10 SEO tricks to make your YouTube videos rank higher

Posted February 22, 2021
Written by Lesley Vos
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Experts note that investing in video marketing is a must SEO strategy for small businesses this year. Two reasons:

  1. Videos increase conversions by 80%.

  2. The demand for video content grows exponentially: 72% of people say they'd rather watch a video than read about a product/service; 95% admit they are more likely to remember a video call to action than a text one.

And if that's not enough for you to consider video a part of your small business marketing plans, here goes more: Up to 82% of all online traffic will come from online videos by 2022.

YouTube is very powerful. It's the second-largest search engine globally, where over a billion video hours are watched each day and where more than two billion monthly active users live. Competition is enormous, and no one wants to miss such a vast audience. Yes, now we need to craft even more original videos to engage the audience, but we also should think of their proper optimization.

How to organize videos on YouTube for higher rankings? Here are ten actionable SEO tricks for you to consider:

"Most people consider YouTube as a social media platform, which it is, but it also behaves a lot like a traditional search engine. Visitors enter their query and get a list of videos ranked by relevance."

These words of Aleh Barysevic, CEO at Link-Assistant, nail YouTube's SEO nature:

To rank, drive search traffic, and access the audience there, you need to target keywords with search volume and optimize your videos accordingly.

Two problems here:

  1. Keyword research for YouTube videos differs from that for text-based content. It happens because people use Google and YouTube differently (a keyword with 50k monthly searches on Google may get only 50 on YouTube), and most of the views come from YouTube suggestions, not search engine results.

  2. Unlike traditional SEO that SEO services do for Google, YouTube has no official keyword research tools.

Fortunately, there are some hacks for video keyword research you can try today:

  • YouTube Suggest. Type your target keyword into the search bar, and you'll see the list of related terms people actually look for on YouTube. It's a great source of content ideas and exact keywords for your next videos.

Youtube search words-10 SEO Tricks to Make Your YouTube Content Rank Higher-Clipchamp blog
  • Spy on popular channels in your niche. Go to their "Most Popular" videos, sort by views, and examine the keywords they rank for: those in titles, descriptions, and tags.

  • Check your YouTube Studio stats. Go to the dashboard of your channel and consider analytics for "Traffic source: YouTube search." You'll get the list of keywords your channel already ranks for. Now you can either optimize your existing videos around those keywords or create whole new videos around each of them.

  • Search for keywords in Google. Consider the number of related results on YouTube to understand search volume and competition.

Google key search words-10 SEO Tricks to Make Your YouTube Content Rank Higher-Clipchamp blog
  • Consider Google's video results. Optimize your video content around keywords that are in a video carousel already: It's a chance to get more traffic from both YouTube and Google. Reviews, how-to videos, funny videos, and tutorials are your must-have content types to rank there.

Google video results-10 SEO Tricks to Make Your YouTube Content Rank Higher-Clipchamp blog

2) Publish high-retention videos

Audience retention is a significant ranking factor on YouTube. As they mention themselves,

"Your goal is to keep audience retention as close to 100% as you can (because this means viewers are watching all of the way through your videos). And videos with consistently high audience retention and watch time have the potential to show up more frequently in Search and Suggested locations on YouTube."

So, you need to create high-quality, original, and high-retention videos to keep people watching and therefore help you rank higher in the YouTube search results.

How to influence the audience retention of your videos:

  1. Start your video with the summary. (Therefore, viewers will know they are at the right place to watch.)

  2. Jump right into the content. (Avoid long intros: you have only 8-10 seconds to get people engaged. It's not about reducing a video size but making it valuable and exciting to watch.)

  3. Add open loops, aka little previews of your video's upcoming parts. (They work like hooks to keep people watching and learn what's coming next.)

3) Add your target keyword to a video file name

Once you've identified a target keyword for your video, make sure to include it in the file name. While YouTube can't "watch" videos to understand if they are relevant to keywords, it can read the file names in the code after uploading.

Long story short:

A video with the "" name has bigger chances of getting ranked and appearing in the search than a "business_content_00632FINAL.wmv" one.

4) Optimize video title and description

Video titles and descriptions influence your rankings and chances to get to YouTube suggestions. They provide context and evoke curiosity. Encouraging users to click, they maximize a video's CTR, which is among the top ranking factors for YouTube (along with video watch time and user interaction).

How to optimize your video title in the best way possible?

  • Include your target keyword.

  • Keep the title short (under 60 characters) and clear.

  • Highlight a benefit in the title to evoke curiosity and let users know it's worth their time.

Title and description-10 SEO Tricks to Make Your YouTube Content Rank Higher-Clipchamp blog

What about descriptions?

They are your second chance to make videos more searchable and boost views. Many YouTubers forego this SEO element, and it's your perfect chance to outrank them and help your content show up in search results.

  • Write longer (200+ words) descriptions for each video: They give YouTube a deeper understanding of your content for more relevant rankings.

  • Include your target keyword.

  • Use related keywords. To combine them all into engaging and easy-to-read texts, consider writing apps or SEO copywriters' help.

Optimize description and title-10 SEO Tricks to Make Your YouTube Content Rank Higher -Clipchamp blog

5) Categorize your video and add tags

YouTube still asks for tags as they inform it about your video's content and context. Tags and categories (available under "Advanced settings") help associate your videos with similar ones, group them to appear in different playlists, and broaden your content's reach and exposure.

Using tags is simple: Just add keywords and phrases that relate to your video most. There's no need to add tons of tags to every video; consider the 3-5 most profitable ones that make sense for your content.

Tools like TubeBuddy, RapidTags, VidIQ, or Tags for YouTube can help see the tags for competing videos, generate those related to your topic, and choose the most appropriate ones.

6) Craft a custom thumbnail for every video

Thumbnails are the first thing users pay attention to when seeing your video and deciding to click. Along with engaging video titles and attention-grabbing descriptions, they boost CTR by far. So make sure to create eye-catching, customizable thumbnails for your videos.

Thumbnail-10 SEO Tricks to Make Your YouTube Content Rank Higher -Clipchamp blog

Consistency is the key here. Consider your brand's style and tone of voice when crafting thumbnails. Be creative but stay relevant: Thumbnails send a signal to a user about your video's content, impacting the number of views.

7) Provide a transcript and closed captions

Along with other text elements of YouTube SEO, subtitles and closed captions can boost rankings by highlighting all the related keywords. Uploading a text transcript helps YouTube understand the context of your video.

Yes, it can automatically create a transcription file, but — let's face it — it's far from perfect, with some words missed or misspelled. So please write video scripts yourself and then upload the corresponding file to YouTube:

  • Go to your videos page and choose a video to edit.

  • Select the "Subtitles/CC" tab.

  • Paste your script.

  • Check that all the words match those spoken in the video.

Clipchamp's video editing software can help you script videos and add subtitles fast. This step-by-step tutorial is here to assist you.

8) Add cards and end screens

YouTube cards and end screens are two features encouraging users to interact with your video content, therefore influencing your channel's visibility and rankings.

Choose the card type to add and specify a timecode where you want it to appear. Cards may ask a viewer to watch another video, visit a link, donate, answer a poll, or go to another YouTube channel.

But please avoid stuffing videos with all the possible cards. Choose those most relevant and with added value for your audience.

Cards and screens-10 SEO Tricks to Make Your YouTube Content Rank Higher -Clipchamp blog

End screens are similar to cards but displaying at the very end of your video. Their purpose is to keep viewers on the platform. As a rule, these screens invite users to click and subscribe or check other videos/playlists on your channel.

9) Organize videos into sections and add timecodes

These are the hacks for getting your small business video content in Google's Featured Snippets. That's what snippets look like:

Sections and timecodes-10 SEO Tricks to Make Your YouTube Content Rank Higher-Clipchamp blog

And that's what you can do to increase your chances of getting there:

  • Organize your videos into sections. It will allow Google to use different parts of your content in a snippet. (See the above image: only a small excerpt of this video is in a snippet.)

  • Optimize all the text elements for SEO. 

  • Remember about transcripts! (See the image: the title, custom thumbnail, and transcript are all there.)

  • Add timecodes. They signal Google about the discrete sections of your video and serve for a better user experience.

Timecodes in description-10 SEO Tricks to Make Your YouTube Content Rank Higher-Clipchamp blog

10) Optimize for better watch time

The longer viewers consume your content, the more suggestions your entire channel gets in YouTube search.

Along with cards and end screens, a few more ways to optimize your session watch time exist:

  • Organize your videos into series and playlists. They help YouTube algorithms understand which of your videos to suggest next.

  • Add a featured video, aka your channel trailer, to the homepage. It's a hook for viewers to stay and keep researching your video content.

Better watch time-10 SEO Tricks to Make Your YouTube Content Rank Higher -Clipchamp blog

Ready to boost your video content rankings today?

Now that you know all the SEO tricks that even some companies with SEO services do for YouTube content promotion, it's time to craft videos for better engagement. Why not start with an all-in-one video editor like Clipchamp?

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