YouTube SEO: Video Marketing Tips for 2019

Daniel Taylor
Digital Copywriter
Video Marketing

The growing value of video content for the purposes of digital marketing has been widely reported over the course of the past several years. A quick Google search will reveal that video content marketing made it onto virtually every rundown of the biggest online trends to look out for – and for good reason.

Video-sharing platform YouTube is often the primary destination for video marketers looking to promote their products and services. As a result, search engines such as Google and Bing are no longer the only battlegrounds on which businesses are competing for that all important top spot in the search results.

Ensuring your YouTube content incorporates the principles of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can have a significant impact on your chances of making your way up the search results page. Having said that, optimising your YouTube content for search isn’t as straightforward as replicating your approach to Google. As its own search engine, YouTube has its own algorithm, and for that reason, its own rules. In this article, we’ll be offering some useful tips on how to optimise YouTube videos for SEO.

Researching Video Keywords

If you’re familiar with some basic SEO principles, you will likely have heard about keyword research. As every online search starts with a set of keywords, knowing which keywords are being searched for is crucial to getting any type of content in front of your target audience. Video is no different.

If you’re looking for ideas on which keywords to target, YouTube’s built-in search function can help you on your way. In most cases, your general area of focus will be dependent on the subject of your video. For example, if you’re creating video content around local SEO, you could start by entering the term ‘local SEO’ in the YouTube search bar. Its autocomplete function will come up with a range of useful suggestions such as ‘local SEO hacks’ and ‘local SEO tutorial’.

Checking out the Competition

Another way of identifying potential target keywords is to take a look at your competitors’ video content. While snooping around their channel, you can apply filters to sort their videos by data or popularity. By selecting the latter, you’ll be able to easily see which video topics are the most successful.

Nine times out of ten, popular videos will be making use of their target keywords in the title, description and tags associated with the video (more on this later). Does the term ‘local SEO tutorial’ show up in them? Then it’s likely to be a valuable target keyword.

Video tags can also give you a good idea on which keywords a specific video is targeting, as well as giving you inspiration on other keywords you may not have identified yet. Downloading a plugin like vidIQ Vision will show you a range of useful metrics (including video tags) right on the page itself.

Alternatively, you can also find the tags associated with a video by right clicking on the video page and clicking on the ‘View Source’ option. You can then use the search command CTRL + F and search for the term “keywords”.

Using a Keyword Research Tool

When you’ve come up with a list of potential keywords, it’s time to make an informed decision on which keywords you intend to target. There are several methods you can use in order to determine which keywords are the most suitable, one of which is to use a keyword research tool such as SEMrush or Google Keyword Planner.

Entering keywords into either of these platforms will provide you with valuable data that you can use to narrow down your preferred keywords. Generally, you will be looking for keywords that combine a high search volume with a relatively low competition score.

Once you’ve identified the most suitable target keywords, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Focus on YouTube’s Ranking Factors

Much like other search engines, YouTube uses a diverse range of ranking factors to determine the winners and losers of its results pages. Let’s take a look at some of these key factors in more detail.

Audience Retention

Web users take to YouTube to be informed, engaged or entertained, so it’s no surprise that your video content should be focused around delivering what audiences are looking for. The degree to which your video retains an audience (i.e. keeps them watching from beginning to end) is a significant ranking factor, so make sure you take heed of it.

You can easily access your current audience retention statistics in your YouTube account. Just navigate to ‘Creator Studio’, ‘Analytics’, ‘Audience Retention’. Unless you’re achieving a near perfect score, it’s likely there will be room for improvement.

Several common ways of increasing audience retention on YouTube include:

  • Jumping right into it: Due to the relatively short attention span of most web users, it’s important to demonstrate value right at the beginning of your video. You could do this by setting out a clear structure or message that illustrates what you will be covering and what it means for them.
  • But not giving everything away: While it is important to offer value straight from the start, it’s equally important not to give everything away right off the bat. In order to retain your audience, you have to give them a reason to keep on watching. Offering them a reward or bonus tip near the end of the video is a common method of doing this, and it’s likely to increase the degree to which you retain your audience.
  • Analysing your successes (and failures): Some of your video content may have achieved stronger audience retention than others. If this is the case for you, try to figure out why that specific content stands out in that regard and replicate the approach when making future videos.

Click-Through Rate

A video’s click-through rate (CTR) is used to measure the percentage of people who click through to a video when exposed to it online, for example when navigating the search results page. YouTube uses click-through rate to determine the degree to which a video captures a user’s attention. Generally speaking, the higher the click-through rate, the more interested audiences are in viewing the video.

One of the easiest ways of boosting your YouTube CTR is by creating compelling thumbnails. Thumbnails represent that all important first impression that makes all the difference in determining whether or not a user decides to click on your video. For that reason, it’s important to focus on creating a thumbnail that draws users in from the get-go. Engaging titles and descriptions can also play a role here, so try and inject some creativity into them.

Keyword Usage

Think you’d heard the last about keywords? Think again. YouTube continues to apply keyword usage as a ranking factor, so you can’t afford to overlook it. Ideally, you should be using your target keywords in your title, description and video tags.

When making use of keywords, it’s important to do so naturally. The goal is to let both users and search engines know what your video is about without venturing into spam territory. Keyword stuffing is likely to do more harm than good, so try to keep things as informative and user-focused as possible.

Thumbs, Comments and Shares

YouTube’s thumbs up / thumbs down structure offers a valuable indication of a video’s popularity. The more thumbs up a video has, the more likely it is to have made a positive impression on viewers (and vice versa). For this reason, creating helpful or entertaining video content focused around your users is key to pleasing the YouTube algorithm.

A similar principle applies to comments and shares. In most cases, a busy comment section will indicate that users are engaging with the video to a significant degree, and that engagement is likely to show in the search rankings.

The number of shares is another important metric for measuring interest and engagement. Videos that are widely shared are likely to stand head and shoulders above other content as far as usefulness or entertainment is concerned, and that value is likely to improve their rankings.


YouTube’s built-in transcript feature often acts as a useful guide for understanding what a specific video is about, and transcripts are often considered to be a ranking factor. These days, YouTube is capable of automatically generating a transcript to accompany the video, the accuracy of which is dependent on factors such as clarity of speech and the amount of background noise.

YouTube content creators are often advised to provide their own transcripts for a number of reasons. Firstly, human-made transcripts are much more accurate, making it easier for users to follow and understand what is being said. Secondly, transcripts offer search engines a wealth of information that can help them understand the contents of your video in more detail.

As your target keywords will often be related to the subject you’re covering, it’s likely that these keywords will appear naturally in your transcript. The more useful information you’re able to offer users and search engines, the more likely it is that your video will rank well. For this reason, make sure to dedicate some time to providing a transcript as an accompaniment to each video.

Channel Authority

Channel authority is considered to be a further contributing factor in achieving strong YouTube rankings. This is partly because authoritative channels enjoy a track record of creating high-quality content that helps them significantly grow their subscriber base and reach.

Having said that, a channel’s authority doesn’t limit itself to the number of subscribers. Optimising content across your channel and focusing on creating high-quality content all-round is crucial to building YouTube authority. Many of YouTube’s best-known content creators have become the go-to personality in their particular niche, and you could do the same.

Want to Find Out More? Get In Touch

If you would like to learn more about video marketing or other forms of content marketing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team via Alternatively, speak to us directly on 0845 331 30 31.


Daniel Taylor
Digital Copywriter