SEO For YouTube Videos – Optimization For Better Search Results

image of the author markimage of youtube


In the beginning, blog or website content was mostly limited to written words. But today, that’s simply not the case. A good solid content strategy should include written work such as blogs and e-books, and just as important media such as podcasts, visual assets, and videos.

Video marketing is on the rise and YouTube is the leader in website video distribution. So, that being the case it is just as important to know how to do SEO for YouTube videos and optimization for better search results, as it is for your website or blog content.

So, how do you do that? What are the steps needed to optimize your YouTube videos? Here are some tips that should help:

1) Title

When someone searches for a video one of the first things that catches someones attention is the title. In most cases, the title is what determines whether or not that person will click and watch the video, so the title understandably needs to be compelling, clear, and concise.

The title should also closely match what that person is searching for. Research shows that videos with an exact keyword match in the title have a bit of an advantage over those that don’t.



Image Provided BY Backlinko

So, while using targeted keywords in your title might help rank for that specific term, the relationship between keyword rich videos titles and rankings is still rather weak.

Lastly, keep your title relatively short, limit it to around 60 characters to keep it from getting truncated in search results pages.

2) Video Description

According to Google, the limit for YouTube video descriptions is 1,000 characters. But, since it is okay to use up those 1,000 characters, remember that viewers most likely came to watch a video and not read a book.

If you need to write a longer description, just be aware that YouTube only shows the first two or three lines of text, which in turns amounts to about 100 characters or so. After that viewers need to click on “show more” to be able to see the full description. This is why front loading the description with important information such as CTA’s ( Calls-To-Action ) or crucial links.

When it comes to optimizing the video itself, it can’t hurt to add a transcript of the video, especially if someone has to watch it without volume. Research done by Backlinko found no correlation between descriptions that were optimized for a certain keyword and the rankings for that term.

However, don’t dismiss the idea of an optimized description altogether. An optimized description will help you appear in the suggested videos sidebar, which can be a huge source of views for most YouTube channels.

3) Tags

YouTube’s Creator Academy recommends using tags to let viewers know what your video is about, and yes you will be informing your viewers but you will also be informing YouTube at the same time.

This is how YouTube is able to figure out how to associate your video with videos that are similar, which in turn can expand your contents reach. Choose your tags carefully, don’t use tags that are not relevant in an attempt to get more views, Google just might penalize you for that.

The same goes for your description, start with the most important keywords, include a healthy mix of those that are more common and longer tail keywords ( such as those that ask a question like “How Do I ?” )

Check out this video created by Jay ( Magistudios ) of Wealthy Affiliate on how to rank YouTube videos:


 image of wealthy affiliate video

4) Category

Once a video has been uploaded, it can be categorized under “Advanced Settings”. Adding a video to a category is another way to group your video with similar content on YouTube.

But it may not be as easy as it looks. YouTube’s Creator Academy recommends that marketers go through an extensive process to determine which category each video belongs in. The guide suggests it’s helpful to think about what is working well for each category by asking questions such as:

  • Who are the top creators in that category? What are they known for, and what do they do well?
  • Are there any patterns between the audiences of similar channels within a given category?
  • Do the videos within a similar category have share qualities such as production value, length, or format?

5) Thumbnail

Your YouTube videos thumbnail ( YouTube thumbnails are the book covers of the online video world. Our decision whether to click on a video often comes down to its thumbnail: an eye-catching image draws us in, while a boring or blurry one puts us off. ) is the main image viewers see when scrolling through a list of video results.

Along with the video’s title, the thumbnail sends a signal to the viewer about the video’s content, so it can register the amount of clicks and views your videos are getting.

Since you can always choose one of the auto-generated thumbnail options from YouTube, it is recommended that you upload a custom thumbnail. Over 90% of the best performing videos on YouTube use custom thumbnails.

It’s important however to note that your YouTube account needs to be verified in order to be able to upload custom thumbnails.

6) SRT Files ( Subtitles and Closed Captions )

Subtitles and closed captions can actually boost YouTube search optimization by highlighting important keywords.

In order to add subtitles or closed captions to your video, you will have to upload a supported text transcript or timed subtitles file. For the former, you can directly enter transcript text for a video so that it auto-syncs with the video.

To add subtitles follows a similar process, but you have the ability to limit the amount of text displayed. For either just head to your video manager then click on “Videos” under “Video Manager”. Find which videos you want to add subtitles or closed captioning to and click the drop-down arrow next to the edit button. Then choose “Subtitles/CC” and you can now select how you would like to add subtitles or closed captioning.

7) Cards And End Screens


When you have been watching a YouTube video, have you ever noticed a small white circular icon with an “i” in it appear in the upper right corner, or a translucent bar of text asking you to subscribe? Those are called cards, also known as “pre-formatted notifications” that appear on desktop and mobile devices which you can set up to promote your brand and other videos on your channel.

image of youtube card icon

Image Provided By Google

You can add up to five cards on a single video, there are six types of cards:

  • Channel cards that direct viewers to another channel.
  • Donation cards to encourage fundraising on behalf of U.S. nonprofit organizations.
  • Fan funding to ask your viewers to help support the creation of your video content.
  • Link cards, which direct viewers to an external site, approved crowdfunding platform, or an approved merchandise selling platform.
  • Poll cards, which pose a question to viewers and allow them to vote for a response.
  • Video or playlist cards, which link to other YouTube content of this kind.

Follow these steps outlined by Google for adding a card to your video:

End Screens:

End screens display information that is similar to cards, but they don’t display until the video is over, and they are a little more visually detailed in nature. A great example is an overlay with a book image and a visual link to view more of the video.

There are several detailed instructions on how to add end screens depending on what kind of platform you design them for, as well as different kinds of content allowed by YouTube. Google outlines the details for adding end screens to videos here.

YouTube is constantly testing end screens in an attempt to optimize the viewer experience, so there will be instances when your “end screen” selected by you may not appear.

Should I Optimize?

These considerations may seem a little complicated and time consuming but, the amount of time people spend watching YouTube on TV has doubled year after year. There is a huge audience waiting to be discovered there, so your chances of being seen there increases when you optimize for YouTube.

And remember, this all has to start with quality content, so make sure to offer your viewers something with high quality that is relevant to watch when they stop by for a visit.


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