YouTube search engine marketing: Methods to Optimize Videos for YouTube Search


How does YouTube search engine marketing work? What are the steps to optimize your YouTube videos for search? The answers to those questions are simpler than you would possibly think.

While it may appear difficult to get any exposure on YouTube, you may implement certain strategies to be sure that the YouTube algorithm favors you within the search results.

On this post, we’ll go over proven YouTube search engine marketing suggestions which have worked for HubSpot’s YouTube channel and that may give you the results you want, no matter your channel size. Let’s start.

Methods to Rank Videos on YouTube

To get videos to rank on YouTube, we must first understand the YouTube algorithm and YouTube’s rating aspects.

Just like several search engine, YouTube desires to deliver content that answers the searcher’s specific query. As an example, if someone searches for “the way to tie a tie,” YouTube won’t deliver a video titled “the way to tie your shoelaces.” As an alternative, it’s going to serve search results that answer that specific query.

So, as you are trying your hand at YouTube search engine marketing, take into consideration how you may incorporate terms and phrases which can be utilized by your audience.

You’ll also must take into consideration YouTube analytics and engagement. When it ranks videos, YouTube cares a couple of metric called “watch time” — in other words, how long viewers stay in your video. An extended watch time means that you just’re delivering useful content; a brief watch time implies that your content should likely not rank.

In case you want your videos to rank, attempt to create content that’s optimized for longer watch times. You may, as an example, prompt users to remain until the top of the video by promising a surprise or a giveaway.

Is it price optimizing videos on YouTube?

Attempting to rank videos on YouTube might look like a lost effort. Only essentially the most well-known influencers and content creators appear to have any luck on the platform.

Nevertheless, that’s not the case. As a business, you may enjoy views, comments, and likes in your videos — as long as you discover the suitable audience on your content. In reality, finding and targeting the suitable audience is much more essential than making a “beautiful” video. In case you’re actively solving your prospective customers’ problems along with your YouTube videos, you then’ve done 90% of the YouTube optimization work.

As well as, rating videos on YouTube is a key element of your inbound marketing strategy, even when it won’t seem that way. As recently as a decade ago, inbound video marketing was a brand recent idea. Marketers were learning that they couldn’t just publish a high volume of content — it also needed to be high-quality and optimized in ways in which made it as discoverable as possible through serps.

That content was once largely limited to the written word. Today, that is not the case. As an alternative, a comprehensive content strategy includes written work like blogs and ebooks, in addition to media like podcasts, visual assets, and videos. And with the rise of other content formats comes the necessity to optimize them for search. One increasingly essential place to try this is on YouTube.

In case you’re feeling lost, don’t worry. We cover crucial YouTube SEO tips and strategy below so you may effectively optimize your content for YouTube search.

YouTube search engine marketing combines basic search engine marketing practices with YouTube-specific optimization techniques. In case you’re recent to SEO, take a look at this entire search engine marketing guide.

YouTube Strategy

To achieve success on YouTube, you will need a transparent strategy. This strategy has two parts. First, it’s essential to understand how YouTube search engine marketing works. Then, you’ll be wanting to make use of that knowledge as you select a audience, develop a plan on your channel, and set goals for growth.

How YouTube search engine marketing Works

YouTube is an element of Google and it uses similar search algorithms to indicate users the videos that best match their search queries.

This algorithm uses different elements in each video post to determine how that video will rank for specific search terms. These elements include:

  • Video title
  • Video description
  • Metadata
  • Variety of views, comments, and likes
  • Watch time

The algorithm also considers the past activity of the one who is searching. This helps search results feel more personalized to that user.

When combined, these signals tell the algorithm how relevant, popular, or engaging your video post is for a user’s query.

Select a Goal Audience

For a lot of content creators, audience growth starts with picking a subject, then optimizing YouTube videos. But with growth comes competition. It was once easy to create a YouTube channel for a broad topic like product reviews or tech, but today recent YouTube channels need a more specific focus.

As you cut your audience, take into consideration who you wish to engage along with your channel and why. Ask yourself:

  • How much do you recognize about your audience?
  • Why do they spend time on YouTube?
  • What other social media platforms does your audience prefer?
  • What inspires their interest and loyalty?
  • Are there other YouTube channels or creators that it’s best to partner with to attach with this audience?

Develop a Plan

Making a content plan can seem easy in case your YouTube channel centers on a subject you’re keen on. But more often than not, the challenge is not in coming up with ideas, it’s about making them occur.

If you wish to optimize YouTube for search engine marketing, content planning is not only about what videos you make and when to post them. It is a process to determine what resources it’s essential to improve traffic, conversion, and engagement along with your video content.

For instance, you could have an important idea for a video about browsing, but where are you getting your footage? In case you’re not recording yourself or your area people, it could be tough to seek out high-quality source material on your videos.

Constructing skilled skills or a team with expertise in editing, sound, and animation may boost the standard of your videos. But when those resources aren’t available to you, you might need a plan to create great videos without them.

Competitive evaluation may help with planning, whether you are determining the suitable video length or where to advertise your videos on other social platforms.

This free content planning template can provide help to create a solid plan on your YouTube strategy.

Content templates for YouTube SEO from HubSpot graphic

Featured Resource: Content Planning Templates

Set Goals for Growth

YouTube offers many beneficial metrics that may provide help to assess whether your team is meeting your strategic goals. Broad metrics could be helpful to trace consistency and large shifts in performance, like algorithm changes.

Nevertheless it’s also idea to decide on focused metrics that align along with your goals. For instance, if you wish to increase your audience, track your subscriber count, impressions, and audience retention. If engagement is your goal, take a look at likes, comments, shares, and watch time. Driving web traffic? Add links to your video descriptions and annotations, then track those sources in your website.

Tracking the metrics that align along with your goals will provide help to learn the way you are growing your audience. You need to use that knowledge to create more practical videos on your users and search engine marketing. And that effort will provide help to continue to grow your YouTube channel.

1. Rename your video file using a goal keyword.

Similar to you’d when optimizing written content, you may use an search engine marketing tool to first discover keywords you need your video to concentrate on (you may browse popular YouTube SEO tools later on this post, or simply click this link).

With a keyword identified, the primary place to place it’s your video file — before you even upload it to YouTube. Why? YouTube cannot actually “watch” your video to see how relevant it’s to your goal keyword, and as you may learn in the information below, there are only so many places you may safely insert this keyword in your video’s viewing page once it’s published. But, YouTube can read your video’s file name and all of the code that comes with it when it’s uploaded.

With that in mind, replace the “” file name (do not be embarrassed — we have all been there during post-production) along with your desired keyword. In case your keyword is “house painting suggestions,” for instance, your video’s file name must be “house-painting-tips” followed by your selected video file type (MOV, MP4, and WMV are a number of the most typical which can be compatible with YouTube).

2. Insert your keyword naturally within the video title.

Whenever you seek for videos, one in every of the primary things that your eyes are drawn to is the title. That is often what decides whether you may click to observe your video, so the title mustn’t only be compelling, but additionally clear and concise.

Although your keyword plays an enormous part in your video title, it also helps if the title closely matches what the viewer is looking for.

It’s idea to optimize your title for keywords as long as the keyword matches naturally right into a title that tells viewers exactly what they’re about to see.

Lastly, be certain to maintain your title fairly short — HubSpot campaigns manager Alicia Collins recommends limiting it to 60 characters to assist keep it from getting cut off in results pages.

3. Optimize your video description.

First things first: Based on Google, the official character limit for YouTube video descriptions is 1,000 characters. And while it’s okay to make use of all that space, keep in mind that your viewer most certainly got here here to observe a video, to not read an essay.

In case you do select to jot down an extended description, take into accout that YouTube only displays the primary two or three lines of text — that amounts to about 100 characters. After that time, viewers should click “show more” to see the total description. That is why we propose front-loading the outline with crucial information, like CTAs or crucial links.

As for optimizing the video itself, it’s smart so as to add a transcript of the video, especially for many who have to observe it without volume.

An optimized description may provide help to show up within the suggested videos sidebar, which could be an important source of views.

In case you need a high-performing video description, try one in every of these proven YouTube description templates.

YouTube description templates from HubSpot graphic

Download These Templates for Free

4. Tag your video with popular keywords that relate to your topic.

YouTube suggests using tags to let viewers know what your video is about. But you are not just informing your viewers — you are also informing YouTube itself. YouTube uses tags to know the content and context of your video.

That way, YouTube figures out the way to associate your video with similar videos, which might broaden your content’s reach. But select your tags properly. Don’t use an irrelevant tag because you’re thinking that it’ll get you more views — the truth is, Google might penalize you for that. And like your description, lead with crucial keywords, including mixture of those which can be common and more long-tail (as in, those who answer an issue like “how do I?”).

Use these easy instructions so as to add and benefit from tags in your YouTube videos.

5. Categorize your video.

When you upload a video, you may categorize it under “Advanced settings.” Selecting a category is one other strategy to group your video with similar content on YouTube so it winds up in several playlists and gains exposure to more viewers who discover along with your audience.

It won’t be so simple as it looks. In reality, it is important to undergo a comprehensive process to seek out which category each video belongs in. Answer questions like:

  • Who’re the highest creators throughout the category? What are they known for and what do they do well?
  • Are there any patterns between the audiences of comparable channels inside a given category?
  • Do the videos inside the same category share qualities like production value, length, or format?

6. Upload a custom thumbnail image on your video’s result link.

Your video thumbnail is the foremost image viewers see when scrolling through a listing of video results. Together with the video’s title, that thumbnail sends a signal to the viewer in regards to the video’s content, so it may impact the variety of clicks and views your video receives.

While you may all the time pick one in every of the thumbnail options auto-generated by YouTube, we highly recommend uploading a custom thumbnail. YouTube recommends using images which can be 1280×720 pixels — representing a 16:9 ratio — which can be saved as 2MB or smaller .jpg, .gif, .bmp, or .png files. In case you follow those parameters, it may help to substantiate that your thumbnail appears with equally top quality across multiple viewing platforms.

It is vital to notice that your YouTube account must be verified to upload a custom thumbnail image. To try this, visit and follow the instructions listed there.

7. Use an SRT File so as to add subtitles & closed captions.

Like much of the opposite text we have discussed here, subtitles and closed captions can boost YouTube search optimization by highlighting essential keywords.

So as to add subtitles or closed captions to your video, you’ll need to upload a supported text transcript or timed subtitles file. For the previous, it’s also possible to directly enter transcript text for a video in order that it auto-syncs with the video.

Adding subtitles follows the same process, but you may limit the quantity of text you would like displayed. For either, head to your video manager then click on “Videos” under “Video Manager.” Find the video you wish to add subtitles or closed captioning to, and click on the drop-down arrow next to the edit button. Then, select “Subtitles/CC.” You may then select how you need so as to add subtitles or closed captioning.

Discover the way to add closed captions to your YouTube video within the video below.

8. Add Cards and End Screens to extend your YouTube channel’s viewership.


Whenever you’re watching a video, have you ever ever seen a small white, circular icon with an “i” in the middle appear within the corner, or a translucent bar of text asking you to subscribe? Those are Cards, which YouTube describes as “preformatted notifications that appear on desktop and mobile which you may arrange to advertise your brand and other videos in your channel.”

YouTube SEO tips: Cards

Image Source

You may add as much as five cards to a single video, and there are six types:

  1. Channel cards that direct viewers to a different channel.
  2. Donation cards to encourage fundraising on behalf of U.S. nonprofit organizations.
  3. Fan funding to ask your viewers to assist support the creation of your video content.
  4. Link cards, which direct viewers to an external site, approved crowdfunding platform, or an approved merchandise selling platform.
  5. Poll cards, which pose an issue to viewers and permit them to vote for a response.
  6. Video or playlist cards, which link to other YouTube content of this type.

For detailed steps on adding a card to your video, follow these official steps from Google, or take a look at the video below.

End Screens

End screens display similar information as cards, but as you could have guessed, they do not display until a video is over and are a bit more visually detailed in nature. An excellent example is the overlay with a book image and a visible link to view more on the video below:

YouTube SEO tips: Endscreens

Image Source

There are plenty of detailed instructions for adding end screens depending on what type of platform you wish to design them for, in addition to several types of content allowed for them by YouTube. Google outlines the main points for the way to optimize for those considerations here.

It is vital to notice that YouTube is all the time testing end screens to attempt to optimize the viewer experience, so there are occasions when “your end screen, as designated by you, may not appear.” Take these aspects under consideration as you select between using either cards or end screens.

These aspects could appear a bit complicated and time-consuming, but remember: The time people spend watching YouTube on their TV has more than doubled year over year. There’s an audience to be discovered there, and once you optimize for YouTube, your probabilities of being discovered increase.

9. Add hashtags to extend reach.

Hashtags are a component of the YouTube user interface that mean you can add related terms to your content, just as you’d on LinkedIn or Instagram. Hashtags show up right above your video title for simple clicking and discoverability. You need to use your organization name, as HubSpot does below, or include related keywords.

YouTube SEO tips: HashtagsWe also recommend using hashtags in your YouTube description, but don’t go overboard; the YouTube algorithm consistently checks for spam. Overly hashtagging may get you inadvertently flagged. As an alternative of using every hashtag you may consider, select 2-3 that you’re feeling most accurately describe your video.

10. Create a playlist about your video’s general topic.

As you add increasingly more videos to your content library, group them in keyword-optimized playlists. This won’t only signal to YouTube what your videos are about, but it’s going to also keep viewers clicking from video to video, increasing your view count and, by extension, your rankings.

YouTube SEO tips: PlaylistsFor instance, Yoga with Kassandra grouped all of its short yoga classes in a playlist titled “5-15 min Yoga Classes.” Not only is the title short and descriptive, however the playlist description includes related keywords reminiscent of “10 minute yoga classes,” “10 minute morning yoga stretches,” and “bedtime yoga classes.”

11. Experiment with video length.

The more time viewers spend watching videos in your channel, the higher it’s on your search engine marketing. But not every one on YouTube will stick around for 10 minutes or more.

For instance, over 70% of watch time on YouTube happens on mobile devices. While some people can watch an hour-long video on a small screen, this figure shows how essential it’s to know your audience.

To search out the suitable watch time on your audience, try creating videos of various lengths. Then, do a fast evaluation of the watch time, average view duration, and audience retention for every video and adjust your strategy.

12. Use YouTube’s autocomplete feature.

This feature makes it easy to seek out the most well-liked search terms on your video topic. Just start typing a keyword phrase and see what other keywords and phrases come up. Then, add essentially the most relevant terms to your title, descriptions, and tags.

You can even use this tool to find top YouTube trends or to determine which keywords your competitors are targeting. These insights can provide help to pivot your YouTube search engine marketing strategy for higher results.

Try this post for more useful YouTube features.

13. Try timestamps.

Timestamps mark different sections of your videos. They make it easy on your audience to seek out the content they’re in search of inside each video.

Adding a timestamp can improve retention and user experience since it sets expectations. Timestamps give watchers a simple strategy to jump to what they wish to see in a video or a reason to attend for that section to seem on-screen.

Timestamps also improve search engine marketing because they make it easier for YouTube’s algorithm to know your video content. This helps your video appear for search terms inside your video, not only the general theme of your video.

For instance, in case your video is about baking a cake, your video might include sections on baking equipment or cake trends like geode cakes. In case you add timestamps to mark these sections, a user won’t find your video when looking for “the way to make a cake” due to competition for this keyword, but they might find it looking for “the way to make a geode cake.”

You may manually add a timestamp or add and edit automatic video chapters with YouTube Studio.

14. Add a call-to-action (CTA) in your video and video description.

Calls-to-action are a strong strategy to foster engagement. A CTA that gives value not only encourages likes, subscribes, and shares, it may also improve viewer engagement metrics. This may boost your video’s visibility in search results and suggested video features.

For optimum effectiveness, vary your CTAs. On one video you would possibly do a verbal CTA asking viewers to love, subscribe, or share. For one more video, ask your audience to bookmark your video or click shared links in your description.

You will also wish to ask your viewers to share comments and feedback. These actions aren’t just useful for user experience. In addition they give signals to YouTube that your video is engaging and offering value to your viewers. Try these call-to-action examples for inspiration.

15. Review YouTube search analytics.

While analytics are useful for tracking progress toward your goals, it’s also possible to actively use this data to enhance your YouTube search engine marketing.

Say you are attempting to determine why traffic suddenly jumped up for one in every of your videos. It is likely to be that your video is rating for a well-liked keyword. Or a well-liked website recently added your video.

You may dig into the video-specific data and see why that jump happened. Then you definately can determine the way to optimize other videos with the identical tactics.

YouTube analytics may provide help to anticipate keywords which can be increasing in popularity. Optimizing your videos for those keywords early on gives you a greater probability of rating higher in those search results.

Finally, your analytics can provide help to higher understand your audience. It’s common to start out a YouTube channel with an intended audience after which see those demographics shift over time. Analyzing the age, location, and interests of your real-time audience can provide help to make smart changes.

16. Optional: Leave a pinned comment on your personal video.

Leaving a comment in your video may appear excessive, but it surely’s a sensible strategy. Not only do more comments improve your video’s rankability, but they’ll generate high levels of audience engagement. A pinned comment may end in lots of of replies, prefer it did for Matt D’Avelia below:

YouTube SEO tips: CommentsYou’ll want to leave an attractive comment that furthers the conversation or offers more value for readers. Here at HubSpot, for instance, we leave a resource pinned in order that viewers can further their knowledge on the subject. Try this post for more on YouTube comment management.

YouTube SEO Checklist graphic

1. Select a goal keyword on your video. This generally is a topic, an issue, or a highly specific query. In case you’re undecided of the suitable goal keyword, use a keyword research tool, or just explore YouTube’s existing content library for inspiration.

2. Include the goal keyword within the file name. Don’t use spaces between each word, but quite dashes (-) or underscores (_).

3. Include the goal keyword within the title. Next up, work the goal keyword into the title of your video, but be creative, and you’ll want to do it naturally. You don’t want the title to easily be “.” The title is the very first thing users will see, so attempt to create intrigue and interest while promising to assist the viewer not directly.

YouTube SEO Checklist: Target keyword4. Include the keyword, in addition to keyword variations, within the video description. The video description is the lifeblood of your YouTube search engine marketing strategy. Write a natural description with 1-2 mentions of your goal keyword, in addition to variations of this keyword.

YouTube SEO Checklist: video description

5. Add related tags to your video. While most users don’t use tags to seek out videos, they may help the YouTube algorithm categorize your video and serve it to the suitable audience. Add around 5-8 industry tags, being sure to not overdo it so that you just’re not flagged as spam.

6. Add your video category. While not as specific as tags, categories help users find your video and help the YouTube algorithm understand what your video is about. Categories come into play on the house page, the explore page, and the sidebar menu.

YouTube SEO Checklist: categories

7. Upload a custom video thumbnail. Create a thumbnail that features either a variation of your keyword or a brief phrase that would generate clicks (like “1,000 organic followers, fast!”). As mentioned, you’ll must verify your YouTube channel to get access to custom thumbnail uploads.

YouTube SEO Checklist: video thumbnail8. Add subtitles and closed captions. Subtitles and closed captions are a much-needed accessibility component of your videos. In addition they not directly provide help to optimize for YouTube search by giving YouTube a text version of your video content.

9. Add cards and end screens that tie into the subject of your video. Cards are akin to internal and external linking, and end screens mean you can engage viewers during those critical previous couple of seconds when a viewer is likely to be tempted to click to a different piece of content.

10. Add hashtags to your video. Hashtags are different from tags. They show up above your video title and provide help to increase reach and authority by further signaling what your video is about.

YouTube SEO Checklist: Hashtags

11. Create a playlist about your overarching topic. Among the best ways to optimize YouTube videos is to create playlists. Finding a number of related videos and putting them in a playlist is not going to only attract more viewers, but it’s going to also help the YouTube algorithm understand how your video pertains to others in your upload library.

12. Optional: Leave a pinned comment to generate engagement or provide more value. As a brand, you may and will comment on your personal videos — not just for replies to your commenters, but to supply more value to readers.

Now, a lot of the search engine marketing suggestions above depend on you finding a keyword and promoting your video appropriately. And never all of those suggestions could be carried out through YouTube alone. To get essentially the most bang on your videography buck, consider a number of the tools below to optimize your video for search.

1. HubSpot SEO Marketing Software

YouTube SEO Tools: HubSpot SEO Software

Our search engine marketing marketing software, developed here at HubSpot, lets you find popular keywords for creating content and organizing keywords into groupings — what we call “topic clusters.” By sorting your content into topic clusters, you may oversee which pieces of content are related to 1 one other, which kinds of content you’ve planned, and what you have already created.

While the keywords you discover in HubSpot reflect their popularity in a regular Google search, lots of these topics may even produce videos on Google’s search engine results pages. In those cases, you may create topic clusters which have each blog and YouTube content belonging to them.

Clustering your content — and linking from videos to blog posts, and vice-versa — can offer you more authority within the eyes of Google and YouTube, while providing you with more ways to capture traffic from the people searching your topic.

Pro tip: HubSpot integrates with YouTube for useful dashboards and performance tracking.

2. Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

YouTube SEO tools: Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a comprehensive search engine marketing platform that lets you monitor an internet site’s rating, estimate the organic traffic you’d get from each keyword, and research keywords for which it is advisable to create recent content.

One popular feature of Ahrefs is Keywords Explorer, which lets you look up details related to a keyword you are excited by. And as you may see within the screenshot above, you may filter your keyword results by search engine — including YouTube.

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer gives you a keyword’s monthly search volume, what number of clicks for videos rating for that keyword, related keywords, and more.

3. Canva

YouTube SEO tools: Canva

You may know Canva as a design template for creating all types of cards, photos, logos, and more. It just so happens this popular product has a Thumbnail Creator only for YouTube videos.

As stated in the information above, thumbnail images are critical to promoting your content in YouTube search results and enticing users to click in your video. Using Canva’s Thumbnail Creator, you may create the right preview image on your video in 1280 x 720 pixels — the thumbnail dimensions YouTube requires.

4. vidIQ Vision

YouTube SEO tools: VidIQThis can be a Chrome extension, available through Chrome’s web store within the link above, that helps you analyze how and why certain YouTube videos perform so well. This includes the tags a video has been optimized for, its average watch time, and even how quickly that video is likely to be gaining traffic.

The vidIQ tool then gives an search engine marketing “rating” you should utilize to create content that performs (or outperforms) the outcomes you already see on YouTube.

5. TubeBuddy

YouTube SEO tools: TubeBuddyTubeBuddy is an all-in-one video platform that helps you manage the production, optimization, and promotion of your YouTube content. Its features include an automatic language translator (which helps you rank for non-English keywords), a keyword explorer, tag suggestions, a rank tracker on your published videos, and more.

6. Cyfe

YouTube SEO tools: CyfeCyfe is a big software suite that gives, amongst other things, a YouTube analytics platform. On this platform, you may track performance on YouTube and in your site.

Along with traffic analytics, Cyfe can show you which ones keywords you are rating for and which of them are hottest across various serps. Sounds loads like Google Analytics or Moz, right? That is because Cyfe has data from each of those tools, and more, built into it.

Start Optimizing YouTube Videos

Video marketing is crucial for businesses and creators. Irrespective of what search engine marketing tip or tool you begin with, a successful YouTube channel begins with good content. Be sure your viewers have something high-quality and relevant to observe once they find you.

Optimizing your YouTube videos may help attract more views and construct community — and result in more conversions and sales. So, start today and watch your YouTube channel grow.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2013 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.


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