Video SEO: How to Rank YouTube Videos for Optimal Views

youtube videos on laptop

Every day, people watch about 250 million hours of video on YouTube. People watch videos for a variety of reasons. They want to learn how to do something, they want to laugh, or they just want to kill some time between appointments.

That presents a huge opportunity if you want to get yourself or your brand out to the masses. In order to do so, though, you have to know how to rank YouTube videos.

There are countless videos uploaded to the video platform every second. You need to brush up on the latest SEO tips for video so your video has a chance to succeed.


Read on to learn how to get your video high in YouTube’s search results.

Why Do People Care?

That’s the question you need to ask yourself before you shoot your first frame. You want to make sure that your video solves a problem and is fun to watch.

Unless you’re posting a spontaneous video of your cat swatting at something or someone making a fool of themselves, you need to give people a good reason to watch your video.

When you ask yourself why people would care, you’re putting the focus on the viewer, not on yourself.

Take the time to plan your video in advance. You can create a mini-script or outline of the key points of the video and what you want to accomplish.

Keyword Research

Just like in SEO for search engines, your success will live and die by the keywords you use and target. You need to do your research to make sure that people are actually searching for the keywords you’re using.

YouTube doesn’t have its own keyword research tool. A lot of the tools that you see online will use numbers from Google’s Keyword Planner.

Hey, it’s the same company and they’re both search engines, so that will work, right?

Not exactly. It’s very much a guessing game if you go this route.

There are a couple of ways you can do your own keyword research. YouTube has a suggest feature, so when you start to type in a keyword, it will give you a number of suggestions. These are all keywords.

The only thing that’s missing is the search volume (number of searches using that phrase). You want to make sure that there’s enough search volume for that keyword. You can turn to Google Trends or a keyword research tool to match the data.

Competitive Research

Once you see how your audience searches for content, you want to see what else is ranking in that search term.

Take a look at those videos and ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many videos are there?
  • Are there well-known content creators in search results?
  • How do these videos help people?
  • Is there something you can do differently in your videos?
  • How would you make these videos better?

YouTube results are largely based on location. If you’re targeting buyers in New York, but are in California, use a VPN with a New York location.

That will help you identify the videos that are ranking in that geographic location.

Engagement Matters More Than You Think

There’s one major difference between SEO for videos and SEO for search engines. That’s engagement.

It’s still debatable whether or not clickthrough rates matter to search engines. For videos, engagement is a must if you want your video to rank high in search engines.

How can you boost engagement? The first step is to get people to click on your video. The next step is to get them to watch the whole video. The third step is to get them to like or comment on the video.

You can get people to click on your video by providing a good cover image that looks professional. Using just a still from your video doesn’t really say what the video is about and can look amateurish.

Your videos must be clear and to the point. You don’t want to stand in front of a camera and go on and on about the same point. At the same time, researchers have found that YouTube rewards content length, with videos lasting about 15 minutes ranking higher in search results.

They don’t need to be produced in a studio, but if you can use good lighting and sound, that will add a level of quality to your videos.

Optimize Your Videos

You really have two jobs when you’re creating YouTube videos. You have to make them so people will watch them. You also have to let YouTube’s algorithm know what your video is about. That’s the core of how to rank YouTube videos.

You know how to get users to watch your videos. How do you tell YouTube what your video is about? You have to use on-page optimization. This means that your search terms and related search terms appear in the title, thumbnail image, video tags, and description.

That doesn’t mean that you should use keyword stuffing to get your keyword to appear as many times as possible. That will bring strikes against your YouTube channel.

Learning How to Rank YouTube Videos

When you’re ready to expand your marketing, video is a great way to do it. Millions of people watch hours upon hours of video to learn, explore, and laugh.

The big trick to working with video is to learn how to rank YouTube videos. When you can do that, you can expand your reach and get your brand out to a wide audience.

That means planning your videos to make sure you’re producing content that people will care about. It also means making sure that you research your keywords and write full descriptions. Finally, you want to make sure that your videos give people a reason to watch the whole thing.

Are you ready for more SEO tips and tricks? Head over to the SEO tutorial on this site to learn all about SEO.