For some time now you've been posting videos on YouTube, the world-renowned online home of video.

A great idea, since your target audience is probably there: YouTube has 2 billion users worldwide every month, which represents almost a third of the world's traffic. Not bad.

Although,  you've noticed that your videos are struggling to make their way up the search rankings, and aren't gaining as much visibility as you'd like.

How about taking a moment to understand how SEO works on YouTube so that you can apply these best practices? Find out everything you need to finally get your YouTube strategy off the ground.

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YouTube SEO: how does the algorithm work?

Unless you're directing your video strategy from a cave in a remote mountain range, you'll probably know that YouTube belongs to the web giant, Google. Good news: if you know a little about how the Google algorithm works, you already know the basics of YouTube SEO.

There are 3 key elements to keep in mind when it comes to referencing content on YouTube:

  1. Keywords. These guide users' searches on the platform, but they also allow you to reference your videos in the Google search results themselves, in the "Videos" tab, and sometimes at the top of the "All" tab, in a video carousel.
  2. The time spent watching your videos. It's a fact: the more users watch your YouTube videos, the more your channel goes up in the results and in the personalized recommendations, in the right-hand bar.
  3. Engagement. Liking, commenting and sharing your videos significantly increases their visibility.

With these these 3 key elements in mind, let's now set out to conquer the world of YouTube, thanks to 3 simple steps!

Step 1: Find the right keywords for Youtube

Just like with your natural ranking on search engines, it all starts with the search for relevant keywords. Naturally, the right keywords can optimize the SEO of your Youtube videos.

2 simple and complimentary methods can be used to achieve this:

  • Select keywords that accumulate an appealing number of searches per month, using tools such as Google Keyword Planner or UberSuggest. Although this is the number of searches on Google, it gives you an idea of the interest of your keyword for your targets. And since YouTube is considered the second most popular search engine in the world, it's likely that a proportion of your target audience will type these phrases directly into YouTube.
  • Find keyword ideas with the YouTube auto-complete search function. Start typing your keyword in the search bar and see what recommendations appear. These are based on users' recurring searches, and can feed into your YouTube video strategy.

Using these two methods, find a keyword that's relevant to the topic you're addressing in your content, and optimize your video around that phrase using the following steps.

Want to know more about YouTube tools? Don't miss our article!

Step 2: Create your video with SEO in mind  

The optimization of your YouTube SEO starts as soon as you start creating your video content. You'll see that certain elements can really make a difference, even during the shooting and editing phases!

Say your keyword in the video

Warning: Google is watching you! Or rather, Google is listening to you. It's well known that saying your chosen SEO keyword during the video (either in the footage or later integrated as a voice-over) can help you optimize the video's visibility when it's posted.

Why? Simply because YouTube has an automatic captioning (subtitling) feature. Youtube can, therefore, "read" the transcript of your video, and classify it in the results according to the words that are featured.

So think about integrating a rich vocabulary that revolves around this keyword or keyphrase when writing your video script.

Engage your target audience

Wondering why YouTubers keep calling on their communities to "give a thumbs up" or to leave a comment? It's simple: all signs of engagement (likes, shares, comments) boost SEO on YouTube.

Without begging for likes (this can be somewhat offputting if it's too blatant), invite users to express their opinions of your videos in the comments, or to give a 'thumbs up' if they enjoyed the viewing experience.

Put some thought into the intro and the outro

The intro and the outro are key elements of a successful video and they require some special attention in the editing process, why not give a try to our free online youtube video editor ?

  • Your intro should be short and punchy. In just a few seconds, you want your audience to be hooked and to have noticed your brand name or logo (which should appear in a not-too-intrusive way, of course)
  • Your outro (the final 20 or so seconds of your video) should be dedicated to a call-to-action. Remember to include a neutral background to include an end screen: you'll find out why in the next section.

PlayPlay Pro tip

Discover a list of corporate Youtube video ideas and our online free outro maker. Also, always keep a close eye on the viewing statistics of your videos in your Youtube Studio dashboard. If you find that your audience is not sticking around for the duration of your videos, consider shortening your videos so that they accumulate more viewing time.

Integrate subtitles into your video

Many people watch videos on the internet without the sound enabled. This is particularly the case when your YouTube videos are shared on other platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter...): by default, they are start playing without sound (when the autoplay function is enabled.)

So, include subtitles in your video to make sure your audience can understand it wherever or however they are watching it, even without sound. Wouldn't it be a shame to miss out on increased viewing time for your videos just because they're not subtitled?

YouTube offers the option to automatically generate subtitles for your videos, or to import subtitles in a file format. While this feature can save you a lot of time, it's recommended that you embed your subtitles directly into your video when you're editing it before the upload. Your video creation tool should allow you to do this in a simple way, as PlayPlay certainly does. PlayPlay has even launched its own automatic subtitling feature, which can halve the time it takes to create a great video. Handy, huh?

They will then be displayed automatically, regardless of the platform your video is viewed on, and the text will be adapted to your company's graphic designs. Clever, isn't it?

Step 3: Optimize your YouTube metadata

So your video has now been recorded and edited with YouTube SEO best practices in mind? Now, go to your Youtube Studio, where you will be able to optimize the metadata of your videos and improve their overall visibility.

Here is a checklist of elements to optimize, and some best practices to make your video gain natural reach:

  • The title of your video. This must not only include your sacred keyword, but also encourage the click. Avoid the click-bait effect by giving a dynamic title that actually represents the content of your video. No need to disappoint your targets: you will pay for it by losing your audience very quickly (and your own credibility!)
  • The description of your video. This should give an overview of what to expect from content, while including your keyword in a natural way. Also be sure to include two or three hashtags: these hashtags increase the overall visibility of the video on the platform, allowing it to be found more easily via these #keywords.
  • Tags. These are small keywords that allow you to reference your video in the YouTube search engine. Did you spot any interesting keywords when going through Step 1? It's time to integrate them as tags!
  • The end screen. It's recommended that you add components to your end screen, such as a link to subscribe to your channel, "suggested videos" or a link to your latest video. These will increase your audience's overall viewing time as well as their engagement with your related content.
  • Cards. These are are pre-formatted notifications that pop-up during your video, which you can set up to promote your brand and other videos that feature on your channel. A card is convenient because it gives the viewer an option to click, but it disappears from their view if they choose not to. Cards can be placed in conjunction with a scripted call-to-action or at a moment in the video where you mention your other content, for example.
  • The video thumbnail. This image should invite the click in order to generate more views, therefore it has an indirect influence on your YouTube SEO. Create a personalized thumbnail, with a quote from your video interview, for example, or a key theme of your latest videocast, or an intriguing key figure from your corporate video.
youtube organic search optimization

PlayPlay Pro tip
For an optimal YouTube video thumbnail, follow the recommended technical specs for the platform:

  • Formats JPG, GIF or PNG
  • 1280 x 720 px
  • 2MB maximum
  • Aspect ratio 16:9

Find out more about Youtube video formats.

Want one last tip to boost your YouTube SEO? Post your videos as often as possible, in as many different places as possible. The more views you get on your videos, the more the Youtube algorithm will bring to the top of the pile.

Youtube SEO optimization's actually kinda simple, don't you think?

Want to build up your YouTube knowledge? Then don't miss our article on YouTube B2B best practices and how to post a YouTube video on Instagram.