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YouTube SEO in 2020: What You Must Do To Rank On YouTube!

With over 400 hours of video content being uploaded every minute, YouTube is a gold mine for content
marketers. We often wonder what type of videos appeal the most to the algorithms that run YouTube
rankings. But the YouTube system doesn’t have any favourite format or bias towards any specific topic.

Fun Fact #1

YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world, right after Google. It is bigger than Bing,
Yahoo and Ask combined!

Let us set priorities right and not worry about the algorithm. Instead, start focusing on what we bring to
the table concerning the quality of the content. Don’t think of YouTube as a site where we have to post
content, consider it just like a normal platform, say a website, where we optimize the content to gain
higher rankings.

Some secrets to success on YouTube:

  • Create a series of organically intertwined videos Example: If you have a multi-cuisine recipe channel, try and create playlists for different cuisines like Italian, Indian, Mexican, etc.
  • Create videos that are linked to standard YouTube modus operandi, including competitions or lists
  • Try to implement Youtube’s Translational tools to expand your horizon internationally
  • Check which keywords are being used by your audience to search for your channel/videos and incorporate the relevant ones
  • Don’t forget Notifications! See how much traffic is driven by the notifications by checking the watch time from YouTube analytics Traffic sources
  • Provide a powerful CTA call-to-action at the beginning or end of every possible video Example: Ask users to subscribe to the channel.
  • If suited, enable community contributions and crowdsource captions, descriptions, etc
  • Adhere to the YouTube policies and avoid making content that violates it. Avoid impersonation, nudity or sexual content, cyberbullying, hate speech, etc.
  • And of course, Using playlists, info-cards and end screens to recommend the next video.


Fun Fact #2

32 million inappropriate videos were removed from YouTube in 2018 by a team of 10,000 reviewers.

What is YouTube SEO?

YouTube SEO is the method of optimizing your videos, channels and playlists to rank higher in the organic search rankings for a specific search query. A well-optimized YouTube SEO video allows YouTube to better understand the content and in turn, helps in achieving better rankings for the video. Additionally, it also provides the user with a better experience!

How does YouTube recommend videos?

YouTube takes into account many factors while recommending a video to any user.

Mentioned below are some of the key aspects that are vital to YouTube’s recommendation engines:

  • Subscribed channels
  • Watch and search history
  • Context of the topic
  • The time and day of watch time
  • The country or region (this helps YouTube to recommend locally trending news)
  • Random feedback


Performance fluctuations?

Expect seasonality and variability to affect your videos because it’s natural for your channel performance to fluctuate over time. Make sure you keep a track of your channel wide performance and monitoring the highs and lows. Try to experiment with something new on your channel, say conducting a giveaway or a small contest or just go live. This will not only enhance audience engagement and retention with time but also help identify any new shift in the YouTube SEO wave.  Post this, you might want to hear the feedback that your audience is giving you.

Myth Buster:

Myth: The system will penalize you if you upload videos as unlisted and later switch them to public.

Truth: YouTube doesn’t penalize videos that are uploaded early. Your video performance is all that matters once you publish it.

YouTube SEO Optimizations:

YouTube gets bombarded with a ton of new video content each day and it is practically impossible for users to search for videos without assistance. For this purpose, YouTube relies on a sophisticated algorithm which helps users find and discover videos best suited to their search, interests and viewing habits.

Use list to attract users
Use Lists to Attract Users


A question in the minds of most SEO experts is “What does the algorithm like the most?”.

To this, YouTube says that their systems have no opinion on video type and do not favour any particular format. Instead, YouTube tries to follow the audience by focusing on things like:

  • What is an audience interested in?
  • How long does the user watch a video?
  • “Not interested” feedback received from the user
  • What is the audience not interested in?
  • Likes and dislikes of a video
  • Description of the video
  • Engagement level
SEO Optimized Title
SEO Optimized Title


In conjunction with this, YouTube provides us with several ways to tell the algorithm what exactly our video is about. To learn this, YouTube has in place the following optimization fields along with their best practices:

YouTube SEO Optimization

Best Practices


The character limit for Titles is 100 characters
Incorporate Keywords into the Title


The character limit for Descriptions is 5000 characters
Use the target keywords in the video description with the right keyword density
Use hashtags in the description or title of the video

Info Cards

Videos, playlists, and links to approved websites can be added as cards
Polls can also be used as cards to understand user preferences

End Screens

End Screens can be used to add the ‘Subscribe CTA’ and other features such as videos, playlists and links to other channels

Add to Playlist

Helps in creating a better User Experience and improves the ease of access

Create Closed Captions

Add manual closed captions to videos to help YouTube understand your video better
Add Descriptive Tags Use your targeted keyword in this section
Ensure that semantic keywords are targeted with the right mix of brand and non-brand keywords


Additionally, creating video content around the target keywords is known to boost rankings for the same. While, YouTube continues to transcribe videos and understand the intent of the video creator, to better serve the YouTube audience.

Fun Fact #3

You can navigate YouTube in over 80 different languages, covering 95% of the internet population.


Implementing the right SEO optimizations for YouTube not only helps YouTube to understand your channel and content better but also improves the experience of your subscribers as well as non-subscribers. Furthermore, having the right optimizations in place helps users to navigate the channel better and improves the performance of engagement metrics.

In addition to boosting brand recognition and awareness, YouTube SEO can impact your marketing efforts on a larger scale. They could also aid your paid campaigns and improve conversions owing to better user experience.

Additionally, a well-ranked SEO-optimized YouTube video may also rank on the Google SERPs and improve the visibility and exposure on the SERP as well. Not to forget, the traffic driven to the website through the SEO-optimized YouTube video is a cherry on the cake!

Want to get your YouTube channel reviewed? Request a free audit, get in touch with us now!