15 Video SEO Tips to Rank #1 on Youtube

This past year I decided to finally get consistent with my Youtube channel and make it a BIG part of my strategy for growing my online business. But here’s the thing: a Youtube channel only helps your business if people actually watch your videos.

That meant that Youtube SEO strategy had to be one of my main focuses of new things to learn; and I’ve found some pretty cool tricks over the past six months or so! In fact, this past weekend, my Youtube channel passed the 20,000 subscriber mark. 80

I attribute much of my “Youtube success” to the SEO tips that have allowed many of my videos to rank #1 for the relevant keywords. As always, I’m excited to share with you what’s working to grow my business, so today I have 15 Youtube SEO tips that YOU can use to rank your videos #1 too.

1 // Focus on the BIG PICTURE Strategy

You need to make videos that plenty of people are interested in watching (or else it isn’t possible to get very many views, for obvious reasons). But you also need to find keywords that aren’t too competitive, or else your video won’t stand a chance.

Therefore, your main strategy should be to find keywords with high search volume and low competition. Easier said, than done, I know. But keep on reading, because several of the following tips will help you find keywords like this.

2 // Get good ideas for video TOPICS

Okay, so the first step is to find great ideas for keywords! You need to figure out what topics your audience might be interested in, then determine what the best keywords to focus on for those keywords are.

To come up with good topics, look at your competitors’ past videos. Which have they had success with? Doing this (easy) research can produce a goldmine of valuable information as you’re trying to figure out what videos to make.

Then, check the search volume for each of the topics you're considering. The easiest way to do this is just to type in each of the keywords on your list and then look at how many views the first several results have gotten.

If you search for “cookie recipe ideas” and the top videos that Youtube brings up only have a couple thousand view each, then you know that’s probably not the best keyword to use. On the other hand, if they have several hundred thousand each, then you know that lots of people are interested in that topic.

Of course, it’s very important to keep your uploads cohesive… you don’t want to make a video about “5 SEO Tips” one week, and then make a video about “Easy Cookie Recipes” the next.

So, as you’re doing your research, just make sure that you’re looking for video ideas that would be a great fit for the specific audience you’re trying to attract.

3 // Get Good Ideas for Video KEYWORDS

Once you’ve chosen the topic of your video, it’s time to decide exactly what keywords to target. For example, if you’re going to make a video about cookie recipes, then you could target keywords such as:

  • Easy Cookie Recipes
  • How to Make Cookies
  • Holiday Cookie Recipes
  • Cookie Recipes for Beginners
  • Vegan Cookie Recipes

In order to figure out which keywords to use, there are a few different steps you can take:

First, brainstorm different words REAL people might use to search for videos like yours. Think about what YOU would type into the search bar if you were actually looking for a video like the one you’re planning to make, and create a big list of all your ideas.

Then, start typing each of the potential keywords into the search bar and see what pops up to get even more ideas. Because, even though YOU might search “how to make cookies” it might turn out that most people are searching for “easy cookie recipes for beginners.”

Youtube SEO Tips to Rank #1

4 // Use Tubebuddy to see what tags similar videos are targeting successfully

Tubebuddy is a free browser extension that you can install on Chrome, Edge, and several other web browsers. It allows you to see lots of analytical data about Youtube search terms and videos, to help you figure out how to get your videos to rank better.

(I believe there’s also a paid version of Tubebuddy, but I just use the free version, and it does everything I need it to. 🙂 )

With Tubebuddy installed, click on a video that’s doing well, that is similar to the video you’re planning to create. To the right of the video, you’ll see the Tubebuddy box, with a whole bunch of information about the video’s analytics.

Down at the bottom of that box, you’ll see a list of the keywords that video is targetting. If you click “show rankings” it will actually show you exactly where the video is ranking for each of the terms.

(If there’s no number next to the term, that simply means that the video isn’t ranking on the first page for that term.)

This data can show you what keywords are successfully driving traffic to that video, to give you ideas of what keywords you might be able to go after to get good results for your own video.

5 // Search using “_ KEYWORD” to find even more longtail keywords

When you type your keyword into the search bar on Youtube, a list of ten search terms pops up, and these can give you some great ideas.

However, every single one of those ideas will start with whatever you typed:

  • Youtube seo tips
  • Youtube seo ideas
  • Youtube seo strategy
  • Youtube seo how to
  • …and so on

BUT, if your type “_ youtube seo” instead, then you’ll get a list of search terms that include “youtube seo” anywhere (not just at the beginning). Such as:

  • How to do Youtube SEO
  • Youtube SEO tips
  • Top Youtube SEO tips
  • How to do Youtube SEO in 2018
  • …and so on.

6 // Use the titles of popular videos that rank for your target keywords as keywords.

Aside from the primary keyword (that you use in your video’s title), you’re going to use a list of 20 – 30 additional “support” keywords in your video’s description and tags section.

Something great to include in these sections is the exact titles of some successful videos that are similar to what you’re creating. That’s because, when you do this, it tells Youtube that your video is related to that other video, and it makes it more likely that your video will show up in the “suggested videos” (right-hand side column) when someone is watching one of those other, popular videos.

7 // Find even MORE titles to target with a private browser.

Open up a private browser (so your Youtube history/account/preferences don’t affect your results) and look at what suggested videos pop up for popular videos with the same keywords you’re considering targeting. This can give you MORE titles to target.

8 // Check your keywords’ score.

When you have Tubebuddy installed, you can actually see a “score” for each keyword that you’re considering using. To do this, simply search for the keyword, then click “show keyword score” at the bottom of the Tubebuddy box on the right-hand side of the search page.

9 // Use your name/channel name as keywords.

Youtube LOVES creators who keep viewers on Youtube for longer. So if people watch several of your videos in a row, then Youtube will want to reward you (and recommend your videos even more).

If you include your own name and/or channel name in your video’s description and tags, then Youtube will consider your videos to be more closely related, and will be more likely to show your videos in the “suggested videos” in the right-hand column whenever someone is watching one of your other videos. This makes it more likely that people will watch your videos one after another, which will have big benefits for your channel.

10 // Put your tags BOTH in the “tags” box AND in your video description.

Youtube is looking for clues in your video, title, description, and tags to figure out exactly what your video is about, so that it can give searchers the best results possible.

If you only put your tags in the “tags” box, and don’t mention those words in the description at all, then Youtube will think you’re just trying to rank for those terms, but that your video isn’t actually about them.

Instead, make sure you mention most of your tags in the actual description. You can either do this in a natural, conversational way (ideal), or simply write “TAGS” at the bottom of your description, and then put a list of all the tagged terms.

Trying to unnaturally stuff a bunch of keywords into your description looks lame and like you’re trying too hard. But so long as you explicitly label the terms as “tags,” nobody will think twice about it.

11 // Embed your Youtube videos on your website

As I mentioned above, Youtube is trying to do everything it can to figure out exactly what your video is about. Here’s the thing: Youtube is owned by Google. So if you write a blog post on the same topic as your video, and then embed your video on the page, then Google (and Youtube) LOVE this.

Not only will this give your video a boost in its Youtube SEO ranking, but it will also give your BLOG a boost on Google. That means more traffic to your website and even more traffic to your video, which helps its ranking even more.

12 // Use the same keywords on your webpage and your video

This one goes hand-in-hand with the last SEO tip, but basically you just want to make sure that you’re using the same keywords in both your video and your web page.

So if you decide to target “Easy Cookie Recipes” for your video title, then don’t go embed that video in a blog post called “How to make cookies for beginners.” (I mean, it’s not going to hurt anything to do this, but it won’t help as much as it could.) Instead, write an article with the exact same title as your video, and embed it there.

13 // SAY your title & target keywords in your video. Youtube IS listening to your video!

Like it or not, Youtube has been able to actually listen to your videos for the past couple of years — even if you don’t provide closed captions — and they are definitely using this information to determine your video’s ranking.

So, what should this mean to you as a creator? Well, you should be sure to actually say your top keywords in your video.

Now, don’t overdo it and end up sounding like an awkward robot, but if you can naturally work it into your conversation, then it’s definitely a good idea! And in my own experience, this is generally very easy to do — because, after all, your video really is about those specific keywords.

14 // Do more of what's working

I am constantly analyzing other creator’s Youtube channels, trying to figure out exactly what’s working (or NOT working). It’s amazing how often I see Youtubers making video after video that falls flat on their faces… when they have a few videos on a different topic that have done amazingly.

I’m talking about people who VLOG three times per week and get just a couple hundred view each time… and then they occasionally post an “outfit ideas” video that gets 100,000 hits.

Or people who regularly make boring “how to” videos that their audience doesn’t seem to care about, and then occasionally post a sit-down, “here’s my opinion on this trend” video, and it goes completely viral.

Pay attention to what your audience is actually interested in watching. Regardless of what you think they would like to see, the numbers don’t lie. Look at what’s working and do more of that.

15 // Focus on entertainment value & quality — you can't rank well if your videos aren’t engaging and enjoyable!

Youtube SEO Tips to Rank #1Ultimately, you have to remember that Youtube is an entertainment platform, and most people go to the site to watch enjoyable, engaging content.

This means that even if you check ALL the boxes of the technical aspects of SEO good practice, if your videos aren’t enjoyable to watch, people will click out and your rankings will suffer.

This means that even if you’re trying to use your Youtube channel to benefit your business, it’s still more valuable to create entertaining+helpful videos that boring helpful videos. Because the more your channel grows, the more you’ll be able to reach your target audience.

And just remember, whoever your target audience is, they like to have fun too. They don’t want to watch boring “work” videos in their free time. So while it’s totally fine to make some practical, helpful how-to videos if they will truly be valuable to your audience, keep working on creating high-quality content with entertainment value that your audience will appreciate — because that’s how you’ll truly develop a meaningful relationship with them.

To help you remember to use all of these tips for your next video, I've made you an infographic! You can either save it on Pinterest (just click the “pin” button) or click on it to download and save it to your computer.

Gillian Perkins

Hi, I’m Gillian! I’m a marketing strategist who helps online entrepreneurs 10X their sales with FB ads + sales funnels. I love combining tech, analytics, and psychology to create powerful marketing systems. When I’m not helping my clients scale their businesses, I’m spending time with my husband and two little boys, exploring new places, or seeking out choice espresso.