YouTube SEO Tips:

The Secret Sauce
to Ranking Your Videos in 2021

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The Secret Sauce
to Ranking Your
Videos in 2021

YouTube SEO Tips:

Last modified on 24/12/2020

Most SEO techniques focus on optimising for a handful of search engines alone. After all, the basis of SEO is ‘search engines’, right? But SEO in 2021 and beyond requires us to rethink our very concept of search engines in order to rank for them. Google might be the undisputed king in this realm, but YouTube closely follows as the second largest search engine in the world. To grow your organic traffic, marketers cannot afford to ignore YouTube SEO.

But why is this platform so important?

Growth of YouTube in India

At the YouTube Brandcast 2018event, incredible statistics emerged about just how quickly YouTube is picking up in India. There are currently around 225 million active Indian users on YouTube, with this number expected to increase to 500 million by 2021. Interestingly, this platform’s popularity spans across age groups, languages and regions. 60 percent of videos are watched by audiences outside the top 6 cities in India. Brands are also increasingly switching to YouTube ads from traditional media. These numbers prove that a strong SEO strategy today also includes a comprehensive YouTube plan.

So how do you get started on raking in thousands of video views and ranking higher for your videos through YouTube SEO?

Here are eight helpful YouTube SEO tips that you can start implementing immediately!

Be a Keyword research ninja

You can’t rank your videos without choosing the right keywords! Learn the art of generating the right keywords for your videos.

SEO for Google and YouTube have a fair number of techniques in common. The first step, the foundation of all SEO practices, is keyword research. Just like for Google, when you are selecting the right keywords to use, you need to check for search volume.

There are a few methods to find this value without using any complicated tools.

Do a YouTube search for your topic

The search bar is arguably the best YouTube SEO tool when you are conducting your keyword research. All you need to do is enter the key phrase of your topic into the search bar and wait for YouTube to throw up recommendations based on it.

Each of the suggestions that YouTube gives you is a keyword. These are phrases that other users are actively looking for. You can safely bank on these terms as popular keywords you can use for your video.

Do competitor research

Is there another video in your genre around a similar topic that has been able to garner thousands of views? You can do a quick research on the keywords that they are using to understand what got them so far. This is one of the best YouTube SEO tips as it can help you create a strategy of your own.

To scope out the keywords your competitors are using, there are three places you need to look in:

  • Title
  • Video description
  • Tags

Look for certain terms that keep repeating in these three places. Those terms will be the keywords you need to optimise your video for.

Install vidIQ: the best YouTube SEO tool

If you are looking for a powerful YouTube SEO tool that can do all of this for you,vidIQ is the answer. This tool is available as an extension and can give you complete insights into YouTube SEO stats at a glance. It helps you find out what tags and keywords your competitors are targeting, so you can optimise your videos for them too.

Keyword competitiveness: Be a big fish in a small pond

Are you being too ambitious with your choice of keywords? Find out how competitive the keywords you have chosen are.

As any SEO expert knows, volume alone doesn’t tell you whether a certain keyword is worth going after. Keyword competitiveness tells you about the difficulty of a certain keyword and your chances of ranking for it. For a new channel, in particular, this is very important as you are still building authority.

Finding out the difficulty of ranking for a particular keyword is very simple.

Check number of results

You can get an idea of the difficulty of a certain keyword by looking at how many results YouTube throws up for it. This number is relative, so there will not be a clear benchmark that you need to look out for. The basic principle of this technique is that a very high number of results means that your video is unlikely to show up on the first page (especially if you are a new channel). Enter a few variations of your main topic to see which one of them has a results volume you can realistically rank for.

Produce engaging videos your audience will be glued to

‘Audience Retention’ is one of the most important YouTube ranking factors. Learn how to create powerful videos your audience won’t want to stop watching.

You can add all the keywords you want, but viewers aren’t going to stay on your videos unless they love the content. ‘Audience Retention’ is a key metric by which YouTube decides to rank videos. Simply put, the longer people stay on your videos, the higher your chances of ranking for it. The good news is, you don’t need to invest a huge amount in equipment and software to produce videos your audience will love. Your main focus needs to be delivering content that is useful.

A few basic things you will need to get started on building an excellent YouTube channel are:

  • A good quality camera (even a phone camera) which you can mount on a tripod.
  • A decent background that doesn’t distract from the main focus of your video. You can even hang a neutral backdrop behind you if you can’t find a good background.
  • A microphone for better audio quality. These come in many different price points, so you can choose one that best suits your budget.

With just this minimal investment, you can create videos that look premium and high-quality.

Great titles and descriptions: the seeds for organic growth

Titles and descriptions are not just for Google. Having click-worthy titles and descriptions is what will give your videos a boost.

Now that you have the keywords you want to rank for, how do you use them? Here too, the basic principles hold true for YouTube SEO tips as well. Just like you would insert keywords into your titles and content, you will need to enter your keywords into certain strategic places:

  • Video title
  • Video description
  • Video tags

Apart from helping you rank higher, adding keywords in these places can improve your CTR. When viewers see the keywords they are searching for in your title, they are more likely to feel compelled to actually click on it. Since a high CTR can also affect your ranking on YouTube, this gives you more of a reason to make strategic use of your keywords.

Video descriptions don’t affect your YouTube SEO directly as the algorithm doesn’t really pay attention to them. However, since they can help you show up in the ‘Related Videos’ section of YouTube, you still need to use them. Make sure that your descriptions are at least 250 words long and the keywords have been added at least 4 times.

Apart from these three places, there’s a fourth place where YouTube looks for your keyword: your script. Since YouTube transcribes all your videos, saying your keyword multiple times can help it understand that your content is highly relevant.

Are your thumbnails saying ‘Click Me’ or ‘Leave Me’?

You only get one first impression. Make it count with the right thumbnail.

Are you using an auto-generated video still by YouTube as your thumbnail? If you are, then you are probably not getting a very high CTR. Your video’s thumbnail is the first visual audiences get of your video. It tells them what to expect from the video and influences their decision about whether to watch it or not. Because of this, a customised thumbnail can work much better than a default image will.

Some of the best practices for creating a YouTube thumbnail include:

  • Add your title in the thumbnail and make sure it’s easy to read.
  • Have a standard style (including font, design and title placement) that you use in all your videos. This can help with branding your channel.

  • Choose an impactful image. This should create an impression on audiences and compel them to click on it. Don’t be afraid to be controversial as it can make viewers curious about the content of your video.

With these tips, your CTR should soon hit the roof!

Comments and shares: Get your audience to show you some love

Encourage your viewers to comment and share your videos. But how do you do that? Read on to know more.

What’s the biggest indicator to YouTube that your video content is relevant and useful? People actively engaging with it. A study by Backlinko on the impact of comments and shares on YouTube videos found that there was a very high correlation between the number of comments and the rank of the video. So if you want your videos to rank higher, you need to get people to leave comments underneath them.

Sometimes, viewers will leave a comment without any prompting, simply because they really liked the video. If you are a new channel and are still trying to build your presence, however, you can’t rely on this alone. You need to specifically ask your viewers to comment and share if you want to see results. You can also ask a question in your video and ask viewers to add a comment with their replies. Of course, the first step for this to work is to create excellent content. If viewers don’t like your videos, they aren’t going to comment or share no matter how much you ask them to.

Don’t fear rejection: Ask people to subscribe

The more subscribers you have, the higher your chances of ranking. Know more about the best ways to get more subscribers.

Like comments and shares, the number of subscribers your channel has also gives YouTube an idea of how good your videos are. But more than the number of subscribers alone, the point at which they subscribe can influence your rankings. YouTube SEO places greater emphasis on subscribes at the end of a video more than at any other point. This is because it tells the algorithm that people liked your video so much that they were willing to subscribe to your channel after watching.

Like getting comments, the best way to get people to subscribe to channel is also to simply ask them. At the end of your video, ask your viewers to subscribe to your channel if they enjoyed your video. This gives them a clear action to take after watching it. Plus, if they liked your video enough to watch till the very end, chances are they will be willing to subscribe.

Size matters: Find your optimal video length

Do longer videos or shorter videos work best for you? Find out what Google has to say about video length and ranking.

With written content, such as blogs, it’s simple. The longer your content, the higher your chances of ranking for it. YouTube SEO, however, it isn’t as predictable.

The optimal video length on YouTube isn’t set in stone. In general, the highest ranked videos on YouTube are long. However, this doesn’t mean that short videos don’t work at all. In some cases, for specific topics, shorter videos can even work better than longer ones. The ideal video duration can also vary depending upon your target audience. The key is to find the length that works best for you and for your channel. You can do this by uploading videos of varying lengths and then analysing which one gave you the best results.

Turn up the amp: More amplification=Higher views

Identify the right mix of social media platforms to reach out to your audience.

Simply uploading a video onto your channel and waiting for it to produce results won’t work. To help your videos perform better, you also need to amplify them. Choose a mix of platforms that will work best for your topic and target audience. Once you have identified them, it’s time to start sharing it on them.

Amplifying your videos can be done in a number of ways. You can share them on LinkedIn and Facebook, add the link to them on your Quora answers and even promote them using Google Adwords.

Bonus Tip: One of the best places to embed your videos is on your blog. This will give you the dual edge of increasing your video views and improving rankings for your blogs. Google’s Rankbrain uses ‘dwell time’ as one of the most important factors for ranking your pages. If a user spends more time on your page, it tells Google that your content is very good, which can boost your position. Embedding a video in your blog posts can encourage users to play it, increasing the time spent on your page.

These YouTube SEO tips will help you take full advantage of the huge potential that YouTube offers for brands. Whether you are a real estate, BFSI or FMCG giant or a small business, this platform can help you gain higher visibility and build a strong customer base.


How do I optimize my SEO on YouTube?

To start ranking your videos on YouTube, here are a few things you should implement: 1. Use your primary keyword in your title, description and tags 2. Create a customised thumbnail to attract more viewers. 3. Ask people to subscribe to your video at the end as this acts as a signal to YouTube that your video is useful. For more tips on YouTube SEO, scroll up!

How do you rank high on YouTube?

Ranking on YouTube and getting higher views isn't impossible! Some of the important things to keep in mind while optimising your videos for YouTube are: 1. Choosing keywords carefully to be able to rank for them 2. Using powerful titles and captivating thumbnails to encourage more clicks 3. Encouraging comments and shares to gain more views and higher authority. For a complete list of YouTube SEO tips, read our blog!

How can I increase my YouTube channel traffic?

Increasing traffic to your YouTube channel can be done in two broad ways: 1. Choosing competitive keywords so your video can start ranking for those queries and 2. Adding engaging content to encourage people to click on them. This can be done by using a customised thumbnail, writing an interesting title and adding a detailed and informative description.

How many tags can a YouTube video have?

YouTube allows you to use as many tags as you want. However the character count of all these tags together cannot exceed 500 characters.

How do you see a YouTube videos tags?

You can easily find out what tags other videos are using through plugins like vidIQ. When you add this plug in to your browser, it will give you a detailed analysis of the video, including tags used.

What do the tags do on YouTube?

Tags are a very important ranking factor for YouTube. It helps YouTube decide the most relevant results to display for search queries. This is why it's very important to use your keywords in the tags as it can help your videos rank.

How do I optimize my YouTube channel?

Here are a few useful things you can do to optimise your channel: 1. Update your 'About Us' section to give both viewers and YouTube a better understanding of who you are 2. Add relevant channel tags to help YouTube understand what kind of queries to display your videos for. 3. Add a short channel trailer to encourage more subscribers.

Does refreshing YouTube videos increase views?

If you watch more than 20% of a video and then refresh the page, it does count as a new view. However, this only works until you've reached 300 views. After this, the platform's algorithm will be able to detect that these views are coming from the same IP address and will therefore discount them as new views.

How do you increase views on YouTube?

The first step to increasing video views on YouTube is to create excellent content that viewers are actually interested in. This will motivate them to watch your entire video, like it and subscribe to your channel - all important factors that YouTube takes into account when ranking your video. This in turn, will get you more video views.

How can I increase my subscribers?

The easiest way to get subscribers for your video is to just as your viewers to subscribe! It is most effective if they subscribe at the end of your video as it sends a signal to YouTube that your video is useful. Of course, to gain more subscribers this way, you first need to produce excellent content!

How can I get subscribers fast?

Building a successful YouTube channel is a sustained, long-term effort. In the short-term to increase your subscriber base quickly, you can promote your videos on various groups to increase awareness of your channel.

Can you get banned for buying YouTube subscribers?

Buying subscribers for your channel is technically not banned. However, it isn't a sustainable move in the long run. Developing popularity on YouTube can only come through organically growing your subscriber base. While it might take longer, it's well worth the effort.

Is buying views on YouTube illegal?

Buying video views is not illegal on YouTube. But channel owners should be aware that doing so will not be beneficial for their channel in the long run. Meaningful interactions with subscribers and creating actual influence on the channel is impossible with paid views.

Who is the richest Youtuber?

Lilly Singh, Pewdiepie and Logan Paul are some of the most successful YouTubers. With the YouTube optimisations tips mentioned above, maybe your channel will also figure in this list some day!

How can I make my YouTube channel grow faster?

To grow your YouTube channel, you need to focus on: 1. Creating high-quality, useful content 2. Personalising thumbnails, titles and descriptions for higher views 3. Promoting your videos on various platforms to increase brand awareness and drive video views.

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