It’s a commonly overlooked statistic that YouTube is actually the second largest search engine in the world in terms of the number of visitors and searches conducted. Right after its owners Google of course.

Globally, YouTube has had over 1 billion unique visits and delivers over 4 billion video views every single day.SEO for YouTubeYes, YouTube may be a video platform, but it is primarily a search engine, simply one that deals exclusively with video content.

The big difference between YouTube and other search engines like parent company Google, is that YouTube search results are not collected from around the web, YouTube search results are purely videos which have been uploaded to YouTube making it a self-contained platform.

Thus if you want your videos to appear on YouTube then you need to upload them directly.

YouTube has its own search results algorithm to determine which videos appear and in what order when you perform a search. Because YouTube is video content only and all the content exists inside its own database, the algorithm is simpler than that of full web content search engines. Here are the main considerations when it comes to uploading SEO-friendly YouTube videos.

Choosing ‘video’ keywords

YouTube has a huge amount of searches of its own which take place purely within its owned interface. But as you’ll likely know already, Google and other full web search engines also reserve a considerable amount of first page results for video results, dependant on the type of search performed.

Here are some ‘video keyword’ examples:

  • How-to (“How to peel a banana”)
  • Reviews (“Fallout 4 review”)
  • Tutorial-style (“Setting up WordPress”)
  • Sport and fitness related (“Shoulders workout”)
  • Funny videos (“Screaming goats”)

The reason it’s important to consider ‘video keywords’ like this is that by doing this kind of research upfront you can select keywords which are popular on Google as well as YouTube, meaning you have considerably more potential traffic should you succeed in earning top ranking positions.

Don’t underestimate the importance of this tip!

Static content

Much like static page content when conducting SEO for the greater web, YouTube content needs to be created with keywords and SEO efforts in mind. This includes the file name of your video when uploaded, the title and of course the description. Think of these much like image names, page titles and main page copy but for your video.


  • Your video file name should be similar to your title
  • Make your video title at least 5 words long
  • Focus SEO keywords at the start of the video title
  • Include your keyword in the first 25 words of description
  • Make the description at least 250 words in length
  • Ensure that regardless of SEO, the reader comes first, everything needs to make sense and read well

User interactions

Much like with paid search quality score, YouTube will consider your video’s popularity within the engine as well as all of your other SEO efforts:

  • The click-through rate when your video appears in a search
  • How much of your video viewers watch before they stop or leave
  • How many subscribers do you earn vs video views
  • Thumbs up and down on your video is a no-brainer
  • The number and frequency of user comments

Just like Google aims to provide the best results for a search query, YouTube’s goal is to provide the most relevant and popular video content relating to a search query so the way users perceive and interact with your content also counts toward your likelihood to achieve higher ranking positions.

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Posted by Katrina Starkie