Optimize YouTube Videos for SEO: A Quick Guide


Why do some YouTube videos rank better in Google search results than others?

Can my videos get more views and perform better in search rankings?

How can I optimize YouTube videos for SEO (search engine optimization)?

Can YouTube videos help drive more traffic to our business website?

If you’ve ever pondered these questions, then this is the right post for you!

In this post, I’ll dive into a number of quick tips with real examples that make a big difference in how your videos perform.  Search Engine Optimization isn’t just about your website!  It’s about finding ways to drive traffic to your site and have multiple ways for business to appear in search results, all of which ultimately drive traffic to your site.

Producing the video and uploading to YouTube is not the END!  The actual details you enter as you upload your video are HUGELY IMPORTANT to the ultimate success of your video!

So many times I’ve seen people wonder “why didn’t this great video get more views?”  Often the reason is not the video itself, but the YouTube data with it!

Loading your video to YouTube is not the end.  Key components that make or break the value of the video in being an asset to your online marketing include:

  • The video Title
  • The video Description
  • A valid link to related information on your website
  • The video tags

I’ll dive into the particulars of how to optimize a YouTube video by showing you an example.

YouTube Video EXAMPLE

This is an example of a YouTube video that is not optimized.  It is missing key components that would help it be discovered on YouTube search as well as Google search.  (Side note: YouTube is the #2 most searched Search Engine, second only to parent Google!  It’s smart to optimize!)

youtube video1

What could be better…

  • The Title:  It’s a pontoon boat!

youtube video1

More people search for “Pontoon Boats” than they do for “Sylvan S3,” so if you want to reach those who may want to buy your Sylvan S3 but don’t know about it, then including “pontoon boat” would be important!

A better title than “Sylvan S3″ would be “Pontoon Boats 2014: Sylvan S3″.

Keyword needs to be listed right away, then the detail is added.  You want your keyword phrase that you are targeting within the first 3-4 words, ideally first 1-2.

  • Description: Target your keyword phrase again!

youtube video description

Again, the keyword phrase should be listed in the first sentence of the description.  That is critical.

You’re description should be at least 2-3 sentences, ideally 3 with the keyword phrase repeated.  It should read naturally for people, not stuffed with keywords for engines.  Note as well, that only the first few sentences of your video description will appear in search results and above the fold on a watch page, so having the keyword phrases and important details early on is critical.

  • LINKS!

In my opinion, this is the most often overlooked mistake.

You NEED to include a link in the description to where on your website they can find out more information!  This is how you drive more traffic to your website.  It allows for discovery of your product/company on YouTube and makes it EASY to find more information on your primary real estate land online, your website!

The link needs to be formatted correctly as well!   Simply having “www.yourdomain.com/product” will not make it an active link!  YouTube makes it a link if it is formatted as http://www.yourdomain.com/product..  So, in this example, the description should include a link “find out more details about the Sylvan S3 pontoon boat at http://www.sylvanmarine.com/showroom/pontoon/s-series/s3.  The link then takes the user to the exact page where they can find out more information.

  • Tags – Use them wisely!

Each YouTube video offers the uploader the ability to add tags to the video.  Tags are descriptive keywords that help YouTube’s discovery systems understand the video topic and therefore deliver it as a search result to new audiences.  It’s important to create tags that outline the most important topics for the video.  Again, outline your keywords in the tags.

In the example above, key tags would be:  “Pontoon boats”, “Sylvan Marine”, “Sylvan S3″, and “Boats” at a minimum!   Here’s tips direct from YouTube...

  • Include a mix of video-specific and more general (but still relevant) tags.
  • Only use enough tags to thoroughly and accurately describe your videos.
  • Update video tags when new and relevant viewership trends emerge.
  • Include keywords from your title in your video’s tags.
  • Use quotation marks (“) to convey multi-word tags (ex: “Harry Potter”)

Take the time to go through each video you upload and implement these tips to greatly enhance the power of your video!  You can have the best video in the world, and yet if so few see it, is it really so great?

Video Example:

Here’s the setup of a recent video I posted to our TabSite website related to a new product feature.


Once loaded and live to the public, the optimized video details look like this:

canva video 2

It’s not too late to go back and edit the videos you have previously uploaded to YouTube!

Take time to optimize your videos and use the #2 most used search engine to help your business be discovered in greater measure and see more traffic driven to your website.


Post originally published at Digital Hill.

  • Thanks for the great tips. Maybe you know this… but many people suggest that we put our link as the very first thing in the description. How do you feel about this or what do you know about how this affects the entire SEO effort?

    • There are those that say that for SEO reasons. However, Google and YouTube are gearing more and more for “reader friendly” format and so it is unnatural for the URL to be dropped in first. I think it’s a fading practice and not you should be helpful to the reader first and foremost.

      • It’s kind of how I always felt about it. I started posting the link so it fits within the initial (visible) part of the description but so it fits into the wording nicely.
        Thanks again!

      • I know this is old, but I went back and edited a lot of videos and it seems to make a difference. I also increased the frequency of videos so it’s hard to tell if my changes in description format made a big difference vs the increase in posting. Thanks again.

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  • Meanu Normia

    Mike tips are great though I will try these tips for my youtube videos..

  • Kristians Kazmers

    Hey Mike! Thanks for the very good tips! I was wondering though.. many people say that putting your multiple word tags in quotation marks is not relevant anymore since they updated their tagging system. What’s your take on this? Would I be losing potential viewers if I didn’t put my tags into quotation marks? Thanks!

    • Yeah, I am not a proponent of adding quotation marks around tag words. I don’t see it as valuable.

  • Inside You

    i really like your post mike, sometimes my video title haven’t my own brand, only pure keywords but long tail. So it must be important for now and tomorrow. While people watch the videos, the brand of uploader or “company” will exposed on public and again, the brand will rise. Nice idea Mike, thank you. I will follow your instructions above.

  • Nice article, recently I came across a video called ‘Dollar Shave Club’. Within an hour of publishing, this video got an unbelievable number of hits.

    After one month this video received 18000 backlinks from all the leading new channels and media sources.

    Now it been one year and this video received 90000 backlinks.I personally believe that we should write/shoot for users not for SPIDER (For Google rank)