YouTube is huge. Understanding YouTube’s algorithm is crucial for success.

70% of the time people spend watching videos is the result of clever AI-driven recommendations.

Google’s YouTube algorithm differs quite a bit from their search engine algorithm, which is something that marketers need to acknowledge if they want to create YouTube video content that will do well.



It is often said that YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine.

People don’t just watch YouTube videos for entertainment.

There are countless product reviews and educational videos on YouTube, and with good knowledge of the platform, you too could benefit from some extra exposure.

We’ve done the research so that you don’t have to.

Keep reading to learn more about the best SEO tips for YouTube marketing.

Find out everything you need to know about Google’s complex video platform today!

Don’t Ignore Metadata

Correct Metadata and user input is crucial for SEO on Youtube.

Although Google’s clever bots may be able to extract information even from videos that have no or very poor metadata; a video is much more likely to do well if accurate info about it is provided.

Every metadata field should be filled with the correct information.

A YouTube marketing campaign will have more chances to succeed if videos included have accurate and effective:


You should always try to include your target keyword in the video title, but make sure that you effectively grab your viewer’s attention too.

Clickbait is great on YouTube since the algorithm itself places more emphasis on recommendations than search results.

You want to intrigue people with your titles, but don’t try too hard—You don’t want them to click away as soon as the video loads!


Your description should use your keyword at least twice and be at least 250 words long.

It may sound like a lot (it probably is), but if you include a lot of information, YouTube will be able to recommend your video to audiences that are more likely to engage with it.

Introduce your topic and list the covered topics by adding timestamps next to them (users love those).

Try to use descriptions that relate to other relevant videos.

Doing so will make it easier for your video to turn up in the recommendations for those videos.


The meta keyword function for search engines may be defunct, but it still plays a big role in YouTube’s algorithm.

You should always include your primary keyword and other related topics in the tags section.

If you mention other videos or content creators, make sure you tag them too.


Thumbnails are an art form.

Yeah, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but YouTube users do (and you do too, stop lying).

When you play the game of clicks, you either win or die trying.

Choose a picture that stands out and don’t forget to add a little bit (seriously, just a little bit!) of text to go along with it.

Many experts recommend that you include a human face to establish an emotional connection with your audience (plus everybody likes a pretty face).

Closed Captions

Yeah, yeah, transcription’s boring, especially if your video is long.

YouTube’s automated caption feature is getting better but is still not quite there.

To avoid any misinterpretations of your words, it’s always a good idea to provide YouTube with a full transcript (which you may already have anyway).

Include your primary keyword in your filename too and don’t forget to recommend your own playlists at the end of your video.

Consider Video Data

You may be wondering: What does the actual video have to do with SEO?  Well, YouTube marketing and YouTube video SEO isn’t just about words.

Google actually analyses the video’s audio to generate automated transcripts, which means that just including your keywords in the metadata is not enough; you have to mention them in the video as well!

You don’t need to spell out the keywords or sound like a robot.

Don’t force anything but make sure you clearly state what the video is about; mention any relevant YouTube channel or video (for example, if you’re reacting or responding to something) to help appear in their video recommendations.

Google’s Cloud Video Intelligence API can identify objects in a video. YouTube can easily tell what the video is about using advanced machine learning technology.

Use this to your advantage: include images, videos and visuals that directly (or indirectly) reference your keywords.

For example, if you’re talking about YouTube marketing, it might be a good idea to actually include some relevant footage of YouTube promotional videos.

We’re still not sure about the actual function of the API (and whether it’s as accurate as Google claims it is), but it’s always good to be prepared for the future.

Encourage Engagement

We may not be able to control what users do, but we can begin to understand how the recommendation engine works and how user data affects it.

User data is divided into two distinct categories:

  • Explicit user data refers to data that’s based on users’ immediate actions (e.g. liking a video or subscribing to a channel, sharing a video on social media).
  • Implicit user data refers to data that’s the result of users watching or interacting with videos (e.g. watch time, whether the video was skipped or how many times it was paused).

As a content creator, you can encourage explicit interactions but make sure you don’t go overboard. You can remind people to like your video and subscribe to your channel at the end of the video, but that’s probably enough.

Receiving likes and subscribers is great but audience retention is probably more important. YouTube loves videos that people want to keep watching.

Your video may have thousands of views, but if it has a retention rate of 10%, YouTube will not want to recommend it to other users.

The first few seconds are the most important, so make sure you hook your viewer with interesting visuals.

You could perhaps offer a short preview of something interesting that is said or done midway through.

Make sure you make use of Google’s own audience retention report.

It will tell you exactly when people got bored and started clicking away and you can use that information to see exactly what you’re doing wrong (and what you’re doing right).

Understand Co-Visitation

YouTube’s recommendation engine attempts to map videos to sets of other ‘similar’ videos.

Google explains that similar doesn’t always equal relevant.

The recommendation engine promotes videos that it thinks the user is more likely to watch and enjoy, rather than just promoting videos with similar content.

Google calls this technique ‘co-visitation.’ Co-visitation is a method used to identify and calculate the relatedness of pairs of videos watched in a given session (usually 24 hours).

If a user watches a video whose co-visitation count with another video is high, YouTube will likely recommend that they watch the second video as well.

What does all that mean for you? Well, if you want your video to appear on people’s recommendations, then you need to create links with other relevant videos that you think your viewers may have recently watched.

How do you do that?

  • Target specific keywords that are related to a certain video or group of videos.
  • Create videos that target a specific channel or YouTuber.
  • Include links of your other videos and encourage your viewers to watch them.
  • Create and publish response videos as fast as possible.
  • Collaborate with other content creators to exchange traffic and establish strong links between your channels.

Rank High

Co-visitation and a high relatedness score are important but ultimately, your video’s ranking is determined by other factors.

To set up a successful YouTube marketing campaign, you’ll need to focus on video quality, user specificity and diversification: YouTube’s holy trinity.

Video Quality

In turn, a video’s quality is determined based on:

  • Like/ dislike ratio
  • Views
  • Number of comments which indicates engagement
  • Sharing
  • Favouriting

User Specificity

YouTube rewards and boosts videos that are a good match based on the user’s viewing history.

It’s basically a relatedness score that takes into account the user’s viewing history, rather than just calculating co-visitation counts with other videos on the platform as a whole.


If you want to rank high, you’ll have to provide users with fresh and meaningful content.

YouTube marketing is like any other form of marketing in that originality and creativity are always valued highly.

Don’t be afraid to think out of the box or to try out new things.

Bonus Tips & YouTube Infographic

 YouTube Marketing Infographic


  • Always include a clear CTA in both the actual video and the description. May sound obvious, but you need to make sure people know where to go if they’re interested in what you’ve got. Don’t just assume they’ll click on your links or use Google search to find your website.
  • Don’t try too hard. This is true for all video content, but such a crucial piece of advice with regards to YouTube Marketing. Promote your product in a clever and sophisticated way. You don’t want your promotion to sound like an ad. People don’t go on YouTube to watch ads.
  • Your videos shouldn’t be too long (but not too short either). For maximum engagement, you should aim for the ten-minute mark. Shorter videos can bring traffic too but videos that are too short may be filtered out by YouTube’s algorithm as low-value content (YouTube wants you to pay to create short video ads and advertise your products on the platform that way instead).

That’s all we got for today!

If you’re looking for more SEO tips to help you rank higher, make sure you check out our Simple Google Ranking Guide for 2019!