A Complete Guide to Video SEO for YouTube

Last Updated on March 8, 2022

YouTube is not only a social network; it’s THE video social network. On top of that, YouTube is the second largest search engine. If we match those statements with the rise of video as the most engaging content around, optimizing every video to rank on YouTube is a no brainer.

In this article we are going to create a complete step-by step guide with everything that needs to be done to optimize a video and rank it on YouTube.

Let’s start with the topics:


Why your business needs to be on Youtube 

First of all, YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. In 2018, almost 5 billion videos are watched on Youtube every single day. On the other hand, businesses must be where the users are active. And if the total number of daily users is 30+ million, there’s no doubt that your target audience is waiting for your video content on this channel. Also, Wyzowl statistics affirm that 79% of consumers prefer watching video to reading about a product. This means that your business can achieve more engagement with your audience by using video as your main source for communicating your message.


Keyword research

The first step before ranking any of your video content is to search for the terms and keywords. These terms and keywords must be directly linked with the content itself. You must make sure that any search term/sentence already has YouTube video results. There are even tools that can help you generate keywords and search terms.

As an example, we can name Google Keyword Planner. At least, if you don’t want to use any tools, you can check your keywords by simply typing them into Google’s search engine. Once you do this, make sure that YouTube videos appear in the results. If they do, you know that that specific keyword works for YouTube videos.


Optimizing video elements

 Watching Youtube videos on smartphone

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Using keywords for SEO purposes

Using Keywords search terms are all about driving organic traffic to your video channel. As we mentioned before, every keyword that you choose must already have organic results on Google. There are many types of Keywords that you could use so choose them wisely according to your video content: market-defining keywords, customer defining keywords, product keywords, industry through leaders, competing company names, Related vertical keywords, geo targeted key words. Although, long tail keywords are the most effective, as they are a long phrase that contains the specific keyword you’re searching for.



As Keywords, Tags are key for SEO purposes Tags are included in keywords. This is what makes a video searchable and suggested. It’s important to be effective when choosing tags, as these must be related to your content. Also, you must use only those that are necessary, strategic, and relevant. You’re going to have more than one video, so it’s normal that one or two tags appear repeatedly. But it is also important that every video has its own unique tags.


Video description

A video description is brief information that allows viewers to have an initial perspective on what your video is all about. As tags, this also helps your video to be searchable and suggested. In the search results, the first two lines of your video description are shown, so be strategic in the use of these initial lines. You can even add your keywords or website. The video description is also used as a call to action, as you can add subscription buttons, or make your users check out other videos, or include timestamps.



As thumbnails, titles are the first thing that catch the attention of your potential viewers. This means that both elements must complement each other. The content of your video must respond to your title. If there’s no link between both, your users are going to drop-off, and you can potentially lose credibility.

So always be coherent when choosing the right video title and thumbnail for your content. You must also include your keywords in your title. To understand and develop the most effective titles you can pick several topics that are closely related to your industry. Then find videos, blogs, and articles that deal with those subjects. With this strategy, your social media profiles won’t be filled with a random mix of irrelevant topics

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Thumbnails are custom images that help viewers choose what to watch. These must have good quality and be intriguing. As thumbnails must adapt to different devices, these are usually a close-up image to guarantee a clear visualization. If you want to add text, it must reflect your main subject, be clear, use big letters, and cause a visual impact.


Video creation

 Recording a new video for youtube

What the best types of videos to rank on Youtube are

The best types of videos that rank on YouTube are the ones that are funny, emotional, and educational. Users prefer receiving, an explanatory video or an animated video about your how your product or service is used or its features instead of content about your product itself.

Animated videos are great for developing engagement with your audience. There are many different styles of animated videos such as: whiteboard videos, screencast videos, cartoon style or motion graphics. Videos must reflect the unique identity of your brand so that it stands out against your competitors and so it’s recognizable for your audience.


How long should the video be?

Vidyard Benchmark Report says that 56% of all videos published in the last year are less than 2 minutes long. This means that your key message must be clear and listened to in less than 2 minutes. If you need to get deeper on one specific theme, you can strategically make different videos that allow your audience to have different information about one subject. This means more traffic on your channel and of course, more views.


How to hook the audience

In the first place, the thumbnails and the title must generate expectation from your viewers. And these expectations must be fulfilled by effective and clear content. Another tip is to tease the content at the beginning of the video, so that users have a general understanding and impact on what the video is all about. And most important of all, generate engagement with your users by establishing an emotional connection with them.


What’s the most important segment of the video?

The first 15 seconds of your video are crucial to develop engagement and fidelity with your users. These 15 seconds are for setting the hook of your video so that your viewers are attracted to your content and keep watching. Remember that if you advertise your video, viewers are obligated to watch the first few seconds from your video. So the information that you show is crucial to avoid skipping to the content that they initially wanted to watch.

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How to create a video for audience retention

The measurement of how much of a video someone watches on YouTube is called audience retention.By understanding audience drop off you can have an insight on why they left. This answers to which content plus moment made them lose interest in your video. This allows you to modify your video in case of a crucial error, like for example, making it shorter. Absolute Audience Retention report shows how much of a video your users watched or re-watched. This information is key to the development of more effective content.


Call to Action

Video SEO

The call to action must always be present in all your videos. For example, encourage users at the end of your video to subscribe to your channel. You can even add a call to action overlay on your video settings to redirect users to other videos from your channel.



Playlists are a powerful feature related to your content strategy. These are the foundation for organizing your content. There are two types of playlists, the fist one is the series playlist, which is used for sequential videos. On the other hand, there are ordinary playlists, which help with organizing videos into a specific theme. You can also add specific keywords related to your playlist.


YouTube Channel branding

Your YouTube Channel Design must respond to your brand identity. Every content that you upload must respond to it, so that users can recognize you as a brand. Another eye-catching resource is the YouTube Channel Trailer. This is great for grabbing user’s attention, giving them a general understanding of your channel theme, and incorporating subscribers.


Final Thoughts

As new forms of digital marketing are appearing, the digital industry is making every business adapt to their changes. This means that If you want your communication strategy to succeed, you must be present in multiple channels with effective and engaging content to build users loyalty.

As YouTube is the second biggest search engine, there’s no doubt about the importance of integrating this channel into your digital marketing plan. Every element from this guide matters to get results when it comes to watch time, exponential growth, and engagement development.

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