Last Updated: March 3, 2023
YouTube SEO can be one of the most powerful traffic channels on the web.
The content is pretty much evergreen, meaning one video can get traffic for years to come…
But only if you master YouTube SEO.
That’s exactly what we’ll look at in this article on the best YouTube SEO tips and hacks for 2023…
You can indulge reading into the full article or can directly jump to the section of your choice:
- Keywords and Optimization: YouTube SEO
- Optimize Your Video Title
- Write a Compelling Description
- Add Relevant Tags
- Create an Engaging Thumbnail
- Use Closed Captions
- YouTube SEO Best Practices: Boost User Engagement
- The Art of Hooks
- Encourage Engagement
- Promote Your Videos on social media
- Analyze Your Performance
- Scion Social’s Bonus YouTube Tip: Know Your Audience and Strategy
- YouTube SEO Frequently Asked Questions
YouTube SEO: How to Rank Videos on YouTube
Sadly YouTube doesn’t tell us their – exact formula – but we do know the overall factors that combine into a ranking. YouTube SEO splits into 3 categories:
- Keywords and Optimization
- User Engagement
- Off-page/Promotional activities (although mainly to accelerate 2)
The way you can imagine it is that keywords and optimization – show YouTube what your video is about.
User engagement shows YouTube what users think about your video.
Quick side note: YouTube wants to show users content they will enjoy as that keeps them on YouTube… meaning more ad revenue for YouTube.
Off-page/promotional activities just add to #2, as it’s not quite as big of a factor as in normal SEO.
Keywords and Optimization: YouTube SEO
Keywords and Optimization is the first part of YouTube SEO.
In case you don’t know a “Keyword” is what the user types into the search bar, so for example “How to build muscle”, “How to get clear skin, or “Best Cars Under $30k”.
Tip 1: Conduct Keyword Research
Keyword research is the foundation of YouTube SEO. It helps you understand what your target audience is searching for and what keywords to use in your video titles, descriptions, and tags. To find relevant keywords, use the following tools:
Look for long-tail keywords (i.e 4 words or more) with high search volume and low competition. Why?
Because they will be easier to rank for and as they are more specific, it will be easier to sell any products since you understand their pain points.
Use those keywords in your video’s title, description, and tags (More on this shortly).
Expert Tip: YouTube videos can also rank in Google. This means if you can find low-competition Google keywords, you can often easily rank with a YouTube video, as you can leverage YouTube’s Domain authority.
2. Optimize Your Video Title
Your video title is the first thing that viewers see in search results, so it needs to be engaging, descriptive and optimized. Make sure your video title includes your primary keyword and accurately describes your video’s content.
- Keep your title under 60 characters to ensure that it doesn’t get cut off in search results.
- Capitalize properly (Get inspiration from popular YouTubers in your niche)
- Include the main keyword you want to rank for (i.e the most important one)
3. Write a Compelling Description
Your video description provides additional context about your video’s content and helps YouTube understand what your video is about.
Write a detailed, keyword-rich description that includes your primary keyword and other relevant keywords.
Include links to your website or other social media channels to promote your content and engage with your audience.
Don’t: Obvious keyword stuffing that looks like you spammed every possible keyword in the description.
Do: Write detailed descriptions that are keyword-rich, yet grammatically correct.
4. Add Relevant Tags
Tags help YouTube understand the content of your video and categorize it for search results.
Use relevant tags that describe your video’s topic, including your primary keyword and other relevant keywords too. Use tools like TubeBuddy or VidIQ to find popular tags and optimize your tags for maximum visibility.
5. Create an Engaging Thumbnail
Your video thumbnail is the first visual representation of your content, and it needs to be eye-catching, relevant and optimized.
- Use high-quality images and bright colors to grab the viewer’s attention.
- Include text overlays, emojis, or other graphics to convey your video’s topic and entice viewers to click on your video.
This will improve the CTR, so you will get more traffic through suggestions and searches.
A simple tool you can use is Canva, it’s free and runs in your browser.
6. Use Closed Captions
Closed captions can help your videos rank higher in search results by providing additional text for YouTube’s algorithms to analyze.
- Use accurate, high-quality captions that include your primary keyword and other relevant keywords.
- You can use YouTube’s built-in captions or upload your own.
YouTube SEO Best Practices: Boost User Engagement
Now that we have covered the keyword and optimization side, it’s time to look at the ways we can boost user engagement.
7. Optimize for User Engagement (CTR + Watch Time)
YouTube’s main two factors when it comes to suggestions are CTR and Watch time.
CTR = Click-through-rate, i.e. if a high % of the people your video is getting suggested to are clicking on it, your CTR is high.
Watch time = How long a viewer stays on your video. Long-form videos also have an advantage in this, because YouTube optimizes its algorithm for maximum revenue, and longer videos can play more ads.
8. The Art of Hooks
Hooks, in case you don’t know, are the beginning of the YouTube intro that sparks an emotion in your viewer, so they are more likely to watch the whole thing.
While many YouTubers start their videos with an intro, the best YouTubers start the YouTube video with a hook before going into the intro.
For example, if you’re creating a video on health – you could in the beginning say: “Did you know… [insert a scary fact related to heart disease, etc.] – well, in this video you’re going to find out how to eliminate this risk… [Continue to intro]”
Of course, you want to avoid sounding like a scam artist and making overly big promises that are just unreasonable.
9. Encourage Engagement
Engagement signals like likes, comments, and shares can help your videos rank higher in search results. Encourage your viewers to engage with your content by asking questions in your videos.
Real-life Examples of How To Encourage Engagement
For example, if you are talking about a product or an event – ask your audience to share their experiences.
Or if you are talking about a topic like weight loss or a business-related topic ask your audience to share their questions, experiences, and stories.
You can even take this one step further, and make a video where you reply to all of the questions… This can help you build consistent engagement, which ultimately helps your YouTube SEO because you build loyal fans who always leave comments.
Entertainment + Education = Success
Most businesses are naturally in a niche that’s based on education.
The problem with education is that it’s not as easy to get your viewers craving for more…
But you can, by not just focusing on the education – instead also look to make it entertaining through different types of videos, making jokes (where applicable), and including engaging stories.
If you can master this concept, then viewers will keep coming back for more, they’ll subscribe to your channel, and watch all of your new content. This means more views, likes, comments and shares – which means better rankings and more traffic.
10. Promote Your Videos
Promoting your videos can help increase your visibility and attract more viewers to your channel.
Share your videos on social media, embed them on your website or blog, and include links to your videos in your email signature.
Collaborate with other YouTubers in your niche to reach a wider audience.
Some ways you can promote your videos include:
- YouTube Ads (Paid): Use Google ads to run ads on YouTube for your channel so that you can quickly connect to your target audience
- Facebook groups
11. Analyze Your Performance
Regularly analyze your video’s performance using YouTube Analytics or tools like VidIQ and TubeBuddy.
Look at metrics such as:
- Watch time
- Viewer retention
These will help you identify what’s working and what’s not.
Leverage this information to optimize your future videos and improve your overall YouTube SEO strategy.
Use this blog post as a checklist for the things that aren’t working to see where you can improve.
Publish High-Quality Content
Finally, the most important tip for YouTube SEO is to create high-quality content that provides value to your viewers.
Make sure your videos are well-produced, informative, and engaging.
Be consistent with your content schedule and focus on building a loyal following of subscribers who love your content.
Here are the main factors you want to consider:
Search intent – What exactly is the user looking for? And how can you ensure they get it while keeping them engaged?
Camera quality – While this isn’t the most important factor you want to consider, you do want to think about this and try to render videos in at least 1080p.
Understandability and Ease of Consumption – Add subtitles to your videos so that they’re easier to understand to increase engagement. You can use tools like veed.io for this.
Scion Social Expert Bonus YouTube Tip: Know Your Audience and Strategy
One tip that we thought was worth mentioning is to know your audience and monetization strategy.
Because that will enable you to spend money on promotional activities like ads to make an ROI.
This will then help you get more engagement and views, which will also help you rank faster.
Let us expand…
Imagine you own an e-commerce website for Keto food & weight loss, and you know that on average you make $8 per email that you collect for a free eBook
Now you can pick keywords that are most likely going to get you in front of an interested audience (eg: How to lose weight with Keto)..
But because you also know that you earn $8 per email, you can supercharge this with ads – sending the traffic to a video where they engage and maybe clicking the link in the description to get your free eBook.
As long as you are on average spending $1-6 per email, you will be profitable and will get some YouTube engagement in the process = Higher rankings.
Of course, for this to work you must:
- Know your audience and their pain points/desires
- Know your monetization strategy
- Create a solid hook in your ads and videos
But when you do these 3 things, it’s easier to accelerate your YouTube SEO, simply because you can invest money for engagement to grow your channel.
YouTube SEO Frequently Asked Questions
What are some of the best YouTube SEO hacks?
Here are the best YouTube SEO hacks:
- Target long-tail keywords
- Target regular Google keywords too
- Write a keyword-rich description (But don’t spam)
- Create strong hooks
How can I improve my YouTube search ranking?
Here are the best ways to improve your YouTube search ranking:
- Include any related keywords you missed out
- Promote your video on social media and via email
- Link to your video in other posts
- Update the titles and descriptions regularly
- Create playlists and include your video
We hope you have enjoyed this article, here’s a summary of everything we discussed:
- Use tools like Keywords everywhere and Tubebuddy to find keywords
- Prioritize long-tail keywords
- Include the main keyword in the title
- Include the related keywords in the description and tags.
- Create a nice thumbnail
- Use closed captions
- Optimize for user engagement (CTR + watch time)
- Encourage engagement by asking questions
- Include a strong hook
- Promote your video on social media
- Know your audience and monetization strategy for maximum ROI.
These are essential strategies that will help you improve your YouTube SEO, get more views and subscribers, and ultimately grow your business.
Or start with a consulting strategy session here.