it can annoy the viewer.

You can incorporate the following call to actions in your videos through your annotations:

  1. Subscribe link – It redirects the users to the page where they can subscribe to receive notifications on any updates to your YouTube channel.
  2. Website link – this is available to YouTube partners only.
  3. Links to other related videos – Keep your viewers engaged with your YouTube channel by directing them to your other videos.
  4. Link to your YouTube channel – Your YouTube channel houses all your videos. What could be better than a link that can direct users to where they could explore more about your brand.
  5. Link to your YouTube playlist – When viewers click on these type of annotations, a playlist is triggered, allowing them to watch more videos uploaded on your channel.
  1. Link to a specific section of your current video – This can be especially helpful if your video is long. These annotations give users the flexibility to jump to and fro between any section of the video.
  2. Link to your Google+ page/profile – Users will be redirected to your Google+ page/profile by clicking on this annotation. But before doing this, you need to make sure that your YouTube and Google+ accounts are connected.

4. Use Playlists

Playlists allow you to categorize all the videos in your channel based on relevancy so that they play out in a sequence. This helps keep viewers on your channel.

Here are a few tips to help you build an optimized playlist for your video content:

  1. Group same category videos in a single playlist – By doing this, you can increase the traffic driven to your videos. People are more likely to watch another video on the same topic right after they have finished viewing your first video.
  2. Include relevant keywords in the title of your playlist – YouTube algorithm picks up keywords in your meta data to determine which videos to rank.
  3. Use similar tags in all your videos –  If you do that, YouTube will assume that all your videos are related to each other and will line them up in the suggested video box automatically.

5. Promote your video

In the end, all you need to do is promote your videos as much as you can. Post it on your social media platforms, blogs and forums, and emails as well.

Apart from that, you can create content around the video and embed it in the posts for your blog and guest posts, too.

Traffic driven from through these mediums will be high-quality and can increase the total number of views received by your website. This boosts the popularity of your video on YouTube and eventually, its rankings.


Irrespective of your strategy, the key to ranking is creating excellent video content that adds value and engages the user.

Create a well-optimized video content calendar, use the tricks as mentioned above and establish a prominent YouTube presence.

Do you have some other hacks for ranking YouTube videos? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

How do you do SEO on YouTube?

You can do YouTube SEO by optimizing your video’s title, description, and hashtags with relevant keywords; this will help you rank better in the search results for both YouTube and Google. Also, create playlists and lucrative thumbnails to increase the ranking potential of your YouTube video.

Why is YouTube SEO important?

YouTube SEO is important because it helps you bring more organic views to your videos simply by optimizing your title, tags, hashtags, and description.

How do you add keywords to YouTube 2022?

To add keywords (tags) to your YouTube videos:
Go to YouTube Studio.
Upload a video.
Scroll down to the bottom of the upload window.
Click on ‘More Options’.
Scroll down to find the Tags heading.
Add your tags (separated by comma).

How many keywords can you use on YouTube?

The optimum keyword density for YouTube SEO is:
One to three keywords in your title
Five to ten keywords in your description (check the Keyword Density – it has to be between 1 and 3%).
Six to eight keywords in your tags

What should a beginner post on YouTube?

If you don’t have any experience making YouTube videos, you can upload:
Personal Vlogs
Unboxing videos
Review videos of games, movies, books, etc.
Teaching videos
Reaction videos
Commentary videos

How do I increase my YouTube visibility?

You can increase your video’s YouTube visibility by:
Optimizing keywords in your title, tags, description, etc.
Adding an index to your videos to increase chances of being featured in Google snippets.
Posting videos on trending topics
Making high-quality information-rich videos.
Creating videos in your field of expertise.
Using an appealing thumbnail

What happens if you buy YouTube subscribers?

YouTube’s algorithm can determine whether your subscribers are organic or paid. So, if you buy YouTube subscribers, it will detect and remove them from your list. In worst-case scenarios, YouTube can shut down your channel as well.

How do you get 1000 views on YouTube?

You can get 1000 views on YouTube by:
Working on YouTube SEO
Uploading videos regularly
Creating quality videos
Using a compelling thumbnail
Interacting with your audience regularly
Sharing your videos on social media platforms
Embedding your videos in your articles

Can you fake views on YouTube?

There are sites that sell fake views for YouTube. However, it is unethical, and there’s a chance YouTube will delete your video or channel if you consistently follow such malpractices.

Is YouTube good for SEO?

Having a YouTube SEO strategy for your blog helps you by:
Increasing your website traffic
Providing backlinks for your site
Acting as a teaser to your blog content
Pushing your website higher in SERPs

Which SEO tool is best for YouTube?

The best tools for YouTube SEO are:
YouTube Analytics
YouTube search suggestions
Google Keyword Planner
Google Trends

How do you find your YouTube ranking?

Find your YouTube rankings using these tools:

Do longer YouTube videos rank higher?

Yes. Long YouTube videos rank higher in search results because YouTube can place more ads on them than shorter ones.

How do you rank up faster on YouTube?

You can rank your video on YouTube using YouTube SEO practices such as:
Optimizing your title, tags, and description.
Using a click-worthy thumbnail.
Uploading consistently.
Creating quality content.
Making longer videos.
Responding to your comments.

Why is Youtube SEO important?

YouTube SEO is important as it helps you:
Rank your videos higher on YouTube
Get recommended with other videos
Get more views
Increase traffic to your website or blog
Rank higher on Google SERPs
Increase your brand awareness
Expand your online presence
Increase your YouTube earnings

How much money does 1 million YouTube views make?

A YouTube video with one million views can make between $500 to $5000.

YouTube earnings depend upon multiple factors such as:
Video topic
Video type (Vlog, review, unboxing, etc.)
Video length
Language used
Viewers’ location
Number of ads placed

Do 4K videos rank higher on YouTube?

4K videos do not rank higher compared to 1080p or 720p videos on youtube. YouTube ranking depends upon the quality of content in your video, not just the video resolution.

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