YouTube SEO 101: A Quick Guide

As the second largest social media, YouTube proves how powerful videos are. It has gone beyond an education and entertainment platform and has expanded into a promising business channel. Many even leverage YouTube as a source of income.

YouTube generates videos worth 30,000 hours every hour. Users can quickly look for videos from various topics like music, tutorial videos, vlogs, crypto video, and many more. With vast video options, YouTube is getting more fun to explore for users.

On the other hand, creators face a more challenging reality. They must have robust YouTube SEO strategies to make their video stand out in the crowd. Below we've rounded up YouTube SEO 101 that can be useful for you.

Before getting into the main discussions, let's understand more about YouTube SEO and discover its benefits for your channel. Keep scrolling!

What is YouTube SEO?

YouTube SEO is the effort to optimize your video on YouTube to be more discoverable. It aims to push your video to get a higher position on YouTube's search engine result page. Your video may also appear on other search engines, like Google and Bing, when users are looking for specific queries.

Optimizing YouTube SEO means working on the entire channel page, including the video content, description, and metadata. All the efforts in optimizing YouTube SEO aim to improve essential metrics to grow your channel.

You can improve viewer rate, engagement rate, brand awareness, like rate, website visits, and more. With such escalation on your overall YouTube channel and video performance, you have a better online presence for a long-term investment.

How Important Is YouTube SEO?

YouTube sits as the second largest search engine after Google. More than two billion users around the globe log into the platform per month. More surprisingly, 27.2% of viewers spend 10 hours watching online videos weekly.

The big red has gone beyond a space to have fun. It becomes a promising marketing place for brands to raise brand awareness, meet new prospects, and generate sales. 

A report reveals that businesses using video marketing boost their revenue 49% faster year-over-year than those that don't. Following the great benefit, businesses with video marketing need to spend 45% more budget annually.

Moreover, customers often look for product information through videos. Social media marketers have spotted this behavior. The massive benefits of leveraging the platform have made 71% of marketers plan to stay on track and increase their investment in video marketing. 

But in the sea of video content, yours must stand out to come at the frontline of audiences. If you plan to use YouTube as one of your marketing channels, then employing YouTube SEO is necessary.

Below we've rounded up some best practices to optimize YouTube SEO. Taking extra effort is always worth your time to gain massive yield for business growth. Let's dive right in!

Ways to Optimize YouTube SEO

You can never post a YouTube video without SEO. Optimizing some elements of your video before launching it online is key for winning the top rank of search engine result pages and helping you stand out in the sea of content.

Adjusting SEO on your YouTube channel and videos can make your content easily discoverable through search engines. Below we put together the 11 ways to optimize YouTube SEO. 

1. Use keywords to Rename Video Files

Optimizing YouTube SEO starts even before you step into the platform. Apparently, YouTube's algorithm doesn't "watch" your video to check content and keywords relevance. But it can read your file names.

Renaming your video files becomes vital. You must name your video files using relevant keywords in your content. Your chosen keywords must also be integral to your video's title, tags, and description.

You can use SEO tools to decide on potential keywords that many are looking for. Many platforms offer free and paid use of keyword tools. Some best recommendations for online keyword generators are Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz, and Google Search Console.

2. Create a Natural and Keywords-Friendly Title

The title of your video is a crucial part of attracting viewers. Plain titles won't be enough, but exaggerated and unnatural titles are worse.  

Your video title must flow naturally. Ensure that the keywords are the highlight of your video title. Consider studying your competitors' videos to prevent similar styles when producing titles. 

Pen down some points below to help you create catchy yet natural and keywords-friendly video titles for YouTube.

  • Keep your video title short by limiting up to 60 characters
  • Put your main keywords at the beginning of your title
  • Mention audiences' pain points 
  • Use strong action verbs to encourage actions
  • Make videos that relate to trending videos
  • Use numbers or listicle style on your video title
  • Make the title and video thumbnail relevant and work well together

Taking into account some points above helps you avoid creating clickbait titles. You should avoid clickbait titles as they can be uncomfortable to viewers and decrease your credibility as a YouTube creator.

3. Optimize Video Description

Making SEO-friendly descriptions won't be a problem if you know the best practices. Video description plays a big role in defining your video's success, so never leave it empty. You can provide relevant explanations or further information about your content or channel.

YouTube provides 5,000 characters or around 800 words to write video descriptions, but you don't have to use it all. You can keep it concise by writing relevant text containing 180-220 characters. Keep in mind some points below when creating video descriptions on YouTube.

  • Write relevant text to your video content
  • Put the main keywords in the first few paragraphs
  • Keywords must be searchable
  • Include hashtags
  • Include timestamps
  • Include links to related content if possible
  • Provide affiliate links if you have any

Video descriptions must be concise yet comprehensive. You can create a conclusion for your video content. In addition, you should encourage viewers to read your description box to find more information.

4. Include Relevant Keywords for Tags

Tags are significant ranking factors for YouTube's algorithm. Tags can be in the form of single words or phrases that give context to your video. The tags you use must also be keyword-friendly and relevant.

As a piece of metadata, tags have a significant role in defining your video ranking on YouTube's search engine. Videos with matching tags and keywords will most likely appear on the first result page.

Image via Backlinko

However, generating and choosing tags can be trickier than you think. Some tips below can help you make optimized tags to boost your video performance.

  • Make the first tag filled with the main keywords
  • Use broad and specific tags using short and long-tailed keywords
  • Don't go overboard; stick to 5-8 keyword tags
  • Keep your short tags to 2-3 words in length
  • Find potential tags with online tools such as TugTube and vidIQ

5. Add Hashtags

YouTube reveals that hashtags (the '' symbol) can boost a video's discoverability on the platform. You can find or put hashtags above the video's title and inside the description box.

Video hashtags can optimize your SEO game and make your video more powerful in search engines. Hashtags help you garner viewers in three ways: 

  • Making it more discoverable

For example, when you put 'YouTube marketing' as your hashtag, viewers can find your video through the search bar.

Competitors may also use the same hashtag as you. When their viewers click the hashtag, your content may also pop up as another resource.

  • Helping YouTube understand your video better

Just like tags, hashtags are essential for your video performance. They help YouTube algorithms crawl, index, and understand your video content faster and better. If you optimize your hashtags, you can get a higher chance of winning higher ranks.

  • Tieing similar video content

Hashtags can also tie similar content to your channel and automatically create a playlist. For example, you add QnAsessions as a hashtag for some of your videos with the QnA concept. 

Users can find your QnA content easier through YouTube's search engine as similar videos will line up automatically.

The best practice to generate powerful hashtags is similar to creating tags. You can put short and long-tailed keywords and add your brand name or YouTube channel.

6. Add Subtitles or Closed Captions

Adding subtitles or closed captions on your YouTube videos can boost search rank, engagement, search traffic, and page views. The two are the text version of the audio in the video, but they do have differences.

In terms of intentions, subtitles aim to help viewers who don't speak the language understand the video. Meanwhile, closed captions intend to help viewers with limited capabilities to hear audio.

However, in terms of forms, subtitles are typically optional for viewers to use or not. So, they have the option to turn on or off the subtitles. On the other hand, you can't remove closed captions as they are attached to the video.

Many reports state that many users view videos without sound due to certain conditions. A whopping 92% of people watch videos in mute mode through mobile devices. So, you have a solid reason to add closed captions or subtitles to your videos.

7. Make Video Categorization

YouTube also allows you to categorize your video content. You can make all your content belong in the same category by setting a default category for your channel. It also lets you set individual categories for certain videos. 

At least there are fifteen categories on YouTube, which are:

  • Autos and vehicles
  • Comedy
  • Education
  • Entertainment
  • Film and animation
  • Gaming
  • Howto and style
  • Music
  • News and politics
  • Nonprofits and activism
  • People and blogs
  • Pets and animals
  • Sports
  • Travel and events
  • Science and technology

To set a default category for your channel, you can manage it through YouTube Studio. You can head to Settings > Upload Defaults > Advanced Settings and choose a default category for your channel. You can also set a default description and visibility for all your videos.

However, you can go to the 'Content' option below the Dashboard to set an individual video category. Then click on the video thumbnail and find the 'Show More' option on the bottom part of the interface.

Scroll down and find the 'Category' option. You can change your video category by choosing the option manually. YouTube categorization is essential to label your content and make it more visible through organic search.

8. Use Cards and End Screens

YouTube cards and end screens can be a great way to promote your videos. Do you notice the 'i' symbol in the right-hand corner of a YouTube video? That is the place where you can put YouTube cards. You can set your other videos related to the one currently playing.

Meanwhile, end screens refer to the videos you want to promote at the end of your currently-playing video. Commonly YouTubers put two end-screen videos to encourage viewers to hop on another video and a subscribe button to garner followers.

Consider adding more elements to game up your end screens. Consider adding labels to your end-screen videos, such as 'Watch Next,' Play This Next,' 'Next Video,' and so on. You can also add social icons like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms.

9. Create YouTube Playlist

With plenty of videos on your channel, it can be messy and hard to follow viewers, especially new audiences. You can optimize your channel by creating playlists. Playlists will help viewers easily explore your channel and engage them longer.

Viewers can watch one video and continue to other related videos that belong in the same playlists. You can increase view counts, engagement rates, and, by extension, your rankings. In addition, playlists help YouTube to identify your video better.

For example, you can gather videos with similar concepts. You can create 'Makeup Tutorials,' 'Makeup Reviews,' 'Daily Vlogs,' and others.

10. Pin a Comment

You may have seen YouTubers pin some comments on their comment sections. Most likely, the pinned comments gain massive replies from other users. It's a strategy that you can use to escalate your video's rankability.

Not only does it boost your YouTube SEO, but pinned comments are also a great way to engage audiences. If you want to build deeper relationships with audiences, consider replying to some of their comments to show appreciation.

You can pin your own comment or others. Ensure that the comments you pin contain additional information relevant to your video content. You can encourage viewers to visit your social accounts or website by providing a link.

11. Create Enticing Thumbnail

Thumbnails are vital. Together with video titles, thumbnails are the first agents that attract audiences for the first time. Their roles are crucial in shaping audiences' decisions to click your video or scroll it away.

Enticing thumbnails consist of visuals and short phrases or sentences to pull in viewers. You can use your picture or other objects that represent your content. Consider using editing tools like Canva and its alternatives, Photoshop and Picsart to edit photos for thumbnails.

Make sure you have verified your channel to make custom thumbnails. YouTube needs to verify your account by sending a verification code to your phone. You can verify your YouTube channel by visiting

Most importantly, consider some parameters below to make optimized thumbnails for YouTube videos.

  • Make your video thumbnails in a 16:9 ratio
  • The most recommended resolution for YouTube thumbnails is 1280x720 
  • Keep thumbnails size up to 2MB 
  • Save your thumbnails as .jpg, .gif, .png, and .bmp files.
  • Include persons in your thumbnails
  • Add enticing words, phrases, or short sentences

The above points are your go-to list to max up your YouTube SEO. It seems like a lot, but all your efforts in optimizing each point stated above will always be worth the results. To help you more, keep scrolling to reveal a list of tools to help you optimize YouTube SEO.

Best SEO Tools for YouTube

Working on YouTube SEO may take a lot of time and effort. You can lessen the load by leveraging some SEO tools for YouTube. We've pieced together five YouTube SEO tools that many recommend.

1. YouTube Analytics

The easiest and most accessible social media management tool you can dig into is YouTube Analytics. It shows you key metrics such as view count, engagement rates, traffic, bounce rate, traffic sources, and bounce rates. 

You can also learn about your audiences through their demographics, such as age, gender, nationality, and more. All the metrics accumulated will help you create better videos and optimize SEO accurately.

2. TubeBuddy

TubeBuddy is one of the most popular browser extensions. It helps you do many things, including creating a posting schedule, using saved responses, making end-screen templates, and many more.

You can save countless times by taking some insights from its SEO features to optimize your video and channel. Moreover, TubeBuddy has built-in data and research features similar to YouTube analytics.

3. VidIQ

Another browser extension you can use is VidIQ. It helps you track and analyze your YouTube performance. VidIQ also enables you to compare competitor channels with yours. You can learn your competitors' strengths and adjust them to your video or channel.

Other winning features of VidIQ are automated mass email alerts for trending topics and Facebook Syndication features for sharing videos across social media. Best of all, you can also find and identify the best keywords for your video content.

4. YouTube Autosuggest

YouTube autosuggest is the easiest and simplest tool you can use. All you need to do is type a main keyword on the YouTube search bar. You will get a list of suggestions relating to the keyword you type.

Those suggestions indicate the most searched queries by users. You can use some for content ideas or include them in titles, video descriptions, and tags.

5. Rank Tracker

Rank Tracker is a tool to run more comprehensive keyword research. It's excellent for generating potential keywords. You can access more advanced features with the paid version, which costs $72 per year.

Rank Tracker will also help you to study our video performance. You can see search volume, expected visits, competitions, and more. The metrics on Rank Tracker will help you boost video performance.


YouTube SEO has become a natural need for creators. It's the only way to make your video discoverable and reachable to as many users as possible. The list above may seem like a load of work, but it will be worth your time to build an online presence in the long run.

Our YouTube SEO 101 can be your quick guide in optimizing your video and channel. It can also come in handy for businesses of all sizes. They can reach more audiences, garner more prospects, and boost sales. Most importantly, YouTube SEO is key to growing your business.

Ajay Paghdal
Outreach Labs Founder
🕒 10 mins read
Last updated on
Dec 13, 2023

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Article by
Ajay Paghdal
Outreach Labs Founder
Ajay enjoys tinkering with new link building strategies, building teams and processes around it and in general, has enjoyed being a part of the industry for the past decade.

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