You’ve uploaded your video to YouTube, now what? We'll show you how to optimize YouTube Videos for SEO to maximize your views.

How to Optimize YouTube Videos for SEO

You’ve uploaded your video to YouTube, one of the largest search engines in the world, now what? You want people to watch your videos, but simply uploading it won’t cut it.

Instead, you need to optimize your YouTube videos for SEO using a variety of techniques, all easily accomplished with just a few steps. The more you optimize, the more opportunities your video will have at ranking higher, letting more people see it.

6 Ways to Improve Your YouTube Videos for SEO

With so much content on the internet, it’s hard to make your videos standout. But just like optimizing your website with SEO using similar tactics on your YouTube videos can help bump up your ranking. Like Google, YouTube uses SEO to help target the audience you want and need. The more specific you are with keywords and descriptions the more likely your video will be seen by your targeted audience.

But how exactly do you optimize your videos for SEO? We’ve outlined some major tips and tools below to help create your best videos.

1. Pick Your Keyword Wisely

Step 1: Pick Your Video Keyword Wisely

While uploading videos may seem like something that you can do on a whim (and it can be), to get the most views you’ll need to do your research first.

Finding the right keyword or keywords is the foundation of optimizing your videos. It will determine what will be used in your video title, description, tags, file names and more. Start by generating a list of keywords you want to use. You can do this off the top of your head or, if you have a topic in mind, type some words into YouTube and see what videos pop up. Notice what keywords are being used in the videos and make note of them for future use.

Once you have your list, go through and circle the best ones. Typically, these will be the ones that will have low-competition, meaning they’re not as popular. It may seem counterintuitive, but if you choose a high-competition keyword your video will get buried under popular videos. By selecting a low-competition keyword you have the opportunity to stand out amongst the crowd.

Finding out if your keyword is low-competition, just type it into google and look at the amount of results that come up. The lower the number, the better. To get more detailed results, use an SEO engine like Ahrefs.

2. Using Those Keywords to Rank Higher

Step 2: Use Your Keywords to Rank Higher

Once you have your keyword, this is where the optimization really starts to take place. While YouTube can’t technically watch the video for keywords, it can look at the code and titles to figure out how to organize and rank your video.

Name Your Video File

When you upload your video to YouTube, place your keyword in your video file. For example, use a file name such as (or whatever your file is) instead of Keep the title as specific and clear as possible; you don’t want to use generic titles here.

Insert Your Keyword into Your Video Title

Just as with your video file name, include your keyword in your video title. The title is one of the first things our eyes are drawn to when looking for a video to watch and will determine whether or not someone will click on it.

Keep it as natural and concise as possible, while including your keyword. For example, “Best YouTube Keywords Tools to Grow Your Channel” is an excellent title using the keyword Best YouTube Keyword Tools as it’s short, but conveys exactly what the video is about which is important not only to your audience, but YouTube as it searches for a place for your video.

How to Optimize Your Video Description for SEO

YouTube allows for up to 1,000 characters in your video description, but it only shows two or three lines of the text when displaying. To optimize a description, put the important information first, like any crucial links or a short description of your video including your keyword. The description is often less important to viewers, who really are there just to watch the video, but it’s a good source for YouTube to comb through.

You can also add a transcript of the video in the description, usually below the important information so it only appears when you click on read more. By including a direct transcript, you will help viewers who have to watch without sound and will improve the optimization of your video.

Image Matters

As you upload your video, consider the importance of your thumbnail image. While it doesn’t automatically add any SEO value, per say, it’s one of the first things visitors will see when deciding what to watch. Use an image that is relevant to your video and topic. Make it stand out with words, if applicable, and interesting images. Look into what others are using for their videos with the same keywords. You don’t want to copy them, but see what’s working and what isn’t based on view count.

3. Give Your Video a Category

Step 3: Give Your Video a Category

Giving your video a category will help group your video with similar content on YouTube and will end up on different playlists, gaining more exposure and more views. As with your keyword, though, you’ll want to do your research before selecting a category. Consider the following questions while researching:

  • Do the videos in the same category share similar qualities like length and format?
  • Is the audience for the category the one you are targeting?
  • Who are the other creators in the category and do they do well in it?

Finding the correct category for your video is crucial. Once you find the niche category for your video, try to stick to that topic and avoid jumping between different categories. Being consistent can help build your following and rank your videos higher.

Final Note on Categories: Don’t forget to tag your video! Use your selected keyword, but also include up to seven other similar keywords. Like categories, tags help to organize your videos into the right playlists and areas of content on YouTube.

4. Add Video Chapters

A newer feature to YouTube is YouTube video chapters. Chapters help to break up your video into subtopic which can help viewers preview the content beforehand. If a user sees something they are interested in without having to watch the whole video, they are more likely to click on the video.

Having your content, especially if it’s a long video, will help improve user experience and can lead to more engagement with your videos and your YouTube channel.

5. Provide Closed Captioning

While YouTube provides closed captioning automatically, it’s sometimes not accurate and may end up hurting your ranking if it’s translating wrong.

In order to make sure your content comes across correctly, provide your own closed captioning. There are several ways to do this, including auto-syncing the video or simply manually typing it out. Adding your own closed captioning as the added bonus of making sure your keywords are mentioned and accurately helping to boost your video views and user engagement.

6. Make a Video Playlist

Step 6: Make a Playlist For Your Videos

If you have multiple videos, consider grouping related videos together and making a YouTube video playlist. Playlists can help YouTube recognize your video content topics and understand what videos to deliver with different search queries.

They also help drive more traffic to your other videos; instead of directly to a similar video by another person, it’ll keep the user engaged with your content as the playlist plays one after another. For example, when someone searching YouTube for SEO tips clicks on the first video they see, they are more likely to keep selecting videos in the same playlist off to the side of the watch page than click back to the search page.

Optimize Your Videos for More Engagement

These small steps – from researching the right keyword and topic to providing accurate closed captioning – will help to optimize your video. While it might seem time consuming to do it for every video you create it’s worth the extra effort. The more you optimize your videos for YouTube, the more users will find and engage with your videos and content, leading to higher ranking.

About the Author: Michelle Tabler