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YouTube Video SEO – How To Rank Youtube Video On First Page


Although YouTube is the second largest search engine, it is still a largely untapped source of traffic. But with 4 billion video views per day and a staggering 300 hours of video content being uploaded every minute, YouTube has topped the charts when it comes to video marketing.


And adding to this the fact that Google includes YouTube videos in its search results, it would be fair to say that optimizing your video content can dramatically increase your visibility online.

I recently did a Webinar on Tips & Tricks to Video SEO where I talked about 14 hacks to boost your YouTube video rankings.

In this post, I’ll describe in detail 4 of the most important optimization tips.

But before we dive into them let’s discuss the primary YouTube Ranking Factors.

YouTube Ranking Factors

YouTube Ranking factors are similar to Google search ranking factors. So, if you’ve done your SEO homework, optimizing YouTube videos for better rankings should be easy.

Here are 4 factors that affect your video rankings:

  • Keywords in Meta tags: This includes your video title, description, and tags. YouTube uses these elements to determine how relevant your video is to a specific search.
  • Video Quality: YouTube ranks videos which are uploaded in High Definition (HD). Do you notice the family resemblance here? Both YouTube and Google reward you for ensuring high-quality experience for the users.
  • Closed Caption: YouTube can crawl your video content too if you create closed captions. Hence, they can be instrumental to your rankings.
  • User Engagement: This includes the number of views, likes, comments,  social shares, inbound links, subscribers, video retention rate and average watch time. As YouTube wants to show quality content to its users, it ranks high-engagement videos higher

Now that you are aware of the ranking factors, let’s see how you can optimize your videos.

4 tips from my strategy toolbox

Keyword Hunting and Optimization

Similar to traditional SEO, video keyword research marks the beginning of YouTube Video Optimization.  You should aim to rank your video not only on YouTube but on Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) too. Google loves YouTube videos. That is why you will see them many times occupying the top spots for your search query.

Start your keyword research by creating 2 buckets of search queries:

  • Search queries that don’t generate video results on Google SERPs but have a decent search volume – by optimizing for these keywords, you can easily rank your videos on Google. And hence, get targeted traffic to your YouTube videos and website.
  • Search queries that generate high search volume on Google SERPs -. Optimizing for this bucket will be more competitive because the chances are there are videos already ranking on the SERPs. But the high traffic you will get from these keywords will be worth the effort.

Get keyword ideas:

Well, besides the ones on top of your head, you can get a lot of good suggestions by using these three methods

  1. YouTube Autocomplete search feature: Start typing your main keywords and YouTube’s search box will automatically display a dropdown with additional keywords youtube-1
  2. Google Autocomplete search feature: Do the same on Google. youtube-2
  3. Get more insights with a Rank Tracker:

Now that you have gathered some keywords through your YouTube and Google research copy them in an Excel sheet. Then, upload them via .csv file to RankWatch to get even more suggestions and gain insights into your competitor’s keywords.

The results will show your keywords respective CPCs, search trends, and volume.

Make sure your keywords have a search volume of at least 350 searches per month. This means that they can attract a decent amount of quality traffic to your video and ultimately your website.


As you can see above, I will choose only those keywords which have a search volume greater than 350.


Once you are done with your research, you must skillfully plant your keywords to make your rankings grow.

How to optimize your video

File Name: Instead of randomly naming your video file, include your important keywords in the name. For example, I used the following file name for my webinar video: Tips, tricks, and hacks for Video SEO – Webinar

Video Title: Make sure that your title begins with your primary keywords.

For instance, I wanted to include 4 keywords phrases in my title:

Video SEO

Boost YouTube traffic

Tips to Boost YouTube traffic

Tips to do Video SEO


After bouncing up a few ideas and copies, I came up with the following:


Description: Make sure you include your important keywords within the first 160 characters (as the message is truncated beyond that).


Tags: Tags are again a way of communicating the content of your video to YouTube. Include your primary targeted keywords here.


2. Small hacks while uploading the video

Upload your videos in HD

HD gives a better user experience and that is why YouTube ranks HD quality videos higher. You can also try 4K, Virtual Reality (VR) and 360 Upload options. Since these have double the horizontal pixel count, they provide a better viewing experience.

Optimize your Thumbnail Image

Your thumbnail image creates the first impression of your video and can dramatically increase your click-through rates.

That is why it is important to invest a couple of minutes in creating an attractive thumbnail image which effectively conveys what your video is about.


You can select your background image among these three options:

  1. Download an image from a creative commons image website (like Pixabay)
  2. Take a screenshot from your paused video
  3. Take an image using a DSLR camera.

Once you have your image, head over to Canva and create a customized poster with the following dimensions 1280×720 pixels. This will ensure that you get a high-quality image which can fit the 2MB upload size limit of YouTube.

Because the thumbnail image comes out so small on YouTube, you really need to sharpen the image:

  • Increase the saturation by 30%
  • Increase the contrast by 30%
  • Reduce the blur
  • Decrease the brightness
  • Use few words to describe the topic
  • Increase the text size to improve the readability

All these tiny hacks will make your image stand out.

3. Links and Call-to-actions

Links in your description:

73% of the customers are likely to make a purchase after watching a video, so you should always include a link in the description – it can either be your homepage or any other page on your website.

The second most important link to include in the description is your call to action “Subscribe here” link.

Lastly, you should also include links to your social media channels.


Did you notice the timings that I have added for each chapter?


While you can’t see it in the screenshot above, these are actually links that will direct you to a specific portion of the video. They are especially useful for long videos when you want to keep the engagement up.


And they are very easy to create you just need to write the timing and YouTube will automatically hyperlink it.

Another way to link in your video is through annotations.


Link in annotations:

Annotations are those clickable buttons that pop up within a video. They prompt the users to interact with your video content and thus, help you achieve your goals.

Make sure you add the appropriate time frame (Start and end time of annotation) while adding annotations to your videos.

You can incorporate the following call to actions in your videos through your annotations:

    1. Subscribe link – It redirects the users to the page where they can subscribe to receive  notifications on any updates to your YouTube channel.
    2. Website link – this is only available to YouTube partners.
    3. Links to other related videos – by directing your user to your videos, you can keep the audience  engaged with your YouTube channel.
    4. Link to your YouTube channel – Your YouTube channel houses all your videos. What could be better than a link that can direct  the users where they could explore your brand.
    5. Link to your YouTube playlist – If the users click on these type of annotations, they can have a variety of your videos to choose from.
    6. Link to a specific section of your current video – This can be especially helpful if your video is long. These annotations give users the flexibility to jump to and fro between any section of the video.
    7. Link to your Google+ page/profile – Users will be redirected to your Google+ page/profile by clicking on this annotation. But before doing this, you need to make sure that your YouTube and Google+ accounts are connected.


4. Use Playlists

Playlists allow you to organize all your related videos so that they play out in a sequence. This helps keep viewers on your channel.

Here are a few tips to help you build an optimized playlist for your video content:

  1. Group same category videos in a single playlist – By doing this you stand a greater chance of driving traffic to your videos. People are more likely to watch another video on the same topic right after they have finished watching your first video.
  2. Include your important keywords in the title of your playlist – YouTube algorithm picks up keywords in your meta data to determine which videos to rank.
  3. Use similar tags in all your videos –  If you do that, YouTube will assume that all your videos are highly related to each other and will line them up in the suggested video box.



At the end of the day, irrespective of your strategy, the key to ranking is creating great video content that adds value and engages the user.

Create a well-optimized video content calendar, use the above-mentioned tricks and establish a prominent YouTube presence.

Do you have some other hacks for ranking YouTube videos? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.


Vaibhav Kakkar
Vaibhav is the Co-Founder of RankWatch and feels his soul ambition lies in the field of Internet Marketing and subsequently helping businesses succeed online.