Digital Marketing

The Ultimate YouTube SEO Checklist To Rank Your Videos #1

October 20, 2023

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As a YouTuber, you know that ranking highly in YouTube search results is critical to gaining more views and growing your channel. Optimizing your YouTube videos for search engine optimization (SEO) is the key. Following a proven YouTube SEO checklist will help you rank your videos on the first page of YouTube and Google search results. This article will provide the ultimate step-by-step YouTube SEO checklist to rank your videos number one. From optimizing video titles and tags to promoting your content, this checklist covers all the bases to boost your YouTube video rankings. By implementing these YouTube SEO best practices, you’ll gain more views, increase audience retention, rank higher in search results, and ultimately achieve YouTube success. The time you invest in YouTube SEO will pay off tremendously in growing your channel and engaging your viewers.

How do you do SEO on YouTube?

The Ultimate YouTube SEO Checklist To Rank Your Videos #1- SEO on YouTube

In the ever-expanding digital landscape of online video content, mastering the art of YouTube SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is crucial to ensuring your videos are not lost in the vast sea of content. By employing effective SEO techniques, you can substantially increase the visibility of your videos to a broader audience. This article will guide you through the essential steps on how to optimize YouTube channel to enhance your presence and video’s discoverability.

What are the benefits of YouTube SEO?

Ranking your videos at the top of YouTube search results provides significant benefits:

  • Increased visibility and traffic. Higher rankings mean more views and exposure for your content.
  • Improved click-through rates. Viewers are likelier to click on videos at the top of search results.
  • Brand awareness. Ranking prominently helps establish your authority and expertise in your niche.
  • More subscribers. High-ranking, optimized videos are more likely to gain new subscribers.
  • Better advertising opportunities. Higher view counts can open up more lucrative ad placements and sponsorships.

Optimizing your YouTube videos for search is well worth the effort for long-term success on the platform. By following best practices for YouTube SEO, you can achieve and maintain high search rankings to gain these benefits.

Top 12 YouTube SEO checklist and best practices

To optimize your videos and rank higher in search results, follow this YouTube SEO checklist of best practices:


Sl No: YouTube SEO Checklist in 2023  Best Practices
1. Captivating Title Begin your video title with the primary keyword
2. Eye-catching Thumbnail Add well-crafted titles, descriptions, tags, and closed captions
3. Comprehensive Description Include description of 1000 words, along with timestamps
4. Relevant Tags Incorporate popular and relevant hashtags
5 Closed Captions Prefer manual captioning for accuracy
6. Video Transcript Provide a separate transcript file
7. Video Length and Engagement Keep your content concise and focused
8. High-Quality Production Invest in better equipment for superior video quality
9. Optimize Metadata Perfect your titles, descriptions, tags, and closed captions
10. End Screens and Cards Enhance viewer engagement with additional details
11. Promotion and Sharing Promote your presence on other social media platforms
12. Audience Retention Analyze audience retention data and make necessary changes

1. Compelling title

To rank high in YouTube searches, your video needs an engaging title. A compelling title should be:

  • Descriptive and keyword-rich: Include important keywords, phrases, and semantic terms related to your content. This helps YouTube understand what your video is about and allows it to rank higher in search results for those terms.
  • Eye-catching: Use powerful words and numbers, ask a provocative question, or promise a benefit. For example, “3 Easy Tips to Double Your YouTube Views This Month”.
  • Not too long or short: Aim for 5 to 15 words. Keep your title concise while still being descriptive.
  • Unique: Don’t copy other videos’ titles. Come up with an original title to make your content stand out.

With an optimized, compelling title, your YouTube video has a much better chance of ranking at the top of search results and getting discovered by more viewers. Crafting a great title is one of the most important things you can do to boost your YouTube SEO.

2. Design an Eye-Catching Thumbnail

The Ultimate YouTube SEO Checklist To Rank Your Videos #1- eye catching thumbnail

To rank high in YouTube search results, an engaging thumbnail is essential. A custom thumbnail helps your video stand out in search results and encourages viewers to click. YouTube provides default thumbnails from your video, but designing your own is worth the effort. Include exciting visuals, bold text, and a clear subject. Keep text large enough to read as a small thumbnail. Use contrasting colours for text and background, and leave space around the text. Alluring thumbnails entice viewers and boost your click-through rate, causing YouTube to rank your video higher.

3. Detailed Description

You need an optimized video description to rank high in YouTube search results. Include relevant keywords, hashtags, and links in your description to help viewers and the YouTube algorithm understand your content.

Start with an engaging opening sentence that makes viewers want to watch your video. Mention the topic and goal of your video. For example, “In this video, I show you the top 5 ways to optimize your YouTube channel for better search ranking.”

Next, include a bulleted list of your video’s main points or steps. For example:

  • Conduct keyword research to find popular search terms
  • Optimize your video title and tags
  • Engage viewers with an attention-grabbing thumbnail
  • Promote your video on other social media platforms
  • Check your search ranking and make changes as needed

Finally, encourage viewers to like, comment, and subscribe to your channel. You might say, “For more tips to boost your YouTube channel, be sure to subscribe!” Use natural language and double-check for spelling or grammar errors before publishing.

4. Relevant Tags

Adding relevant tags to your video is essential to rank high in YouTube’s search results and gaining more views. Tags are keywords or short phrases that describe your content. When uploading your video, be sure to include important terms that relate to your topic, such as:

  • Product or service name
  • Benefits or solutions provided
  • Problems addressed
  • Target audience interests

Using relevant tags helps YouTube understand what your video is about and who would be interested in viewing it. The more accurate and specific your tags are, the higher your video will rank for those search terms. Keep your tags short and descriptive, and avoid being too broad. Using a mix of short-tail and long-tail tags will increase your visibility and rankings over time as your content gains more views and authority.

5. Closed Captions

Closed captions are text versions of the audio in your video. They allow viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing to understand your content. Closed captions are also helpful for viewers in loud environments or non-native speakers.

To add closed captions to your YouTube videos:

  1. Sign in to YouTube Studio. Select the video you want to edit.
  2. Click the “Subtitles/CC” button.
  3. Click “Add new subtitles or CC.”
  4. Select the language of your video. Enter the name of the subtitles. This will be visible to viewers.
  5. You can manually enter the captions by typing the text into the editor. Press enter to start a new line. Use the timecodes at the top of the editor to sync the captions with your audio.
  6. For automatic captions, click “Speech Recognition.” YouTube will generate captions based on its speech recognition technology. Review and edit the captions for accuracy.
  7. Click “Publish” to make the captions visible to viewers. Viewers can turn captions on or off during playback using the “CC” button.
  8. Check your captions for accuracy and make any necessary edits. Well-written, synchronized captions will improve your content’s viewing experience and searchability.

6. Video Transcript

Creating a video transcript of your YouTube video is critical for optimization. A transcript allows viewers to follow along with the audio and is essential for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. More importantly, a transcript gives search engines another resource to crawl for keywords and phrases, improving your search ranking.

To generate a transcript, you have a few options:

  1. Manually transcribe your video word-for-word. This is time-consuming but will result in the highest accuracy. You can then upload the transcript file when editing your video.
  2. Use YouTube’s auto-transcribe feature. This uses speech recognition to create a transcript automatically. Review and edit the transcript for any errors before publishing.
  3. Use a third-party transcription service. Services like Rev, Transcribe Me, and 3Play Media can quickly and accurately transcribe your video for a fee. They may offer more accurate results than YouTube’s auto-transcribe.
  4. Include a transcript in your video description. If unable to upload a transcript file, paste the full-text transcript of your video into the description. This provides search engines with the transcript content, though not formatted as nicely for viewers.

Whichever method you choose, be sure to include important target keywords, phrases, and related terms within your transcript. An accurate, keyword-optimized transcript is one of the most impactful ways to improve your YouTube video’s search ranking and visibility.

7. Video Length and Engagement

To rank higher in YouTube search results, focus on these factors regarding your video’s length and engagement. Aim for videos that are at least 2 to 3 minutes in length, as longer videos tend to rank better in search results and keep viewers engaged for longer. However, make videos shorter, as viewer attention spans are limited. Find the optimal length for your content and audience.

8. High Quality Content

You need high-quality content to rank high in YouTube searches and gain more views. This means:

  • Relevant and Useful Information: Provide relevant and useful information to your target audience. Focus on solutions, tips, how-to’s, and actionable advice. Viewers appreciate content that helps solve their problems or answers their questions.
  • Engaging and Compelling: Create content that sparks interest and keeps viewers engaged. Use an enthusiastic, compelling tone, and consider using clips, graphics, statistics, or stories to bring your content to life. Viewers are more likely to watch and share dynamic, exciting content.
  • Optimize for Search: Choose a title, tags, and thumbnail that incorporate important keywords and phrases that viewers are searching for. The title, tags, and thumbnail are the first elements viewers see, so they need to grab attention while optimizing for search.
  • Consistent Uploads: Upload new videos consistently so viewers know when to expect new content from your channel. Consistent uploading, even once a week or once a month, helps build audience loyalty and trust in your channel.

9. Optimize Metadata

You must optimize your video metadata to rank high in YouTube search results. Metadata refers to your video’s title, description, tags, and thumbnail.

  • Title: Your title is the first thing viewers see and is critical for search ranking. Include your target keyword in the title, preferably at the beginning. Keep your title concise while compelling viewers to click.
  • Description: The description provides details about your video content. Include your target keyword a couple of times, naturally woven into sentences. Describe your video in an exciting, engaging way to entice viewers to watch.
  • Tags: Tags are keywords or phrases associated with your video. Include relevant tags, especially your target keyword. Use a mix of broad and specific tags. You can add up to 500 characters worth of tags, so make the most of them!
  • Thumbnail: Your thumbnail is the photo representation of your video. Choose an eye-catching, high-quality thumbnail highlighting an interesting part of your content. Thumbnails with faces or visual text tend to get more clicks. Use tools like Canva or Photoshop to create an optimized thumbnail.

Optimizing your metadata is key to ranking in YouTube searches and getting more views. Follow these tips to strengthen your video’s metadata and increase search rankings. With time and consistency, you’ll be well on your way to #1!

10. End Screens and Cards

Add end screens and cards to encourage viewers to continue watching your other videos. End screens are images or short video clips that appear at the end of your video, typically with embedded links leading viewers to other relevant videos or a subscribe button. Cards are small notifications that pop up in the top right corner during your video and also link to other videos or playlists.

Enable end screens and cards in your YouTube video settings. Select which videos or playlists you want to link to, choose a design theme, and place the end screens and cards appropriately throughout your video. These valuable features can help boost viewer engagement and session watch time.

11. Promotion and Sharing

Promoting and sharing your YouTube videos is key to improving their search ranking and views.

Social Media

Post your new videos on your social media profiles like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Ask your followers to like, comment, and share the video to increase engagement. Engagement metrics like likes, comments, and shares signal to YouTube that your content is interesting, improving its ranking.

You should also join relevant Facebook groups and subreddits to share your videos. Look for groups centred around your video’s topic or niche, and be active by posting helpful content and commenting on other posts. When you share your video, personalize the message to match the group and be transparent that it’s your content. People will appreciate your honesty and contribution.

Sharing on social media and in groups builds backlinks to your video, another factor YouTube uses to determine search ranking. The more quality backlinks you have, the higher your video can rank in search results. An active social media presence and online community engagement are two of the most effective methods that should be in your YouTube SEO checklist, to get more views and improve your search results.

12. Watch Time and Audience Retention

Last but not least, watch time and audience retention are the two most important ranking factors in the YouTube SEO checklist. The longer viewers watch your videos and engage more; the higher YouTube will rank your content.

To increase watch time and audience retention:

  • Focus on providing value to your viewers. Give them useful information, tips, advice, or entertainment. Viewers are likelier to watch longer if the content is engaging and helpful.
  • Keep your videos under 10 minutes when possible. Shorter videos typically have higher watch times and completion rates. Only make videos longer if necessary to cover the topic thoroughly.
  • Engage your viewers by asking questions, suggesting interactions, or sharing interesting facts. Pose questions to spark discussion in the comments section. Give viewers a reason to stick around and engage with your content.
  • Review your audience retention reports to see when viewers are dropping off. Look for patterns to determine what’s working and not working in your videos. Make changes to improve watch time for future uploads.
  • Be authentic and charismatic on camera. Your passion and enthusiasm will shine through and keep people watching. Smile, make eye contact, and speak clearly to connect with your audience.
  • Use an attention-grabbing intro to draw viewers in, then end with a strong conclusion encouraging them to take action. Start and end strong to keep them watching the entire video.

Focusing on providing value, optimizing your video length, engaging your viewers, and being authentic on camera is crucial in improving your watch time and audience retention. Consistently improving these metrics will help boost your video rankings over time. So do not miss out on this.

Further reading, Types Of Google Ads Campaigns: Which is Right For You?


Optimizing your channel and YouTube videos for search is essential to gaining more views and subscribers. By following this comprehensive YouTube SEO checklist, you’ve taken the necessary steps to improve your video rankings and make your content more discoverable. Staying on top of YouTube’s best practices and algorithm updates will help optimize your channel over the long run. Keep uploading high-quality, engaging videos, build your audience, and remember why you started your channel. With consistency and persistence, your hard work optimizing for search and creating great content will pay off as your views and subscribers grow. The key is not to get discouraged and to remain dedicated to becoming a better YouTuber and creator. If you do that, your channel will thrive.

Thanks For Reading !

Author - Athira Balan


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