YouTube SEO Tips and Tricks

We often forget that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. Being a site that hosts videos, we tend to miss the fact that a lot of people also use YouTube as a search engine to find what they want and need. These are the people who like to consume content in the form of video and are usually more qualified buyers and subscribers than the visitors from search engines.

A few years back, if you posted a video on YouTube with the relevant keyword in the title, it would rank in the top 10 results easily. But nowadays there are so many videos being uploaded in YouTube that YouTube SEO has become as important as website SEO. As an added bonus, one can optimize their YouTube videos and move their rankings up in YouTube search result pages just like in Google search results.


Many marketers have talked about YouTube SEO so we will start with the most elusive concepts first and then we will cover the frequently talked about tips as well.

1. Closed Captions

While watching YouTube videos you would have noticed a button ‘CC’ in the bottom right corner. CC stands for closed captions. YouTube is becoming global now and videos created in India are being watched and shared by people in US; videos from Europe are reaching people in Sri Lanka and so on. Captions not only enable more people to consume your video but YouTube also crawls the content in the captions!

Earlier it used to be a complicated process to add CC to a video – one would need to specify the start and end time of each line and it would take hours. But recently YouTube introduced a speech recognition technology/feature which automatically detects the start and end of each line spoken and matches it to the video’s audio. So all you need to do is upload the script of the video and the captions will appear exactly in sync with the video.

So a video on a topic with CC should definitely outrank the video on the same topic with no CC provided other SEO factors have also been taken care of.

2. Adding the Script in the Description

If you are creating the script for the speech in video, then adding the same script in the description of the video shouldn’t take much time. Google indexes this as well.

3. Naming the Video File with Keywords

If you are uploading a video about the "Joomla Security Tips and Tricks" then the file name of the video should be something like joomla-security-tips-tricks.avi or something similar rather than MOV0234.AVI. The viewer of the video does not look at this but YouTube gives a relevancy credit to the file name because if your file name is named with your keyword then there is a better chance that your video is about what it says.

4. Create a More Engaging Video

This probably sounds straight forward and simple and you may even be tempted to skip this paragraph. YouTube gives relevancy credits to videos where people watch it for a longer time. This has also been proven by experiments conducted on the different videos which were updated on YouTube. The ones where people watched for longer are the ones which rank best. YouTube have a lot of data which they gather including when people stop watching videos and they use this data to promote good vidoes.

5. Authoritative YouTube Channel

If you are posting a video on a fresh YouTube channel it is not going to have as much SEO power as the same video uploaded on a channel with has a lot of other good videos on the same topic. This is similar to website SEO – Posting an article in a fresh blog vs. posting an article in a high PR established blog makes a difference between heaven and hell.

Not only the video would get better rankings, but it will grow faster when the subscribers of that YouTube channel like, comment and share that video.

So always try to have established youtube channels for each of your niche and avoid posting videos on fresh channels. Also avoid posting irrelevant videos in the channels – it may dilute the SEO power of all the other videos on that channel.

6. Posting HD Videos Instead of SD

It is astonishing how many marketers do not even mention about uploading HD videos. Again this has been tested on several occasions. HD videos out-rank standard definition videos every time.

You may think that YouTube may not prefer HD videos because it costs them a lot of storage space and bandwidth – but they have theoratically unlimited resources that you can imagine. It makes sense that a HD video should be better than a standard video. If someone is investing the energy and resources in creating a HD video then the content could be equally good. Try to upload 1080P videos whenever possible and if you are doing screen cast or presentation videos – 720P should do the job.

Some of the other commonly talked about SEO methods are

  • Having a relevant headline with proper keywords
  • Putting your link in the description above other content with http://
  • Including tags from other videos which rank well for the keywords that you are targeting
  • Giving a call to action at the end of the video for liking your video and/or subscribing to your channel.

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