YouTube SEO: How to Rank Your YouTube Videos in 2021

SEO cover

If gaining fame on YouTube is a mystery to you, then you are reading the right content! When we look at the most viewed and most liked video channels on YouTube, it can be easy to say that they are already on the right track as they have so many likes, comments, and subscribers.

But guess what? Every single YouTuber started with 0 likes, 0 views, and 0 subscribers. Every single one. How can one video gain millions of likes and views while the other video, which talks about the same topic, can barely reach 10 views?

The answer is not mysterious or complicated. The answer is YouTube SEO.

If you want people to see your videos, then the right thing for you is to optimize your videos.

But do not be afraid. There is nothing complicated.  It is possible to have a high ranking on YouTube. You need to know how. Do not worry. We are here to guide you through simple steps.

Introducing you to 13 ways to rank higher on YouTube in 2021…

Table of Contents: 

  1. Why is it Important to Rank Your YouTube Video? 
  2. Have a “Focus” Keyword
  3. Optimize Your Title
  4. Optimize Your Description
  5. Include The Right Tags
  6. Come Up With an Engaging Script
  7. Start Making Longer Videos
  8. Keep People Watching
  9. Encourage Engagement
  10. Create an Interesting Thumbnail
  11. Create a Playlist
  12. Create Backlinks
  13. Get Social
  14. Add Closed Captions
  15. Concluding Notes

Why is it Important to Rank Your YouTube Video? 

We’ve mentioned YouTube’s ranking signals in the opening section, where we listed video subscribers, video shares, comments, and Click Through Rate as necessary ranking signals. To increase the number of users who will watch, subscribe, and share your videos, you also need to promote the video content.

  1. Have a “Focus” Keyword

It does not matter in which part of the video creation you are in. Whether you have already posted your videos to YouTube or have not even pressed record yet, creating a “focus” keyword for each video will help you grow your rankings. All search engines do is matching the user’s search term with the most relevant result –and you know what? YouTube is no different!

If you are going through old YouTube videos, re-watch them and try to pinpoint the central theme. Go ahead and think about these two questions: What is the main “focus” of this video? What is the keyword?

Suppose you are planning on making a video or are already posting it, then it will be easier for you if you choose the keyword. We would recommend using various tools to help you find the most popular search terms.

keyword tool

Listing a few of the best keyword research tools: SEMrush, Ahrefs, KeywordTool.io, and Keywords Everywhere. All of the mentioned tools are very similar to each other. You choose your search engine,in this case, YouTube, and then you enter your preferred keyword. 

Once you have found a keyword that matches your video’s topic, list it down, and continue reading this article for more tips on how to use the keyword to rank higher.

  1. Optimize Your Title

Once you have got your winning keyword, you can start to use it to optimize your video in various ways to help you grow your YouTube ranking. One of the simplest ways to do it is to include the keyword in your title. But a keyword alone is not going to be enough to give you a considerable SEO increase.

Your title needs to be compelling. Your video needs to send the vibe and message to all the YouTube users that say, ‘Click me!‘ An excellent way to do this is to guarantee something.

Are you going to entertain them? Are your viewers going to learn something from this video? Let them know what they will miss if they do not watch it. 

Promise them something particular. If you are bringing examples, talk about the amount of those. If you are reacting to a song, give a small hint on what your perspective is going to be.

  1. Optimize Your Description

In addition to optimizing your title, your description also needs to be optimized. Now, as your title is working on catching the eye of possible viewers, you can be a little more in-depth with your description.

YouTube represents the first 125 characters of your description, but it will be better to write around double that–aiming for 250 words. YouTube also suggests that you put the most relevant keywords at the opening of the description.

Of course, it is not all about technical stuff. Your viewers will be reading this as well, so make sure you keep their commitment in mind.

Here are a few very important details you need to learn when writing your video descriptions:

  1. Include your keyword(s)!
  2. Include your website’s URL to direct viewers to your site
  3. Do not just copy and paste a text from your website. Make sure what you are writing is unique. 

4. Include the Right Tags

After placing your keyword(s) in your description and title, you also want to put them in the “tags” section. Tags are for YouTube’s use only, so your viewers will not see what you included.

Feel free to add as many search terms and variations of your keywords as you can think of. If we stick with the ‘Christmas Eve’ example, here are seven you could use:

  1. Christmas Eve
  2. Christmas
  3. Eve
  4. Holidays
  5. New Year’s Eve
  6. New Year’s Holidays

Notice that they do not need to be specific.

  • You should also look at the VidIQ, which will help you see what tags your opponents are using. If you use the same titles as your competitors, your videos will start ranking in the ‘Up Next’ section whenever someone watches their videos. So, you can “steal” attention from them!

5. Come Up with an Engaging Script

Scripts are awkward, and you want to come across as spontaneous and natural as you can. 

 A study by AdAge in 2015 says that marketers have just 10 seconds to engage and capture their audience before losing them. Their research also noted that if your audience is not fully engaged by the first 30 seconds, then you will likely lose 33% of them. And remember, the research was done in 2015! It is more complicated now.

Ensure that your script has a short intro, one that informs viewers why they should stay tuned and get to the point quickly. Think of it as development on your title. Set an encouragement at the start that you are going to fulfill by the end. 

6.  Start Making Longer Videos

Contrary to popular belief, longer videos beat shorter ones when it comes to YouTube. Type any phrase or keyword into YouTube, and you will see that the top-ranking videos are pretty lengthy.

YouTube uses a total view duration as a ranking factor. The longer you stay on YouTube, the more likely you are to watch more videos.The more videos you click, the more likely you are to see the YouTube ads! The longer your videos are watched, the higher your rankings are likely to be.

This means that YouTube favors longer videos that can be watched for more lengthened durations.

However, this does not mean that you drag your videos out for as long as possible. It just means that you do not need to feel pressured and fit everything into a limited time slot.

If your videos are comprehensive and long, but they are still engaging enough to keep viewers watching, YouTube will take a note, and you will start to rank higher.

 7. Keep People Watching

It is all good and well to create a long video with keywords in it, but if people are not sticking around to watch your video, then you are going to be sending a disturbing message to YouTube.

Watch-time is extremely important for YouTube SEO. To make people watch your videos till the end, you need to make sure they are as visually engaging as possible. Many creators sit in front of a camera and talk, but let us be honest, most of the time, it isn’t very engaging.

To make sure your videos stand out, put a lot of effort into editing to keep viewers on their toes.

With this in mind, it is also necessary to quickly get to the point at your video’s start. Tell the viewer what is going to be the outcome of this video, and then get started.

8. Encourage Engagement

There is a reason that every YouTube video ends with: “If you liked this video, give it a thumbs-up, and don’t forget to subscribe…” …or something like that.

video engagement

Simple! Engagement influences your SEO! Whenever someone comments, likes, comments, or subscribes, it sends a clear signal to YouTube that this viewer enjoyed the content, which will start showing them more of your videos.

9. Create an Interesting Thumbnail

There are two things a viewer sees before deciding to click on your video: the video thumbnail and the title. 

YouTube can automatically attach a thumbnail to you, but this will be a random shot from the video. To stand out, you need to use an attention-grabbing image and a unique picture to inspire people to click. 

Each thumbnail has been selected to attract viewers. The speakers are looking directly at the camera, and the text on screen further repeats what the video is going to be about.

This inspires users to click on the video, and a high click-through rate will strengthen your ranking performance.

10.  Create a Playlist

Playlists are a fantastic way to increase the watch time of your channel because they play automatically. Instead of watching just one or two of your videos, a viewer might watch four or five!

To create a playlist, you need to have a group of videos with a similar topic or theme.

It can also help you get in touch with people who create similar content and ask them to add your videos to one of their playlists. The more playlists your videos are featured in, the better for you!

When you contact those people, make sure you know why it is right for them. You do not want them to think you are merely asking for a favor.

By adding your videos to their playlists, they can cater to their viewers’ needs and grow their watch-time. You can also offer to have their videos in your playlists, too!

Link building is a tremendous ranking factor for any piece of content or video. If you are familiar with optimizing the written content, like your website or blog, you probably know that they pay attention to the number of backlinks to decide how relevant your content is.

As Google owns YouTube, it should not surprise you that YouTube works in this way too.

To boost your backlinks, be sure to post your video in as many places as possible, like your blog or your website.

You could also go ahead and ask other websites in your niche to write guest posts for them with your video or to post your video on their site. Remember this: The more backlinks you have, the better your YouTube SEO will be.

Ranking high on Google could also get your video featured on their first page of search results for your “focus” keyword, which is a valuable amount of visibility for your YouTube channel.

12.  Get Social

The last way to rank higher on YouTube is by spreading the word about your video on as many social media platforms as you can think of! So please, share it on all of your social media, and encourage people to share it, too.

Post on the usual sites, like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and think outside of the box. Search for your topics and keywords related to your video in forums and post your videos there as well.

13.  Add Closed Captions

YouTube videos can support closed captions to benefit people with hearing difficulties. A bonus of these captions is that YouTube and Google crawl them, so they can work to boost your SEO!

YouTube can automatically caption your videos, but this is usually riddled with errors. To get your closed captions indexed and make them SEO-friendly, you need to edit the captions YouTube provides or upload your own.

Concluding Notes

YouTube is a competitive platform to share your content because there are SO many people visiting it daily.

But do not panic! Just remember that there are still many different ways to try and rank higher or improve your YouTube SEO to make your videos and your channel more productive for your agency or business.

Still have doubts? Let us know what is bothering you in the comments section below. It can be that you ran out of topics to post, or you are just starting and do not know where to begin.

All of this has happened to me and everyone that you see on YouTube.

So, do not hesitate to reach out!

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