How to Optimize Videos for YouTube?

Charlotte Miller

Updated on:


When we talk about search engine optimization (SEO), Google may come to mind. But did you know YouTube works as its own search engine? With Youtube SEO, you can optimize content as you would on Google to increase YouTube search engine and Google visibility, engagement, and video marketing return on investment (ROI) all at the same time.

Optimizing your videos will increase rank, viewing time, and organic search views. It will also support your brand and business growth. Those who are already optimizing for YouTube get it — 60% of marketers say they plan to increase their YouTube marketing budget in 2021.

Let’s take a closer look at five helpful tips to optimize your videos on YouTube:

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  1. Create videos people are searching for

It seems like a no-brainer, but the first step to optimizing YouTube videos is making sure you publish videos people search for on YouTube. And it’s not always obvious what those videos look like.

Here’s what we know for sure: according to Statista, over 70% of people 15 to 55 use YouTube. Your audience is here. Create videos that connect with them, and you can get a lot out of your investment in this popular video publishing channel. Generate the kinds of videos your audience loves by: 

  • Knowing your target audience
  • Discovering the keywords they use to find videos like yours using SEO tools. Hint: Looking at how YouTube or Google “autosuggest” for a word is a free way to learn more about keywords users search for when you’re on a tight budget. Eventually, you’ll want to invest in SEO tools. They’re worth the money if you take the time to use them.
  • Performing competitor analysis to see what types of videos perform well with your audience 

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  1. Optimize for Google SERPs

Doing regular SEO isn’t a small task, so we won’t try to cover it all here. You can find plenty of articles on title tags, Schema markup, and link equity. But know that YouTube SEO complements Google SEO — it won’t replace it!

What’s good for Google SEO is often great for optimizing YouTube search. You’ll use your paid SEO tools to optimize title tags, descriptions, and more on YouTube, similar to optimizing your website.

The goal is not only to have YouTube videos appear in the YouTube search engine; they should also appear high in Google search engine results pages (SERPs) as part of your overall YouTube SEO strategy.

  1. Make YouTube videos easy for search engines to understand

It seems noble to say you create content for people, not search engines. But the reality is clear: if search engines can’t understand how your content relates to a query, they won’t deliver it up in the SERPs to answer someone’s search.

Make your video easier for YouTube, Google, and other search engines like Bing to understand by:

  • Creating a compelling and complete, keyword-rich (not stuffed) description for each video
  • Only using relevant tags — if your video appears in irrelevant searches, you’ll go down in the ranks
  • Optimizing your title with long-tail keywords
  • Uploading a transcript or closed captions to create more bot-readable content on the page
  • Choosing the right categories
  • Actively encouraging engagement by being intentional with CTAs
  1. Leverage key moments

You’d be lost in a 20,000-word online guide without some kind of table of contents. But finding the right spot in a long video is even more daunting. People scroll back and forth and can’t find what they’re looking for. Eventually, they give up, and that’s not the way to be helpful. 

Many great answers to commonly searched questions hiding in a two-hour how-to video and never to see the light of day. YouTube’s “Key Moments” solve this. To optimize for YouTube, create the equivalent of a table of contents by timestamping and labeling places in a video that answer specific queries.

Your viewers can now not only jump to the exact spot to get the most out of your videos, but this allows Google to guide potential viewers directly to the answers to their queries within videos.

  1. Promote your video on social media

You can pull every optimization trick out of the SEO hat, but until YouTube and Google see how real people react to your video, they won’t know how to rank it. Create a strategy to generate initial traffic to your videos to optimize them for YouTube. Organic and paid social media serve this purpose well.

Your goal is not to drive viral levels of traffic to each video. The time and/or money investment to do that would be astronomical. Instead, focus your energy on creating a video people want to share and get enough to view so it can gain traction.

Generate this buzz around your videos by:

  • Creating enticing headlines. The headline makes or breaks video promotion. Turn your video into a must-see with language that compels a click without turning to clickbait. 
  • Listening to your audience. Employ social media and YouTube analytics to identify what your audience responds to. 
  • Engaging with the community. There are content pushers, and then there are YouTube personalities that feel like they’re building a community. Which do you want to be? Your channel needs to feel organic, interesting, and likable. Build a YouTube brand about helpful or entertaining content that people want to view, support, and share. Reply to comments on YouTube and social media to create this feel.
  • Developing compelling thumbnails. Act like you care about your video if you want others to and give it visual appeal. Remember: people process visuals a gazillion times faster than they do words — make the imagery count!
  • Making it a series. Gain momentum for your videos by creating a content calendar around themes. Be careful not to take on more series than you can handle. But do create a handful of series to demonstrate the depth and breadth of your content and brand.
  1. Add music to your videos

Adding background music to your YouTube videos can improve the video quality and increase the engagement of the viewer. When choosing music for your video, it’s important to consider the genre and select music accordingly. Sites like Artlist have an extensive library of music to choose from, so you will easily find something that suits your particular project. You can also use this Artlist discount code to get 2 months free.