Optimizing YouTube Videos To Improve Rankings

Having created a YouTube channel for your organization or brand, you will be looking to maximize the number of views which each video you upload to it actually receives. It is therefore important to optimize your videos, so that they will appear prominently in the YouTube search results when anyone looks for a term related to your content.

As an additional bonus, video tends to feature highly in the regular search engine results; so a high proportion of the traffic generated by your videos will result from searches on Google and Bing. Let’s take a look at some of the optimization techniques you can use to give your video a fighting chance of thriving in the YouTube jungle.

Keyword research

In any scenario where you are aiming to attain good ranking in search results, one of your first tasks has to be keyword research. There should be nothing vague or uncertain about exactly which search strings you want to rank; and you also need to choose keywords carefully. Ideally, you should be working with keywords which have a high search volume but relatively low competition.

If you are making a video which promotes, reviews or describes a service or product, it’s probably a good idea to do your keyword research before making the video. You can then ensure that the main keywords are actually used in the video itself.


The title of your video is probably the single most important factor in determining how well it will rank in the search results. It’s therefore really important to ensure that the title contains your main keywords; so that, when people search for those exact same keywords, up pops your matching video, like the answer to their prayers.


Next, we have the description; and the error that most people tend to make here is to make it too brief. What you really need to strive for is completeness; the description needs to tell potential viewers what the video is all about and put it in context. This is the place where you insert your secondary keywords, and synonyms for your main keyword; the idea being that people will find your video, regardless of which variation of a search term they use.

The description is also the place where you can insert backlinks to your own website. Basically, any URL you insert into the text will automatically be converted into a clickable link.


Tags are the equivalents of the keywords which can be inserted in the head area of an HTML page. However, whereas keywords are now largely ignored by search engines because of widespread abuse, back in the day, tags play a vital role in YouTube search results. After all, since many of the most popular viral videos contain absolutely no text; the use of tags to classify the video becomes really important. The tags you use should be dictated by the results of your keyword research and be relevant to the video and to your brand.

Uploading a transcript file

YouTube also allows you to upload a transcript file and assigns a higher rank to transcribed videos. A variety of desktop and online software utilities are available for creating transcripts, most of which will achieve close to 100% accuracy. Having made any required corrections, you save the transcript file as a text or Word document (.txt or .doc) and, in the YouTube video editor, upload it by clicking on the “Caption” button. When the transcript is uploaded, YouTube uses speech recognition to synchronize the text with the video. It then displays an “Interactive Transcript” button below the video, allowing visitors to activate this feature if they so choose.

Using annotations for a call to action

YouTube’s useful annotations feature allows you to superimpose messages, speech bubbles and text boxes on your videos; and the best part is that these can be made into clickable links. When you create an annotation, you are able to specify its style and exactly when it will appear and disappear. Annotations should be placed around the edges of a video, so as not to obscure the main subjects, and appear at strategic points in the timeline with a strong call to action.

Kick-starting your video views

Finally, once you have completed your optimization, you will probably want to kick-start the process of getting your video viewed. If you are planning to email a few friends to ask them to look at your video to get some initial views and likes chalked up, be sure to ask them to play the video all the way through. (It’s also fine for you yourself to do the same; there is no risk of any kind of penalization.) It appears that YouTube now pays close attention to the amount of a video that is actually viewed; if a high proportion of visitors are watching a video all the way through, it is perceived as popular and will tend to rank higher.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top