A complete SEO guide for YouTube

You’ve probably heard of the wonders of YouTube ads. In fact, you may have seen these good things in action on your own marketing strategy! But don’t you want a more cost-effective way to connect with your YouTube audience?

Well, there is. And this is called organic content.

I know it sounds a little scary to some. You might think that with 500 hours of live action and animated video content uploading to the platform every minute, there’s no way people can find your videos in this ocean of content. How the hell are you going to drive clicks to your tracks and away from others?

Well, just like any other search engine – with SEO strategy in place! Which is what brings us here today.

We want to show you how to create a YouTube SEO strategy that puts your videos at the top of the results pages. Once you’re done reading, you’ll know the inside of the great strategy for optimizing keywords and content on YouTube. Are you ready to get started?


Research your potential keywords

Keyword research helps determine which terms the audience is looking for the most. As for YouTube, there are several cost-effective ways you can accomplish this task:

View search suggestions

Yes, so simple. The keywords that YouTube offers as suggestions for completing your search can be a great starting point for your SEO strategy, as they are the most searched terms. So, choose a broad keyword related to your content and see what YouTube users are looking for!

You can always learn from the mistakes and achievements of others. That’s why we suggest you take a closer look at a channel with a target audience similar to yours. Pay special attention to which keywords and topics work for them and which do not arouse much interest among the audience.

While you’re at it, watch how your audience responds to the channel’s content (does it enjoy animation or prefer live action? Do they respond better to educational or fun content?). Regardless of SEO, this information can help you refine your strategy on YouTube without going through many trials and errors.

If you already have a few keywords in mind, Google Trends is the tool for you. This handy platform allows you to research the search volume of specific keywords on YouTube. The great part is that you can also use it for Google and all you need to do is sign up!

Choose your ideal keywords

The moment you complete your research, you will find yourself with a list of different keywords. Looking at them, you will notice that the simplest and shortest keywords are more popular than those that are quite specific. Your first instinct may be to agree with these popular ones, but you need to think about the latter.

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You see, these keywords are usually too general. When you search for them, millions of results come out. This turns into millions of videos that compete with yours for audience attention.

On the other hand, longer and more specific terms – often known as long queued keywords – give less results, so they involve less competition from the SERP.

Of course, fewer people search for these keywords, but you can use this to your advantage. If your video is inspired by a specific keyword with long queues, you can ensure that viewers searching for that term find exactly what they’re looking for in your video. You will have a slightly smaller audience, but also a more engaged one, as they are likely to click on your video.

time to put them into operation

It’s time to activate your keywords!

Once you’ve chosen your ideal keywords, it’s time to put them into action. In general, you should include your keywords in your video metadata so that YouTube crawlers can identify what your content is about. Let’s see the elements you need to optimize at this stage:

The title

You decide which keywords to put in your title, but remember that there is one thing you can’t leave out of this place: your focus keyword.

This is the professional way to call up your main keyword – the one that represents your video the most and whose searches are of particular interest to you.

The thing is that the title of the video affects not only SEO in terms of keywords. It also plays a big role in yours Clickthrough rate, which is another vital factor that YouTube ‘s algorithm takes into account. For this reason, you need to create a title that is compelling enough for the audience to click on.

The description

The description box gives you enough space to write short text about your video while using the keywords you choose. This helps YouTube robots identify what your video is about and search for it.

It also helps the viewer decide whether to click on your video or continue scrolling down the results page. After all, remember that the first few lines are viewed in the YouTube SERP, so the beginning of your description can affect the clickthrough rate of your video and therefore its SEO.

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The transcript

The transcript is a text file that contains any dialogue or story mentioned in your video. Why does it matter? Because YouTube robots are not yet able to process audiovisual content, they can go through text.

Simply put, if you pair your video with a transcript – whether it’s human-written, speech recognition software, or both – the words you mention in your video can be counted as keywords. This results in heavier and more varied keyword densities.

Want a little professional advice? Mention your keyword for focus in the first 15 seconds of your video and discover the full SEO potential of your transcript.

Optimize your content for SEO

You probably think that search engine optimization is one of the last steps in a video marketing campaign. It makes sense – ultimately SEO plays a role in the distribution of the video through YouTube or other digital channels. But you may be surprised if you know that a great SEO video strategy begins in the script.

For starters, keyword research can act as inspiration for the theme of the video. After all, keyword search volume shows that your audience is organically interested in a topic, so what better way to connect with it than by turning to that topic?

However, there are other ways in which your video script affects your ranking on the YouTube SERP. Let’s look at them:

The length of the script

YouTube’s SEO algorithm has a soft spot for longer videos, and it’s not hard to see why: these videos make the audience go to the platform longer! In addition, long videos are often associated with quality content, as many – quite logically – assume that a lot of effort has been made to produce it.

It’s important to know how the length of your video affects your SERP ranking, but don’t let that fool you into stretching your video just to make it long. There are many other factors that also affect your SEO, such as viewing time, likes and shares – all elements that can be set if your video spends too much time revolving around empty content.

youtube-takes-into-account-when-defining-the ranking of your videos

The introduction

Here’s another factor that YouTube takes into account when ranking your video: Audience retention, an indicator that means how long viewers watch your video.

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The ideal scenario would be for most viewers to stay until the very end. This is easier said than done, but not impossible. You just have to learn how to keep your audience in the beginning.

You can start by mentioning or hinting at what they will gain by watching the entire video. This value should match your title, description, and thumbnail – remember that viewers clicked on your video in anticipation.


Videos that lead to new subscribers and heaps of comments, likes, and shares tend to perform better on the SERP.

This is probably the most challenging factor for SEO on YouTube, as you can’t control how people engage with your video. Having said that, you can influence their decisions by encouraging them to leave comments, likes, subscriptions and sharing. That’s why it’s so important to include CTA in your YouTube video script.

How much CTA? It depends a lot on the length of your video, but to give you an idea, you’ll find three CTAs of 10 to 20-minute videos: one placed at the end of the introduction, another half of the video, and a last at the very end.

Words of separation

YouTube SERP’s number one ranking may seem limited to longtime YouTube users, home businesses, or cute cat videos. But in fact, anyone can get to this valuable place only by taking the right SEO moves.

You can start by lowering your ambitions and focusing on long-queued keywords instead of general ones. Yes, you would be targeting a smaller group of YouTube users, but they would be looking for exactly what you have to offer! Therefore, they would be more likely to click on your video.

You also need to consider the clickthrough rate, as it is a vital element of any YouTube SEO strategy. So as you tweak the keywords in the title and description, take the chance to make those elements more appealing to your audience.

Last but not least, don’t consider SEO as a follow-up thought. You need to consider SEO factors in the early stages of your video production, especially when writing the script.

At the end of the day, people won’t enjoy your video unless they can’t find it. And with an endless array of content competing to get YouTube’s attention, you need to make sure your video gets the most visibility possible.

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