YouTube SEO: How to Optimize YouTube Videos

YouTube SEO: How to Optimize YouTube Videos

YouTube is the second-most popular site in the world, and it’s one of the reasons why you should consider developing a strong YouTube marketing strategy.  

This platform has its own search bar, videos from YouTube rank well in Google, and it influences behavioral factors. So yes, this promotion channel is worth a try! But it works well as long as you optimize your videos properly.

In this post, I’m going to give some tips away on how to optimize your channel, playlists, and videos.

  • YouTube Channel Optimization
  • Playlists Optimization
  • Video Optimization


YouTube Channel Optimization

We’ll start with the optimization of the YouTube channel. Some of these steps I’m going to mention have no direct impact on your rankings, but it affects behavioral factors, a visual component, and conversions. Let’s start!


  • Channel Name

Here I have pretty simple advice: use your brand name. Forget about using keywords like “WordPress SEO” or “Video optimization”, senseless nicknames, or something you might find using YouTube names generator. Channels with such names are faceless.

It should be memorable and catchy, so use your own name or the name of your brand. If the user once found a valuable video on your channel, next time your name should ring the bell when s/he is going to find some tutorials.

Analyze competitors, and you’ll see what names the most successful bloggers have:

SEO Training Youtube

Sure, it could be a combination of your name and your primary keyword, but the keyword alone is almost never the case.


  • Channel Design

Channel icon and header. These elements should be attractive and catchy too as it affects your conversions. The icon is usually your headshot or logo. The header should be 2560*1440 pixels and could also contain the logo of your YouTube channel, name, headshot, slogan, CTA (subscribe! join us!), links to your site, blog, social media platforms. Remember about your corporate colors. Take it seriously because first impressions do matter; if you’re not sure how to brand yourself up, check these brand tips out.

Brian Dean Channel


  • Channel Trailer

A trailer is also a conversion element as it is the first thing your potential subscribers see. Create a trailer and tell about your channel: your main topics and formats, your goals and ideas. This video should not take more than two minutes. Feel free to ask your visitors to subscribe.


  • Channel Description

Here you should kill two marketing birds with one stone. You should add your primary keywords to your channel description so that it remains readable and attractive to your subscribers.

See, these two are full of keywords, but they’re also clear and easy to understand:

Channel Description Youtube


Youtube Channel Description

Choose an SEO tool you like the most and find the list of keywords. Keyword research will come in handy for future steps as well.  

First, come up with your primary keywords. Since at this stage you’ve probably been working in your niche for a while, you know these keywords without special tools. Write down all the words that are related to what you do. For instance, if your website deals with internet marketing, your keywords could be online marketing, digital marketing, SEO, e-commerce, website optimization, marketing strategies, online marketing tutorials, SEO guide, etc.

Then go to your SEO tool and extend this list with other related keywords, synonyms, and variations. I’ll go with Serpstat.

Type keywords you came up with into the search box one by one and choose other keywords here:

Serpstat Keywords

Then go to “related keywords” feature and find even more ideas:

Serpstat Related Keywords

Related keywords are phrases semantically related to your primary keyword. They are great in case you want your text to look natural. (Hint: you should want it to!)    

Use these keywords to create descriptions suitable for both Google and subscribers.


  • Describe the point of your channel; tell what the person will find on it;
  • Pay special attention to the first 150 characters. First words should clearly describe what is behind your channel.
  • Add keywords but not overdo it.

  • Channel Tags

Here we need the keyword list we’ve collected earlier. Create a tag for every topic you mentioned in your videos, in all variations.

At the very beginning, you can look up at your competitors, or use popular YouTube tags. Use the vidIQ plugin to find out what tags your competitors use:


Youtube Video Tags


  • Channel Recommendations

Dig through the settings and check if everything is alright there. Don’t forget to put a checkmark to allow your channel to appear in other channels recommendations (you’ll find it in the Advanced settings):

Youtube Channel Recommendations

Playlists Optimization

The playlist is a collection of videos put together on your channel. It shouldn’t be only your videos, feel free to share some videos from other channels as well. But the first video in the playlist should be yours.

  • Playlist Title

The title should be short (3-5 words tops) as we need only high-frequency queries. The low-frequency ones we’ll keep for video title and description.

Put keywords as close as possible to the beginning of the Title. It’s even better if the whole Title is a keyword. For instance, your playlist’s Title could be “Search engine optimization”, “Search engine optimization tips”, etc.


SEO Tips Playlist

  • Playlist Description

It also should be short (under 1000 characters) and clear. Tell about your playlist, what visitors could find there, what s/he could learn from these videos, and so on. Of course, your description should contain keywords.

  • Adding Videos to Playlists

Set up auto-add for your playlists to save a ton of time. You can connect your playlists with your tags so that it adds videos with the same tag to one playlist automatically.

Youtube Playlist Setting


Video Optimization

Even the best video can fall through if its headline isn’t catchy. It should be intriguing and compelling. The name of the video should consist of 5-7 words and contain your most frequent keyword.

Use the same primary keyword in your Title, Description, and Tags:

Youtube SEO Ranking


Video Thumbnail

  • Google recommends using 1280 x 720 pixels images, with a minimum width of 640 pixels. A ratio of 16:9 is optimal.
  • You can make a thumbnail from a video frame. Thus YouTube will know for sure that your thumbnail is relevant.
  • Don’t use YouTube’s templates. They’re boring.
  • Use brand colors.
  • Write a catchy phrase on your thumbnails but don’t use too much text.
  • Close-ups of people and characters increase loyalty.
  • Make sure your thumbnail looks good via mobile phone and other devices.
  • Don’t use stock photos or photos that have nothing to do with your video.
  • A/B testing and competitor analysis is always a good idea.


Video Title

As I said earlier, you should use SEO tools to find keywords. Along with Serpstat, you can use Keyword Planner and YouTube search suggestions:

Youtube search autosuggest

You should write a keyword-reach Title and Description for every video. It’s the most important part as meta tags are crucial signals that show what your video is about both viewer and search engine.

Here are some recommendations:

  • Keyword density should be high. Do not it dilute with unnecessary words.
  • If your Title is long, feel free to use your primary keyword two times in different word forms.
  • Include keyword as close as possible to the beginning of the line;
  • Check competitors’ similar videos to avoid using the same title, word for word.
  • Use catchy words like a how-to, tutorial, DIY, case study, X ways/hacks, real example, free, fast.
  • Use keywords but avoid keyword stuffing. Your title should be readable.


Video Description 

  • Include your keyword in the first 25 words of your description. The first 100-110 characters are displayed in the snippet.
  • Make the description 250-300 words long.
  • Include your keyword 2-4 times. It should be readable as well as your title.
  • Use time codes under the video. Feel free to include keywords here too.
  • Create a description template to save time.

Video Tags

Use tags for all your videos. I described it earlier in the part about channel optimization. It helps YouTube and Google understand what your video is about.

Video Subtitles

First of all, you’re taking care of people. As a bonus, your subtitles are naturally full of keywords, which is good for YouTube SEO and will help Youtube understand the point of your video. Here is a useful article that’ll help you create subtitles.

Wrapping Up

This is it. This is where I leave you. I tried to create some kind of checklist for optimizing YouTube channel, playlists, and videos. My point is that you should use keywords in your Title, Description, and Tags. At the same time, you should make sure that the text remains readable.

So always think about people but don’t forget about SEO as well.

Anna Rud

Anna Rud is a Content Marketer at Serpstat. Establishing an active presence on external resources, developing rich and quality content, and implementing brand strategy are her key responsibilities. She specializes in content marketing, blogging, digital marketing, SEO, and search analytics.

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