YouTube SEO: 3 Easy Ways to Start Ranking Your Content

With all the different marketing channels a business owner or entrepreneur can use these days, it can be difficult to know which one is the best. From social media ads to blog posts to other forms of digital marketing, getting your brand noticed can be as easy — or as complicated — as you want to make it.

Shoaib Khan

One effective way to build your brand and draw attention to your business is by creating  YouTube videos. With millions of videos available on any given subject, there’s a niche  for pretty much anything on YouTube, and It can be super helpful in creating a following  for your business.  

But simply putting video content out into the universe won’t be as effective if you’re not  using smart SEO strategies to make your videos highly visible. In order to ensure your  content ranks high within the abyss that is YouTube, there are a few things you need to  take care of first.  

Read on for three smart moves you can make if you’re trying to start ranking your content.

Use Relevant Keywords

We all know the backbone of SEO is the use of relevant keywords. Whether you’re  publishing a blog post, optimizing your eCommerce store for SEO, or setting up your  business website, the keyword is king when it comes to creating content that ranks high.  

Keywords are important for ranking on YouTube as well, but not all keywords are  created equal — which you’ll find out the hard way if you don’t do your research first.  

The good news is that there are plenty of uncomplicated ways to find out what keywords  work best for your videos, and without spending too much time or effort. You can opt for  a keyword research tool if you want the process to be more streamlined and automated, or you can do the searching yourself.  

If you choose the latter option, a quick Google search of “best ranking keywords in (your  topic)” or something similar should produce some helpful results.  

Now that you’re aware of the importance of relevant keywords, how exactly can you use  them in your YouTube videos? This might seem a little confusing because after all, you’re producing video content, not the written variety.  

However, your YouTube content can absolutely be a goldmine for relevant keywords  that will send your ratings through the roof. Here are three ways you can use your newly found relevant keywords throughout your YouTube content.

Your Title

Your title is one of the main elements that will draw viewers to your content, and though  it’s usually only a few words, you can make those words work for your SEO ranking.  

After you’ve completed your research and chosen your desired keywords, start playing  around with your title to make the keywords fit as naturally as possible. This tactic can  also be applied to your video file title, which will help your video rank higher as well.  

Your Tags

Hashtags help social media users locate content that they’re searching for, and this can  be applied to your YouTube content as well. By adding hashtags to your videos, you’re  making them more easily accessible to a wider audience.  

This is why it makes sense that you would use your keywords in this process as well.  Hashtags within the video description will be linked above the video title, helping your  content to rank even better.  

Your Description

Another helpful way to put your video’s description to good use is to include your  keywords within the description itself. SEO experts say descriptions should be short,  sweet, and to the point, in order to get your message across without being too wordy.  

A general rule of thumb is to keep descriptions at around 200 words or less while  naturally including your keywords in the first sentence or two. This is a smart strategy to  use and will help your videos reach higher ranking positions.  

Pick Your Thumbnails Wisely

The thumbnail of your video is a still image from within your content that shows up on  the list of videos when viewers are browsing. It’s what viewers see first, and aside from  the title, it can either make or break your video’s chances of being clicked on.  

This is easily remedied by ensuring that your thumbnail is interesting enough to make  viewers want to watch your content. While it may only seem fair that the thumbnail  automatically chosen by YouTube’s algorithm is one that would garner your viewers’  interest, it takes a little work to make this happen.  

Watch time is important to consider when choosing your thumbnails, as it has a big part  to play in your ranking on YouTube. What this basically means is that the longer people  watch your videos — for example, watching through to the end versus clicking away  after a minute or two — the better they will rank.  

This, in turn, makes your videos more visible to potential viewers, and on the cycle  continues. But, in order to get the watch time ranking you desire, your thumbnail has to  get the viewers in the proverbial door to even begin the process. This can be done by 

creating custom thumbnails for each of your videos, which can eventually become a  way for viewers to identify your brand.  

You’ll notice that some of the most popular YouTubers often have similar thumbnails  throughout their various uploads (like images of them in the corner of the thumbnail  making an exaggerated expression, for example). This is their way of branding their  

content, while at the same time creating thumbnails that interest viewers enough to click  on (and stay on) their videos.  

You can customize your thumbnails as much as you like through the use of quality video  editing software, of which there are many different options to choose from. These allow  you to create, customize, and save your desired thumbnail image to later upload with  your content. It’s a relatively streamlined process once you've created your image and is  definitely worth doing.  

Don’t Forget the Subtitles

While subtitles or closed captions are a debatable topic — with some viewers hating  them and others using them constantly — they can be a super helpful way to help your  content rank high for SEO.

If you think about this for a minute, it only makes sense: you’re essentially including a  visible transcript within your video content, which is almost like writing a word-for-word  blog post of your video. This is a great compliment to your content for various reasons,  including:

Viewer Appreciation

Viewers who enjoy using subtitles will be grateful for the fact that your channel includes  them regularly. This will not only make your viewers happy (which is a great motivator in  and of itself), but also helps to create a loyal fanbase of viewers who enjoy and  appreciate your content.

A loyal fanbase means more subscribers, more viewers, and a higher ranking within the  YouTube algorithm. This will get you closer to the coveted monetized status even faster,  and since this is likely your desired outcome in the first place, it’s a win-win situation for  you and your viewers alike.

Increased Visibility

Subtitle enthusiasts notwithstanding, there’s also a portion of viewers who actually need  subtitles to even watch videos at all. Those who are deaf or hearing impaired rely on the  use of subtitles in order to be able to enjoy content on YouTube, which they have as  much of a right to do as anyone else.

By utilizing subtitles in your content, you’re not only helping these viewers enjoy more  videos that match their interests, but you’re also tapping into a huge area of the viewer

market that many YouTubers are missing out on. This, again, helps you to bring  valuable content to more people while helping your SEO ranking in the process.

Perfect Opportunity for Keyword Use

Since the subtitles are essentially a visual compliment to your content’s audio,  optimizing your script for SEO will be a smart move on your part. Using your keywords  as naturally as possible throughout the video will make a big difference to your ranking  with the added use of subtitles.

This is akin to publishing blog posts along with video content, only it entails half the  work for you. There’s no need to write the subtitles yourself, simply choose for them to  be added to your video during the uploading process. This adds to your ranking not only  through the use of keywords, but also through the increased views mentioned earlier.  Subtitles really are a simple, yet effective SEO strategy!

Start Ranking Your YouTube Content Today

While the above tips are helpful for getting you well on your way to high-ranking content,  the whole process can be intimidating, to say the least. For expert help with your  marketing efforts, strategies, and growing your brand, talk with a growth partner like  Clearoute.

Clearoute’s marketing geniuses will get you started on the right foot, helping you to  grow your brand in a way that works best for you. Try a consult today and see what a  difference a little help can make!

Shoaib Khan
Shoaib Khan is the Founder of Clearoute Inc. and has led the agency for over 20 years.