The Essential Tips for YouTube Optimization That You Need to Know

Online video is becoming more and more popular these days. Every year it seems it’s the “year of the video” – and with greater connectivity it’s just a matter of time.

But what are the best strategies to optimize your Youtube videos, so that they can be found more easily?

Youtube has its own internal SEO, which serves videos based on its own ranking.

Below, I’m going to break down the key elements Youtube factors in when serving suggested videos and some tips on how to optimize your channel.

How To Optimise Your YouTube Channel

The Essential Tips for YouTube Optimization That You Need to Know


Some basic sprucing needs to be done with all channels to make them fit for an audience.

Ensure the About Us page is up to date with relevant content and links, have a clear avatar (aka profile pic) and ensure your channel name is clearly representative of your brand.

Have a background image that is set to be visible across all devices. (I recommended a template for social media backgrounds in a blog post I wrote recently).

Set up a few playlists to share your content, and set up a “featured video” as a trailer.

Remember that you can set separate trailers for both subscribers (for example, the latest video) and non-subscribers (like an ‘about us’ video).

The Essential Tips for YouTube Optimization That You Need to Know


Google Search has always downranked blackhat SEO strategies, like using keywords or tags that don’t have anything to do with your content. Ensure your titles, tags and description copy is representative of your content.

Titles – ensure your keywords are first, and then your descriptions later, e.g., “How to Cook An Omelette – Mary’s Cooking Show”.

Descriptions – Have two sentences that describe your video (keeping in mind anything over this length will get cut off unless a user expands it).

YouTube recommends you also include hyperlinks back to your channel and subscribe URLs. You could also link to other playlists.

Some channels also include a default “About This Channel” paragraph at the bottom or a copy of your video transcript for SEO.

Tags – Start with the most specific tags you want to use first, then keep going til you run out of ideas!

It’s useful to include words from your title or channel name.

Some sites suggest using Google Keyword Planner to help come up with keywords for this purpose.

Thumbnails – while the featured thumbnail isn’t explicitly something to help SEO when your video is served as a related video you want your thumbnail looking ace, so people click through.

Take a specific photo for this purpose when creating content and upload a custom image.

Keep in mind that the thumbnails are seen in varying sizes, so ensure it’s effective even when small. Use bright colours and close-ups where possible.

The Essential Tips for YouTube Optimization That You Need to Know


The longer people watch your individual videos and stay on your channel is important to Youtube.

You will want to consider using all the tools available to make that easier for audiences to find your content and stick with it. Annotations are a helpful way to do this.

It can be a good idea to add a closing slide that highlights things like your channel name, encouraging your audience to subscribe and some related videos so people will stay on your channel rather than being directed straight to another video Youtube serves up.

Review your analytics to see which videos are most popular in relation to your watch time. To put your best foot forward, you might want to consider “Featuring” these as your trailer, or promoting these via social media or ads.

Annotations – These are the little text links that appear on youtube videos. These are useful for pushing people to “subscribe” or watch another video or playlist. Don’t have these set to open in a new window, because that will reduce your time on site.

Put these in the middle of the video frame, not the top or bottom so they aren’t interrupted by ads or titles when embedded on external sites.

Featured Content annotations – these are little invisible squares you can draw over content in your video.

The Featured Content could be a thumbnail, or a video promoting another video you’ve got. Using this technique is how Youtubers create those clickable previews of another video.

Playlists – These are a great way to surface more of your content. Playlists don’t just need to be “latest” content.

Consider how to surface your content around themes or seasonally, e.g., “Recipes for Mums or “Egg-based Recipes”.

The Essential Tips for YouTube Optimization That You Need to Know


Street Cred is all about how people interact with your content (this is my term, obviously, not Youtube’s!).

I’ve already mentioned how long a viewer watches your content is counted, but things like if they “like” or “dislike” your content or if viewers write comments. Encouraging viewers to like or comments is useful both in annotations and in videos using verbal callouts.

Social sharing is a factor in Youtube SEO and if other websites mention or embed your videos.

Consider your marketing plan and how you’re sharing your content. Google Plus is an easy way to get your content shared, and it is said to prioritise content that has a Google Plus presence.


How are you going to optimise your Youtube channel?

Polish up the basic channel design – About Us, Title, Background Image, Avatar.

Look at your Description Text, Title, Tags and Thumbnails.

Increase your viewer’s time on site by using things like title slides and annotations

Make it social and sharable. Interactions on your video increase it’s Youtube search ranking.

Want even more? Google has heaps of other resources including it’s Creator Academy and Creator Playbook.

About Rachel Beaney

Rachel Beaney is an Australian freelance social media specialist with over a decade in digital media. She’s worked with global names like Microsoft, Samsung, News Corp and General Assembly, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping clients solve their business needs with creative and data-driven solutions. Get in touch today to jump on a free consultation call to find out how Rachel can help you.

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