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YouTube SEO Cheat Sheet - 35 Tips To Optimize Your YouTube Videos

Learn How To Optimize Videos For YouTube SEO

This YouTube SEO Cheat sheet covers the major video ranking factors today and some ninja SEO tips too that will help your videos get more traffic. If you follow this YouTube SEO system i have created for you, and use it consistently you will know how to optimize your videos like a pro and you will need less backlinks to get to the top of the search engine results.

This checklist is also available to download in a 2 page Google doc that you can save to your own Google drive and quickly use it when you need to optimize a YouTube video.

I created this YouTube Video ranking guide from the ranking factors we have built into new on page YouTube seo tool "Optimization Alpha", which calculates your Video SEO optimization.

Video Title Optimization For YouTube

Your Title is one of the most important YouTube SEO ranking factors. How many times have you created a YouTube video title and rushed it without thinking it through?

This section has some great tips and insights on why you need to take time with your titles to boost your YouTube SEO and Google rankings by taking just a few minutes to get it right.

Once you realize just how important titles are then you will take more care in future, 50% of on page SEO is awareness and doing what you know to be right and that's the aim of this section, to make you aware that your video tiles in YouTube are too important to rush.

Use Compelling Headline Used To Improve Click Through Rates

Compelling headlines will affect what i think is one of the biggest ranking factors, and that is Click Through rates. If Google has ranked your content and it is not getting clicked by people searching for it then it will demote the the content to a much lower ranking.

This is why we created the Vid Attack Alpha tool which i admit is completely blackhat but works like gangbusters. Now if only i could get guarantees from all my customers to use it only on their very best content then i might feel better:)

Always Add Your Main Keyword in Title

This is really basic, but its super important in my opinion. Since we need to be more generic and less specific for our exact match anchor text, then your video and web page titles are as important as ever, if not more.

That is why we created the Long Tail Synd tool (also in Vid Attack Alpha and also Bookmark Alpha) to be able to link to our content using titles that quite honestly Google optimized for us.

We took this further, by using the front modifiers, seed or main keywords and end modifiers or locations to generate hundreds of buyer intent keyword phrases, which we use as titles in our second tier links via web 2.0 sites and social bookmark sites.

It builds relevancy in a way that kinda replaces the old anchor text stuff with something more suited today and it really does work very well!

Try To Add LSI or Related Keyword in Title Too

This is what we used to call the 1.5 rule, where we started a title with our main keyword and slipped in a related keyword or part of of the main keyword again (hence the name 1.5 rule).

This has to be done though with a compelling headline and remember we are pretty limited with YouTube title character counts, which i believe is 70 characters in total.

You can use Google search related terms which are normally 8 words at the bottom of the search results that Google suggests you may want to try.

Say what you like about Google but they really do try to bring the most relevant results they can and they try to provide a quality user experience.

Use a Snippet Tool to check how your meta title and descriptions look

SEOmofo have a great snippet tool for to see what your search results meta data will look like. If you haven't tried it out yet then let me suggest you do and let me tell you that its good practice to use this before you write your blog, video or press release titles.

You would be surprised how many tweaks you will make before making a final decision on your meta title and description when using a tool like this.

We have also built a similar tool into our new Optimization Alpha software which is the most comprehensive YouTube optimization tool i have seen. It's a beast of a tool, a true Alpha and its a White Hat video marketing software that anyone can use and benefit from.

Add The Word (VIDEO) to The End Of Your Title?

Some of our customers swear by this as a great strategy to rank higher in Google. I haven't tested it myself but since they have taken the time to write to me i am including it:)

Get The YouTube SEO Cheat Sheet 2016 Version!...
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YouTube Video SEO Description Optimization

In this section i will share more than just a few hacks we can use with YouTube descriptions. This is the meat of the content that google can understand when we upload videos to YouTube, and if we get this right its as good as doing quality on page SEO on a website.

Try To Have More Than A 300 word description

The ideal number would be 300 to 400 words as we have maximum of 5000 characters to use in the descriptions. In this section we can sprinkle some related keywords from google keyword planner, related search and questions too that you can provide a solution for.

Why Questions?
Glad you asked! With mobile users increasing the percentage of search done on mobile devices is around 50% and growing. The way that mobile users search is using how, why, what, where and when type question.

Keep that in mind for your titles too. Questions in your content mean that you provide solutions too, and that in turn means you are adding value rather than just focusing on rankings and in turn your audience will grow!

So where can we find the questions being asked?

Try Serpstat question finder tool

Add Your Main Keyword In The Video Description First Sentence?

This is another basic one but again very important. In the old WordPress SEO plugins this was one of the factors that you were scored on. YouTube is still kinda old school for SEO tactics we can get away with, but this one i think is evergreen.

Try and get one of the Google related search terms in there early too just to build relevancy because on page SEO has never been as important as it is today.

This goes back to the algorithmic changes since Caffeine in 2010, through to Google Panda which was about quality content or lack of with too many of the search results being manipulated with poorly spun articles from low quality sites with thin content, and through to penguin where we had to start using diversity in our anchor text.

If you think about it like this, Google must be looking more closely at your on page content than even before penguin and you need to get not only your main keyword in but also related, LSI keywords while focusing on the content quality, and value to the viewer or reader first and then SEO manipulations.

Use a Short, Concise Accurate description about your video content the first 3 lines of your description

The first 3 lines of your description will be readable before the "read more" and therefore its really important that we do have accurate and appealing info on what your content is about. This should also include a link with a short call to action.

Here's an example ...
In this video i show you how to do on page seo in 2016 like a pro and at the end of the video you can claim a free SEO tool. You can also go to and grab the on page SEO scorecard cheat sheet to follow along with the training

The reason we want to do it like this is to get people to watch the video to the end, stop them bouncing off the page before they watch the video, and our call to action (in this case its lead bait) means you have the chance of an optin subscriber even before they watch the video.

Your email list building is hugely important whether you want to become a serious marketer or just make some passive income. Its also a great traffic generator to your future content!

Include Related Searches As Keyword Phrases From Google SERPS in Your Description

The related searches are the suggested results at the bottom of the Google search results page that Google thinks maybe relevant searches to the one you just did.

These searches are relevant in googles eyes so using them as related keyword phrases is adding relevancy to your content. Simple stuff!

Use Related Searches From Google SERPS in Your Tags?

You can also add these to your tags and that is confirming to Google that these terms are very relevant to your content, just make sure they are though, because if people start watching your videos and its not related and its not what they thought it was then they will stop watching and you will have a higher bounce rate which will be negative for your rankings.

Do You Have Just 1 Link in Your YouTube description?

This is not a trick question, there are times that this makes perfect sense.

If you are promoting an offer and want the viewer to have just one link to go to. Although YouTube description links are no follow i have seen webpages rank just with YouTube videos being used as links.

To get a do follow link from YouTube to your money URL just simply create the first comment under your video and add it there. Comments have do follow links:)

Do you have more than one link in description ?

This is perfectly normal too and i do it all the time. Links to your blog, social profiles are a way to get people to follow you more closely and get warmed up to your content.

I would prefer to have a new followers as that's why we ultimately do SEO, to get traffic and followers who like your content are going to be future traffic.

If Yes, Is Additional Links To Related Videos In Your Channel?

Another way to add additional links to your content is to link to related videos on your channel. Just make sure they are highly relevant to keep your viewers interested. People search for specific things at specific times.Think of it as adding value and this will grow your audience.

You Can also add related video links in your comments for do follow links.

Add Your URL link in first 3 lines of your YouTube Video

As mentioned above this is important as you can use a call to action, you can also add things like a telephone number to order something or request a quote depending on what you are marketing.

Sprinkle Some Google Grouped Keywords Throughout Your YouTube Video Descriptions.

Here's an analogy you hear often from me in my SEO training webinars...
Imagine you walked into a restaurant and you told the waiter you wanted to order some food but you forgot the name of the dish, and the waiter asks what was in the dish.

Then you said it have beef fillet, mushroom, cream, paprika and the waiter stops you you and says "thats beef stroganoff sir"

Thats how i see the google grouped keywords in relation to sprinkling them throughout your description. These words and phrases came directly from Google as a result as a main keyword search and as a result Google is optimizing your content for you:)

This can also be used in blog posts too. Watch my tutorial video on how to get Google to optimize your content for you, as i teach this strategy over the shoulder.

Always Use The Correct Category

This is a relevancy issue and can affect your viewer retention, therefore i think its important. If your viewer came from browsing a category and started watching your video and its not that they expected, then they will end the video and you have a negative bounce rate for that view.

Always choose the nearest category and if in doubt look and see what other top ranking videos on the same topic are using.

Add your video to a playlist

Playlists are awesome and a great way to curate your own content as well as build relevancy by doing playlists with top influencer content and your video at the top.

The other strategy i use is to create 4 playlist that any new video would be able to fit into one of them. So for example on my SEO training channel i have YouTube SEO, WordPress SEO, SEO Services and SEO 2016.

I know that any video i do will fit into one of those categories. later in this cheat sheet i will teach you how to use this simple tip to get thousands of internal YouTube links the second that you upload a new video to YouTube attached to one off your own 4 playlists.

But don't cheat and go looking for it right now:) continue reading and learning and when we get to that point it will make more sense to you.

Is The Playlist Syndicating To Support Channels?

Ok I was messing with you LOL.

I will teach you right now how to get hundreds or thousands of internal YouTube links the second you upload a video to YouTube using support channels.

What i do is create google accounts and add multi channel to each account. All with relevant channel names. I create a section on each channel home page for Saved Playlists. We use the 4 playlists from the main channel as saved playlists.

Now if you created 100 support channels you would get 100 internal links, if you created 5000 support channels you would get 5000 links.

There are a couple of steps that you need to take to make this happen, you can learn from the 8 minute tutorial video where i teach you over the shoulder to do this YouTube link network strategy step by step.

I use this strategy with our MassMedia SEO Press Release distribution service, where if you submit a video with your press release my team will upload it to our YouTube Channel and you get instantly 1000+ internal YouTube Links:)

Download The YouTube SEO Cheat Sheet

This Is A Google Doc. Click on File Then "Make A Copy" And It Will Save Into Your Own Google Drive

[sociallocker id="2633"] Access The YouTube On Page SEO Cheat Sheet [/sociallocker]

YouTube SEO Tag Optimization Factors

YouTube tags are important for YouTube SEO and they are not the same as tags on websites. In YouTube they are used more for YouTube search and along with your video titles can get your videos showing on the right hand side of any video that's playing.

That can drive traffic and is showing relevancy which increases as more people click on those right hand videos.

Make Sure Your Main Keyword Is First In Your Video Tags

Google related search results 8 packGet your main keyword in as the first tag and followed by your next most relevant tags, You can also use the most relevant Google related search results from the bottom of the page of a google search for your other tags.

Usually any google search will have an 8 pack of related search results like the image on the left.

This does build relevancy like the analogy of the waiter in the restaurant mentioned above in the grouped keywords strategy Under the description optimization section.

Do not be afraid to use multi worded phrases as tags as they can make perfect sense and be really accurate for what your video is about.

For example i may have a video about YouTube SEO Strategies for 2016 and use that in tags, then i may use "how to optimize YouTube videos in 2016" and "learn how to do YouTube video optimization in 2016"

These are all multi worded, long-ish but very accurate and YouTube uses tags as part of their search algorithm.

Have you put your most important keywords first?

As mentioned above always get your most important keywords in first in the YouTube video tags. Your telling Google and YouTube that these first tags as most relevant to your content.

Make Sure Your Tags Highly Relevant To Your Video Content

This a a biggie as mentioned a couple of points above this one. Its all about relevancy. from content created, to how you title it, describe it and tag it.

If its not relevant to your content then your viewer may leave and quickly giving you a low retention view which is negative for the search results.

Get All Your Tags In The Description

YouTube SEO Cheat SheetAll the tags you used, should be used in the description. Sprinkle them throughout your 300 to 400 words (or 5000 characters) that you have to use. Having your main tag in the Title, Description, Annotation and/or YouTube card will increase relevancy in YouTube.

Is Your video length under 4 minutes? (if not a training video)

Some people think longer videos rank better, others think shorter videos are more effective. From purely a stand point of high retention then under 4 minutes is ideal, but its the quality of the content that matters regardless of the length.

A high retention view with a short video is easier than with a one hour video UNLESS its a training video and great content.

This one is just a pointer rather than a major video optimization  "must do" type of tip.

Additional YouTube Video Optimization Techniques

There are other factors in YouTube we need to take into consideration and i have probably left some out too.

In fact i started doing this list of On Page YouTube SEO  Factors for my new tool we are building (my coder and business partner is sitting next to me as i write this, and he is adding these exact optimization factors into the new Optimization Alpha tool which is taking into account all of these factors).

Do You Have Closed Captions With Your Video Transcription

Many of us do not do this as its time consuming and/or expensive. But, for your most important videos its a great thing to do and will help improve your ranking, especially in competitive niches as 99% of people do not do this.

Online marketing is all about return on investment, whether that investment is time or money.

The easy way to do this is make sales or marketing videos from a script and that's your starting point, then record your video and simply upload your script into the closed captions area.

Failing that you can pay people to do it on fiverr, which i am unlikely to do as my accent may be hard for them to understand. Alternatively you could just use the google auto captions which are often not very accurate but "may be" better than nothing.

Use Annotations With Your Main Keyword Included

Annotations are the text you can add on top of your YouTube videos. In this text you can add your main keywords and in a way its confirming to YouTube and Google that this video is about that topic.

Have you used YouTube cards for mobile users?

YouTube cards are for mobile users and designed specifically to show easy on mobile devices. many YouTube users are on mobile so its wise to use this feature. It may improve your mobile engagement and therefore will improve others factors such as retention views.

Use Your Main Keyword In The YouTube Card

Again we can add our main keyword in here, the same as the annotations.

Is Your Video in HD? (720 or above)

HD videos have an advantage to rank faster, when using camtasia i always choose 720 for the video quality, this ensures i have an HD video. The content is far more important though, this isn't going to make a difference too much if people are not watching the videos for long.

Do you have your main keywords in your mp4 properties before uploading?

This is an old tactic and one that tells Google instantly what your content is about. When we upload a video and the title gets auto populated we can see that Google is taking this information from the mp4 properties.

In the MP4 properties or "details" we have Title, sub title, comments and tags where we can add some keywords which we know for sure Google can read.

It can take a couple minutes more to do but is always worth doing as it's reaffirming what you will be using in your Title, descriptions and tags.

You Can use your title for the jpeg details Title, subtitle can be a related phrase, comments can be your description or part of it, and tags can be the same as on your video.

Did You Live Stream Your Videos?

Youtube Live event streaming gets instant rankings but they do not always stick, you may need to build some engagement around your event.

I have a tool called Tube Live Commando which streams pre recorded videos to YouTube live events and we find that getting some comments, social signals and likes etc. does help along with some backlinks to keep the rankings.

You need to choose to allow the live streams ability in your channel to be able to use live events.

Is your video a Google Hangout?

In the same way that YouTube live streams rank fast, so do Google Hangouts.

There are some learning curves to using both but there are also some great tools to help you make the process simpler.

Share Your Video From YouTube Video Uploader/Editor With Your Attached Social Networks

Always attach your social networks to your channel and you can simply checkbox whether to syndicate the video to twitter and google plus.

You can also create an account and have your YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin accounts attached to IFTTT which will automate it hands free for you. IFTTT also has other social sites it connects with.

Alternatively you can check out IFTTT Backlink Commando which creates accounts and gives you a choice of SEO strategies.

For more YouTube tips with over the shoulder videos you can visit my blog post with videos showing how to optimize your YouTube channel.

Use An Attractive Or Stand Out Thumbnail

This is a big one. Thumbnails can improve your click through rates significantly. Having an attractive stand out or controversial thumbnail image is a must have for your most important videos.

Does Your Video Thumbnail have your main keywords in the Jpeg properties?

This is one similar to the MP4 details or properties. You can do the exact same things with your video thumbnails and we know that Google can read whats in the properties. Use it, as many have not thought about or heard about doing this for the images in their channel art header or video thumbnails:)

Do You Have Your YouTube RSS Feed Syndicating Via Onlywire?

Onlywire is a bookmarking syndication system and submits your content to over 40 bookmark and social sites. You have to connect your social accounts inside so its easier and affordable to get someone on to do this for you.

Once you have your account set up you can upgrade to paid and i think its about $50 a year to upgrade after you have taken a monthly subscription, once you have done that you can add RSS feeds so that any new content from that feed will be automatically scheduled to be bookmarked and distributed through various social sites.

This is set and forget stuff and should always be done in my opinion.

We have seen significant rankings rises with this onlywire strategy alone.

Have A call To Action At The End Of Your Video

This is not necessarily an SEO tip, but if you get viewers to optin to your mailing list, subscribe, or even go to a landing page that you have a retargeting pixel installed, then you will be in a position to market to these people multiple times or simply engage with them and build trust as they will be warmed to your content.

This in turn drives TRAFFIC!
Why do we do SEO?...TO GET TRAFFIC!
What do we do with traffic... CONVERT, ENGAGE & MONETIZE!

Use The First 10 Seconds To Tell Viewers What Your Video Is About?

This is important to be able to keep people watching. Telling them what to expect in the first few seconds will increase your video retention views on YouTube.

This is also a great time to tell them about any free gift or resource you may be sharing with them if they watch the video a bit longer.

Final Bonus Strategy

How To Social Share Lock From Your YouTube Annotations!

Ever thought it would be cool if we could have a call to action on a YouTube Video and force a social share before they could get to the gift or content?

Well, i figured it out and the great news is that you can use this as a Ninja YouTube SEO Strategy!:)

Just watch my video on this post about how to social lock any content you want from YouTube Annotations and you can increase your social shares to any URL you want or to your video:)

Watch The Video On How To Add A Social Locker To YouTube Annotations...

Test The Social Locker I Have Added To The YouTube Annotation In This Video

I am sure there are more i may have left out, if there is i will add and update the cheat sheet and blog post.

That's it for the checklist.

In a few days i may do another one for YouTube channel optimization Cheat Sheet.

If you got value from this post then please share on Twitter, Facebook etc. and that will allow me to see if there is demand for the cheat sheet for channel optimization.

If you want to learn about my new YouTube SEO tool Optimization Alpha which helps you to have highly optimized videos (it can work well for blog posts and press releases or any content too) then please make sure your on my subscriber list to get a discount when we first release it. You can optin under this article

By grabbing Optimization Alpha you will have one of the most comprehensive, well thought out YouTube optimization tools around, and created by someone who has just given you a brief but informative explanation of everything above. All of these tips are factored into the tool.

We will also be adding a channel optimization section with score calculator too, as well as the YouTube video optimization calculator.

The optimization score will be colour coded to tell you on a sliding scale if you are..

  • Optimized Green (Great, You've really got this YouTube SEO stuff handled, your good to go)
  • Amber (wait up buddy, i think you may have forgotten something!...Add a few more factors from the suggested YouTube SEO options in the tool) or...
  • Red (hey, i'm sure your not lazy and this video is just a tutorial for a member site that you don't want optimized :)

This is the exact list of optimization factors used in the optimization scorer in the tool, we added this list into the tool too, to make sure you don't forget anything important, and the more of these you add the sliding colour scale with start moving towards green.

If you are red or amber you can click to see why in one click, add a few more of these factors and get more optimized. How cool is that?

Now you do not have to use ALL of these YouTube SEO tips, but they will all be in there to help you optimize better than your competitors inside YouTube.

This tool will be a great asset for all of us to do advanced YouTube SEO and never forget any of the points above!

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