Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

YouTube SEO | Our Guide to Video SEO

17 November 2023 Eugénie Delhaye
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In 2019, the famous platform YouTube reached over 2 billion users. More and more Internet users are choosing to watch videos when searching for information. Creating content on YouTube has become a real opportunity for companies to build loyalty and attract new subscribers.

This article will give you the best practices to rank your videos in the top search results on both YouTube and Google.

PS: You can also follow us on YouTube!

Table of content

Why does YouTube SEO matter?

Google bought YouTube in 2006 so they promote the platform to make it as profitable as possible. With over 2 billion monthly users, you can say they’ve succeeded. This means that YouTube videos are now featured on Google. These videos often even rank first in Google.

YouTube SEO Makeup Tutorial

YouTube can boost new sites with a weak domain authority and therefore very little trust from Google more quickly. The social network has all the credibility necessary to rank first in search results and improve your SEO.

How to optimize SEO for YouTube videos

You will soon notice that good YouTube SEO is not that different from good SEO for Google. Since bots are (still) not able to read videos (and images), they rely on measurable data.

Rank on YouTube with keywords

Keywords are still important? Yes! We will be dealing with keywords again and again until the day bots can understand what we say and analyze our videos. Keyword research is a crucial step in both organic and video SEO. It is used to rank videos on the right searches. How do you find the right keywords to rank on YouTube?

Find keywords with the YouTube suggestion tool

In September 2014, YouTube stopped giving access to its Keyword Tool to encourage more users to open a YouTube Ads account. Although this is a very practical tool, there is another way to find out which keywords are popular on YouTube. Start typing the searches you are interested in on YouTube. The suggestions that pop up are popular searches. For example, if you want to post a dog video, you can type “dog” and see what comes up:

YouTube SEO Search Suggestions

You will then have a list of the most searched and clicked queries regarding dogs. All you have to do is test a few words.

Keep in mind that Google’s suggestions are not random but rather are based on your history and your most typed words on the video search engine. You should put yourself in private browsing mode to do your tests so that they are not influenced by your own search history.

The Google Ads keyword planner tool

You can also use Google's classic keyword planner to give you a good idea of search queries. Even if the tool is not specifically for videos, it is still very useful since YouTube videos also appear on Google.

Google Trends

Google Trends is also a great tool to follow trends and give you keyword ideas. You can also create a YouTube Ads account to further research keywords you are interested in.

YouTube SEO Video SEO Trends

Even if there is less competition for SEO on YouTube than on Google, it will always be easier (and often more relevant) to target long-tail keywords. You should therefore choose expressions of 3 words or more.

Once you have determined your keywords, use them in multiple places:

  • In the video title(we told you it was similar to on-site SEO): This will help users understand what the video is about at first glance.
  • In the video description: YouTube only displays a part of the description. The user must click on an arrow to view it in full so you should explicitly present the video subject in the visible paragraph by including your keyword.
  • In the video tags: You can include your keyword and related words.
  • In the name of the video at the time of download.
  • In the comments of your video before downloading it.

We will talk more about title optimization and description in the next point.

Optimize your title and description

Video SEO requires a good title

Just like with on-site SEO, the title of your YouTube video should have one or two keywords and be catchy. You can use the top results as examples to get a better idea of what ranks best. The first video results have catchy titles with keywords that correspond to user queries. You can also use YouTube’s translation tools to reach an international audience.

YouTube SEO Titles

Make sure to optimize your video description

The description is a little more complex since certain rules apply. YouTube is sensitive to the length of video descriptions. A video with a long description is more likely to be better positioned than a video with a few words in its description.

Your description should have at least 200 words and a varied vocabulary. As with on-site SEO, avoid overloading the video description with the same keyword 20 times in 5 sentences. Try to make it natural so the user wants to know more. Your description should also be unique! Google doesn’t like duplicate content and neither does YouTube so avoid copying the same description in each of your videos. Your videos are not identical, so the description shouldn’t be either.

Make your videos long enough

Just like written content (we will never say it enough, your content should be at least 500 words), bots prioritize videos of an appropriate length. A 15 second video obviously will not be as valuable as a 20-minute-long video. You can also create a longer video if you have enough content, but know that only 52% of viewers watch videos in full. Try to create content with a strong impact that is tailored to your target audience. The length of your content is important for video SEO. YouTube wants to keep users on its platform as long as possible, so it will promote longer content.

Other YouTube SEO metrics to consider

Video view count was originally very important, but this metric has been overused. YouTube now takes into account much more qualitative metrics for SEO such as:

  • The number of comments
  • The time users spend watching the video
  • The number of likes a video gets
  • The shares your video gets
  • The number of times your video has been included on other sites

Overall, YouTube prioritizes videos with more interaction for a given keyword. "How to" searches increase by 70% each year, giving you a good idea to get your YouTube channel started.

Create playlists

Playlists give YouTube even more context about the subject of your video and related content. To give YouTube as much information as possible to boost your ranking, include your video in a playlist when you upload it. You can even give your playlist the same name as your video to enhance the credibility of your video.

YouTube SEO Playlists

Customize the thumbnail

Choose your thumbnail wisely

It may be tempting to leave the thumbnail suggested by YouTube when you upload your video but we strongly advise against it. Without a thumbnail, YouTube takes a random screenshot of your video, which rarely highlights you or your video’s content. The click-through rate is still important (as for SEO on Google) so you need to make sure you have a thumbnail that makes people want to click.

Make sure to personalize your videos

YouTube SEO Thumbnail

Nowadays, more than 90% of the best performing YouTube videos have a custom thumbnail. It is the first thing viewers see and the first impression they get of your video or channel so it must be chosen carefully. Internet users prefer colourful thumbnails that stand out from the others and attract the eye. Try to use bright colours (blue, green, yellow, pink, red, etc.) and screenshots or pictures that give an idea of the video’s content. You can also play around with the title of the video. Many YouTubers relate the title to the thumbnail to intrigue users.

Make your videos dynamic with animated end screens and cards

You have probably already seen cards on YouTube videos. YouTubers use them to highlight a product, another video, or ask people to subscribe to their channel. They also help you convert your viewers much more easily, whether you want them to subscribe, visit your website, buy a product, etc. YouTube rewards you for engaging with the people who watch your videos and dynamic cards are a great way to boost engagement.

YouTube SEO Cards

Add subtitles to improve your SEO

Another way to maximize text content is to add subtitles. As mentioned earlier, YouTube cannot read your videos like a human being but adding subtitles adds words to your videos.

Sous-titre SEO sur YouTube

Subtitles transcribe your video content into words to help YouTube understand the broadcasted content. They help you enhance your keywords and make sure that your message is well understood by everyone. Subtitles also help YouTube present your content to an international audience, so add them if this is useful to your business.

Add chapters

Your videos can now be split into chapters. Including intervals and naming them lets visitors know which part to view to get the answer to their question. Reading will be optimized and YouTube will understand the content of your videos more easily. This will also lead to better ranking on the platform. Do not be afraid to publish longer content or add keywords to your chapters as this will only help your SEO.

Chapitre pour SEO Vidéo

To add chapters to your videos, write the relevant minutes in the video description starting with the time [00:00].

As with traditional SEO, organic Youtube SEO requires link building to rank your videos. You can contact bloggers to ask them to share your videos publicly, on related forums, link your videos to each other, to your site, etc.

You may be able to skip this step if your videos are well optimized with good social media management.

How to optimize your YouTube channel’s SEO

Optimize your YouTube channel page

Your video is posted on YouTube and linked to your YouTube channel. If your channel is not credible to YouTube because it is not optimized, your video will lose its reach. Here are a few tips to optimize your page:

  • Link all your social media profiles to your YouTube channel: LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter. This can help you easily promote your videos, giving YouTube an extra clue that it should highlight your video in search results.
  • Subscribe to other channels similar to yours: Since YouTube belongs to Google, the social network works the same way: by theme. Subscribing to channels similar to yours adds credibility to your own channel.
  • Do not forget the “about” section: This is another way to add targeted keywords.
  • Create a trailer for your channel to grab the visitor's attention.
  • Add visuals to your page: Take advantage of the ability to add a channel icon and banner! Adding a profile and cover photo helps you customize your channel to your brand image.

Your channel’s appearance is obviously not as important as the content you publish, but it remains an important factor in your YouTube channel’s success. A channel that is pleasant to visit and good quality videos will help deliver a great user experience.

Share your videos

Sharing your videos is very important since it can increase the number of views and adds credibility to your video. Find groups or pages that post content similar to yours and share your videos. Share them on your social networks and engage with others about the content. This will help you get the number of clicks and views up quickly if you chose appropriate groups. If you have a website, you can include your video in one of your pages using an iframe. This will benefit your website’s SEO.

IFrame SEO sur YouTube

As we mentioned before, you can also use the Google Ads advertising platform to promote your video on YouTube (those ads you can skip after 5 seconds). If you need help with this, contact us and one of our Google Ads experts will gladly help you.

Answer comments

We’ve already mentioned that YouTube rewards you for interacting with your viewers. You can encourage your audience to comment on your videos by asking them questions or advice throughout your video. If you do get comments, answer everyone who took the time to comment and ask you questions. This exchange helps you build relationships with your subscribers.


Boost your YouTube channel with livestreams, previews, stories and posts

Previews to broadcast your videos live

A sneak preview from the comfort of your bed? Why not! You can stream your videos live with YouTube Premiere. You will be able to peak the interest of curious users while also interacting with them through the Super Chat feature. This is where they can pay to have their comments pinned on the chat. These previews will allow your YouTube channel to stand out.

Avant première - Optimisation chaine YouTube

Stories to boost your YouTube SEO

To boost your channel and generate more traffic, you can also add stories to your profile. This can especially be interesting to announce the release of a new video. According to the platform, creators that have an active Story can accelerate their weekly new subscriber count by 8.5% in comparison to non-active channels.

Using Live to broadcast live videos

This is also the case with YouTube Live. Just like the previews, you can broadcast live and answer your subscribers' questions. These live broadcasts can even stay on your channel as classic videos. You can also publish content that will be displayed on your subscribers' subscription page.

YouTube SEO Livestream

Shorts to improve your video SEO

In September 2020, YouTube also announced the  launch of Shorts to publish mini videos, in particular to compete with TikTok and Instagram Reels. These videos of 15 seconds or less will be available in the months to come. There is no doubt that this new tool will boost your presence on YouTube.

Start optimizing your YouTube SEO today

You now have all the tools you need to optimize your YouTube video SEO. Linking your website in the description of your video will also help promote your website. Share the video on your website for the same effect.

If you want to know more about SEO,  visit our blog to see what our Web Marketing experts have to say. You can also contact us at 514 572 7758 or via our contact form to speak with a consultant who can answer all your questions.

Eugénie Delhaye
Cofondatrice et Spécialiste Marketing Internet et Référencement Naturel (SEO) Ma maîtrise des techniques de référencement, combinée à une analyse minutieuse des tendances du marché, me permet de créer des stratégies SEO sur mesure, efficaces et durables.
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