In 2017, YouTube saw the largest amount of visitors daily that it had ever seen before. 30 million visitors a day.
With this much traffic, optimizing your content for SEO should be one of your top priorities.
After watching so many “YouTubers” climb the ladder to success I began to notice something.
They were all using the same SEO techniques that would complement YouTube’s algorithm.
Regardless of your niche, whether it’s in marketing, fitness or cooking, understanding YouTube’s algorithm will help you rank higher in search engine results.
But first, the facts.
This illustration by Techcrunch shows us that as of June 2017, YouTube is now getting 1.5 billion monthly users.
When seeing stats like this, it’s hard not to see the potential in using YouTube as a tool for your business.
This image by Openslate shows the long-tail of YouTube, and how over 500,000 channels have less than 1,000 subscribers.
The long-tail is great for the people at the top. Having tons of YouTube subscribers will indefinitely help with ranking your videos.
However, for the 500,000 channels with under 1,000 subscribers, ranking your videos for SEO can seem impossible.
Let me tell you, it’s not.
300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, so to counteract content overload to it’s users, YouTube ranks videos based on a filtered system known as an algorithm.
This is just so people don’t get flooded with content that they don’t want to see.
YouTube’s algorithm ranks your videos based off of relevance, engagement and quality.
These areas are important to understand if you want to rank higher in YouTube search results.
Now, how does YouTube measure these?
By seeing what keywords you choose and analyzing how your audience responds, (audience engagement) YouTube will be able to determine how relevant your video is.
If your content is deemed relevant, then you will have a very good chance of ranking high in YouTube search results.
By reading this article, you will be one step closer to ranking higher in YouTube Search results with just a few simple steps.
If you’re like a lot of people and don’t know much about this don’t worry.
Fortunately, I am here to help.
In this article i’m going to show you step by step how you can rank higher in YouTube search results.
Here are the 4 steps that I will cover in detail.
- Choose powerful keywords
- Include keywords in your video title
- Optimize your description with keywords
- Customize your thumbnail
#1:Choose Powerful Keywords
According to Kissmetrics, Optimizing your meta data can allow people searching for your video to find it easier.
Metadata consists of the title, description, and tag section of your videos.
Meta tags are tags that you put in your YouTube video’s “tags” section which can be found underneath the description section when uploading it to optimize its search rankings.
When you upload your YouTube video, there will be a section where you will be able to add tags.
These tags are what allow YouTbe to see what your content is about, so that it can help viewers find what they are looking for when searching for a video.
Shivaraweb.com have a great illustration of this.
Choosing keywords should be done strategically.
If you have no idea what keywords to choose for your video, don’t panic.
Here’s what to do.
For example, if I search on YouTube ‘’how to lose fat’’, the first video that shows up is this one with 21 million views.
Click the video as if you were going to watch it.
Right click and click the “view page source” tab. You will then be brought to a new tab.
From there, you will be brought to a page that will allow you to search the video for any keywords that it may have used for it to rank higher in YouTube search results.
When the new tab opens up it should look a little something like the below screenshot.
All you have to do is press “Ctrl + F” and search for “keywords”.
When I zoom in I can see the exact keywords that this Youtube video is using in the meta tag section of their video.
In this case, the keywords that this YouTube video chose were these keywords seen in the below screenshot.
It chose keywords that were relevant to its niche which in this case was fat-loss.
Every time someone searches YouTube for “how to lose stomach fat” or “belly fat”, this video will rank highly against its competitors that chose less powerful keywords.
Using smart and strong keywords is the key here.
You want to put yourself in the viewers shoes and think “what would i search for if I wanted this video to show up?
Those are the tags you use!
If i compare this to a different video based on the same topic but with 20 million views less, you will see that they have not optimized keywords like the first video i showed you did.
By not optimizing your keywords, you are limiting the potential of your video significantly.
For example, when I go to YouTube again and type in ‘“how to lose fat”, all I do is go to the 3rd page result.
This way, you will find videos that aren’t doing as well as the top ranking videos in the search engine for the following reason.
When I search for the keywords for this particular video I see that it is only using two keywords!
Although the content is great, the video may not have reached it’s potential as a result of not using keywords correctly.
By only choosing one or two keywords, you are really limiting the potential of your video.
By using keywords more strategically, you will be maximizing your video’s potential.
#2:Include Keywords In Your Title
You could have the best YouTube video made and uploaded, but if you don’t have a catchy title then I’m afraid nobody is going to click on it.
Now, how can I get people to click on my video?
You guessed it! Keywords!
Using the google keywords tool within Google Adwords is a great tool for finding out how often words are searched for.
This way, you can gauge how powerful or weak a keyword is.
When you understand and know how to search for popular keywords, you can then put them in your video title to get a better chance of showing up on the front page.
I’m going to show you how some words are better than others when trying to rank higher in YouTube search results, and that choosing the wrong word can really mess things up.
For this example we are going to search for “chiropractor”.
All you have to do is sign into Google Adwords and go to the “tools” tab and click the “keyword planner” that pops up from the drop down list like this.
The one we want to search for is the “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category” option here.
Fill out all the necessary fields. In this case we are searching for “chiropractor”, and the relevant search engine is seen below.
Once we search, we will be able to see how often “chiropractor” is searched for in YouTube.
This will show us if this is a strong or weak keyword based on how many times it is searched for a month.
Words that are searched for more often can be deemed more powerful than words that are searched for less often.
Once you have filled out all necessary fields, just click “get ideas”.
This is going to give you access to all the data you need in order to determine what keywords are more powerful than others.
Here is the fun stuff!
Just by following those simple steps you will have access to data that will enable you to grow your audience and increase traffic by choosing powerful keywords.
You will be able to see first hand how many searches a month not only the keyword gets, but also the most popular keywords that are searched surrounding the topic you searched for.
For example, when I searched for “chiropractor” i found out that it gets an average monthly search rate of 100K-1M!
That’s a lot of searches every month.
What’s even more interesting, is that when you scroll down on the results page, you will be able to see the most popular related keywords that are searched for too.
This is where you will be able to pick the keywords for your video title.
When we scroll down we see that the most searched for related keywords in conjunction with “chiropractor” were these ones here.
To rank higher in YouTube search results, you would take one or two of these words and put them in your video title.
How about we take a look at some examples.
If I search YouTube for “spinal decompression”, I will see that the first video is simply called “spinal decompression”.
According to Google Adwords, “spinal decompression” gets an average monthly search rate of between 10K-100K searches.
This video has been optimized for YouTube search results simply by putting “spinal decompression” (a term that is searched for between 10K-100K times a month) as the title.
If we look at a video which used “back decompression” in the title as opposed to “spinal decompression”, we see a dramatic decrease in video views.
Although both videos had the same target audience in mind, because of one simple mistake views dropped dramatically.
This is because when we search Google Adwords for “back decompression” we see that it is only getting an average monthly search rate of 1K-10K .
That is a massive difference in monthly search rates compared to what we see with “spinal decompression”, which is is getting between 10K-100K searches a month.
The difference of just one word can make or break how high your video will rank in YouTube search results.
Although the “back decompression” video still contained great content, it under performed when compared to its competitors by not optimizing its video title with keywords.
The way you optimize your video title is by finding out what keywords are searched for the most, and then putting one or two of those keywords in your video title.
Sounds easy, right?
Well that’s because it is.
Google has already done the hard work for you, and all you are doing is accessing the data that it has collected. So go and optimize your video today!
#3:Optimize the video Description with Keywords
I know, I know.
I hope that you are now understanding the importance of keywords, because they really are the fundamentals of how people can find your channel.
After optimizing the video “title” and “tags” section for keywords, something you should not overlook is the description section of your video which is this part here.
When I searched YouTube for “fitness tips”, this video popped up on the first page of results.
We are going to look at the fitness tips video featured above, and take a look at its description to see exactly how it is optimizing its description with keywords.
In the above example, we see that this “YouTuber” is using keywords such as “fitness tips” and “lose weight”, “tone up” and also “motivation” throughout the videos description.
When we do a quick search in Google Adwords using the keyword planner tool, we see that “fitness tips” is getting between 10K-100K monthly searches.
Likewise, we see that the term “lose weight” is also being searched for from anywhere between 100K-1M times a month.
By using keywords that get such high volumes of search rates you are putting yourself in a position where people will be able to find your video easier.
Not only that, but you are showing YouTube that your content is more relevant than that of your competitors.
This is done based off of YouTube’s algorithm.
YouTube’s algorithm works like this; content that is being searched for and clicked on more often, and being engaged with the most, is deemed more relevant than content that is lacking in those areas.
Hence, content that is deemed more relevant is ranked higher on search results.
Not only that, but your video will be recommended to more folks.
You should look at your videos description as another way to squeeze in a few extra keywords based on your content, but not in a spammy way.
Don’t forget, YouTube only shows a preview of your video description.
Only the first two lines of your description will show, so make them count. After that, feel free to populate the rest of your video description with the longer version.
#4:Customize Your Thumbnail
Your thumbnail is the first thing that people will see when they see your video.
According to Fortunelords.com, over 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute.
For your video to succeed, you need to do everything possible to make your YouTube video appear more attractive to viewers, and this includes having a customized thumbnail (which is your videos preview image here).
Your thumbnail should make people want to click on Your video.
According to YouTube, your image should be strong and vibrant. It should not be clickbaity, misleading or sensational as this destroys brand loyalty.
This example, a video by Chrisfix, demonstrates how to clean your engine bay. He portrays this perfectly in this thumbnail in an aesthetically pleasing way.
With 4.7 million views in 3 weeks, It is safe to say that clear, honest, and simple thumbnails will generate a lot of valuable viewers.
Here is an example of a video that has had great results by having a customized thumbnail, versus one that has not used a custom thumbnail and may not have reached its potential.
As you can see, these two videos were based on the same topic, but did not generate anywhere near the same amount of views as each other.
Having an eye catching thumbnail, along with some simple lettering layered over your image can really help boost views.
YouTube states that over 90% of top performing YouTube videos have customized thumbnails, so what are you waiting for?
If you have live streaming access, or if your account is verified, you may have the ability to create custom thumbnails.
If you’re not verified don’t worry, It’s simple to get verified.
Just go to onto YouTube and go to creator studio which can be found here.
When you click on creator studio you will be brought to your video dashboard.
All you want to do is look at your options on the left and scroll down and click the channel option here.
When you have done that, you will be brought to a page where it will prompt you to verify your account.
To verify your account, YouTube will send you a text message with a code that you will then put in to verify yourself.
Once you have verified yourself you should have the ability to create custom thumbnails for your videos.
To upload a custom thumbnail for your video here’s what to do.
Go to the video manager tab on the left hand side of your screen.
You will now be able to see a list of all of your uploaded videos.
Beside each upload you should see an “edit” button beside the prefixed thumbnail that YouTube has already given your video.
Click the edit button that looks like this.
You will then be brought to a page where you can upload a custom thumbnail for your video which you can find here.
Please note that if your account is not verified you may not have this option available to you.
Once you click on “custom thumbnail”, you will then be able to upload custom thumbnails for your YouTube video. When you have found your thumbnail, just click save changes.
Congratulations on uploading your customized thumbnail!
Once viewers have clicked on your video you can use YouTube’s Audience Retention Report tool to see whether people are watching your videos or leaving immediately.
According to Youtube, the following graphs can be read like this.
High retention readings that have a rather level reading will indicate that you are retaining your audience well.
On the contrast, if your retention readings are looking like this… then you might want to assess your content. This retention report shows that viewers dropped off very quickly.
It may mean that your thumbnail was too clickbaity, and that content quality did not meet the viewers’ expectations.
Ranking higher in YouTube search results can seem a little bit complicated at first, but after having read through this post you should have a clearer understanding on how it all works.
By following the steps shared in this post, and optimizing your YouTube videos for SEO, you are putting yourself one step ahead of the crowd.
Choose powerful keywords and place them strategically throughout your video sections such as in the description and tag section.
Customize your thumbnail so that it pops, is vibrant and will catch the attention of viewers.
Don’t forget, trends are forever changing, and powerful keywords can become stronger or weaker based on consumer behaviour at any time.
How have you optimized your YouTube videos for SEO in the past?
Let me know in the comments below!