YouTube SEO: How to Rank YouTube Videos in 2023

YouTube SEO: How to Rank YouTube Videos in 2023

With more than 2.6 billion users worldwide, YouTube has become a prominent channel for today’s marketers. The thing is, with so many hours of videos uploaded to the platform every single day, it’s only become more and more challenging for marketers to stand out.

One of the best ways to ensure that your YouTube videos stand a chance to stand out is to optimize them.

We’ll dive more in-depth into YouTube SEO to help you optimize your videos for YouTube’s algorithm and improve your chances of success in the ever-evolving world of online video content.

#1. Starts with Keywords

This might be a no-brainer. But, every content optimization starts with keyword research, including YouTube SEO. Make sure you use keyword-based titles and descriptions. You can use keyword tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and SEMrush. 

Another alternative is to use the YouTube autocomplete feature. As you type your topic into YouTube’s search bar, the platform will suggest phrases based on popular searches related to your topic.

For example, when you type “explainer videos,” the platform will suggest you popular keywords that most people use.

YouTube SEO - Keyword research in Video

What makes a good keyword for YouTube videos? Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Relevance: The keyword should be directly related to the content of your video.
  • Search Volume: The keyword should have a significant search volume, indicating that people are searching for that topic on YouTube.
  • Low Competition: The keyword should have low competition, meaning there are fewer videos competing for that keyword.
  • Specificity: The keyword should be specific and targeted to your niche or topic.
  • Long-tail: Long-tail keywords (phrases with three or more words) are more specific and have lower competition, making them easier to rank for.
  • Trending: Choosing keywords that are currently trending or popular can help boost the visibility of your video.

#2. Create a Transcription for Your Video

Creating a transcription of your video’s audio is an often overlooked but highly effective way to improve your video’s SEO on YouTube. A transcription is simply a written document of everything that is said in your video, and it can be easily created using free or paid transcription services available online.

By creating a transcription for your video, you are providing YouTube with a more comprehensive understanding of the content of your video. This, in turn, can improve your video’s search rankings, making it easier for potential viewers to discover your content.

In addition to improving SEO, transcription can also benefit your viewers. Some viewers may prefer to read the content of a video rather than watch it, and transcription can provide an accessible alternative for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

It can also be a useful reference tool for viewers who want to refer back to specific parts of the video.

#3. Use Timestamps in Your Video Description

Using timestamps in your video description is a powerful yet often underutilized technique for improving your video’s SEO on YouTube. Timestamps are simply markers that indicate the specific times when different sections or topics are covered in your video.

Including timestamps in your video description can benefit your viewers by making it easier for them to navigate your video and find the specific content they’re interested in. This can lead to a better viewing experience and encourage viewers to watch more of your content.

But how do timestamps improve SEO?

By including timestamps in your video description, you’re creating a mini table of contents for your video. This makes it easier for YouTube’s algorithm to understand the content of your video and categorize it accordingly. 

Not to mention that viewers may be more likely to engage with your video if they see that it has clear, organized sections that they can easily jump to.

Below is an example from Breadnbeyond’s videos, including timestamps on their listicle-style video to make it much easier for the viewers to find the part they’re looking for.

Timestamps in Video Description

#4. Optimize Your Video’s Thumbnail

Optimizing your video’s thumbnail is a crucial part of YouTube SEO that can significantly impact the performance of your video. The thumbnail is the image that viewers see before clicking on your video, and it’s the first impression they have of your content.

A visually appealing and relevant thumbnail can entice viewers to click on your video and watch it. But how do you optimize your thumbnail for maximum impact?


First and foremost, your thumbnail should accurately represent the content of your video. It should be visually engaging and make viewers want to click and watch. Use high-quality images or screenshots from your video and make sure they’re relevant to the topic.

Use Graphics

Next, consider using text or graphics in your thumbnail to provide more context or highlight key points of your video. 

This can help your thumbnail stand out and catch viewers’ attention. However, be careful not to use too much text, as it can make your thumbnail look cluttered and hard to read.

Nail the Format

Another important factor to consider is the size and format of your thumbnail. YouTube recommends a size of 1280 x 720 pixels, and the file should be in JPG, GIF, BMP, or PNG format. Ensure that your thumbnail is clear and high-resolution, even when viewed on smaller screens.

Here’s an example of consistent, well-optimized thumbnails from Ahrefs:

well-optimized thumbnails from Ahrefs

#5. Share Your Video on Social Media

When your video is shared on social media, it generates more views, engagement, and backlinks. These are all factors that YouTube’s algorithm considers when ranking videos.

The more views, likes, shares, and comments your video has, the more likely it is to rank higher in search results and recommended videos.

So, share the video to platforms outside YouTube, like TikTok, Twitter, or Instagram. It makes sure that you expose it to a wider audience that may not have discovered your content otherwise.

Wrapping Up

Remember that YouTube SEO is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort and experimentation. Continuously analyzing your video marketing metrics and performance, then refining your strategy based on the results are crucial to staying ahead of the competition.

Ultimately, creating valuable, engaging, and high-quality content should be your top priority. By doing so, you’ll be able to build a loyal audience that will not only watch your videos but also share and engage with them, leading to increased visibility and success on YouTube.