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Kelvin Graham SEO Copy and Content Writer

YouTube is one of the world’s largest platforms, attracting millions of viewers worldwide. It’s also the second biggest search engine, directly competing – and holding its own – against Google. So, SEO is a no-brainer if you’re creating content on YouTube.

More views, the ability to connect with your target audience, and the ability to build a successful brand are all possible—as long as you implement a YouTube SEO strategy.

In this guide, we’ll reveal everything you need to know about SEO for YouTube, so get ready to skyrocket your content.

YouTube by the numbers

YouTube was initially meant to be a unique dating service, but its founders quickly realised the true potential of video sharing. Fast-forward from 2005 to today, and most people have heard of – and used – YouTube at some point.

To understand why it’s one of the best marketing platforms, we need to understand its reach:

  • YouTube attracts a whopping 2.49 billion users monthly (Digital 2024 Global Overview Report).
  • Between 2022 and 2023, YouTube’s global advertising revenue saw an 8% increase (SEMRush).
  • 90% of marketers utilise YouTube for video content (WebFX).
  • Over 70% of consumers say that YouTube marketing makes them more aware of new and emerging brands (SimpliLearn).
  • The platform has a 62% market penetration rate – making it more successful than Facebook (WARC).
  • The most popular YouTube videos attract 79% of all views (Pew Research Center).

What is YouTube SEO?

Like optimising your website content to rank higher on Google, YouTube SEO involves optimising your videos. The platform works like a search engine, enabling users to type keywords that find relevant videos.

When someone performs a search, YouTube algorithms will assess which content meets their needs and serve results. So, the better you optimise your content, the more likely it is to secure higher rankings.

However, with videos from the platform often appearing in Google search results, finding the right balance between keywords, categorising videos correctly and creating content that engages viewers can be challenging.

Why is YouTube SEO important?

Video content requires a lot of planning, scripting and editing, so you want to see your YouTube videos performing their desired actions.

Publishing videos without optimising them means leaving people to find your content randomly – instead of providing them with a clear path to discovering it.

Let’s explore why SEO on YouTube is essential.

Skyrocket your rankings 

Most YouTube users want accessibility over everything else. They’ll type in a keyword, and the search engine will show the most relevant videos. If your content doesn’t appear in this list, users must search for your exact video—which is rare.

Strategic optimisation ensures your content can inform, educate and entertain target audiences.

Grow your channel 

Did you know that the average YouTuber makes just over £31,595 annually? According to Target Internet, the most successful channels make up to $54 million yearly, and optimisation plays a huge role in helping audiences discover these channels.

When executed properly, YouTube SEO can help you diversify your audience, attract more subscribers and become an authority within your niche.

Build a brand 

Whatever industry you’re in, there will be significant amounts of competition. While blog posts and case studies are still central to demonstrating your authority and original perspective, creating videos can add an extra layer to your brand.

Whether you show viewers what happens behind the scenes, demonstrate your products, or provide helpful advice, you’re more likely to build a loyal customer base.

The Ahrefs YouTube channel is an excellent example of how to showcase your knowledge and connect with your audience.

Gain a cross-platform advantage 

One key benefit of YouTube optimisation is the ability to appear in Google SERPs. This not only attracts a broader audience but also demonstrates the value and authority your content offers.

Videos can also appear on the main search engine results page instead of the videos filter – as you can see from our “how to perform SEO” query:

gain a cross platform-advantage

SEO strategies that attract YouTube views

Whether you’re launching a channel to support your business or planning on becoming a full-time creator, your first challenge will be securing views. Failing to attract audiences will prevent you from building a loyal following and witnessing conversions.

So, here are some important SEO strategies for attracting YouTube views—think of them as the first stop on an ongoing journey.

Keyword research 

Determine which topic you’ll cover and look for keywords that align with your content. The best way to find the right keywords for YouTube is to use specialist tools, such as SEMRush and Ahrefs.

Cheaper options, like TubeRanker, can be beneficial but lack premium features. Remember, your chosen keywords should also align with your channel’s size.

Opting for highly competitive terms won’t give newer channels a chance to shine, but low-competition terms with high volumes are the best way to increase your visibility.

Keyword placement 

Keywords should appear in your video file and title so YouTube can identify what it’s about and show it in relevant searches. Remember, your keywords shouldn’t be spammy, so make sure they suit the content and don’t serve as clickbait.

Focus on attracting the right audiences

Your video’s description is vital to attract audiences because it defines whether they’ll watch your content or move on to another option. A well-optimised YouTube video will mention the primary keyword in the first 25 words and up to four times throughout the description.

Many creators simply describe their video briefly—despite having 5,000 characters to work with.

Explaining what your video will cover and the benefits of watching it, as well as adding a CTA at the end of the description, can help you secure more clicks and rev up your views.

As you can see from this example by SEO Audits IO, the video description clearly explains how it can solve a common problem that many marketers and brands face:

Create captivating thumbnails 

Never underestimate the value of captivating thumbnails. When people are scrolling through streams of videos, attention-grabbing thumbnails can help you attract more views.

Remember, brand consistency is everything, so don’t go for neon designs or bright pinks if your logo is minimalistic. The three most important aspects of a YouTube thumbnail include:

  1. Bold – or on-brand – colours
  2. The video’s benefit or title
  3. Clear imagery

As you can see from SEMRush, each video has striking colours and immediately grabs attention, highlighting professionalism and ensuring audiences notice the content.

create captivating thumbnails

Use hashtags wisely 

Hashtags on YouTube don’t hold the same weight as those on LinkedIn and Instagram, but they can still be beneficial for YouTube to understand what your content is about.

Audiences don’t typically see hashtags on the platform, but implementing them for niche topics can potentially secure more views.

Again, you don’t want to over-optimise, so choose around five and ensure they’re relevant.

Choose the right categories 

One of YouTube’s biggest draws is its categories, which allow users to search for videos on different topics, including Gaming, Animals, Finance, How-To, Technology and many more.

With 15 categories to choose between, aligning your video with the right one can help more people discover your content. Categorising your content also allows YouTube to identify what your videos are about.


Along with assigning categories to your videos, grouping them into playlists can help viewers discover more content while maintaining attention.

For example, if you’re creating videos about digital marketing, grouping the SEO videos into one playlist is convenient for viewers and increases their likelihood of viewing all of your content.

SEO strategies for building an audience and securing conversions

Now that we’ve covered the basics of YouTube SEO, it’s time to explore how to turn video views into followers and boost conversions. From utilising timestamps to making each video more engaging, there’s a lot you can do.

Let’s take a look at the most effective strategies.

Use timestamps 

Consumers have shorter attention spans today than ever before. So, how do you create helpful content without boring your viewers? Timestamps are an effective way to provide value while giving your audience a more streamlined experience.

They split the video into segments, working similarly to book chapters, letting viewers skip through sections. However, timestamps make reading your content more accessible for search engines, meaning Google can direct users to certain video sections.

Unsure of how to implement timestamps? This helpful video from ThinkMedia is a great starting point.

Provide clear CTAs

CTAs can help you secure more engagement from viewers and entice them to become channel subscribers. Many channels ask people to like or comment on the video, while others provide clear links to other content.

A great way to secure more engagement is asking viewers what they want to see next, which always proves popular. Video descriptions can also serve as CTAs; Adam Erhart provides a perfect example of how to use each video as a conversion channel:

provide clear ctas

Promote your videos 

One of the best ways to grow your YouTube channel is to promote it through your other marketing channels. If you have a blog, combining written content with videos gives audiences more options for viewing and engaging with your content.

Social media channels, like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, are excellent ways to promote your content and divert people to YouTube.

Add end screens and video cards 

Both video cards and end screens play considerable roles in signposting viewers to further videos and including subscribe buttons.

Members of the YouTube Partner Program can place links that go straight to their websites, so there are plenty of opportunities to secure higher engagement levels.

add end screens and video-cards

Top SEO tips for YouTube marketing

Hopefully, this post shows that YouTube SEO is an ongoing process that requires time, effort, and trial and error.

Having the right tools and understanding how to track engagement can help refine your SEO strategy and ensure consistent growth.

YouTube Analytics 

No YouTube SEO strategy would be complete without analysing your results and ensuring you maximise each video’s potential. Luckily, the platform has built-in analytics, which isolate videos that aren’t performing well and reveal the following metrics:

  1. The keywords that each video ranks for
  2. Which videos does your audience respond to most? These include listicles, how-tos, and product reviews.
  3. The duration of top-performing videos and their engagement rates.

Some brands succeed more with short-form content, while others develop a loyal following from extensive guides. Finding the right balance will help you develop a consistent theme for your content and secure results.


YouTube Autocomplete is an undervalued marketing resource despite its many benefits. When you type a keyword into the search bar, it provides a list of suggested and related terms, which will help you isolate appropriate terms for your content.


Get to know your audience 

Whether you cater to wide demographics or a niche audience, understanding which videos people respond to makes a significant difference.

While plenty of tools are available, assessing your competitors and identifying where their audiences are most active can provide vital insights.

Key takeaways:

  1. Growing a successful YouTube presence – whether that’s for marketing your business or as a side hustle – takes time and effort. Once you understand your audience, it’s easier to build a following.
  2. Developing and executing a comprehensive SEO strategy doesn’t just support your efforts on YouTube and increases your chances of appearing on Google and other search engines.
  3. Remember to focus on keyword research and categorise your videos to ensure YouTube algorithms can identify and rank them.
  4. Engagement on YouTube takes time, but sticking to the tips in this guide will help you find a strategy that aligns with your goals and delivers value to your target audience.

Final thoughts

YouTube is indisputably one of the best platforms for marketing your brand and building a following. With video marketing having a projected 33.5% CAGR from 2023 to 2030, focusing on building a YouTube following today means your brand has every chance of longevity.

Is the platform the answer to all of your needs? No. Your website, PPC strategy and other marketing channels still matter, but integrating video content is wise for future-focused businesses.

Kelvin Graham

Kelvin Graham SEO Copy and Content Writer