YouTube Ranking SEO: Guide For Ranking Your Videos 2021

This guide will take you through the steps to getting a better Youtube ranking, as well as other search engines.

Before we begin, please note it is best to optimise your videos before making them live to give them the best chance of YouTube ranking the video. If a video is made live and it isn’t optimised, then YouTube will not rank it well. It will also make it much harder to rank well afterwards.

YouTube Ranking Step 1: Keyword Research

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world after Google. Although the main content is video, text content also has a part to play if you’re to show in the search results.

In order to optimise your text content, you must perform keyword research. As a result, you’ll know what your audience is searching for.

Here’s an example of keyword research for the new Batman Vs. Superman film, using Google Keyword Planner:

Keyword research including average monthly searches and competition level

Below are the following elements that should be optimised based on your keyword research.

Related: How to Do Keyword Research for SEO

1. Title

The title is an important factor in YouTube SEO. Not only does it tell the audience what the video is about but it also tells YouTube and other search engines too. It’s the first thing they will see after the actual video on the page.

How to add title to YouTube video

Your title should include the following:

2. Description

The description is the only place you get to tell your audience about your video. This is also used in Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) as well as in YouTube Search Results.

How to add description to YouTube video

Your description should include the following:

Google SERPs example:

Google SERPs Batman v Superman YouTube video

YouTube Search Results example:

YouTube Search Results Batman v Superman

3. Tags

How to add tags on YouTube video

Your tags should include the following:

Transcriptions & Captions


YouTube automatically transcribes your video, although they are not always accurate. It then indexes your videos transcriptions and uses it to rank your video for some of the keywords in the transcription.

As YouTube doesn’t create fully optimised transcriptions, your chances of ranking for relevant keywords is minimal.

Here is what a transcript looks like when your video is playing:

YouTube video transcript

It is usually better to write the transcript yourself and then upload it as a text file.

Closed Captions

Videos with captions display either of the two small logos at the bottom of the player in the YouTube search results.

By having closed captions you can increase your Click Through Rate (CTR), this helps increase your rankings in YouTube Search Results Pages (YSRP).

To add captions to your videos you need to go to the edit screen and click the Subtitles/CC button.

Next click the ‘Create new subtitles or CC’ button.

You will be shown the following screen where you will need to type next to the times on the left the words that are being spoken.

When completed click the blue ‘Publish’ button in the top right of the screen.

YouTube Ranking Step 2: Content Delivery

YouTube understands if your video is “good”. It does this by looking at the user engagement of your videos and the YouTube video content optimisations.

User engagements include:


It’s not just the number of views that YouTube looks at, but also the user retention. The longer people watch your video, the more YouTube indicates that your video is of value.

You can find your video views underneath your video like shown below.

The number of views on a YouTube video

YouTube also uses inbound links to a video as a ranking factor, much like how Google uses inbound links as a ranking factor.

Tip: Build links to your YouTube Channel as well as your videos. This can be done by using websites such as Quora, to answer user questions which include links to your videos or profile.

Social Shares

YouTube tracks shares as social signals and as a ‘User Engagement’ factor. Encourage users to share your videos in the description, the video itself and when posting about it on other social channels like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Check out when the best times to post on social media are to gain the best user engagement.

social media channels available to share YouTube video including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


Users can embed your videos into their own web pages. YouTube tracks this and sees this as positive user engagement thus helping your SEO efforts.

Videos can be embed by:

Text showing how to embed videos on YouTube

Comments and Responses

Comments are a powerful factor in YouTube SEO. As a result, getting users to respond to your videos through posting comments signals to YouTube that it has relevance and authority.

Comments within YouTube video section

Like (Thumbs Up), Dislike (Thumbs Down) and Favourites

Getting a Thumbs up, Thumbs down or a Favourite is another signal for User Engagement. The below screenshot shows this video obtained 13 likes and 0 dislikes.

Video Length

Short 1 – 2 minute videos used to be the norm, but user habits change and users see YouTube as another alternative platform to a TV, so don’t be afraid to make long content.

10 – 16 minute videos get great user engagement, providing it’s relevant to your users and their interests and perform better in rankings.

Videos under 2 minutes long are generally not liked by the audience.

4 – 6 minute videos tend to get the most views.

Remember: By carrying out keyword research before creating your video, you’ll be most likely to create content that’s valuable and generates lots of interaction.


Below is a list of do’s and don’ts for YouTube thumbnails:



Start Ranking on YouTube Today

Despite the perception that ranking on YouTube is challenging, by following this guide, your videos are likely to appear at the top of the rankings in no time. Once you attract more viewers and engagement, you can begin directing traffic to your website.

There are many ways that you can make your YouTube channel videos stand out. By following our simple 2 step guide, your videos will appear higher in YouTube search rankings, making you more competitive. Standing out from the competition can be difficult. However, YouTube can be a unique way to showcase your brands unique personality, which can attract people to your channel.

Get in touch

We are experts in SEO and content marketing.

Get in touch with our team where we will be happy to analyse your channels performance and provide additional guidance to help your videos to perform better.

Drop us a line on 01785 279985

Send us an email

Quick Enquiry

Your information will be handled in line with our Privacy Policy.