Mastering YouTube takes time and the implementation of some thoughtful marketing. Here’s how to make sure your YouTube videos rank highly and get seen!

Everybody knows what YouTube is. As the second most visited website in the world, it’s hardly a surprise. To create your own channel and share content is completely free, and could even lead to you earning money. However, it’s a rather crowded market, with plenty of healthy competition. If you want to make a name for yourself on the video sharing platform, you’re going to have to put your marketing hat on.

There are methods you can employ in order to promote your channel, like creating a trailer for instance. But what about making sure the individual videos get as much reach as possible? YouTube functions much like Google in terms of SEO (search engine optimisation). The higher you rank, the nearer the top of search results you will be. This isn’t left down to chance, and there is a big brain running in the background deciding what belongs closest to the top. Certain strategies can improve your chances, which is what this article will be focussing on.

If it’s starting to sound like it might be a bit complicated, don’t panic! Anything new can appear daunting, but once you break it down it’s actually very achievable. So, here are some logical and simple tips for getting your YouTube videos to rank better.

Clever Keywords

There are many layers and levels when it comes to uploading a video to YouTube. You have to give it a title, description, upload a file that will have been named, tag the video, categorise it, and more. At each and every level, it’s imperative you consider keywords.

What are Keywords?

Keywords or phrases are words that are relevant to your content, and that audiences may use when searching for a video such as yours. There are a number of ways you can figure out what keywords to use. Using a resource such as Google Keyword Planner allows you to see alternative keyword suggestions, how competitive those keywords are, and how often that term has been searched for.

Using keywords will not only will entice viewers to check out your video, but they will help the algorithm sort your videos into relevant piles. Thus giving your video a better chance of being recommended at the end of a relevant one, even if it’s someone else’s channel.


Behind the scenes is just as important as what people can view on your channel. YouTube will take the filename of your video into account, so ensure you include relevant keywords here. The “SEO big brain” cannot watch your content and make a decision about where to place it, so the filename holds some significant ranking influence.


The more you can signpost viewers and YouTube what your video is about, the better. Add keywords into your video tags, so it’s clear what your video focusses on and what people can expect from it. If you’ve got a video about how to restring a guitar, clever tags can ensure it doesn’t get suggested at the end of videos about an introduction into falconry. Unless a bird of prey fanatic also loves to shred through some pentatonic scales (not impossible but not exactly standard), the likelihood of your video getting clicked on is low.


Finally, paying attention to the description can hugely impact how YouTube videos rank not just on YouTube, but on Google as well. Try to include your keywords within your description in a natural and unforced way. Only two or three lines of a description will display on YouTube, so aim to keep to this length. It’s helpful to think of the description as an extended version of your title, grabbing viewers with relevant keywords but also providing a bit more detail. Avoid waffle and consider what people may be searching on Google, and try to weave this in.

Audience Retention

Videos can range from a few seconds to over 45 minutes long. The longer someone watches your video, the better it will rank. This means that ensuring your content is interesting, engaging and relevant to what the title promises is important. Nobody likes to feel misled, so try to stay true to your content when naming videos, and avoid click-baity titles.

Also, if your video is over the ten-minute mark, give viewers a preview of what they can expect in the first 30 seconds. This will hook them in, and prevent them from glazing over and losing interest, and clicking off your video as a result.

Playlists & Organisation

YouTube playlists are important for a number of reasons. As you add more content to your channel, you risk it becoming difficult to navigate. Playlists ensure all your videos are kept tidy and easy to find, but also encourage a good binge.

Another great point for playlists, is that you can pop all your best content at the top of your channel. This means that anyone visiting will immediately see all your coolest videos, and be drawn in to explore more. In terms of boosting your ranking, by enabling videos to roll into one another on playlists, this will in turn increase the number of views on a video. Essentially, the crux of high ranking is a high view count.

Nail the Thumbnail

In a busy and over-saturated place, standing out visually is massively important. The words used within titles and descriptions if vital, as explained above. However, we make snap decisions and have an ever decreasing attention span, as the digital world of instant gratification takes a firmer hold of our lives. Pictures draw attention far more quickly than words, so it makes sense to utilise this trait.

YouTube videos feature thumbnails, which will display in the search results. You could use an auto-generated thumbnail, provided by YouTube, but you would be missing a trick. Customising your thumbnails means you are showcasing the best of your video, picking out colours and scenes you think viewers would respond well to, and you can add keywords.

Thumbnails that feature text from the title appear professional, and therefore more reliable. This is especially beneficial for tutorial and instructional videos (which tend to rank well on YouTube in general – something to consider).

Community & Engagement

This concept is very similar to how to gain Instagram followers. Engaging with your community and showing your face will get you noticed and, as a result, more traffic to your channel and videos. Responding to comments or following other channels back is a super easy but effective way to make friends and get involved. Also, promoting the channels you love or are influenced by is a sure fire way to create healthy connections and show your enthusiasm.

Not only is it nice to feel part of a community, but YouTube prefers channels that are active and engage on the platform. It will favour videos belonging to channels such as this over videos from comparatively dormant users.

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