The Ultimate YouTube SEO Checklist To Rank Your Videos On Top

Want to grow your audience on Youtube? Download our free Youtube SEO checklist to fully optimize your channel and get more views!
YouTube SEO Checklist
Back to Template Library
Table of Contents
Primary Item (H2)

YouTube is a video search engine that gets about 30 million unique views daily.

Imagine capturing the attention of 0.01% of all these viewers and how much it could mean for your business!

In this post, you will learn the step-by-step process of optimizing all levels of YouTube channels to gain more traffic, subscribers, and views. We have also added a Youtube SEO Checklist that you can use to optimize before you publish any videos.

Ready? Keep reading!

Produce High-Quality Videos

The first step towards optimizing your YouTube videos is making sure the content you upload is always top-notch. Here are some video optimization tips to optimize your video quality if you want to reap all the benefits video marketing has to offer:

  • Start your video production process by performing thorough keyword research. You can do this by following the steps listed in our SEO Keyword Research Template. For YouTube, we recommend you use Youtube SEO tools such as YT Cockpit or Keyword Tool to run your research instead of KWFinder.
  • Try to create longer videos. According to the latest quality content guidelines, longer videos are more likely to rank higher on YouTube search results pages.
  • Mention the target keyword in the video. YouTube has grown a lot, and its crawler can now identify whether a video is focused on the topic described in the title by checking the automated captions offered by the same platform. Therefore, mentioning the keyword in the video will help the YouTube search engine rank your video when someone is searching for it.
  • Always tell people to subscribe, comment, and like your videos. You’d be surprised by the amazing effect it can have on viewers! Plus, all three are metrics YouTube uses on its algorithms to rank and recommend videos.
  • Reduce the bounce rate. If your viewers only watch only a few seconds of your videos, YouTube will associate your video with lower quality content – and thus, it will display it lower in the YouTube rankings. To reduce the bounce rate, front load your best content to the beginning of the video, add transition effects, add unexpected changes, and make sure your graphics are entertaining. You need to keep people’s attention – otherwise, they’ll click on the next interesting video content.
  • Also, always remember to explain the value proposition in the first 10 seconds. This will keep your viewers more attentive and more likely to finish watching your video.

Monetize Your Youtube Channel

Monetization is an integral part of the process—it will allow you to add custom thumbnails to your videos, which play a massive role in making people want to click on your video.

You won’t be able to monetize your YouTube channel (and, consequently, add a thumbnail) until you reach 1000 subscribers, have 4000 watch hours in the last 12 months, and get reviewed by YouTube (the last step in the monetization process).

Now, you are only monetizing your channel to add extra features to your videos. In general, business videos on YouTube should be demonetized because they will increase your viewers’ credibility with your brand. 

Thus, you should first work hard enough to reach this milestone – after that, views and engagement should reach a point of steady growth (especially with the new unlocked features). 

Optimize for YouTube’s Ranking Factors

YouTube algorithm weighs more heavily on user behavior than search traffic. Almost 70% of all traffic comes from YouTube’s recommendations rather than searches. So it’s important to improve watch time, click-through rate, and percentage watched to extend your youtube content reach.

There are also a few other elements you can use to rank your video as high as possible. Here are some SEO tips you can use to optimize your YouTube channel.

1. Optimize Your Video Title

Include your keyword in the video title, but keep it entirely relevant as well. YouTube has gotten (a lot!) better at capturing the essence of a video’s content, and they will push yours towards the last results in the search pages if your title is not relevant.

2. Optimize Your Video Description

Same as with the title, keep your description compelling and attractive – but use your keyword as well. Your video description should be at least 250 words long. You can review our YouTube Description Template to learn how to write and optimize your description for video rankings.

3. Optimize Your YouTube Video Tags

Video tags are nothing but keywords – so use a few of them to let YouTube know what your video is about. Same as optimizing the video title and the video description, adding these video tags will also help YouTube determine what your video is about. Make sure to use relevant keywords as your video tag.

You can add your YouTube video tags or hashtags when you upload a video on the same page that prompts you to add a video title and a description. You don’t need more than 2-3 keywords for this, but make sure they are relevant.

4. Include An Attractive Custom Thumbnail

The same page that allows you to add a title and a description will also allow you to add a thumbnail from the screenshots captured automatically by YouTube.

You can choose one of these, but it is more useful for you to upload a custom video thumbnail because it will make your entire video more attractive when people stumble upon it in YouTube search results or recommended videos section.

Here’s a funny meme on YouTube Thumbnails (you sure don’t want to go this extreme):

Here are some thumbnail examples to get ideas from:

The thumbnails are catchy – but not too clickbaity. The thumbnail copy also makes the video more clickable and optimized for SEO.

You can also make use of another YouTube key feature, end screens, to promote your other videos.

5. Include One Or More Cards To Increase Watch Time

A YouTube card is an on-screen clickable piece of information that allows you to create a more interactive and comprehensive experience for your viewers.

There are five types of cards you can add to a video: Video or Playlist, Channel, Donation, Poll, and Link.

6. Upload Video Subtitles

This step is entirely optional. However, there are two main reasons you would want to use this:

It makes your videos more accessible (including for people with hearing impairments, for example).

It allows both YouTube and Google to know the text spoken in your video and crawl and categorize your video accordingly.

7. Add Video To A Playlist

Adding your video to a playlist is also an optional step, but you should do it because playlists automatically play the next video—thus helping you to increase your viewers’ watch time.

8. Redirect Users to Other Videos

Use cards and end screens to redirect users from a well-performing video to other videos. This strategy helps you drive traffic to YouTube videos that are underperforming for some reason.

What To Do After Publishing

Once you have published and optimized your video, it is on you to make the most of it. Here are some tips to keep in mind with regard to this:

  • Reply to all new comments within the first 48 hours. Keep your notification on for comments by adjusting your account settings.
  • Increase your video’s visibility by embedding it in blog posts (yours or guest posts you may publish on other websites). To embed a YouTube video in a WordPress blog post, copy the URL of the video and paste it as a line of its own in the blog post.
  • Promote your video. Share your video on your social media pages, and send it via email to your subscribers, partners, clients, friends, and forums like Quora (but make sure you do this only on relevant topics).
  • Be consistent. It is far better to post many videos over a larger amount of time rather than posting all of them at once.

YouTube SEO can be a new realm for many of you – but with the increasing use of video marketing, uploading and optimizing helpful YouTube videos has become more than an option. These days, you simply cannot avoid it if you want to reap all the benefits digital marketing has to offer!

If you want a simplified version of the YouTube SEO checklist that you can use every time you post a new video, then you can download it below.

Some other SEO Checklists that you can check out are:

The Ultimate YouTube SEO Checklist To Rank Your Videos On Top

Want to grow your audience on Youtube? Download our free Youtube SEO checklist to fully optimize your channel and get more views!

Browse More Digital Marketing Templates

World-class templates and checklists for entrepreneurs, marketers, bloggers & agencies

Unleash the Power of SEO and 10x Your Traffic from Google

Get the SEO Checklist sent to your inbox, for FREE!