Person using YouTube on phone and laptop to optimize YouTube SEO

YouTube SEO Guide to Best Practices

YouTube is the most popular website worldwide. While using it can be a valuable opportunity to reach more viewers, knowing how to do so requires an understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). However, YouTube SEO in particular can be a bit tricky. 

Fortunately, we’ve put together this guide to help you navigate on-page SEO for YouTube. By following a few best practices and planning ahead, you can boost your video rankings. 

In this article, we’ll introduce you to YouTube SEO and explain how it works. Then we’ll take you through five easy steps to improve your performance on the platform. Let’s get started! 

What Is YouTube SEO and How Does It Work?

SEO refers to the process of getting your content to the top of search results. Since search engines are a popular way to discover new material online, finding strategies to make your work more prominent can help drive traffic. For example, this could include incorporating relevant keywords.

However, it’s important to understand that YouTube uses a different SEO ranking algorithm than Google. The video platform has stated that it prioritizes the audience experience

Therefore, YouTube requires a unique approach. That’s not to say that general SEO strategies, such as posting frequently, won’t be helpful. Rather, you may want to combine such tactics with platform-specific actions. Doing this can help you create stellar content for both readers and search engines

How to Improve SEO on YouTube (In 5 Steps)

If you want to understand how SEO works on YouTube and how to use it to your advantage, you’ve come to the right place. Below are five steps that you can use to improve your YouTube rankings and SEO. 

Step 1: Perform Keyword Research

Keywords make it easier for viewers to find your content. Often, these are words or phrases that people enter into search engines. Therefore, they are important for most digital content, including for your WordPress site

Fortunately, there are countless tools available to help you pick the best phrases. We recommend the powerful and free Google Keyword Planner:

The Google Keyword Planner homepage, a powerful SEO tool for YouTube.

You can either analyze the current popularity of your chosen keyword, or generate new keywords from your existing one. This process can help you predict how popular your idea is, as well as how much competition already exists for it.

We recommend opting for terms that have low competition but high search volume. This typically indicates an opening in the market where your content can thrive. You may also want to jot down a few of the suggested keywords, which can help you rank for multiple topics. 

Step 2: Utilize Keywords in Your Title and Description

Once you’ve settled on a few suitable words, keep them handy. Research can help point your work in the right direction, but you can also actively use the keywords themselves to boost YouTube SEO.

One method is by including them in your YouTube video’s title and description:

In addition to enhancing your SEO, the title and description can benefit your viewers because they’ll have a clear idea of what your content will deliver. This is an excellent way to cater to rankings without leaving your audience in the dust. 

However, try to avoid ‘keyword stuffing’. This is a term used to describe obviously engineered wording that feels unnatural. A good rule of thumb is that if it looks unnatural to you, it will likely look the same to your audience. You might also want to consider avoiding any keyword gaps

Step 3: Add Tags to Your Video

Next, you’ll want to populate your video’s tags, to help make your content discoverable to those who are most likely to enjoy it.  A smart starting point is with your main keyword. Typically, whichever phrase you’ve decided to focus on should be in your tags. You could also consider adding a few secondary keywords.  

Additionally, you may want to tag your own channel name, as well as a popular competitor. While this may seem counterintuitive, it’s actually a clever strategy. Because of how SEO works on YouTube, viewers of that popular channel will be more likely to see your video in their recommendations. 

After you’ve completed the tagging process, the section should look something like this:

A YouTube tagging section with the tags "main keyword, secondary keyword, channel name, popular channel" within the field.

We recommend using between three and five keywords. It might seem like a good idea to add as many relevant phrases as you can, but this goes against YouTube’s spam policies. As such, you’re better off with just a few well-performing phrases in your tags.

Step 4: Create Longer-Form Content

Long-form content can help engage your audience. It also tends to perform better on YouTube. Therefore, you may want to opt for more thorough content. While there’s no official benchmark, anywhere between five and 20 minutes is usually enough. 

You don’t necessarily have to aim for a specific number. Instead, prioritize creating the best videos you can. Once you have an idea for how you feel the content naturally flows, you can add time where it makes the most sense.

Another key tip is to keep your niche in mind. As this graph from Statista shows, different audiences have various tastes when it comes to runtime:  

A graph showing different categories have different average video lengths. Gaming is the highest with 24.7 minutes, while music is the lowest with 6.8 minutes.

Given the distinct average video lengths, you’ll need to take your niche into account. Longer videos can help your SEO, but you might need to balance that with your viewers’ needs.

Step 5: Get Your Video Shared on Social Media

You probably know that social sharing benefits most forms of content. You might already be trying to leverage this effect by cross-posting work on different accounts, such as Twitter:

A Torque Twitter post advertising a video that is also available on the YouTube account.

This is particularly important on YouTube, since its algorithms favor popular videos. Social shares tell YouTube’s algorithm that the video is successful, which can improve its rankings. 

Therefore, we recommend that you encourage viewers to share your content. Consider using a strong Call to Action (CTA), such as telling your audience to share with a friend who would enjoy it. Alternatively, an attention-catching thumbnail can also be effective.

Make the Best Content With Torque

Navigating YouTube SEO can be confusing. While adhering to best practices can do wonders for your rankings, algorithms can still be inconsistent. Fortunately, by complementing a solid SEO approach with information on emerging trends and social media developments, you can put forth your best content. 

In this article, we covered five steps to help you master SEO on YouTube:

  1. Research your keywords ahead of time.
  2. Include those keywords in your video’s title and description. 
  3. Remember to add relevant tags to your video.
  4. Opt for longer content.
  5. Strive to get your video shared on social media.

Do you have any questions or tips related to YouTube SEO best practices? Let us know in the comments section below!

Get started.

Build faster, protect your brand, and grow your business with a WordPress platform built to power remarkable online experiences.

Chat with us!