What Is YouTube Video SEO?

YouTube video SEO (search engine optimisation) is the process of using certain tactics to make sure your videos are discovered online. In an environment saturated with videos from competing brands, this isn’t as simple as just shooting and uploading your video content. So with that in mind, here are 6 tips for improving your video SEO:

1. Use the Right Target Keywords

A keyword is a word (or phrase) that people use when searching online. Using the most popular, relevant keywords in your videos improves the chances of them showing at the top of YouTube’s search results.

Keyword use is an integral part of optimising content for search engines, and it begins with research. Your aim is to find keywords that people are searching for on YouTube (and other search engines, like Google), and then incorporate these into your video titles, descriptions and transcripts.

The first step is to generate a list of potential keywords that relate to your business and the content you produce. To find keywords and their search volumes, you can use tools like Google Keyword Planner, BuzzSumo or KeywordTool.io.

To generate keyword ideas on YouTube directly, we recommend using YouTube’s Search autocomplete feature. All you need to do is type a word or phrase into YouTube’s search bar, and you will see a selection of related keywords suggested underneath the term (see the image below for reference).

Video SEO Youtube

These keywords are SEO gold, because they’re what people are actually searching for on YouTube.

2. Use Your Keywords Wisely

Once you’ve found the perfect keywords for your videos (aim for one keyword per video), use them wisely. This means you need to use them in your video file names, titles, descriptions and transcripts, as this is the information search algorithms look at to determine the content of your videos on YouTube and Google.


A great YouTube title needs to be enticing and mention your target keyword. If the exact keyword sounds too clunky, aim to include each individual word somewhere in the title. Your title shouldn’t be more than 70 characters.


Your video descriptions provide you with the opportunity to use keywords, add timestamps, link to other content (linking is great for SEO) and provide an overall summary of your video. Descriptions come with a whopping 5,000-character limit. However, it’s the first 160 characters that will appear before the ‘Show more’ button on YouTube and in other search engine results. This means your first sentence needs to be brief, enticing and include your target keyword. A rule of thumb is to use your keyword 2 or 3 times (total) in the video description.

Add a Transcript and Captions

Video SEO

YouTube doesn’t do a very good job of transcribing videos into text, so for best results, you’ll need to do it manually (or request SRT files from your Shootsta editor!). Once you have the transcript, you can use it to add subtitles or captions to your videos – and you can also add it to the description. And make sure you mention the keyword a few times (note: keep it contextual, not spammy).

3. Create Great Videos

Audience retention (i.e. the percentage of your videos that people are watching) is an important ranking factor on YouTube. This means that if you want your videos to perform well in search results, you need to make sure they’re engaging enough to keep people watching until the very end.

According to YouTube:

“Your goal is to keep audience retention as close to 100% as you can, because this means viewers are watching all of the way through… Videos with consistently high audience retention and watch time have the potential to show up more frequently in Search and Suggested locations.”

Need tips for creating entertaining videos? Check out our blog post on ‘How to create videos that will keep your audience engaged’.

4. Choose an Enticing Thumbnail

Your thumbnail could be the deciding factor for whether or not someone clicks on your video. Think about it – a thumbnail often gives people the best indication of what sort of video they will be in for. If it looks unprofessional or boring, they’ll assume the video will be a waste of time. The thumbnail doesn’t have to be a blurry still from your video, though. For best results, we recommend choosing a ‘custom thumbnail’ (you will need to be verified by YouTube to do this) that includes a professional, well-lit photo (taken on set) as well as enticing graphic text.

5. Create a Blog Post that Targets the Same Keyword

Creating a blog post that targets the same keyword as your video is beneficial, because both the post and the video can rank on Google. Make sure you embed the video in the blog post, and that you link to the blog in the video description. The more traffic you get to the blog post, the more views you will get for your video, and vice versa. Views, likes and embeds are seen favourably by YouTube and Google as audience interactions, which means your videos are more likely to show up in search results.

6. Promote Your Video

Last but not least, you need to make sure you promote your video. After all, those views won’t start pouring in all by themselves! To promote your videos, embed them on your website, share them on social media and use them in your newsletters and/or marketing emails.

We hope you find these video SEO tips helpful! And if you need a hand creating engaging, SEO-driven videos, we’re always here to help. ?

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One Comment

  • Aly Chiman says:

    Hello there,

    My name is Aly and I would like to know if you would have any interest to have your website here at shootsta.com promoted as a resource on our blog alychidesign.com ?

    We are in the midst of updating our broken link resources to include current and up to date resources for our readers. Our resource links are manually approved allowing us to mark a link as a do-follow link as well.

    If you may be interested please in being included as a resource on our blog, please let me know.


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