Optimizing YouTube Videos for Higher Rankings

Nothing stings more than pouring hours of work into creating a YouTube video for your business only to see it flop with poor search rankings and low view numbers. Assuming you’re creating relevant and interesting content, there are a few tips out there for optimizing YouTube videos for higher rankings, and we’ve gathered eight of them for you below.  

Front Load Your Keywords  

Use it in your video title and mainly at the beginning of the title. Short and simple. YouTube puts a higher weight on something’s importance the earlier it is in your title, so get straight to the point by using your keywords right away.  

Boost Video Engagement Signals  

Videos with lots of engagement signals get more engagement. It seems too simple, but SEO doesn’t have to be complicated. If you’re reminding your viewers to Like, Comment, or Subscribe, they are more likely to do so. Of these, studies have shown that comments correlate with rankings more than any other engagement signal.   

Try including a hyper-specific call to action (CTA) at the end of your video rather than a generic “follow my channel” or “don’t forget to like this video.” This could be as simple as asking something related to the video your viewers just watched and asking them to comment on one of the two things mentioned.   

Use the TAB Formula for Video Tags  

Tags aren’t as important as they used to be on YouTube, but that doesn’t mean you should stop using them. In fact, you may have just been using them incorrectly. Remember that video tags are designed to help YouTube understand the content of your video above anything else. This is a classic example of when less is more. If you try to add a ton of tags, instead of helping your video show up within a bunch of different searches, you’re creating a better chance of confusing Google or YouTube, causing them to not know what your video is actually about.  

Instead of coming up with many tags that are semi-specific to your video, try using a small number of highly specific tags using something called the TAB Formula. This stands for Target, Alternative, and Broad, and they should be used in this order. Your first tag should be your target keyword because, just like in the title of your video, YouTube puts more weight on something the earlier on it’s used. Next, create two to three alternative variations on your target keyword. Finally, include one to two broad tags to describe your overall topic or industry. The goal of these broad tags is to give YouTube more context on this specific video.  

Mini Blog Posts as Descriptions  

You obviously know what your video is about, but until someone else watches it, they don’t. And neither does YouTube. By creating lengthier descriptions, you’re providing more information to YouTube about the subject of your video so you can show up in the correct search results. Strive for 100-200 words in your video descriptions for the best results. Outline the content without giving everything away. You still want someone to watch to learn everything you have to teach.  

Click-Through Rate (CTR) Magnet Thumbnails  

It should go without saying that, like anywhere on the internet, CTR is an important ranking factor. One way to increase these is to use strategically designed thumbnails called Magnet Thumbnails. These use a variety of techniques to help you stand out from the rest of the content waiting to be clicked. You can use non-YouTube colors (any color that isn’t white, red, or black) to stand out, like green or orange. You can also use large, bold text in your thumbnail, but don’t overload it. You’ve got a small area to work with, so try using 30 characters or less for optimal coverage.  

Boost Length of Video  

When it comes to video SEO, longer videos tend to outrank shorter ones. This has been confirmed by different studies, but the most reliable source to corroborate this information is YouTube itself. The platform puts a priority on longer videos because it wants you on its site longer. That being said, whenever it makes sense, try to make your videos between eight and fifteen minutes long.  

Rank in Suggested Video  

YouTube SEO is more than just ranking in the search results. In fact, you can get just as many views, if not more, by getting your video to appear as a suggested video, which is when it shows up in the sidebar of another video. If yours shows up next to a popular video, there’s a good chance you’ll steal some of their views along the way.   

One way to do this is to use the same tags that the video is using. When YouTube sees some of your tags are the same as that really popular video, it’ll understand that your video is about the same topic, ranking you as a suggested video. You can look through the source code of that video to find the keywords or use a tool like TubeBuddy or VidIQ to help you locate them without searching through lines of code.  

Use Brackets & Parentheses in Your Video Title  

As we mentioned earlier, YouTube uses CTR as a major ranking factor, and like thumbnails, titles are a large part of that equation. In fact, YouTube itself stated that “Well-written titles can be the difference between someone watching and sharing your video, or scrolling right past it.” A simple hack is adding the year of the video in parentheses. It helps two-fold. Not only are you creating a title that is visually different than one with just text, but you’re also showing viewers that the content in your video is current and relevant.  


When working marketing firm like Rooted Web, you don’t have to worry about being left in the dust as new tools, tips, and technology comes along. Give us a call today to see how your small business can optimize your YouTube videos for high rankings and help you reach your goals for 2023. 

Samantha Prost

Samantha Prost is a digital content writer with almost 10 years of experience who uses her upbeat and creative energy to write fresh, fun and custom content for our clients.

Like what you're reading?

Subscribe to the blog for insightful posts delivered via email. We respect your privacy and won't spam your inbox.