YouTube SEO 2020: How to Rank YouTube Videos

I’m no YouTube sensation, but I’ve gotten 50,000+ views on many of my videos. I contribute this to YouTube video SEO.

Of course you should use the keyword in the video title, description, file name, and upload a nice custom thumbnail, but YouTube also relies heavily on engagement signals to rank videos. That’s why aiming for 10+ minutes, writing a script, and promoting your video is so important.

It’s also why I like creating videos in conjunction with my website content (embedding the video on my blog gives it more views, watch time, likes, etc). The video also improves my blog content and helps attract links, shares, and people spend more time on my site. It’s a win-win.

YouTube SEO is the process of optimizing your videos, playlists, and channel to rank high in YouTube’s organic search results for a given search query.

Rather than trying to dip into every traffic source in YouTube analytics, I’ll be focusing on ranking videos in YouTube search and sprinkle a few tips to “double dip” your video rankings in Google search.

So I won’t be covering suggested videos, browse features, and other traffic sources.

YouTube explains their discovery and search ranking algorithm in two sentences.

Videos are ranked based on a variety of factors including how well the title, description, and video content match the viewer’s query. Beyond that, we look at which videos have driven the most engagement for a query, and make sure it’s easy for viewers to find those.

So yes, keywords matter from both on-page and “in-video” perspectives. Matching search intent is critical.

But the key ingredient to effective video SEO is high engagement.

They want you to keep viewers on their platform for as long as possible (even if it’s not on your own videos).

That’s because more video views = more ads shown = more money in the bank for Alphabet Inc.

Most importantly, they want you to drive engagement to your videos and they’ll reward you with visibility.

Most engagement metrics can be measured in YouTube analytics as likes/dislikes, comments, CTR, audience retention, average watch time, end screen clicks, card clicks, and the list goes on.

Bottom line?

If you can’t engage your audience, your chances of ranking your YouTube videos for a meaningful keyword are slim to none.

Enough chitter chatter.

YouTube SEO: How to Rank Your Videos From Start to Finish in 2020

Let’s get down to the step by step process to rank your videos higher in YouTube search for 2020:

  1. YouTube Ranking Factors
  2. Choose A Video Keyword In Autocomplete
  3. Learn The Keyword’s Competition
  4. Create Your Video
  5. Use The Keyword In The File Name
  6. Write A Descriptive, Keyword-Rich Title
  7. Write A Description With Keywords, Timestamps, Links
  8. Add Tags (Conservatively)
  9. Design A Nice Custom Thumbnail
  10. Upload A Transcript
  11. Add A Location (Local SEO)
  12. Respond To Comments
  13. Promote Your YouTube Video
  14. Design Your Channel
  15. Equipment I Use

1. YouTube Ranking Factors

YouTube SEO 2020: How to Rank YouTube Videos

2. Choose A Video Keyword In Autocomplete

The best video keywords are specific (long-tail) phrases that show up in both YouTube and Google Autocomplete. This way you can rank your video in both places and get more traffic. Start typing a keyword into YouTube and it will complete the phrase, or use the underline character _ to have it fill in the blank with more ideas. You can do this anywhere in the phrase.

Choose Specific Phrases – targeting broad keywords can you get more views, but are much more competitive than specific phrases. Whether you should target broad or specific phrases depends on the keyword’s competition, video quality, and how well you optimize your video.

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YouTube SEO 2020: How to Rank YouTube Videos

Use keyword suggestion, it will help you

Example: Youtube SEO

# Suggest Queries
1 Youtube Seo
2 Youtube Seo Tips
3 Youtube Seo Tools
4 Youtube Seo 2020
5 Youtube Seo Services
6 Youtube Seo Optimization
7 Youtube Seo Meaning
8 Youtube Seo Keywords
9 Youtube Seo Course
10 Youtube Seo Reddit

Google Trends is another place to find video keywords:

YouTube SEO 2020: How to Rank YouTube Videos

Future read:

How to Find Keywords Research for SEO: A Beginner’s Guide

3. Learn The Keyword’s Competition

MozBar Chrome Extension – install the extension on Google Chrome. Now Google your keyword while searching YouTube, like this: site:www.youtube.com your search term. If top results have a higher PA (page authority), the keyword is more competitive. Broad keywords are naturally more competitive and require you to make a better video, so choose a specific phrase from YouTube/Google Autocomplete and create a better video than the top results.

YouTube SEO 2020: How to Rank YouTube Videos

vidIQ Chrome Extension – install this Google extension, search your keyword in YouTube, and check out a few videos in the top results. You will see an SEO score based on how many likes, dislikes, views, comments, social shares, subscribers, view times, video engagement, and other metrics about the video. You can also see what tags are used and the video description length.

YouTube SEO 2020: How to Rank YouTube Videos

You can see most signals without the extension:

YouTube SEO 2020: How to Rank YouTube Videos

4. Create Your Video

YouTube SEO 2020: How to Rank YouTube Videos

SayYour Keyword – verbally saying your keyword a few times is like keyword density for videos. Say it naturally, don’t just say it to say it. Including partial matches is also good.

Length Is Strength – this applies to both videos and content on your site. Longer videos rank high because people can find everything they’re looking for, especially tutorials and reviews. People will spend more time watching your video and you will probably get more engagement. There is no perfect length, but try to make videos at least 10 minutes, you’ll see better results.

HD Quality – you can use your phone, but a nice HD video camera makes a big difference. If you’re recording your computer make sure you check the settings for optimal video + audio.

Get To The Point – edit out ALL unnecessary pauses and be concise. I am super picky about this and noticed a huge difference in my video’s engagement.

Make Yours Betters – better than whoever’s in the top results, that’s what SEO’s all about.

Cards – cards are the little i (information) button. These can link to related videos, an associated website, polls, donations, or another YouTube channel. They are mobile-friendly (unlike YouTube’s outdated annotations) and you can add them in YouTube’s video manager.

5. Use The Keyword In The File Name

Before uploading your video, label the video file as your keyword. If you already uploaded the video, there is unfortunately no way to change this (however, it’s only a small ranking factor).

YouTube SEO 2020: How to Rank YouTube Videos

6. Write A Descriptive, Keyword-Rich Title

A good title has 2 things: your keyword, and an enticing headline. Google typically displays the first 50–60 characters, so try to stay within that range. You don’t ALWAYS have to use an exact match of your keyword, but each individual word should at least be present in the video title.

7. Write a Description With Keywords, Timestamps, Links

Along with your video title, the video description is one of the most important YouTube ranking factors.

As YouTube and Google can’t extract information from your video, they need a text description to determine your video’s content. If you don’t include one, and therefore give search engines no way to ascertain what your video is about, your rankings could suffer.

Your video description should be at least 250 words, and just like your title, include relevant and suitable keywords.

For further SEO benefits, place your main keyword in the first 25 words of the description, and link to external URLs, such as your social media channels and related blog content.

YouTube SEO 2020: How to Rank YouTube Videos

Timestamps – lets viewers jump to sections of the video so they can find what they’re looking for, which also improves engagement with your video. This is especially helpful for long videos.

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Examples

  • :21 (21 seconds)
  • 1:21 (1 minute and twenty one seconds)
  • 1:30:21 (1 hour, 30 minutes and 21 seconds)

Links – Google follows links to determine the relevancy of a video (similar to internal links on your website). Add a few helpful links to your other videos, blog articles, or helpful resources.

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8. Add Tags (Conservatively)

YouTube SEO 2020: How to Rank YouTube Videos

Tags are one or two word descriptions that offer YouTube a further insight into your video’s topic and content. While they don’t impact on rankings as much as your video’s title or description, tags are still an important element.

They can also help users to find your content. Essentially, tags are keywords – so think about the types of phrases people might use when searching for your video. For example, if your video is about on-page SEO, then you could use tags such as “On Page SEO Techniques” or “Learn On-page SEO 2020”.

Finally, keep in mind the keywords you’ve used for the rest of your channel. Again, make sure that the tags you use are relevant, and don’t go overboard. Ten well-researched and relevant tags are better than 20 generic ones that will get lost in the shuffle.

9. Design A Nice Custom Thumbnail

YouTube SEO 2020: How to Rank YouTube Videos

Thumbnails have a big effect on click-through rates – meaning the right one could maximize your views and thus your ranking.

YouTube can automatically generate a thumbnail for your video by taking a screenshot from your video. However, videos that have customized thumbnails always outperform those that use automatically generated images.

With that in mind, always take the time to create and upload a custom thumbnail for each of your videos. It should be aesthetically pleasing and capture the viewers’ attention. It should also be relevant to the video’s content.

Thumbnails with a 1280 x 720 px resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio

10. Upload A Transcript

Google doesn’t go a good job in transcribing videos into text (look at how sloppy it is in the photo). You will need to transcribe it manually, otherwise the keywords you mention in your video will go to waste.

YouTube SEO 2020: How to Rank YouTube Videos

YouTube SEO 2020: How to Rank YouTube Videos

11. Add A Location (Local SEO)

If your video includes a localized keyword like “Chicago Wedding Photographer” or you just want to target a location, you can specify this in the video manager under Advanced Settings. Just remember to also include the localized keyword in your title, description, file name, etc.

YouTube SEO 2020: How to Rank YouTube Videos

12. Respond To Comments

What makes videos rank higher? Comments. What gets more comments? Responses!

YouTube SEO 2020: How to Rank YouTube Videos

13. Promote Your YouTube Video

You need to promote your video – views don’t just come by themselves. Embed it on your website/blog. Share it on social media and use it in your newsletter and marketing materials.

Future read:

How to Promote Blog in 2020: Content Promotion Tactics

14. Design Your Channel

YouTube SEO 2020: How to Rank YouTube Videos

Create a Banner – canvas.com makes this easy. Image should be 2560(w) x 1440(h) pixels.

Channel Homepage – upload logo, fill in about section, add a featured video. Not that hard.

Playlists – if you’re creating a video series, consider creating an extensive video playlist.

15. Equipment I Use

Conclusion

With the sheer amount of content that’s uploaded to YouTube every minute, getting your videos to rank highly and stand out on the platform can be tough.

However, by paying attention to the ranking factors below, you can get your content to rank better:

  1. YouTube Ranking Factors
  2. Choose A Video Keyword In Autocomplete
  3. Learn The Keyword’s Competition
  4. Create Your Video
  5. Use The Keyword In The File Name
  6. Write A Descriptive, Keyword-Rich Title
  7. Write A Description With Keywords, Timestamps, Links
  8. Add Tags (Conservatively)
  9. Design A Nice Custom Thumbnail
  10. Upload A Transcript
  11. Add A Location (Local SEO)
  12. Respond To Comments
  13. Promote Your YouTube Video
  14. Design Your Channel
  15. Equipment I Use

What has been your biggest challenge when it comes to getting your videos to rank in YouTube? Let us know in the comments below, and remember to keep these ranking factors in mind when creating your next YouTube video!

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