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SEO for YouTube: A Helpful Guide to Rank Better

by Chance Bulger

Author: Chance Bulger

Millions of people use Youtube everyday, in fact it is the second biggest search engine in the world behind Google. Plus, Google owns Youtube so they also help push Youtube videos through Google search. This means that if people have a problem, or are looking for basically any topic, they are coming to Youtube.

Most of the time, people will be using the search feature to find the video they are looking for. It is your opportunity to grab this “digital real estate”. This first comes to your video actually being found on the page that shows up in a search. In this article, we talk about how to get your video to the top of the search so that people will actually find your content.

If you want your video to be seen by more people on Youtube (and subsequently

Google) you must understand YouTube, their algorithm and how they think when they show your video. Their algorithm is constantly changing and getting smarter, these are our top ways to rank a video via search on Youtube as of the of summer 2019.

  1. Pay attention to keywords (keyword research)


Keyword Research: the task of finding words and phrases that people use to search for video content online.

Millions of people use YouTube everyday, mainly through the search bar. That means your video could show up for any specific search that a person types in if it pertains to your video.

Here are some useful tips:

  • Generate a list of keywords by yourself, write down some generic related topics. Verify them using the methods discussed below.
  • Youtube Autocomplete: Search the basics of what your video is about on YouTube, YouTube will then suggest a bunch of keywords that people are actually searching for. You should choose all applicable keywords and try to optimize for those.

For example, in the screenshot below we typed in “Sell Car” as our main topic and received relevant keywords like “Sell Car UK”, “Sell car to Carmax”, “Sell Car Online”, “Sell Car with Loan”. These are all keywords you can include in your title to have the ability to rank for all of these keywords.


You can also use tools like which will help compile all of these Youtube Autocomplete for any relevant search quickly. Here is an example of  the results you will get on

Make sure the Keywords you are targeting have at least 500-1000 monthly searches.  

Use Google Keyword Planner to figure this out (it’s free to use). And make sure it’s actually relevant to your content!


  1. Keep Retention Rates High

Audience Retention: The amount of your video that people watch.

This is a key factor that YouTube’s algorithm looks at when deciding what video they will push the highest in their ranking.

YouTube wants to push a video that is going to satisfy the viewer the most. They analyze how long people continue watching your video. So you have to try to have very good engaging content, or none of these ranking strategies are going to work.

Video Comments: The more comments on your video, the better.

Youtube sees that if people comment on a video that they are engaging with it, to a higher level than just watching.

Encouraging viewers to leave comments can be a big help. You can ask viewers a question, or suggestions for your next video.

Subscribe: Another action that Youtube sees as super engaging is someone taking the action of Subscribing to a channel after watching a video.

Ask people to subscribe to your channel to help boost your videos, to grow your subscriber rate and Youtube popularity.

As people subscribe to your channel, your new videos will come up in their subscribed to channel section. This should help gain initial views on new content you produce and help those videos rank aswell.

Shares: Every time someone shares your video via social media, email, text etc. YouTube sees that people are really engaging with your content (plus they like that you are bringing people to their platform).

This once again comes down to making a quality video that people will want to view and share to their social circles. You can encourage people to share your content at the end of you video. This can bring more traffic to your video along with help with the keyword rank.

Click-Through-Rate (CTR): When someone lands on the page for the keyword that they’ve searched do they click on your video or someone else’s?

If Youtube sees that people are clicking on your video the most often when people search for a Keyword, you will rank  higher for that keyword.

This comes down to having an optimized thumbnail and title. Try to make your video the most appealing on the page.

This can work against you, if you don’t have an engaging and clickable title and thumbnail and people continue to scroll past your video, you will fall in Youtube’s ranking.

Likes: The more “thumbs up”  the higher your video will rank. Alternatively, the more “thumbs down” your video receives, the more your video will fall in the rankings.

Video Length: This topic is touchy. Here are the basics.

Longer Videos rank better. However, longer videos are less engaging. You must understand that if the content is longer, a large percentage of the audience will not make it to the end.

We dive into this in our other article analyzing Youtube numbers. To summarize, Youtube analytics show that viewers drop off the longer the video is, here is an example:

4-5 minute Video- fewer than 60% viewers will watch entire video.

1-2 minute video – around 75% of viewers will watch entire video. (Wistia)

You should consider putting the most important information at the start of your videos along with focus on keeping the videos concise. Your audience should appreciate this as well, which will lead to you growing faster as a channel!

Know that there is an edge in ranking for longer videos, but do not just create a longer video for the shear goal of ranking with a longer video. Just focus on creating the best video you can. I wouldn’t worry about this factor too much.


  1.  Content Within the Video

YouTube automatically transcribes your video, all of these words are attached to your video for the hearing impaired. However, Youtube and Google both use these keywords to see that your video is actually relevant to your title and description.

This means that the more you mention your keywords, the more Youtube will see that your content is actually relevant and it will help you rank higher.

  1. Video Title, Description, Tags

Make sure your video title is engaging but also keyword specific. You want to rank on Youtube, but also have a good viewer experience. Here are some tips on creating an effective title.

TIP 1 

Youtube does not like keyword stuffing (putting in words that don’t read well, just to try to rank for those words). Make a clear title with one or two keywords. Long titles are not as engaging for Youtube watchers, which leads to less clicks.  

Try to create an engaging title that makes viewers really want to watch your video. An example: “How I Sold My Car for 20% over Book Value”. This title is relatively short and would be interesting to someone that is looking to sell their car.


Put your targeted keyword at the beginning of your video, this will give a slight SEO boost. It was discovered that Youtube gives a slight boost to a video when the keyword is at the beginning of the title, rather than at the middle or the end.

Description: The description of a Youtube video helps YouTube as well as Google understand the context of your video. The more relevant they see your video, the more they will push it to their audience.

Here is what you should include in your :

  • Include your main keyword in the first 25 words
  • Make the description at least 250 words
  • Include your keyword 2-4 times

Tags: Tags help Google and Youtube see what your content about.

Include your main keyword and some variation of that main keyword. Then also include some other topics that you mention in the video. This will help rank you for your main keyword, and possibly show up to some other relevant terms.

TIP: When the video someone’s watching has a similar tag as your video, you will show up as a suggested video on the side bar! This can drive a lot of viewers to your content.

  1. Promote

Get more people to your Youtube Video, and this will help you get discovered in many ways!

Youtube loves to see people coming to your video from websites like Facebook, Instagram and other social platforms. Getting more people to your video should get more views, more likes and more comments, which of course helps you to rank via search.

Some ideas are to promote your new video to your personal Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, email list or any other platform where you have a following. This will also help people who didn’t know you were creating videos to discover your channel and hopefully lead them to subscribing.

Don’t have a huge following? Don’t worry

You can pay to have your videos promoted


On Youtube:
The best place to promote your video is directly on Youtube, directly for the keyword you are trying to rank for.

You don’t have to actually pay that much to get your video ranked, depending on how competitive your video is. I suggest that you invest $5 at a time until your video is ranked to where you want, or you decide that the video is not as effective as you thought it would be.

If you see growing your Youtube channel as an investment for the long term, this can be a great tool to use to give your channel a good boost at the beginning of its life (or give your current channel a revival).

Where to spend: To help drive more views and subscribers to your channel, you can pay to run an ad campaign for your videos on YouTube through Google Ads. You can create an ad that appears before a video starts, or alongside a video on its watch page on YouTube.

All you have to do is create your ad, set your budget, and target the desired audience. There’s no minimum price to run an ad—and you can change your ads, targeting, and budgets at any time. You can also end your campaign whenever you want.

We recommend you only spend money on a video in search ads. You should bid on the exact keywords you want to rank for. Youtube will see that everytime someone searched for your keyword, they are clicking on your video and engaging with it. This should quickly rank you up the Youtube page.  

On Social Media: The great thing about Facebook and Instagram is that you can open up a Facebook ads account and advertise to a specific audience. This is likely less effective than promoting directly on Youtube. Except, there is the fact that your video can be shared on Facebook and go viral where you are getting tons of free clicks and views.]

Once you see your video is very successful on Youtube, then you can look at promoting on Facebook. You can target people based on their interests, so target people who are interested in the topic of your video.

Again I suggest that you use a $5 ad spend test so you don’t end up spending a large amount of money without getting good results.

To learn more Check out our article on advertising on Facebook

Now that your ranking!

Optimizing your titles and description, should help the search engines understand your content more and therefore help them push it to the right audience. But it really comes down to creating actually engaging content. Even if you can get a short boost in ranking, if no one likes your content, your ranking will fall.

Promoting on Youtube can be incredibly beneficial to ranking higher on your desired search term, but remember to pay attention to how much you are spending and comparing it to how much engagement you are getting. You will find that if you choose the right video, advertising can bring tons of subscribers to your channel. This leads to all of you videos ranking better.


Be the best that you can be, and most of these “ranking” techniques will become easier and even take care of themselves once you create a following.

Author: Chance Bulger

Writer, blogger based in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Yann Keerim
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