Step by Step Guide to Optimizing YouTube for Better SEO Results

Optimizing YouTube Videos

There was once a time when ‘content’ primarily referred to the written word. That time has passed, and content now encompasses everything from words to podcasts, images to videos. Moreover, that last bit, video, is rising in popularity. State of Inbound reports, “Marketers are making the leap into visual content.” In fact, many marketers are of the opinion that the value of written content may lessen over the next few years as videos take the stage.

Now, with the rise of videos as the ‘preferred’ content on digital space, there is the need to optimize them for those who are conducting a video-related search, and the first site to focus on is YouTube. YouTube – a platform that has been widely popular since its inception in 2005 – is now the most favored video distribution of the masses.

However, how does optimization of YouTube videos work? What steps does one need to take to ensure that their video is getting all the views possible? What is the most efficient way of optimizing a YouTube channel for the best results?

Optimizing your YouTube video for search is not necessarily difficult, but it does require a planned approach. Here is a step by step guide to effective YouTube SEO:


Like it is with written content, the title of a video draws people’s attention. The title is often the determining factor of whether a viewer is going to click on the video or keep browsing for other options. Therefore, the first criterion of YouTube SEO is to make the title short (ideally 60 characters), clear and compelling. Of course, the title needs to convey what the video is all about as closely as possible.

Titles that have the exact keyword that matches with the content even has a slight advantage over the titles that do not use apt keywords. However, ranking better for a particular keyword does not necessarily mean ranking well for the video too. The latter would take a bit more effort from you.


Officially, you can use a thousand characters to describe your video on YouTube. However, remember that your viewer chose this platform to watch a video, not read a long story! You may want to use up all the available space, but YouTube will only display the first two or three lines of the description to the viewer.

After that, the viewer will have to click on the ‘show more’ option to read the rest of the description. That is why the best thing to do would be to front-load the description with the most vital of information and call to action (CTA) buttons. You may also add relevant links in the description.


If you are working with an SEO agency, you will notice that their team is emphasizing tagging your video. There is a valid reason for that. Tags can let your viewers know what your video is about. Moreover, tags can help YouTube understand the context and content of your video so that it can categorize the video correctly. Do note that, you cannot use irrelevant tags just to get more views as Google may penalize you for that.


Categorizing a video is more complicated than it may initially appear. You need to consider why a video belongs to a particular category and what the viewer behavior in that category is. You may also choose to categorize a video under ‘Advanced Settings.’


The thumbnail of your video is what viewers see first, so it has to be attractive. The thumbnail also informs viewers about the content of your video, so it must be relevant. While you can use an auto-generated thumbnail for your video, it is more advisable to use a custom one. According to Creator Academy, “90% of the best-performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails”. You must have a verified YouTube account to upload a custom thumbnail.

SRT Files

Subtitles and closed captions play a significant role in boosting the popularity of your video. If you are adding subtitles, make sure they are perfectly timed. You also have the option of directly adding transcript text to a video so that it automatically syncs with the video. Refer to Google’s guide regarding SRT files for YouTube videos.

End Screens

End screens are displayed when a video is over. They are detailed. Do design them smartly to optimize the viewer’s experience. Google has detailed outlines on how to optimize end screens.

Optimizing YouTube is worth your time and effort. No matter how time-consuming it may seem, you must remember that “YouTube has over a billion users–almost a third of all people on the Internet.”

Your target audience is definitely on YouTube, and new fans are waiting to be discovered. When you optimize your YouTube channel, the chances of your brand getting found increases. It all starts with good content, but how you optimize that content can take your brand a long way towards success.

Anna Jenkins is a digital marketer, associated with a reputed SEO agency. She likes to blog about latest trends in the search engine optimization sector. Her dedicated readers much appreciate her tips for effective SEO.