6 ways of improving search rankings for your YouTube videos

Kim Barrett Youtube Marketing 1469 Comments



Are you experiencing dismal YouTube views?

Would you like your videos to rank higher on YouTube search results?

Would you like to take advantage of one of the largest and cheap traffic sources with highly-targeted audience?
You should keep in mind that for your YouTube videos to rank higher in YouTube search results, you have to understand how to capitalize on YouTube’s algorithms to propel your channel to the tip of search results, thus having more eyeballs for your YouTube videos.

This article will provide you with the tactics and strategies you need to arm yourself with for your YouTube videos to rank higher in YouTube search results.

1. Line-up your content with search from viewers

You need to find the relevant keywords and phrases that viewers are actively searching for related content on YouTube.

To do this, you can use both YouTube Trends and Keyword Tool; which are both free tools used to get full insights on what people are typing into the search box on YouTube platform. There are also paid tools that also provide you with the help in terms of helping dig in YouTube to find out what people are searching for on YouTube. Some of the paid tools include vidIQ and VideoCents.

The key difference between the free tools and the paid tools is that the paid tools provide a bit of insights in terms of data and provide incredible value in equipping you with what goes behind the scenes in order to achieve a higher ranking for specific terms.
Here is vidIQ in action; in the example below, the tool is trying to search for keyword insights for the keyword “vine.”


Keep in mind, that the key idea is to find a sweet spot in terms of finding a keyword with a relatively good number of searches, but at the same time the keyword has to be not competitive. However, how the decision on which keyword has a good number of searches will vary depending with the market or industry.

Once you have found great keywords, its time to create and publish the content around the keywords you intend to use.

Create videos based on what people are searching for on Youtube

This is an incredible technique in which you can tailor your videos based on the most asked questions on YouTube, thus your videos will answer them. For instance, Scishow; Hank Green’s YouTube channel searched YouTube for the most asked questions about science and eventually created a video series that answers the most asked questions about science. This strategy made Hank Green’s channel; SciShow earn a million of video views across all video series.


Optimize your video content to match how viewers search on YouTube

You should also keep in mind that despite YouTube’s powerful algorithm, the platform still find it difficult to index and read video content, thus you need to be very specific with the keywords you use so as to tell YouTube exactly what your video content is all about.

To do this, use the Meta data on video to tell YouTube what your video is about by strategically using keywords specific and relevant to your video content. Keep in mind, you should do it sparingly, not spamming. If you strategically use keywords specific and relevant to your video content, you’re more likely to rank well for the keywords used. This will tell YouTube that your video content is related to the specific terms or keywords used. Also, try as much as possible to add keyword(s) to your video title, description, transcription file and tags (targeted keywords should be included at the scripts). Most importantly, try to make the video title to be at the start as possible.

Video Marketing

You can also see the keywords on the tags (see image below).


In the image below you will notice that keywords are also incorporated in the subtitles.

Video Marketing Tip#1

The above images are great examples of how effective strategic keyword optimization is all about, and how it is easy for such a video to rank high in such a keyword with high levels of competition.

2. Utilize video watch time

Video watch time is a key metric used by YouTube to rank your videos. In other words, if your video have a weak watch time, YouTube is likely to demote your videos in search. The idea is to keep your video more engaging, entertaining and as informative as possible to make your intended viewers stick around for a relatively long time. Keep in mind, it’s all about what percentage of your video is watched. YouTube is not just focusing on the total minutes of your video, thus it is wise to ensure that you have a relatively higher percentage in terms of video watch time as well as viewers watching your videos until the total minutes elapse.

Vsauce is a YouTube channel by Michael Stevens which focuses on history of ancient civilization. Michael Stevens has been successful at getting his viewers to stick around for a long time, given that his average videos are 10mins on average. In addition, his videos register hundreds of thousands of views, suggesting his content is highly engaging and beneficial to his audience.

In his videos, Michael answers the questions posed by his viewers on a straight manner, and capitalizes on his wit and personality to lure the interest and attention of his viewers. One of his strategies on his videos is that he does away with long intros and outros, thus not boring viewers but keeping them engaged and entertained.
Moreover, getting viewers to watch more of your videos tells YouTube that you are providing real value to your viewers, resulting in higher ranking of your videos.

3. Encourage viewers to watch more videos on your channel

This may sound like the last paragraph of #2, but it does help your YouTube channel to be rewarded with high ranking by YouTube’s algorithms. When viewers watch more of your videos, they actually contribute to longer channel sessions, which tell YouTube that your videos provide value, thus your channel will be rewarded with high rankings in search.

Using clickable thumbnails (end cards) encourage viewers to watch multiple videos in a single session.

Epic Rap Battles is an example of a YouTube channel that utilizes clickable thumbnails to drive viewers to watch more than one video in a single session. This tactic also yields some SEO benefits for the keywords relevant to your market.

4. Be consistent with your content

Keeping your content consistent is a sure-fire way to gain authority and presence on YouTube since the platform (just like its Google) place premium attention to high-quality content (videos) of similar topic over a period of time, thus you can rank well for related keywords compared to a new video starting out.

Unbox Therapy is an example of a YouTube channel that has uploading videos utilizing the search term “unboxing” in the keywords for tech review videos. For five years, Unbox Therapy has been uploading videos utilizing the search term “unboxing” and as a result the channel has managed to garner over 3 million subscribers. Moreover, if you search in YouTube for Apple’s latest gadget, the channel is ranked second.

iphone unboxing

Thomas Martin, a certified YouTube channel manager and expert advocates choosing a narrow niche as possible when tweaking formats and styles. This ensures YouTube establishes you as an authority and a trusted source, thus awarding your videos with high rankings. You should keep in mind, that sticking to a narrow niche or just being niche places your video content for higher ranking, as YouTube’s algorithm is able to award with higher ranking for your search term.

5. Aim for off-platform embeddings

As we have mentioned throughout this article, YouTube places a higher priority on authority to boost rankings. This means that if more users are sharing your video links and embedding them on other high-quality websites on the web, then YouTube will definitely boost your rankings.

BuzzFeed is a great example whose videos are embedded not only on their popular websites and profiles in social media, but also on other authoritative and relevant blogs in the entertainment space.


This strategy is an effective and sustainable way for a YouTube channel to potentially grow the number of views. Identifying external sites which are relevant to your market to push your video content is a wise way to grow your channel and authority in YouTube.

6. Encourage audience engagement

Engagement helps in great deal in social proof. Getting likes, comments and shares is (not with the intention for your audience to subscribe to your YouTube channel) does help to bolster rankings. Moreover, if viewers are voting for your video(s) by giving it thumbs up and sharing it with their friends, this sends a positive signal to YouTube, thus send more viewers to your channel for the specific search term or keyword used. Simply, YouTube will boost your ranking which translates to more audience and conversions for your product or service.

In addition, encouraging engagement also enables you to get insights and feedback from your viewers.

Copa90 is a famous soccer channel which hosts a weekly show based on the comments shared by their viewers. The channel has exceptional levels of engagements from a loyal and ardent fan of the channel. It is not by accident that this channel receives incredible amounts in terms of rankings. Copa90 utilizes call-to-action (CTA) and posing questions to spark conversations, thus people end up commenting.


Bonus Tip

Here is an extra ways on how to boost your rankings:
• Upload your video in HD. The other options include VR, 360, 4K.
• Add closed-captions to enable YouTube and Google to read and index your scripts. You can also caption files into another language, assuming you have the resources and would like to break into a secondary market.
• Link your video to other relevant website and videos in your market. To do this, in your video descriptions, include links as well.
• Choose a video category that is relevant to your competition.


Success in YouTube like any other platform depends on consistent effort to push high-quality content jam-packed with value. This way you will have raving fans or viewers who yearn to see your videos. Gaining authority and high rankings is a matter of investing time and effort to your marketing endeavors.

Visit your YouTube Analytics to have a rundown of how many views your videos are getting from search. To do this, click “Creator Studio” then go to “Analytics” and click on “Traffic Sources” this will provide you with stats for YouTube Search.

Take note of your average monthly views from search and return later to view this metric when you have implemented the above mentioned strategies.


Keep in mind even if you don’t have the time to invest in implementing all of these strategies, implementing even a handful of them may result in high search rankings.

Furthermore, the above mentioned strategies not only apply to new videos uploaded on YouTube, but also old videos can be revisited and optimized for higher search rankings.

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