Top 10 YouTube Optimization Tips – How To Optimize YouTube Videos For Top Rankings

YouTube Optimization Introduction & Overview

In this report I am going to introduce you to the top 10 YouTube optimization steps you need to take every time you upload a video to YouTube if you want your videos rank well. But before we get into these optimization tips I want to clarify a few points and ensure that you’re ‘thinking’ about YouTube the right way.

Imagine for a moment, standing on the busiest street corner in any major city in the world and asking everyone who walks by, “What is YouTube?”

I suspect that 98% of the population would tell you “It’s a video sharing website” or some variation of that.

But as a digital entrepreneur, that’s NOT the right answer or the right way to think about YouTube. Here’s how digital entrepreneurs should answer the question:

“YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world!”

Paradigm shift! ????

If you think of YouTube as a search engine then you are going to have way more success getting your videos in front of the largest number of people.

So now that you are thinking about YouTube the RIGHT way, let’s dive a little deeper into “YouTube search engine optimization”!

Ranking Well In YouTube Is Your Backdoor Into Google

YouTube is a massive search engine. Over 1,000,000,000 use YouTube and the primary method of finding videos is using YouTube’s search engine.

But did you also know YouTube is your shortcut to ranking in Google as well?

To demonstrate my point, have a look at the screenshot below. If you search for the keyword “best traffic source” or a close variation you will notice my video shows up in the #3 spot.

This particular video has been ranking in this spot for years but that’s not the best part…

The best part is this:

If you choose the right long tail keywords (we’ll get to that) you can see your YouTube video appearing in Google FAST.

To get a webpage to rank as quickly, especially a newer website with no authority or history, is next to impossible these days.

Understanding YouTube’s Search Engine Algorithm

Any modern search engine uses an algorithm to index, sort, sift and display websites, videos, music, posts, etc.

The problem with search algorithms belonging to any major search engine like Google & YouTube is that they’re massively complex and other than the developers (who are sworn to secrecy) no one really knows exactly how they work.

In fact, last I heard, Google’s algorithm looks at over 200+ factors to determine what keywords your website should rank for and where in the index you should show up.

Fortunately YouTube’s search engine algorithm is a little less complex because YouTube is more of a contained ecosystem and is limited to indexing videos in a very controlled format.

Once YouTube figures out a way to automatically analyze the actual content of a video I suspect their algorithm will become far more complex, but so far that does not seem to be the case which is good news for us.

Why is it good news? Well, if Google cannot accurately review the content of the video you upload then their algorithm is going to be limited to reviewing elements external to the video and today we a have high level of influence over those elements which we will be discussing in just a moment.

YouTube Marketing Shortcuts To Avoid (aka What NOT to do)

Like any search engine in existence there’s an entire community of marketers that are looking for ways to beat or ‘game’ YouTube’s search engine and algorithm using Blackhat strategies.

Here’s the problem: These same people are also out there selling software, courses and services that are promising almost instant results with little effort.

It’s a sexy sales pitch and it’s easy to get sucked in, but after over 15 years of search engine (remember: YouTube is a search engine), I can tell you without hesitation, if you look for shortcuts (aka Blackhat), eventually you will get caught, penalized and possibly even booted out.

So just to be clear, here are three YouTube marketing mistakes to avoid…

1. YouTube Marketing Mistake #1: Creating Low Quality Videos:

Now let me clarify this point. When I say low quality, I’m not saying the videos you post on YouTube need to be made for Hollywood. In fact some of the best YouTube videos I’ve made have been with my iPhone.

When I say “quality” I mean making sure that your video actually delivers something of value to the person viewing it. If it’s purely a sales pitch and offers zero value to the person watching or if the content of the video is not congruent with the title and description, one of two things (or both) will happen:

If you don’t offer value and information in the video that is congruent with what the viewer was searching for then there is no way you will get the viewer to your website, and that’s the whole point “YouTube Marketing“. We’re not here to entertain, we’re here to…

  • Educate
  • Engage
  • Build Credibility
  • Develop Rapport
  • Send people to our website to learn more!

2If people are not interested in your video they won’t watch the entire thing and the majority of people will leave your video well before it is over, telling YouTube’s algorithm that people do not like your video and you will drop in the YouTube rankings.

2. YouTube Marketing Mistake #2: Trying To “Fake Engagement”

Once you understand the ranking factors below and understand how engagement plays a role in YouTube search engine optimization, you may be tempted to head over to sites like where you can buy engagement (aka views, likes, shares).

Here’s the problem: The engagement you buy won’t be authentic and if YouTube catches you, which they often do, your video will be removed.

So in summary, play by the rules and you can quickly tap into the 1,000,000,000+ people using YouTube.

How To Rank In YouTube

YouTube Optimization Is NOT Rocket Science.
You Just Need To Pay Attention To These 10 Things…

Now that you’re thinking about YouTube marketing like a digital entrepreneur and Internet marketer and you know what YouTube marketing mistakes to avoid, let’s dive into the good stuff…

Here are the 10 things you need to do if you want to get maximum traffic in minimal time.

1. YouTube Optimization Tip #1: Keyword Selection

Before you upload a video it’s critical that you choose the right keywords to optimize your YouTube video listing page for. If you choose wrong keywords one of three undesirable things will happen:

  1. If the keyword is too competitive, like in Google, getting ranked quickly (or ever) will be tough.
  2. If nobody is actually searching for that keyword… well, that one’s pretty self-explanatory.
  3. If the “intent” of the keyword is not congruent with the content of the video then engagement will suffer and you won’t get a good result both in rankings and traffic.

So it’s critical that you take the time to find the right keywords for YouTube. Keywords that:

  1. Attract targeted viewers. This means the keyword they are typing is congruent with the content of the videos.So if someone searches “dog leashes” your video better be about “dog leashes”, not dog food, not dog toys… “dog leashes”.
  2. Are ‘long tail’ keywords. We want to avoid keywords that are too competitive, so when you first upload a YouTube video you want to focus on optimizing each video for a long tail keyword.

Long tail keywords are those three and four keyword phrases which are very descriptive, communicating clear intent. These keywords will typically have a much lower search volume on YouTube and in Google but in turn also attract a much more targeted, qualified viewers and are MUCH easier to rank for.

So how do you find the right long tail keywords?

There are two options:

YouTube Keyword Tool #1: Market Samurai

This is my favourite YouTube keyword tool when I want to focus on demand and competition in Google specifically (remember YouTube is your backdoor into Google).

And better yet, I’ve arranged for a 21-day free trial just for my subscribers:

Click Here To Try Market Samurai For 21 Days FOR FREE

YouTube Keyword Tool #2:

If you want an incredible YouTube keyword generator that also gives you accurate keyword search volume then is my #1 choice. It generates keywords for Youtube using YouTube’s auto-suggest for free and if you upgrade to the paid version it will also supply the search volume and trends.

The big downside to this tool is the price. It comes with a hefty monthly subscription but for quick results it is definitely the best YouTube keyword generator.

That said, I find myself using both of these keyword tools regularly. I use for quick YouTube keyword generation and research and then for more thorough competition analysis I open up Market Samurai.

2. YouTube Optimization Tip #2: Titles, Descriptions & Tags

Once you’ve researched and found the keywords you want your videos to rank for, now you need to know where to put them and that’s what this YouTube optimization tip is all about.

YouTube search engine optimization

When you upload your video there are three key areas where you’ll be able to add your keywords and those are the title, description and tag fields.

Now let’s break down the requirements for each one:

Title: You want to use the primary keyword you want your video to rank for on YouTube here as part of a more descriptive title.

Description: Your video description can be up to 5000 characters long and I would encourage you to use all 5000 characters that is rich with keywords. This is your opportunity to write a detailed summary of what this video is about and include as many related keywords as possible.

TIP: To come up with more keywords to include in your description make sure you use (my favourite YouTube keyword generator). Once you’ve generated that list, take the top keywords you want to rank for and head over to LSI Graph ( and use this awesome free tool to generate semantically related keywords that you can also use in your YouTube description.

Is anyone going to read the entire description? Probably not. But it will give YouTube’s search algorithm a TON more potential keywords to index your video for.

Tags: Tags are simply individual keywords that describe your video. Each tag can be up to 500 characters long and there is no limit on the number of tags you can use. That said, do not abuse tags, and make sure the tags you do choose are semantically related to your original keyword or this could have a negative impact on your goal of ranking for your primary keyword.

Why Viewer Engagement Is So Important To YouTube Rankings

Before we talk about “Engagement Optimization” it’s important you understand WHY positive engagement is critical to your long-term YouTube marketing success…

The fact is, YouTube lives or dies by its ability to display good quality videos, but it’s impossible for YouTube’s search algorithm to actually watch a video and determine if the content is good or not.

So in order to determine if a video actually has good content that people WANT to watch they need to rely on and analyze viewer engagement to determine it’s quality.

So if you implement all of the YouTube optimization tips I’ve shared so far, your video listing may jump up in the rankings initially, but if viewers are not engaging with it positively then you’ll quickly lose those rankings.

What does positive engagement look like? Well, that’s what the following YouTube optimization tips are all about…

3. YouTube Optimization Tip #3: Increase Total Views

The very first engagement metric you need to focus on is “Total Views” and this is a measure of how many times someone clicks the play button and begins watching your video.

Understand though that “Total Views” isn’t actually a measure of positive or negative engagement. It’s just the raw number of people that clicked the Play button.

Total Views is a measure of how many times someone clicks the play button and begins watching your video.

Here’s the challenge though: Without enough consistent views YouTube does not have enough data to really measure the other engagement metrics.

This means that when you first upload your video to YouTube it’s crucial that you jumpstart your views so that YouTube’s algorithm can begin to measure engagement.

If you simply upload a video and hope people stumble across it, it may never get enough viewing momentum for YouTube’s algorithm to analyze the other engagement metrics that we are about to discuss.

This is why when you upload a video I would encourage you to drive as much traffic to it as possible to give it a jumpstart.

Whenever I create a new YouTube video the first things I do are:

  1. Create a blog post and embed the video there.
  2. Share it through my social channels
  3. Include a link to it in an email (where appropriate)
  4. Link to it from other relevant content on my sites
  5. In summary, do whatever you can do start driving views to your new videos.

4. YouTube Optimization Tip #4: Increase Average View Duration

Average view duration is a measure of how long the average person watches your video.

Average view duration is a measure of how long the average person watches your video.

This is probably the most important engagement metric because if people are clicking the play button and only watching a small percentage of the total video before they leave, this tells YouTube that your video content is low quality and they’ll quickly demote it in the rankings.

But also understand that your average view durations are likely never going to be close to 100% unless they are entertainment focused (think movie trailers, funny videos, etc.) and even then they likely won’t be near 100%.

In my experience, educational or information based videos should be in the 40-60% range. So for a video 10 minutes in length, you are doing well if the average viewing duration is 4-6 minutes for cold traffic (i.e. people who found your video through search and were not referred to watch the video).

5. YouTube Optimization Tip #5: Encourage Likes

When someone watches a video YouTube allows then to “Like” or “Dislike” the video.

Understand that there are always going to be a certain percentage of people that will dislike your video and there is nothing you can do about it.

But also know that if someone dislikes your video that is actually a form of positive engagement. Take the most viewed video on YouTube: Gangnam Style:

Close to 15% of the people that left a rating clicked “Dislike,” so the point I’m trying to make is that YouTube’s algorithm understands that “Dislike” does not mean the video is bad, it just may mean that some people don’t like it for subjective reasons.

That said, if your “Dislikes” are substantially higher than your “Likes” this will probably have a negative impact on your rankings.

6. YouTube Optimization Tip #6: Encourage Viewers To Subscribe

This ranking factor only applies if you have a YouTube Channel that viewers can subscribe to, and if you’re using YouTube for business reasons you should have a channel set up anyway.

If someone watches a video and then clicks the subscribe button to be notified whenever you post new videos this tells YouTube’s algorithm that your video must be good. Not only did they watch the video, they actually asked for MORE!

This is also a ranking factor that you can influence by actually telling people to “Click Subscribe” after they’ve viewed your video.

7. YouTube Optimization Tip #7: Encourage Conversation Through Comments

When people watch a video and leave a comment this represents a much higher level of engagement to YouTube. Not only did they watch the video but they actually wanted to interact with you.

Will all comments be positive? No.

YouTube is full of trolls hiding behind their keyboards and spammers who are merely leaving self-promoting comments. As your videos grow in popularity so will the spammy comments.

Fortunately, YouTube gives us the ability to moderate and delete comments.

Again comments are another ranking factor that we can influence by asking people to leave feedback and questions in the comments section.

Also note, if you want people to continue commenting it is important that you are actively moderating and replying to comments on your videos if you want to encourage future engagement.

If I’m watching a video with dozens of questions in the comments section but no one has bothered to reply why would I bother leaving a comment? You get the point.

8. YouTube Optimization Tip #8: Encoruage Social Sharing

Social signals are playing a bigger and bigger role in general search engine optimization and the same holds true for YouTube search engine optimization.

If people are watching your video and then using the “Share” function to share that video out over one of the 13 social platforms (last I counted) or embedding it on their website, this is a MASSIVE signal to YouTube’s algorithm that your video is high quality.

So again, you can influence this ranking factor by asking people to share it and also taking the time to share it yourself.

9. YouTube Optimization Tip #9: Use Keywords In Your Annotations

Annotations are the clickable links that you can place throughout your videos with calls to actions. You can use these to link to and promote other videos, encourage more comments, link to external websites, etc.
Try to use your keywords in your annotations (if it makes sense).

Anywhere we can put a keyword is going to help YouTube’s algorithm identify they keywords our videos should rank for.

But please, use common sense here. If you try to force a keyword into an annotation that makes no sense, it’s going to detract from the quality of the video.

10. YouTube Optimization Tip #10: Use A Keyword In Your File Name

This one is simple: When you upload your video, make sure you use your keyword in the filename. For example: keyword.mp4

Easy ????


YouTube is a massive source of traffic for so many websites and it’s also a shortcut onto the Google SERP if you implement the right YouTube optimization tactics.

I’ve personally experienced incredible results from YouTube without breaking any rules. I simply followed the strategies I’ve outlined above combined with a little patience and every month that traffic continues to grow.

And one last gift for you…

I know I covered a TON of stuff in this post, so to streamline the implementation I’ve put together this powerful YouTube Optimization MindMap & Checklist for you.

Just enter your email below to have the download instructions emailed to you.


And if you have any questions, thoughts or comments I would love to hear them! Just leave a comment below…

Now go get your camera, find a keyword you want to rank for, create your first video and get started TODAY!

To your video marketing success…
Derek Gehl – Chief Igniter

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  1. Hi Mr Derek. Good afternoon. Thank you for this info. Just to make certain my website can be accessed worldwide or not. I hope it can as Iv been limiting my sales within Klang Valley for a year and not aware whether my website can be seen outside Malaysia. im only aware of perhaps it maynt hen I received an email from a potential client saying my website cant be accessed from China. I emailed my webdesigner but have yet to get respond from him. However the server hosting company of my website suggested to me I do a pingplotter test and provided a link for that which Im not computer savvy to go much further. Thanks

  2. How do you get rid of fake dislike spam on youtube? I was hit overnight with 322 fake dislikes. How can I remove them?

    1. Wow… that is a TON of fake comments overnight. That’s really annoying!

      Fortunately you can delete the comments. Just go to the Creator Studio for channel, click “Community” in the left menu and then click “Comments”. Through this interface you can go through and delete comments.

  3. Hi Derek
    Thanks so much for this information, it’s a great ‘step by step’ format to be able to refer to when needed!

  4. Hi. Do we know anything about WHO uses youtube as a search engine? I’m targetting users that are in the 50+ age group. Is my target audience using youtube as a search engine? If not, is there still a way to make this work for me? Thanks.

    1. Hi Deb, These days YouTube really reaches almost all demographics but also remember you can get your videos to show up in the Google SERP. So really the question is: Does your audience use Google to find what you are offering? If the answer is ‘yes’ then you can benefit from having videos optimized in YouTube. Hope that made sense 🙂 – Derek

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