YouTube SEO

YouTube is often used like a search engine; displaying video results for basically any topic that could possibly be searched for. It's clear that ranking high within these results is an advantage, just as if it were Google. YouTube results also will show up in the SERPs, creating more saturated results, thus more likely for a visitor to view your content.

Just like the written content that is so vital to driving traffic to your site; a strong video can do the same to attract targeted eyes.

After creating your video and uploading it to YouTube, there are many ways to optimize it:


The title of the video needs to include your keyword or phrase that you are targeting. This is usually the first thing that is truly read as a user scans the SERP.


Just like a meta description – the first 155 characters are what the searcher will see in the SERP. The description doesn’t have to be limited to that, but it needs to include the keyword or phrase within those first 155 characters. Be sure to include links to supplementary pages, and/or a call to action.


Tag your brand name, topic and any other base level keywords with likely and specific variations.

Call-to-action Overlay

YouTube SEO Call-to-action Overlay

If you have an AdWords account (if you don’t, up can sign up without publishing ads) – you can create an overlay on your video at no charge. By setting up a new video campaign and creating a video ad for your recently made video, you can then return to Youtube (assuming your AdWords ad is active) and you’ll see a new tab called “Call-to-action overlay” in the edit video screen. Once you’ve completed those steps, you can save the changes, go back into AdWords and pause that video ad. This will still allow the CTA overlay to function.

Transcript / Captions

Transcripts essentially allow Google to crawl the video content (which it cannot do otherwise).

Auto captions are unintentionally hilarious and miss important keywords.

YouTube Video Content and Channel Authority

User Engagement YouTube

The most important thing in all of this is to make a video worth watching. The random “caught on camera” videos that make it “viral” are rare. For every video with millions of views, there are literally millions of videos that don’t. Your YouTube channel should have a perceived quality. A video is after user engagement.

User engagement is the result of visitor interaction. These can be measured with views, inbound links, shares via social networks, video embedding, likes (or dislikes), comments, and subscriptions. These interactions tell Google that your video is useful or valuable to users.

Just as with any website page, backlinks play an important role in ranking. Videos that are embedded on third party sites, shared on Google + or Facebook or just linked to in a body of text all improve a YouTube video's ranking.

Reverse YouTube SEO

Other benefits to uploading and optimizing YouTube videos come from the links back to a website. Whether from the CTA overlay or in the description, these links hold value.

Measuring YouTube SEO

YouTube Analytics

Success is a measurement that is specific to each type of video. Total views isn't the only way to measure success. Just as with a webpage, getting a person to the page (or video in this case) can just be half the battle. It's what the user does once they're there that can be the true measure of success. If views are all you’re hoping to achieve, then views, duration and shares are probably the only tracking factors that need be observed.

In many cases, the video itself is the call-to-action. The user is being pushed to fill out a form, go to a website or purchase something directly. A video with fewer views, but more click-throughs can be viewed as a success compared to a video with many views, but is the end of the line in regards to interaction or engagement. Determining your success factors should be clear before the video is even produced.