YouTube SEO and Video Optimisation Best Practice

Ben Matthews

By Ben Matthews

In SEO, Video

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When it comes to YouTube SEO, there are a few best practice guidelines you need to follow to get significantly more views than your competitors.

Don’t just lazily upload your videos with the hope that one of them “goes viral”. Follow this YouTube SEO guide and your videos will be ranking higher and getting more views than ever before.

Pre-launch YouTube SEO Optimisation

At upload videos should be optimised for SEO – and for ‘clickabiltiy’ in the YouTube environment, where they are competing against millions of videos for viewer attention. YouTube videos tell search engine algorithms very little in themselves, so it’s essential to support each upload with additional information.


A keyword list should underpin the YouTube SEO approach, containing a mix of relevant brand and video related terms, based on what people will recognise and search for relating to your brand or content theme. The prominence and extent of keyword mentions will tell search engines when to surface your videos, so the focus should be on what searches you think your target audience will make.


Titles should be provocative and compelling. Arrange with the keywords first and the branding last – search engines assume the most important words are used earliest. A standard ‘kicker‘ of keywords may be useful. A kicker being a distinctive term used to start a title, eg: <keyword> followed by video specific information. You should be using your main keyword in all titles and descriptions.


Descriptions should accurately reflect the message and content of the video,  be over fifty words in total and contain as many relevant keywords as possible

You can include a standard, automated boilerplate about you at the end of all video descriptions telling people about you, how viewers can get involved, and links to read more and connect.

You can also experiment with prompts to subscribe, share, or ‘like’ the video as a form of support on each video.


Tags should be plentiful and reflect a range of common and specific keywords. While bespoke tags related to each video should be added every time, you can save time by creating a set of standard tags that can be applied to all of your videos, relating to your sector, geography etc. These standard tags can be updated regularly to reflect new search trends and current events.

YouTube SEO and Video Optimisation


You should include transcripts when you have them, as they constitute additional for SEO keywords for the search engines to associate with the video. Plus it is good for viewer experience, and it’s appreciated by bloggers / journalists seeking quotes.


Clickable annotations can be placed on videos encouraging people to watch a related video, share with friends or subscribe to the channel. These should be used sparingly, but can be effective.


Thumbnails play a big part in whether people click on a video, and also make the video more powerful when shared, as it’s the thumbnail that shows in the Facebook newsfeed for example.

YouTube generates three automated thumbnails during upload, but these are often poor, so a custom thumbnail should be edited, aiming for the below, and added:

  • Clear, in-focus
  • Bright, high-contrast
  • Close-ups of faces
  • Visually compelling -Images that “compel you to click”
  • Well-framed, good composition
  • Foreground stands out from background
  • Accurately represents the content

Post-launch YouTube SEO

YouTube and Google search algorithms pay attention to how much attention a video gets in the first 24 hours. It is really important for a new launch to be well shared and viewed immediately. There must be a plan in place to do the following as soon as a video goes live:

  • Send out on email (to customers and staff)
  • Post on social – aggressively for first 24 hours, eg: hit multiple timezones, take advantage of ‘launched today’ factor to post more than once on social spaces
  • Embed straightaway on company pages, landing pages etc
  • Paid support: Consider spending even a small amount to boost views on YouTube and Facebook in the first 24 hours

These early views, embeds and social shares tell YouTube that this is a valuable piece of content, and people are watching and sharing it – it has organic interest. On seeing this, the algorithms will be more likely to surface your video in search and their suggested videos to active YouTube viewers, beyond those you can reach.

Essentially, don’t put the video live until you are ready to share it, there is no benefit, and in fact damage to be done by putting it live before you are ready to push it out to your audiences.

Taking the time to implement a YouTube SEO strategy and optimise your videos for SEO is incredibly important if you want your videos to be seen.

What other YouTube SEO tips do you use to get your videos discovered and watched?

Need more SEO advice? Check out our guide to SEO for charities.