YouTube SEO: How to be Found by 2 Billion Monthly Users

YouTube is the second-most popular social media platform in the world. As of July 2020, there were 2 billion monthly active users on YouTube. When it comes to content, 500 hours of videos are uploaded every minute on YouTube.

This number alone is enough to indicate how difficult it is to rank on YouTube searches. However, with the right search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, you can increase your chances of appearing for the keywords you care about.

Let’s take a look at the best ways to do SEO for your YouTube channel:

1. Find Highly Relevant Keywords

Keyword research is an essential part of YouTube SEO. It helps ensure your channel ranks on the top for relevant search terms. 

Here are some ways to generate a list of keywords for your channel:

YouTube Suggest

Use YouTube Suggest to find phrases that your target audience actually searches for. Just type a broad keyword in the search bar and you will see a list of related queries. For example, I wrote “search engine optimization” and YouTube displayed various suggestions, such as “search engine optimization tutorial,” “search engine optimization course,” etc.

The next step is to change your search query into a “wildcard” by adding an asterisk (*) before your seed keyword. It converts your search term into a “postfix.” For example, I typed “*” before the previously searched term and the suggestions changed. The new recommended keywords included how to do search engine optimization,” “learn search optimization,” etc.

keywords query

Use a Tool

YouTube keyword research tools can help you find the best performing keywords easily. TubeBuddy is one such tool that provides creators with relevant keywords. 

TubeBuddy has a Chrome extension that helps find and analyze keywords while using YouTube. Once you install the extension, you will see the “search explorer” overlay that displays average monthly searches, competition level, related searches and most used tags on the right side of the results page.

Tubebuddy tool

The “poor” in the keyword score indicates that it is bad to target the term “search engine optimization” because it’s extremely competitive and hard to rank for. You should look for keywords that fall in the “average” and “good” category.

2. Leverage Copywriting to Craft Compelling, SEO-Friendly Content

Copywriting ensures your content is persuasive and SEO-friendly. You have to learn copywriting if you want to improve the SEO of your YouTube videos. Social media copywriters are known as ‘modern mad men’. Good copywriting makes your viewers resonate with the video, increase engagement and most importantly improve its ranking. 

Here are the three most important places you can implement copywriting to improve your YouTube channel’s ranking:

  • Creating a video script. As mentioned above, it is essential to add closed captions in your videos, which YouTube can crawl. Good copywriting helps you create a script that is SEO-friendly to increase your chances of ranking.
  • Writing video descriptions that provide additional context to your viewers and YouTube. 
  • Crafting compelling titles that persuade users into clicking.

3. Understand Search Intent and Create Videos Accordingly

Search intent refers to the purpose of searching a certain thing on YouTube. By understanding the search intent, you will be better able to satisfy your viewers and increase the average watch duration (a key YouTube SEO factor). 

Here’s how you can determine search intent:

Enter your target keyword and analyze the top results. For example, I entered “stock market analysis” and here’s what YouTube returned with. The top three results include the term “how to.” It indicates that people want a step-by-step tutorial on how to start a business.

youtube search results

If you search for “best online business,” you’ll notice most of the top results are listicle-type videos.

best online business

Depending on what your channel is about, search for various terms and analyze the top results. Note down the title of the videos that appear at the top, so you can refer to it when deciding on the type of content to create for those keywords.

4. Check the “Up Next” Section

When it comes to finding and producing the right type of content for your channel, the “up next” section could be a goldmine for you. 

Search for your seed keyword on YouTube, click on the first few results and check the suggested videos on the right-hand section.

Google search statistics

If YouTube is suggesting the video, it is because of one of these two reasons:

  • A similar audience loves the video.
  • Many people are searching for that topic.

Whatever be the reason, a person interested in the current video is likely to watch the suggested content. 

By analyzing those videos, you will have a better idea of the kind of content YouTube prefers. I would recommend watching those videos as well. This will show you another set of “up next” videos. 

For instance, I clicked on one of the recommended videos (shown in the image above). Here is a new set of suggestions from YouTube.

recommended videos

Repeat this process a few times and you will have a list of ideas to create watch-worthy content.

5. Produce High-Quality Content Consistently

YouTube is filled with video creators and to rank on the top, you need to stand out from the crowd. If your content is not good, no matter how aggressively you do YouTube SEO, you will not see any positive results (at least not for the long term). 

However, there’s no specific benchmark for “good content.” It depends on what your target audience likes and what’s ranking on the top for your target keywords. Watch the top 10 videos and check for these things:

  • What aspects do they cover?
  • What did they miss?
  • How long is their video?
  • How are they explaining the video?
  • Are they using examples?

Now, craft a strategy to create a better video than the ones ranking on the top. This should be a consistent process. Remember, your primary aim is to establish a subscriber base and build long-term relationships with your target audience. Therefore, make sure to publish high-quality content on a schedule.

6. Optimize Each Video You Upload

By optimizing each video that you upload, you increase the chances of it appearing at the top for relevant search queries. There are seven primary aspects of video optimization:

  • Title
  • Thumbnail 
  • Description
  • Tags
  • Closed captions
  • Cards
  • End screens

Let’s take a look at how you can optimize your video for each of them:


Your video title has a direct impact on the click-through rate (CTR). It means if you don’t put additional efforts into your title, the rest of what you have created might go in vain.  

Your video title should be:

  • Clear
  • Concise (to the point)
  • Address your target audience’s problems and highlight a solution

Also, add your primary keyword in the title naturally.


A compelling thumbnail can persuade users to click on your video. Your thumbnail should complement your title. For example, here are two results for the search query “healthy food.” The first video’s thumbnail reflects the very same thing mentioned in the title. But, the second one consists of photos of healthy foods. You should create a thumbnail just like the second video as it highlights what the user can expect in the video.

video thumbnail


The description helps YouTube understand the context of your video. The better the platform understands it, the higher you will rank. 

Here are four things that can improve the effectiveness of your description:

  • Add focus keywords (that you didn’t write in the title) in the first 25 words. 
  • Write a brief description of at least 250 words. 
  • Ensure your keyword appears 3-4 times. Also, include latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords. 
  • Add links to other related videos of your channel however, avoid including more than seven links.


Tags are yet another way to provide additional context to your video to increase the chances of it ranking higher in search results. YouTube recommends using words that are most descriptive of your video. 

Closed Captions 

Also known as video transcripts, closed captions help viewers better understand your content. Your audience might come from any place in the world, and your language might not be their native tongue. Besides, YouTube can crawl your closed captions, meaning you’ll likely get a boost by enabling it. 


YouTube Cards help you increase engagement on your video. You can encourage users to complete one of these five actions:

  • Watch another video
  • Visit another YouTube channel
  • Donate to a non-profit organization
  • Answer a poll
  • Visit an external link

Cards appear in the “i” section at the top right of the video.

youtube cards

End Screens

Similar to cards, end screens are all about encouraging viewers to spend more time on YouTube. You can add links to videos that you think the viewer should watch next. This increases the time spent and increases the traffic to your YouTube channel. Here’s an example of how end screens look.

end screen

Make sure that the videos you recommend in the end are highly-related to your current topic. 

Final Thoughts

Getting your YouTube channel on the top of the search results isn’t as tough as it seems. With the tactics mentioned in the article, you can easily outrank your competitors. However, it is essential to publish high-quality content consistently. Remember, doing SEO for your YouTube is a never-ending process.

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