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Harnessing the Power of YouTube SEO — How to Rank Your Videos Higher and Gain More Subscribers If you want to build a successful YouTube presence and ensure your content reaches the right people, YouTube SEO is essential. You can increase engagement and subscriber base by combining high-quality video with metadata and on-page optimization.

By Jessica Wong Edited by Chelsea Brown

Key Takeaways

  • Optimizing videos for YouTube SEO is crucial for ranking higher in search results and attracting more subscribers.
  • Effective use of keywords in video titles, descriptions and tags helps YouTube's algorithm and viewers understand your content, enhancing its discoverability.
  • High-quality video production and relevant content that addresses the audience's needs are essential for long-term success.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Search engine optimization (SEO) has been a cornerstone of successful web development for years, and it is equally important for your YouTube channel. YouTube SEO helps videos rank higher and attract subscribers to your channel. Read on to learn how to optimize your videos for search purposes and maximize subscriber growth.

First, let's cover the basics of YouTube SEO. Like Google or any other search engine, YouTube aims to deliver content that matches the user's query as closely as possible. For example, if someone is searching "how to remove limescale from bathroom surfaces," YouTube will not deliver videos explaining how to clean the inside of your oven. YouTube creators need to put themselves in the position of their audiences and understand how audience members search for content.

To ensure your videos rank highly on YouTube, you need to focus on delivering relevant, quality content and taking advantage of YouTube's optimization tools. In that respect, YouTube SEO is similar to other search engines.

However, in addition to those metrics, YouTube rewards viewer engagement based on watch time. Watch time describes how long users stay with your video. The longer your viewers stay, the higher the video will rank.

Related: Six SEO Tips To Make Your Videos More Discoverable

Conducting keyword research

With the basics covered, it is time to dive deeper into individual elements of YouTube SEO, such as keywords. Make time for comprehensive keyword research before posting your videos.

The goal of keyword research is to identify search terms that are used regularly and are relevant to your niche. Type your main search terms into the YouTube search bar. Like Google, YouTube will suggest keyword phrases to finetune your query and match it to your content.

As you progress in your YouTube journey, consider more sophisticated tools for keyword research and analytics. They will help you uncover deeper insights into your audience's search behavior and search intent.

Optimizing video metadata

Equipped with a list of keywords and related phrases, it is time to use them strategically to optimize your video metadata. Metadata includes elements like your video title, description and tags. Your goal is to make it obvious for YouTube's algorithm — and your audience — to understand what your content is all about.

Optimizing metadata starts even before you upload your videos. Once you have identified your most relevant keywords, rename your file accordingly. This will help Google rank your video highly in response to generic search queries.

On YouTube itself, craft a compelling title that accurately reflects your content and includes your search terms. Because of the limited number of characters allowed, incorporating all of those factors can be tricky, but it is worth the time and effort.

Use your video description to elaborate on the title. Descriptions should be rich in keywords without becoming overstuffed with the same phrases used over and over. Try to use variations to keep your description more readable while also covering different search queries.

Video descriptions are excellent in providing context to your content and encouraging user engagement. If your video contains pivotal moments toward the end, make sure the description highlights that.

Tags complete your metadata optimization. Tag your video with terms that are both relevant and descriptive. They help the algorithm categorize your video and improve your content's discoverability on YouTube.

Related: What Exactly Are the YouTube Ranking Factors?

Creating high-quality video content

No matter how much keyword research you do and how much you optimize your videos, only high-quality videos perform well in the long term. Prioritize quality when it comes to production values and the actual topics you cover.

Your content must be relevant to your target audience and ideally respond to their pain points or offer solutions to a problem. Structure your video to keep your audience engaged longer and deliver value through actionable information.

Prioritize video quality. As more creators are vying for the attention of YouTube users, badly lit videos or hard-to-understand audio tracks are no longer acceptable. High-quality video content starts with an attention-grabbing thumbnail. YouTube will suggest thumbnails for your video, but it is often better to upload a frame or a separate image to help your video stand out from its competitors.

Implementing on-page optimization techniques

Aside from metadata and quality content, YouTube offers creators several options for on-page optimization.

Leverage end screens to draw users to other videos and encourage subscriptions. Improve both accessibility and SEO performance by adding closed captions, subtitles and transcripts to your content. Each of these optimization tools contributes in some way to your ranking.

Promoting video distribution and engagement

Encourage your audiences to engage with your content and look beyond YouTube to distribute your videos further.

Increasing engagement through likes, shares and comments can be as simple as asking viewers questions or starting a discussion on a topic relevant to your niche. Reply to any comments to build a closer relationship with your audience and keep viewers engaged.

YouTube strongly focuses on engagement, especially right after a video has been posted. When you are getting ready to share content, you should also be ready to tell your social media followers about it to encourage engagement right away. Doing that signals to YouTube's algorithm that your content is popular and should be made more widely available.

Share your content with relevant communities and forums, and remember to participate actively in discussions to foster engagement and strengthen audience relationships.

Analyzing performance and iterating strategies

Review YouTube analytics regularly to understand the performance of your content and iterate your approach. Over time, you will understand how to connect to your audience effectively and grow your following.

Related: We Went From 0-100K Subscribers on YouTube in Less Than a Year. Here's What You're Doing Wrong.

YouTube SEO is essential for building a successful presence on the platform and ensuring your content attracts the right audience. Combining high-quality video with metadata and on-page optimization will go a long way toward growing your subscriber base and continuously increasing engagement.

Jessica Wong

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder and CEO of Valux Digital and uPro Digital.

Jessica is the Founder and CEO of nationally recognized marketing and PR firms, Valux Digital and uPro Digital. She is a digital marketing and PR expert with more than 20 years of success driving bottom-line results for clients through innovative marketing programs aligned with emerging strategies.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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