YouTube Video Transcribe Option

YouTube SEO Guide: 8 YouTube Ranking Factors

YouTubeIn my previous YouTube SEO: Optimize Videos for Search Engines post, I briefly went over a few factors that affect video ranking on YouTube. Since then, I read and learned a lot more on YouTube video optimization, so I decided to write a revised and more detailed post on it.  Note: In this post, I use YouTube and Google interchangeably. Why? (If you are a caveman/woman and don’t know about this, Google acquired YouTube in 2006)


Let’s start with some basic background information on YouTube and why you want to optimize your videos on YouTube.  YouTube receives over 800 million unique visitors, 3 billion hours of videos be watched daily, and 72 videos being uploaded every minute!  It is definitely the 2nd largest Search Engine and you definitely want to be found via YouTube as well. 

Now, let’s jump straight to the YouTube Video ranking factors.

P.S. Bonus at the end of the article.


Video Title

Title is the MOST important factor that affects your ranking whether it is optimizing your videos on YouTube or optimizing your website for the Search Engine Result Page (SERP).

The title of your video is what attracts the viewers.  Before looking at anything else, your title is the first thing that the viewers see.  If you want people to click on your video, you better come up with a title that answers what the viewers are looking for. You want your viewers to say “that’s what I am looking for” when they see the title.   So make sure to do some keyword research before making the video and when you are set on making the video for a certain topic, make sure to deliver exactly what your title promises.

Tip: You can use YouTube’s search bar to do your keyword research.  When you type in “How to” in the search bar, YouTube will auto generate some popular topics.  So enter one word at a time and see what “popular” videos YouTube recommends. 

Tip #2: YouTube highly values video with the following keywords/phrases in the title:

  • Tutorial (Ex. Tutorial: Create Facebook customized tab)
  • Review (Ex. Social Media X Tools Review)
  • What is ____________ (Ex. What is the most important factor in SEO)
  • How to ____________ (Ex. How to optimize YouTube video for SEO)

While coming up with a title that attracts people’s attention, keep in mind to limit your title to roughly around 60-66 characters.   If your title is too long, it will be cut off in the results page.

YouTube Video Title



We probably hear it all the time, CONTENT IS KING!  What you have in your description box will become a factor that affects your video ranking.


  • DO NOT simply just include a link
  • DO NOT keyword stuff
  • DO NOT include “just” one or two sentence with a simple keyword


  • DO write a detailed description about your video.  What is your video about? Why is it unique?
  • DO include keywords in the description.
  • DO include a link to your website/blog in the first few lines of the description.  Do not include a link at the very bottom because it will be cut off and only visible if people click on expand.

Including a link in the description will be AMAZING way to drive traffic to your website.  One, it is another back link to your website/blog and two, a link will stand out in the sea of words.



Tags are like keywords that you tell YouTube to look at when people are searching for videos.  You should include a minimum of 10 tags in your video and include all keywords you can think of related to your video.

YouTube Tags

Tip: Include the singular and plural version of each word.  The way the system works right now is that it will do a matching of your tags with the words being searched, and if you don’t include both singular and plural version of the word, when people search for “Eggs” and you only used “Egg” as a tag, your video might not show up.

Tip #2: Include misspelled words or words with different spellings such as “Optimization” and “Optimisation”


Views/Attention Span/Retention

UPDATE: YouTube recently updated their algorithm.  They changed the “number of views” to “time watched” as the factor for ranking videos.  You can read the YouTube Algorithm update here!

The number of views your video gets will also affect your video ranking in the YouTube/Google Search Results Page.   Google’s  main purpose is to provide its user the best results!  If your video doesn’t have enough view, then it tells Google that your video is not popular, not interesting or is not what people are searching for.  Therefore, it will affect your chances of showing up on your SERP.

Getting PLENTY of views are not good enough.  If your viewers leave after watching the first 10 seconds of your video, it gives YouTube a signal that your video is not good.  They don’t want to provide people with poor videos.  SO CREATE SOMETHING INTERSTING!  Videos with high engagement and retention rate will definitely rank higher than those with low retention rate.

Tip: YouTube provides engagement reports on your video to see when people leave your video.  So use this report and find out why people are leaving at a certain point of the video.  Is your video too long and the viewers are getting bored? Did they get what they wanted to know from your video?  Find out and use this information on your next video.


Comments/ Responses

If your video has a lot of engagement, YouTube will see that people like your video and understand your video completely which means it is a good video.  However, DO NOT try to cheat YouTube and post comments like “good video,” “I love it,” “amazing video” with your other YouTube accounts.  YouTube is pretty good at telling which comments are spammy and which comment is real.

To increase comment and responses, create AMAZING videos so that people would comment willingly.

To increase more engagement in your comments, you should be ACTIVELY reading the comments and replying.  If someone asked a question, reply with an answer or link them to another video you made that answer the question or link it to other people’s video/article.  By linking it to other people’s content, it builds relationships and it doesn’t seem so much of self-promoting.

And if someone complimented your video, reply with a simple “Thank you” or reach out to them/ connect with them.  Build relationships!

In addition to the typical comments, Video Responses also play a really big part.  Creating a video is not easy and if someone actually creates a video in response to your video, YouTube will think that “WOW, this must be a good video.  Someone actually creates another video in response to this one.”  Furthermore, when someone creates a video response, their authority will also transfer to you.

Tip: You can also link your video as a video response to your other videos (similar to internal linking for website SEO); however, it will not be as effective as someone else creating a video response for your video.


Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

Another ranking factor is the number of thumbs up and thumbs down.  Obviously, everyone’s goal is to get as much thumbs up as possible.  It tells YouTube that people like your video.  Of course, thumbs down means that people don’t like your video but don’t fret it, getting thumbs down also mean that people watched your video and are engaging.

Find out why it is getting poor reviews and use this information for your next video.



A lot of people might not know this but if a lot of people embed your video on their site, it will also help with your ranking.  Embedding a video is like including a backlink on their website to your video.  YouTube uses this as a factor.

How to embed a video?  Right under the video, there is a “Share” button.  When people click on “Share,” YouTube will then provide a URL which people can use to share the video via Social Media.  Next to the URL, there will be an “Embed” button, click on the button and YouTube will provide an HTML code people can include in their blog.  Furthermore, people have to ability to choose the size of the video they want to appear on the blog and YouTube will adjust the HTML accordingly.

YouTube Video Embed Option


Inbound Links

As I mentioned above, when people embed your video on their page, it is similar to a backlink pointing to your page.  Similar to website optimization, inbound links pointing to your video is also a factor in YouTube’s playbook (well, YouTube is part of Google anyways and Google loves inbound links).  I read somewhere saying that “If Content is King, Inbound Links are Queen.”

Whatever white hat linkbuilding strategy you are using for your blog/website, try using it for your videos as well.  Share it on Social Media sites, embed your video in your blog, or include a link in your blog referring people to your video.


Related Articles:

How to Keyword Research – Complete Guide to SEO

How to Choose the Best Keywords for Your Website



Bet most people don’t know about this!

YouTube Video Transcribe Option

Do you think YouTube is all about videos? NO! If YouTube use the description information as a factor to rank your video, GUESS WHAT, transcription is also a factor that YouTube uses.  So transcribe your video in plain text now!

Wait, how are you going to transcribe a 10 minute video and how long it will take? Don’t worry, YouTube has a new feature that helps you transcribe your video.  It is still in beta and they didn’t push it out to a lot of people yet.

On the bottom right hand side of the video, there should be a “CC” button all the way on the left.  Click on it and you should see “Translate Captions Beta.”  Since it is still in beta, I am not sure how good the transcription feature is but give it a try.


Are you optimizing your YouTube videos?  Share your experience and tips on how you optimize your video below!


About: Tommy Tan Tommy Tan

Tommy is a self-taught SEO and Social Media marketer and the Dojo Master for his blog - MKTdojo which shares guides, news, and exciting updates on Social Media and SEO. Connect with Tommy on Twitter. @Mktdojo

  • Pat Weber (@patweber)

    Wonderful ideas here. I use YouTube lately mostly for grabbing a good video to embed in my own blog. I’ve still got a hang up about either being a talking head – particularly on a bad hair day, OR, using Camatasia.

    In particular I appreciate the BONUS tip. Might encourage me to do more!

    • Tommy Tan

      Hi Pat,

      Embedding a video on your blog is definitely a good idea. It helps with reader retention and explain more on your topic. I should try doing that once in a while as well. Do you use your own videos or you find them via YouTube search?

      Keep up the good work!

  • Doreen Pendgracs

    Thanks for the tips, Tommy. I will be doing a Kickstarter video soon and need all the help I can get to draw attention to my book.

    • Tommy Tan

      Pinterest might be able to help as well. A good place to share images with link back to your page that promotes your book. You can also pin videos!

  • Susan Cooper

    These are great tips and will help me tremendously when I am ready to launch video’s on my site. I have been reluctant to do so but, you’ve have made it seem easier then I thought. Thanks for that. :)

    • Tommy Tan

      No Problem! Make sure to share them via Social Media as well to increase viewership!


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