YouTube is a great asset to have as a creator or company. When used to its full potential, YouTube gives creators and brands another outlet to create marketable content. For a video to get recognized on YouTube, it takes close precision to ensure you are doing everything possible to appear on the landing page. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is an absolute must, and were here to show you the best YouTube SEO practices.

First of all, what is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a process that results in more traffic to your content. This process improves your website or content and increases its visibility to people using search engines.

The keyword is important, but there’s more to it

There are several aspects to pay attention to when it comes to YouTube SEO. It’s more than just researching keywords. It entails being precise with titles and thumbnails, analyzing your channel analytics and anticipating audience reaction as well.

YouTube is the second most used search engine next to Google. Although the visual look of a search engine is simple, its function is highly calculated and complex. There is a strong power in the few short words you type in. Using the right couple of words narrows your search through billions of results. Effective SEO maximizes the search so that your content appears at the top results. 

Keep in mind the search engine on YouTube also comes with a multitude of filters to refine your search.

Source: YouTube search filters

Keyword research  

The most important YouTube SEO practice is keyword research. Using keywords is paramount to have a successful post. Being precise and clear on what your keywords are is crucial to where it might appear on a search page. Your chosen words should summarize the main point of your video. For example, if you are uploading a video about how to make a meal, it would probably be most beneficial to use the name of the meal and a word to describe the action with it. Using “How to prepare artichoke” or “How to make artichoke” is precise and gives a synopsis of the video. 

Source: YouTube search results for “How to make artichoke”

There are tools available to research multiple combinations of keywords. Tools like Ahrefs, Google Search Console and Google Trends help you decide on the best term for your article. Another method is simply typing in your desired keywords into YouTube’s or Google’s search engine and analyzing the results. These tools help you learn about the search volume of combinations to see which are heavily trafficked or not. Also, take into consideration trends that already exist on YouTube like vlogs or challenges. 


After deciding on keywords, it’s best to use them throughout the post frequently. Titles are the next point of focus. Be sure to include your keywords in your title. The keywords should flow naturally in your title. Titles need to be straight to the point but also leave users wanting more. They act as a cliffhanger — a statement without explanation. 

Source: YouTube search results for “I moved”

The length of your title is crucial. Keeping the title within 70 characters — including spaces and keywords — is highly suggested. YouTube has a limit of 100 characters for titles and cuts short after hitting the 70 character mark. Your audience will be inclined to click your video if they see the whole title initially. Consider using different fonts and capitalization to make your post stand out from the rest. 


Thumbnails are a visual preview of your video. It is beneficial to develop a plan for how they will look. The image of the thumbnail must be attention-grabbing and polished. High-quality video and images are more likely to be clicked on YouTube. Thumbnails help the audience visualize what will happen in the video. For example, a thumbnail commonly includes the faces of who is in the video or an image of what will be discussed. A thumbnail should be exclusive to your video. 

Source: Jubilee on YouTube

Depending on your channel’s content, creating continuity with thumbnails makes your channel recognizable. Creators do this by using a similar color palette, fonts and general layout of the thumbnail. An audience that identifies a channel through a thumbnail has a sense of familiarity to the channel. Understand thumbnail size, as they are smaller images that are about 1280 x 720 pixels. Planning a thumbnail around available space is imperative. Including some keywords in your thumbnail is also a favorable choice. 

Intros and outros

Creators need to create high-retention videos. This means the longer viewers watch your video, the better it will do. One way to do this is with a good intro. Commonly, creators and brands have title screens or montages at the beginning of a video to inform the audience of the channel. Intros usually include pertinent information like the brand/creator’s name, how to connect on other platforms as well as the title. Continuing on, it is very common to ask the audience to like and subscribe to the particular channel to create more engagement. 

Source: Cut on YouTube

End screens or outros are a great way to keep your audience watching. If a viewer watches a video all the way through, it is valuable to give them the option to watch more of your content with links. An end screen with a couple of other video links and reiterated information will boost engagement.

Source: NPR Music on YouTube

A video that has a clear beginning and end and is efficient in getting point across will succeed. Being efficient doesn’t mean trying to cut down the length of your video. Longer videos do well on YouTube. The average video length on YouTube is over 10 minutes. The quality of your video matters more over the length. Get your point across. 


The description below a video is a reference point for your audience. Descriptions include links to connect to the creator’s profiles as well as mention of featured products or people. They also include other resources to help the viewer expand their knowledge about the topic in the video. The description needs a summary of the video that includes your keywords. Users refer to the description when the video mentions it or if they want to find a link more effectively than scrubbing through a video to find information. Be thorough with your description to ensure your audience receives the best information.

Source: Vox on YouTube


The actual transcript of your video should include keywords multiple times. Providing your viewer with the ability to read the audio is more inclusive to a wider audience. Captions provide more people with a chance to engage with your video. If the audio in the video moves quickly, captions provide a cushion to catch up. Captions also give the option of watching video without audio for a setting that needs to be quiet. To create a transcript file there are tools available like YouTube Transcript to help you create a file.


Source: Nike on YouTube


Creators are able to add tags when they upload to YouTube. These features allow for another avenue for discovery. People use hashtags in the YouTube search engine to find videos. With any type of wording that goes into YouTube SEO, it is necessary to be precise and tag relevantly. 

Source: MrandMrsMuscle on YouTube

When uploading a video there is also an option to geotag a location. For example, if you are shooting a video in Paris which in turn is about Paris then it would customary to tag the location as well. People who are searching out specific places may be able to find your channel easily. 

Source: Damon Dominique on YouTube


Your channel analytics allow you to harness your existing strength in the ability to increase your SEO. Analyzing watch time, average viewership, navigating traffic source and channel activity in general. Creators will use content with high engagement rates to continue creating desired videos. The YouTube studio has many tools to help hone your skill so that you may create valuable content that will place your video high in search results. 

YouTube SEO is a process that takes some planning and attention. There are a ton of components that need to be calculated but, the payoff is substantial when done effectively.