How does SEO for YouTube work? How do you prepare your YouTube videos for search? These questions have an easier solution than you might imagine.

Even while it could seem challenging to gain any exposure on YouTube, you can use specific tactics to make sure that the search engine algorithm gives you preference.

Regardless of the size of your channel, we’ll cover tested tactics to rank YouTube videos in this post that have helped your channel and will help you as well. Let’s get going.

Table of Contents

How to Rank YouTube Videos

Understanding the YouTube algorithm and rank YouTube videos variables is a must for getting videos to rank on the platform.

Like any search engine, YouTube aims to provide results that specifically address the user’s query. For instance, if someone searches for “how to tie a tie,” YouTube won’t return a video titled “how to tie your shoelaces.” Instead, it will present search outcomes that address that particular query.

Consider how you might add words and phrases that your target audience uses as you experiment with rank YouTube videos.

You should also consider YouTube metrics and engagement. YouTube considers “watch time” — or, more simply, how long viewers remain on your video — when rank YouTube videos. A long watch time indicates that your material is worthwhile; a short watch time indicates that your content is probably not going to rank.

Try to generate material that is optimised for extended watch periods if you want to rank YouTube videos. For example, by promising a surprise or prize, you might entice viewers to stick around until the very end of the film.

Does YouTube video optimisation make sense?

It might seem pointless to try and rank YouTube videos. The platform only seems to work for the most well-known influencers and content producers.

That’s not the case, though. As long as you identify the correct audience for your content, your company can benefit from views, comments, and likes on its videos. Finding and focusing on the right audience is actually more crucial than making a “beautiful” video.

Even though it might not seem like it, rating YouTube videos is an important part of your inbound marketing plan. Inbound video marketing was a novel concept just a decade ago. Marketers began to realise that in addition to publishing a lot of material, they also needed to ensure that it was of high quality and optimised for search engines.

The written word used to be the main source of that content. That’s not the situation anymore. A complete content strategy now encompasses both written content (such as blogs and ebooks) and visual content (such as podcasts, visual assets, and videos). The necessity to optimise them for search has also increased with the popularity of alternative content forms. 

Don’t worry if you’re feeling lost. In order to properly optimise your content for YouTube search, we’ve included the most crucial YouTube SEO guidelines below.

Tips To Rank YouTube Videos

1. Give your video file a new name that includes a focus keyword.

You’ll use an SEO tool, just as you would when optimising textual content, to first choose the keywords you want to emphasise in your video (you may browse popular YouTube SEO tools below these suggestions, or just click the link earlier in this article).

Before you even publish your video to YouTube, you should add the keyword in your video file as the first place to use it. Why?There are only so many places you can safely enter this keyword on your video’s watching page once it has been released, as you’ll discover in the instructions below, and YouTube can’t actually “watch” your video to determine how relevant it is to your target keyword. However, when you upload a movie to YouTube, it can read the file name and all the accompanying code.

In light of this, change the file name “” to your chosen keyword. Don’t be embarrassed; it happened to all of us during post-production. For instance, if your keyword is “house painting tips,” your video’s file name should be “house-painting-tips” followed by the appropriate video file format (some of the most popular that are YouTube-compatible are MOV, MP4, and WMV).

2. Organically incorporate your keyword into the video title.

One of the first things our eyes are pulled to when searching for videos is the title. The title should be not only intriguing but also succinct and clear because that is frequently what prompts the user to click to watch your movie.

Although your video’s title heavily utilises your keyword, it also helps if it closely corresponds to what the audience is looking for. According to Backlinko’s research, videos with an exact keyword match in the title only slightly outperform those without one. Here is a linear illustration of those conclusions:

Brian Dean, the report’s author, says that although “using your target keyword in your title may help you rank for that term,” “the relationship between keyword-rich video titles and rankings” isn’t necessarily a significant one. However, as long as it flows organically into a title that informs readers exactly what they’re about to see, it’s a good idea to optimise your title for this term.

Last but not least, make sure your title isn’t too long. HubSpot campaigns manager Alicia Collins suggests keeping it to 60 characters or less to avoid having it cut off in results pages.

3. Improve the description of your video.

Priorities first The official character restriction for YouTube video descriptions is 1,000 characters, according to Google. Although it’s acceptable to occupy all of that space, keep in mind that your audience most likely came to this page to watch a video rather than read an essay.

Remember that YouTube only shows the top two or three lines of text, or roughly 100 characters, if you decide to create a longer description. Viewers must then click “show more” to view the entire description after that. We advise front-loading the description with the most relevant details, such as CTAs or important links.

Regarding the video’s optimisation, adding a transcript wouldn’t harm, especially for viewers who have to watch it without sound. The ranks for a given term did not, however, appear to be correlated with descriptions that were optimised for that term, according to Backlinko’s research.

Dean is careful not to advocate completely removing an optimised description. According to him, “the suggested videos sidebar is a significant source of views for most channels. An optimised description helps you show up in the sidebar.”

4. Include relevant, well-known keywords in the tags of your video.

To help people understand what your video is about, YouTube advises utilising tags. However, you’re not only educating your audience; you’re also educating YouTube. According to Dean, tags are used by the platform “to understand the content and context of your video.”

In this manner, YouTube learns how to link your video to other related videos, which can increase the audience for your material. However, pick your tags carefully. Use relevant tags instead of irrelevant ones if you want to increase views; otherwise, Google may penalise you. Similarly to your description, start your page’s headline with the most crucial keywords, which should be a healthy combination of both popular and long-tail (i.e., questions like “how do I?”) keywords.

5. Sort your video by category.

A video can be categorised after it has been uploaded under “Advanced settings.” On YouTube, selecting a category is another approach to organise your video with related content so that it appears in various playlists and is seen by more people who fit your target audience.

It might not be as straightforward as it seems. In actuality, it’s crucial to follow a thorough procedure to decide which category each video fits in. Respond to inquiries like:

  • Who are the leading creators in this genre? What do they excel at and what are they known for?
  • Exist any trends among the viewers of comparable channels within a specific category?
  • Do the videos in a category have anything in common, such as production quality, length, or format?

The primary image that viewers see while navigating through a list of video results is your video’s thumbnail. This thumbnail, together with the video’s title, informs viewers about the video’s subject matter, which might affect how many clicks and views your video gets.

Although you can always choose from the auto-generated thumbnail options provided by YouTube, we strongly advise creating a personalised thumbnail. Images with a 16:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 1280×720 pixels should be used, according to YouTube. These images should be stored as 2MB or smaller.jpg,.gif,.bmp, or.png files. Following those guidelines can help to guarantee that your thumbnail displays in the same high quality on various viewing platforms.

It’s crucial to remember that in order to upload a custom thumbnail image, your YouTube account must be confirmed. Visit and follow the directions there to accomplish that.

7. To add subtitles and closed captions, use an SRT file.

Closed captions and subtitles, like most of the other content we’ve addressed here, can improve YouTube search optimisation by emphasising relevant phrases.

You must supply a valid text transcript or timed subtitles file in order to add closed captions or subtitles to your video. You can easily insert transcript text for a video in the first case, and it will automatically sync with the video.

Similar steps are followed when adding subtitles, however you can choose how much text is shown. Go to your video manager and select “Videos” from the list of options there. Click the drop-down arrow next to the edit button after locating the video to which you want to add closed captions or subtitles. Next, select “Subtitles/CC.” The method for adding closed captions or subtitles is then your choice.

8. To enhance the number of people who see your YouTube channel, add Cards and End Screens.


Have you ever been viewing a video when a tiny white circle with a “i” in the centre or a transparent bar of text inviting you to subscribe appears in the corner? Cards, as defined by YouTube, are “preformatted notifications that appear on desktop and mobile and which you can set up to promote your brand and other videos on your channel.”

There are six different sorts of cards, and you can add up to five to a single movie.
  1. viewers to another channel using channel cards.
  2. Cards for donations that promote fundraising for American charity organisations.
  3. Asking your audience to contribute to the creation of your video content through fan finance.
  4. Link cards that point users to external websites, authorised platforms for crowdsourcing or authorised platforms for selling goods.
  5. poll cards, which ask viewers a question and let them choose a response.
  6. cards for videos or playlists that link to similar YouTube material.
  7. Follow these official Google instructions to add a card to your movie in detail, or watch the video below.

screen ends

Similar information is displayed on end screens as it is on cards, but end screens are more graphically detailed and, as you might have guessed, only appear after a video has finished playing. A excellent illustration is the overlay with a book image and a visible link to watch the video below in more detail:

Depending on the kind of platform you want to design end screens for and the various kinds of content that YouTube permits for them, there are a variety of specific instructions for adding end screens. Here, Google provides specific instructions on how to optimise for each of those factors.

You should be aware that YouTube frequently tests end screens in an effort to improve the viewing experience, so occasionally “your end screen, as designated by you, may not appear.” When deciding whether to use cards or end screens, keep these things in mind.

These elements might seem a little time-consuming and sophisticated, but keep in mind that the amount of time individuals spend watching YouTube on their TV has increased significantly in the past year. There is an audience there waiting to be found, and by optimising for YouTube, your chances of being found rise.

9. Use hashtags to expand your audience.

Like on LinkedIn or Instagram, hashtags are a recent addition to the YouTube user interface that let you add related terms to your material. Hashtags appear directly above the title of your video for quick clicking and discoverability. Use your company name, as HubSpot does in the example below, or add relevant keywords.

Additionally, we advise you to use hashtags in your YouTube description, but keep it in check—the YouTube algorithm is continuously looking for spam. Overusing hashtags could unintentionally flag you. Instead of using all possible hashtags, pick two or three that you believe best represent your video.

10. Make a playlist that focuses on the broad subject of your film.

Create keyword-focused playlists for the videos as you continue to add them to your content repository. This will not only provide YouTube more information on the subject matter of your films, but it will also encourage people to watch more of them, raising your view count and, thus, your ranking.

For instance, Yoga with Kassandra put all of its quick yoga sessions together in a playlist called “5-15 min Yoga Classes.” In addition to being succinct and descriptive, the playlist description also contains words like “10 minute yoga classes,” “10 minute morning yoga stretches,” and “bedtime yoga classes.”

11. Optional: Post a comment on your own video that is pinned.

Although leaving a comment on your video may appear excessive, it’s a wise move. More comments boost your video’s rankability, but they can increase audience engagement if you play your cards well. A comment that has been pinned may receive hundreds of responses, as it did for Matt D’Avelia below:

Make sure your remark adds to the discussion or benefits the readers by being interesting. For instance, at HubSpot, we keep a resource posted so that visitors may learn more about the subject.

Checklist for Rank YouTube Video

1. Select a keyword that you want to use in your video.

This could be a subject, a query, or a very particular inquiry. Use a keyword research tool or simply browse YouTube’s existing content library for ideas if you’re unsure of the best target keyword.

2. Make sure the file name contains the target term.

Instead of spaces, use underscores (_) or dashes (-) to separate each word.

3. Make sure the title contains the target term.

Next, include the target keyword naturally and creatively into the title of your video. You do not want the title to be just “[keyword].” Since the title is the first thing consumers will see, strive to pique their curiosity and interest while indicating how it will benefit them.

4. In the video description, mention the keyword and any keyword variations.

Your YouTube SEO strategy’s lifeblood is the video description. Your target keyword should appear 1-2 times in your description naturally, along with some variations of it.

5. Include pertinent tags in your video.

Despite the fact that the majority of viewers don’t utilise tags to search videos, they can aid the YouTube algorithm in classifying your video and delivering it to the right audience. Add about 5-8 industry tags, being careful not to use too many to avoid being marked as spam.

6. Include a video category.

While less precise than tags, categories nevertheless aid in both user discovery and YouTube algorithm comprehension. The home page, the explore page, and the sidebar menu all use categories.

7. Include a personalised video thumbnail.

If you want people to click, use a keyword variation or a brief sentence in your thumbnail (such “1,000 organic followers, fast!”). As previously indicated, in order to enable custom thumbnail uploads, you must validate your YouTube channel.

8. Include closed captions and subtitles.

Your videos desperately require closed captions and subtitles to be accessible. By providing YouTube with a written version of your video content, they also aide in your indirect optimisation for YouTube search.

9. Include end screens and cards that relate to the subject of your video.

Cards act as internal and external links, and end screens provide you the chance to keep viewers’ attention in the crucial final few seconds before they decide to move on to other information.

10. Include hashtags in your video.

Tags and hashtags are not the same. By further indicating what your video is about, they appear above the title of your video and assist you in expanding your audience and authority.

11. Compile a playlist centred on your main subject.

Making playlists is one of the best ways to optimise YouTube videos. Making a playlist of a few related videos will increase viewership and aid the YouTube algorithm in determining how your video relates to other ones in your upload library.

12. Leaving a pinned remark is optional but can increase engagement or add extra value.

You can and should comment on your own videos as a brand, not only to respond to other comments but also to add extra value for viewers.

Now, the majority of the aforementioned rank YouTube videos advice depends on you choosing the right term and promoting your video. And not all of those suggestions can be implemented solely through YouTube. Consider using some of the tools listed below to optimise your video for search if you want to get the most out of your cinematography investment.

Tools for Rank YouTube Video

1. Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

Ahrefs is a thorough SEO software that enables you to track a website’s rating, calculate the amount of organic traffic each phrase would bring in, and look up keywords for which you might wish to develop new content.

Ahrefs’s Keywords Explorer is a well-liked function that lets you seek up a tonne of information about a keyword of interest. Additionally, you may restrict your term results by search engine, including YouTube, as seen in the screenshot above.

You may find out more about a term’s monthly search volume, the number of clicks that videos receiving that keyword received, similar keywords, and more with Ahrefs Keywords Explorer.

2. Canva

Canva is maybe most known as a design tool for making various cards, images, logos, and other items. It so happens that this well-liked tool includes a Thumbnail Creator specifically for YouTube videos.

Thumbnail images are essential for marketing your content in YouTube search results and persuading visitors to click on your video, as mentioned in the aforementioned guidelines. You can make the ideal thumbnail for your video using Canva’s Thumbnail Creator in the 1280 x 720 pixel size that YouTube demands.

3. Content strategy for HubSpot

While the HubSpot keywords you find correspond to how popular they are in a typical Google search, many of these topics also have videos associated with them. In certain circumstances, you can establish topic clusters that include blog posts and YouTube videos as members.

In addition to giving you greater authority in the eyes of Google and YouTube, clustering your material can give you additional opportunities to get visitors from those seeking your topic online. This includes linking from blog entries to videos and vice versa.

4.vidIQ Vision

This Chrome extension, which is accessible through the online shop linked above, enables you to investigate how and why specific YouTube videos are so popular. This covers the tags a video has been optimised for, the length of time the typical watch is, and even the rate at which the video is potentially acquiring viewers.

After that, the vidIQ tool offers an SEO “score” you may use to produce content that matches (or outperforms) the outcomes you currently see on YouTube.


An all-in-one video platform called TubeBuddy may assist you with organising the creation, optimisation, and advertising of your YouTube material. Its features include a keyword explorer, tag suggestions, a rank YouTube videos tracker for your published videos, an automatic language translator (which helps you rank for non-English keywords), and more.

6. Cyfe

A YouTube analytics platform is one of the many features offered by the huge software package known as Cyfe. You may monitor YouTube and your website’s performance using this platform.

Cyfe can show you which keywords you’re ranking for as well as which ones are most popular across different search engines, in addition to traffic analytics. It resembles Google Analytics or Moz, don’t you think? This is so that Cyfe may use the data from both of those tools and more.

A successful YouTube channel starts with quality material, regardless of the SEO strategy or software you choose to use. Make sure that when people find you, they can watch something of great quality and relevance. Need step-by-step guidance? Below is a link to our free guide on using YouTube for business.