A Beginner’s Guide To Effective YouTube SEO


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We all know that YouTube is the number one avenue for video marketing nowadays. Its rise to prominence has been so monumental that being a YouTuber is a legitimate career nowadays! As always, there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes for a successful YouTube channel. Most importantly, successful YouTube channels need a solid SEO strategy to hit the ground running and gain engagement. Even for veteran SEO analysts, YouTube SEO is untested waters because it is significantly different from conventional SEO practices. Therefore, staying in the loop about the SEO best practices for YouTube is instrumental in elevating your channel to the big leagues. 

The Basics

The world of YouTube can be daunting for new entrants into the field. That’s why we’ve put together a walkthrough for you to learn the ropes of YouTube SEO basics. Right off the bat, you must know what YouTube’s algorithm works slightly differently from that of Google. As you may already know, learning digital marketing fundamentals of the algorithm is step 1 of planning your SEO strategy. But before we get into that, let’s get a better understanding of some YouTube jargon that explains how to rank a YouTube video.

The Talk Of The Trade


These are an integral cog in the organic YouTube SEO circuit. Not only are they a crucial part of what makes viewers click on your video, but it’s also a factor in the YouTube algorithm. 

Viewer Retention

The measure of how many viewers stay and watch your video. It tells YouTube exactly how great your video is. 

Watch Time

It is the cumulative time spent by users watching your channel’s content. Again, this is yet another way for YouTube to assess your channel’s quality and popularity.

Focus Keywords

These are the currency of knowing how to rank your video on YouTube. These are the keywords you want to target when you’re planning the SEO ranking for a video. 

But above all this, the golden word for YouTube SEO is engagement. If you want more views and subscribers, you want a strategy that’s geared around creating more engaging content for your viewers.

The Groundwork

To work on your YouTube SEO, you need to have videos on your channel first. That’s where our SEO journey begins, as always. The key to optimizing the content you post on your YouTube channel is maximizing the value you offer to prospective viewers. Once you know the niche your YouTube channel occupies, it’s time to capitalize on the core points that your target audience will want to see. How does one go about learning what kind of content the YouTube algorithm likes? Let’s look into that before we get into the SEO best practices for YouTube!

Algorithm Analysis

Let’s take a page out of YouTube’s guidelines book here. According to YouTube, here is a list of factors that decide how well your video will do on the platform:

-Query Relevancy

-Title and Description Keywords 

-Engagement Metrics (Comments, Likes, Shares)

-On-page aspects

-In-video aspects

In a nutshell, this is the checklist that you have to keep in mind when you plan your SEO strategies for YouTube. Now, there are plenty of bases to cover when you start your YouTube game. Where can we begin cracking the code to YouTube SEO? How about we start with square one in the SEO best practices for YouTube guidebook? The very first aspect that viewers notice: the video listing!

At First Glance

The first things that people see when they search for your YouTube niche are the title and the thumbnail. These seemingly small and unassuming elements can go a long way in getting more views to your videos. 

What you want to do for your title is to target a focus keyword and play to its strengths. This keyword is what is going to let the YouTube algorithm sit up and take notice of your content. Integrate the keyword into your title seamlessly, without it seeming too clickbaity or forced in any way. 

Your next target is the thumbnail. You’ll need to be adept at design and aesthetics to craft a compelling thumbnail. If you don’t have the skills, apps like Canva and Envato can probably help you. The bottom line is to incorporate elements in your thumbnail that are relevant to the core objective of your video. It’s always advisable to have text in the thumbnail, usually keywords that you can target for better ranking. If you’re going to grab eyeballs on YouTube, do it subtly and simply!

Last but not least, don’t forget to account for the initial words of the description that comes with your YouTube video! On browser sessions, this snippet of text will also be visible in the search window. Therefore, start your description texts strong and inform the audience right from the get-go!

The Keywords

One of the SEO best practices for YouTube is concise keyword research. As you might expect, there are great tools out there to help you with keyword research. Some are free; some are freemium. However, the most straightforward keyword research tool at your disposal is right there on the search bar. All you have to do is type the keyword you’re targeting, and you’ll have an insight into the most popular keywords at the moment. On YouTube, it’s all about the here and now. If something is going on in the world, the right time to post a video about it is now. Tomorrow, it will be yesterday’s news. So make haste and capitalise on the current trends!

Watch What You Post

YouTube SEO isn’t just about the accompaniments that come with your video. It’s also about what you put in the video itself. Yes, YouTube closely watches what’s inside every video too, so you can’t cheese the system by just focusing on titles and keywords. Here are a few guidelines to set you on the right track of knowing how to rank a YouTube video. 

Video length

As a rule of thumb, YouTube likes longer videos. For a ballpark estimate, you can keep your video around 12-20 minutes for optimum rankings. The SEO benefit from this is that longer videos = longer watch time, on average at least. Beyond this, you’ll also be getting the direct use of more ad revenue on longer videos, so there’s that!

Content Cards

The text you put inside a video also matters. Here, the trick is to insert your target keywords seamlessly into the video content. Traditionally, the best place to put those keywords is the opening and end cards, because that’s where the viewers usually congregate. 


Remember, your video isn’t just a standalone piece. It’s a part of the YouTube SEO puzzle. Therefore, you must make an effort to interlink everything within your video content. Have a call-out to a link in the description to redirect traffic to that section. Most importantly, don’t forget to sign off with a compelling CTA that convinces people to hit that subscribe button! You will also want to pepper keywords inside the description of the video, to boost your rankings further. 

Game of Tags

Though not a part of the video itself, the tags you use are just as crucial to your rankings. For those who don’t know, tags are the three hashtags you usually see on a YouTube video’s title. You only get three, but if you use them wisely, your video can gain a lot more traction! If you need help, look at what other people in your same niche are using as tags. It can’t hurt to have a leg up over the competition!

The Scripts

Though we may not use it often, having closed captions posted and ready to go is supremely beneficial. It sends the YouTube algorithm a signal that your video contains quality content. With transcripts, it’s almost always better to write them out yourself, because auto-generated captions on YouTube are not exactly high-quality. Additionally, you can stand to benefit from having translation options onboard the video. This multilingual option guarantees that your video will show up in other people’s search rankings across languages too!

These factors sound simple on paper. However, you will learn how to rank a YouTube video only through practice! So don’t hesitate to take the plunge and start orchestrating a YouTube video according to the best practices for YouTube!

The Stats Equation

Like it or not, YouTube search rankings are all about the numbers game! In that regard, YouTube’s Google Analytics is your best friend. However, there are more layers to the YouTube SEO equation than that. Let’s get acquainted with the specifics of YouTube SEO!

The Toolbox

You have to understand that knowing the analytics of your videos requires a 360-degree approach from all fronts. Most budding Youtubers usually only observe the metrics such as the CTR and overall watch time. However, it pays to take note of every single metric that the dashboard shows you. Meet the YouTube analytics tool, which is a companion piece to the more popular Google Analytics. How can it help you elevate your YouTube channel? Let’s find out!

YouTube Analytics

Nothing helps you better on the SEO best practices for YouTube than YouTube Analytics itself. This nifty tool is your gateway to understanding your audience better. For starters, let’s get you acquainted with some of the basic statistics that you should observe on this platform. 


What age range your audience occupies. This statistic also tells you the type of people who flock to watch your content. Consequently, you can know your target audience better and tailor your content and approach accordingly. 

Channel Traffic

This metric is yet another vital factor to consider when you’re assessing your channel’s performance. The traffic statistic gives you an idea about where your audience is landing on your channel and videos. If you know where they come from, it’s a piece of cake to explore and optimise your channel to drive maximum traffic to your page and videos!

Viewer/subscriber Ratio

One metric that is an absolute godsend in terms of channel growth assessment is the V/S ratio. YouTube analytics can show you with precision which video viewers are subscribers. This metric is so precise that it can show you which video got you the subscription for a particular user! If your viewers are higher than your subscribers, then you’re falling behind in the department of converting views to subscriptions. Au contraire, if your subscribers are the only views you’re getting, it is an early sign that your channel is beginning to stagnate. Keep a close eye on this statistic to keep your channel flying high!

Google Analytics rounds out this kit by providing additional insights into how your YouTube presence ranks from a search perspective. If you want to know how to rank a YouTube video, however, you might be needing even more firepower in the insights department. 

As is usually the case, both free and freemium tools exist in cyberspace to help you track your YouTube stats better. Listing them all here is beyond the scope of this beginner’s article. What you should know, however, is that these tools can help you by filtering metrics even more precisely. Through thorough analysis, you can narrow your performance down to the very last like, share and comment that your video got! Don’t hesitate to experiment with these tools and switch things up a little!

Starting The Journey

As a parting note, we’ve got a few tips for you to prep you for your YouTube journey. These tips may be simple, but they go a long way! and need to focus on new digital marketing techniques that help in increasing your channel branding

– Share your videos on your other platforms. It keeps the traffic flow healthy and your YouTube channel active!

– Encourage your viewers to comment on the videos you post.

– Give shoutouts to your previous videos to give them a little boost in traction.

– Use your Community Page to interact with your audience directly through polls and the like.

– Last but not least, keep your content consistent and keep your audience engaged!

The SEO best practices for YouTube may seem like a daunting prospect to learn, but it’s straightforward when you know the ropes and takes the plunge! Are you ready to start your journey as a YouTuber?


The best way to optimize your videos for YouTube Search is to note the keywords in the search bar and tailor your title and thumbnail accordingly.

What is an easy way to optimize my YouTube channel in 2020?

Pay close attention to YouTube analytics and channel performance. Know where your audience is coming from and which videos are popular among them.

Does YouTube help with SEO?

YouTube can actually be an integral cog in the SEO machine if you play your cards right. It can be a significant source of organic traffic for your brand online.

How can I rank YouTube videos in 2020?

Knowing how to rank YouTube videos in 2020 is a matter of knowing the trends and driving more traffic to your channel through cross-promotion.

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Digital Scholar

Digital Scholar is a premier agency-styled digital marketing institute in India. Which offers an online digital marketing course and a free digital marketing course worldwide to elevate their digital skills and become industry experts. Digital Scholar is headed by Sorav Jain and co-founder Rishi Jain, who are pioneers in the field of digital marketing. Digital Scholar’s blogs touch upon numerous aspects of digital marketing and help you get intensive ideas of different domains of digital marketing.

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