7 Essential Video SEO Tips to Rank #1 on YouTube

YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world (just behind its father Google) so you obviously want your videos to get to the top of the search, but is there a secret to rank higher than anyone else?

Hint: No secret, just hard work!

Setting up a wise SEO strategy is the key ingredient when uploading your video to YouTube. It’s the most simple and inexpensive way for the search engine -and therefore your potential customers- to find, watch and rank it. And this works for YouTube as well as for Google! You need to be smart and accurate in order to manage your video SEO elements (such as keywords, tags and thumbnails) to keep your YouTube marketing running effectively. Our video included down here got to YouTube’s 1st page under the “best explainer videos” keyword and reached the top 3 under the “explainer videos” keyword in just 3 months by thoroughly following these tips, and today we’d like to share them with you:


Think of your video’s title as its “headline.” Titles help audiences understand your content, so be sure to pick the right keywords to help describe to your viewers what your video is about.

Here are some useful tips that can help you with your titles:

• Keep titles concise. Our recommendation is to have less than 70 characters, since titles longer than that will be truncated in a Google search.

• Avoid titles that trick viewers into watching a video. This will cause a huge drop-off that will negatively impact your video’s watch-time performance, along with its ranking.

• Include descriptive and relevant keywords towards the beginning of the title.


Along with your video title, thumbnails act as tiny marketing banners for your videos. The right thumbnail attracts greater audience numbers to your video, so you should always customize yours in order to optimize your video for SEO purposes.


Here are some awesome thumbnail tips:

• Accurately represent the video content. If your thumbnail is misleading, it can cause audience drop-offs that negatively impact viewership and watch-time.

• If you work with animated marketing videos, use the most colorful and attractive stills from your video to stand out.

• If you work with live-action marketing videos, use close-ups of faces when possible. In these cases, human faces always draw more attention.

• Use hi-resolution images (at least 640×360 pixels). If the resolution is low, your video might be perceived as a low quality production, and people won’t click on it.

• Make them look great at both small and large sizes. Check your thumbnails on different devices (such as TVs, iPads and desktop computers) to be sure that they look great everywhere. Remember that in search engines the thumbnail will appear quite smaller. If your tiny image is not appealing, people won’t click on it.

• Make sure that the foreground stands out from the background. Don’t use an image where the background competes with the foreground; the elements placed above should always stand out more. You only have a few seconds to catch your audiences attention, so make it simple!


The description is a very important element. It describes, to the viewers, what your video is about. It’s also what appears below the title in any search, so make sure you write the important information in the first 2 sentences. Then, you can add further information and also a transcript your video script (that’s actually a great spot for keywords).


Want some useful tips on this matter?

• Accurately describe the basic information about your video in one or two concise sentences.

• Include a link to your website within the first two sentences.

• Include relevant keywords that will make your video easy to find on Google.

• Add links to your social media sites.

• Add a transcription of your video script below the first lines on the description. This action gives you the opportunity to place more relevant keywords for your target audience.


A CTA (call-to-action) is a clear action that you want your audience to perform. YouTube lets you include a CTA in the form of a clickable button in your video. It’s highly recommended to always include one, to entice your viewers to complete the action you’re looking for.


Ready to make your viewers take action? Here are some great tips to help you succeed with this:

• Ask your viewers to subscribe, like, comment or share your video through your CTA.

• Although YouTube lets you include a CTA button, your video should also have a clear CTA at the end.

• Measure your CTA performance to learn if your video campaign is effective.

• A/B testing different CTAs can help you understand what your audience wants and learn where your leads are coming from.


There are many reasons why you need to make people watch the video all the way through to the end. The most obvious one is that you need them to get to your call-to-action (usually placed at the end of the video); but probably the most important reason is that the amount of time people spend watching directly affects your video’s YouTube rank. In other words, if thousands of viewers play your video but leave after a few seconds, YouTube will consider that your video as not interesting enough and your place in the search engine will drop drastically.

No video gets to a 100% audience retention, so chill out because you’ll always lose a good deal of viewers along the way. More than 40% of viewers watched our 2+ minute video all the way through to the end. That’s a great number! It allowed us to reach the 1st place in an organic YouTube search (see tip #6) and we’re more than happy about it.

Looking at the relative metrics (comparing the amount of people that watch a video with all YouTube videos of similar length), you’ll see that our video marks “high” in audience retention. That’s a great engagement sign and one of the main reasons why we’ve ranked higher than average videos by the same topic:

YouTube Metrics

But what’s the secret to getting a high audience retention rate? There’s only one answer to that question: make a great video. Don’t settle on poor animation quality, dull scriptwriting or boring content; in order to get the best ROI, your marketing videos need to be attractive, engaging and awesomely crafted!


Your tags are the keywords that people will use to find your video in a video search engine. Therefore, they should be consistent and accurate. Make sure you:

• Put your most important keywords first.

• Use quotes for keywords phrases, such as “iPhone app”.

• Add long-tail keywords as well such as “best iPhone social apps”.

If you choose your tags wisely, the YouTube ranking results will yield in your favor for your videos. Ours, for example, ranks first in a YouTube search with the “best explainer videos” long-tail keywords and ranks in the top 3 results with the “explainer videos” and “explainer video” keywords.


Bear in mind that in order to start promoting on YouTube it’s always recommended to invest some money in it, in order to give your videos a little push. Use YouTube paid promotion services especially during the first few days your video is online. If your video is engaging enough and people start watching it regularly, YouTube will notice the audience interest and reward your video by ranking it higher. All of the above SEO tips will help you along the way.

YouTube Play Button

Were these basic video SEO tips useful for your YouTube marketing strategy? Are you hungry for more?

You can find further advice where this came from, inside Yum Yum Videos‘ new eBook: “You Have Your Explainer Video Done… Now What?“. The guide delivers great video SEO tips, plus best practices on video marketing analytics and where to place your videos in order to get the best results.


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