YouTube SEO: How to Rank YouTube Videos [Complete Guide]

youtube seo

The majority of web traffic today is video based, making YouTube SEO one of the biggest trends in marketing.

Many people have found fertile marketing ground on YouTube and advanced their businesses and personal brands much faster than standard content marketing.

Yet much SEO today is still based on how to rank written content.

Video and YouTube SEO is more important than ever

YouTube is owned by Google, therefore video SEO is essentially synonymous with YouTube SEO.

Many videos show at the top of searches. Ranking at the top of the YouTube SERPs can bring in large amounts of traffic that are difficult to bring in with regular written content. Using the best YouTube bot often helps to get rapid growth on this platform.

Below we have some advice on how to rank your videos. There are many similarities between YouTube SEO and written SEO:

YouTube keyword research

Unlike written content, there are no great keyword research tools out there for the YouTube platform. The main tools out there (e.g., SEMrush) are still working on it.

Instead, you can do a few things:

  • Analyze the common suggested searches in the YouTube search bar
  • Use Google Trends to discover what’s trending
  • Look at other popular videos on YouTube and do something similar

Typing things into the YouTube search bar directly is a great basic idea because they represent actual things that people are searching for.

If you look at your competition (to draw the parallel with written SEO), you can find the types of videos making them successful.

You can even title these “reaction videos” and publish a similar title.

When a video gets hundreds of thousands of views, then it generally brings in specific searches for the video itself. You can capitalize on this trend by creating a nearly word-for-word title, with your own twist.

For example:

  • Original video name: ‘How Much YouTube Paid Me for 1 MILLION Views’
  • Example reaction video title: ‘Marketer Reacts: How Much YouTube Paid Me for 1 MILLION Views’

Use keywords in your video title and video itself

Video is spoken and/or acted out rather than written.

But using keywords in your actual video (outside of the title, of course) may help your rankings.

Even though it’s not strictly known whether YouTube / Google is using voice interpretation to understand your content in 2024, you can bet that’s the direction they’re going to help provide the most relevant content to its users.

Link building helps for YouTube SEO as well

If you want your YouTube video to rank in the Google SERPs, linking to it — ideally with anchor text match or close to it — on authoritative sites can help it grow.

YouTube uses a lot of the same principles for ranking written content as it does for itself. Links are like votes. The more links you can build to a video the better it should theoretically do and help out the entire channel.

Viral videos

Many videos bring in huge amounts of traffic on YouTube because of the way its internal algorithm works.

There’s a big social element to it.

Engagement is a big part of what YouTube decides to feature to its users. So, things that are important include:

  • Comments (more important than likes, as it’s harder to get comments than likes with the effort involved)
  • Likes
  • Watching the video all the way through
  • Subscribers

If a lot of people start commenting, YouTube is more likely to promote it elsewhere.

At the same time, hiring virtual assistants and others to boost watch time and engagement may not be the best method. First, there’s limited scalability in such tactics and not work in the way it should.

YouTube’s feature to help local businesses gain more exposure

It’s called “places mentioned” and you can (kinda) guess what it does by its name.

The details: YouTube announced a feature that will allow video creators to more easily add links to places they mention in their videos.

For example, let’s say someone makes a video about a tasty chocolate cake. The video mentions that the cake was purchased at a certain bakery in Los Angeles. With this feature, the video creator will be able to easily link to that place in the video’s description.

As a result, people will be able to click and see the location more easily. And we all know the easier something is to do, the more likely people are to do it.

How is this relevant to local businesses: If you collaborate (or plan to collaborate) with certain YouTube influencers, this feature will allow them to easily point to the location of your business (instead of just mentioning it in the video, for example).

Availability: YouTube will start testing this format with select food and drink videos, but plans to expand it to all videos in the near future.