social media how toAre your YouTube views falling?

Do you need to rank higher in YouTube search results?

Understanding how you can take advantage of YouTube’s algorithm will help your channel and videos be seen by more people.

In this article you’ll discover how to make your video rank higher in YouTube search results.

6 youtube tips to improve search rank

Discover six tips to improve your YouTube search rank.

Listen to this article:

#1: Align Content Development With Viewer Searches

To get a leg up on your YouTube competition (which may be targeting irrelevant topics or subjects), find the exact words and phrases people use to search for content like yours on YouTube.

You can use both free tools (like Keyword Tool and YouTube Trends) and paid tools (VideoCents and vidIQ, for example), to get insights into what people are searching for on YouTube.

The paid tools give a bit more data, but their true value comes from providing a sense of how hard it is to rank for specific terms. Here’s an example of some inline keyword insights on the word ‘vine’ from VidIQ.

vidiq keyword report

Use tools like vidIQ to get keyword insights.

You’re looking to find the sweet spot, where a keyword is getting a good number of searches but isnt overly competitive. What constitutes a good number of searches will vary by industry or market.

After you’ve identified the best keywords, you can use them when creating and publishing your content.

Create Videos People Search For

Hank Green’s SciShow searched for the most asked questions about science and created an entire series of videos to answer them. This tactic earned the channel millions of views across the series.

scishow youtube video

Target the keywords people are searching for on YouTube.

Optimize Your Video for How Viewers Search

For all its power, YouTube still finds it difficult to read video content, so you need to tell the platform exactly what your video is about. You do this through the videos meta data.

If you use your keywords strategically (without spamming), you’ll be much more likely to rank for your chosen keywords, as YouTube knows that your video is related to these terms. Include your keywords in the video title (as close to the start as possible), the description, tags and transcript file (the script should contain targeted keywords).

Check out this example, which ranks #2 for the search term “video marketing.” The keyword is visible in the title and description.

sold with video youtube keywords in title and description

Include keywords in your title and description.

You’ll also find the keyword in the tags.

sold with video youtube keywords in tags

Use keywords as tags.

It’s even included in the subtitles.

sold with video youtube keywords in subtitles

Add keywords to subtitles.

With strategic keyword optimization like this, it’s no surprise that this video ranks so high for such a competitive keyword.

#2: Maximize Video Watch Time

Watch time is YouTube’s most important ranking factor. It’s a simple fact: If you don’t have strong watch times, your videos will be demoted in search. Remember that its all about what percentage of the video is watched, not just total minutes (though it’s best to increase both).

Michael Stevens of Vsauce is successful at getting his YouTube audience to stick around. Even though his videos are over 10 minutes long, they routinely log hundreds of thousands of views.

He gets straight to the point in answering the title question, and uses his personality and intelligence to pique people’s curiosity again, steering the conversation to a different but related topic. Take a cue from Michael and consider removing long intros and outros.

Get people to watch more of your video, and YouTube knows that you’re providing value to those viewers. YouTube will reward you by suggesting the video to more people and ranking the video higher in search.

#3: Drive Longer Channel Sessions

This may seem like a no-brainer, but try to get people to watch more than just one of your videos. All channels want this of course, but not all of them actively encourage viewers to watch more videos. This tactic has more benefits than meet the eye.

If your channel consistently starts people off on long YouTube sessions (even if they go off and watch videos on other channels), your channel will be rewarded by YouTube’s algorithm, and your videos will be more likely to rank higher in search.

A good way to encourage viewers to watch more video is to use clickable thumbnails (called end cards) to drive multiple video views in one sessions.


Epic Rap Battles uses this tactic to earn great SEO benefits. The only action they want viewers to take is to watch more videos.

#4: Keep Your Content Consistent

YouTube (like its big brother Google) loves authority, and if you regularly upload videos on the same topic for a number of years, you’re much more likely to rank well for related search terms than the new kid on the block.

Unbox Therapy has been uploading “unboxing” and tech review videos multiple times a week for almost five years. Not only have they earned over 3 million subscribers to their channel, they rank second for a search of Apple’s latest gadget.

unbox therapy video in search

Improve your ranking by consistently uploading videos in your niche.

I always advocate tweaking styles and formats, but when it comes to topics, it’s best to choose as narrow a niche as possible and stick to it. That way YouTube recognizes you as a trusted source in that area and will favor you in rankings. If you make your content too diverse, you’re more likely to be overlooked by the algorithm. Remember that on YouTube, niche is king.

#5: Encourage Off-Platform Embeds

As previously mentioned, YouTube is hot on authority. This is also reflected in the weight they give to off-platform links and embeds. If your videos are featured and getting linked to from high-quality places on the web, YouTube thinks you must be doing something right and will give you a boost in the rankings.

A good example of this is BuzzFeed’s videos. Their videos are embedded not only on their own hugely popular website and social profiles, but also on popular and relevant entertainment blogs.

buzzfeed video in search

Reach out to relevant sites to promote your content.

This is doubly awesome, as it’s a sustainable and potentially huge source of views.

Think about how you can promote your content on external sites relevant to your market. Do active outreach to those sites so you’re being linked to and embedded instead of your competitors.

#6: Cultivate Audience Engagement

Comments, likes and shares are great for social proof, and comments are especially good for getting feedback and insight from your audience. But mixing up your calls to action to encourage engagement (rather than just subscription) has another benefit, too: a healthy boost in the search algorithm.

Again it all comes down to providing value. If people are giving your videos a thumbs up, sharing them with friends and talking about you, these are all positive signals to YouTube that the channel was right in sending searchers your way.

There’s no better example of this heightened engagement than the popular Soccer channel Copa90. They have a weekly show based on their viewers’ comments, so it’s little surprise that their engagement and rankings are off the charts.

copa90 video call for comments

Engaging with your audience is one way to boost your ranking.

You don’t have to go to these extremes, but you should mix up your calls to action and pose questions to get people talking in the comments. When people leave a comment, why not give them a shout-out to encourage interactivity?

Here’s a brilliant example from Screen Junkies, which uses fan comments in their videos.

screen junkies viewer comments

Give your viewers an occasional shout-out.

The flipside of this is a comments section full of tumbleweeds, no shares (which also means fewer views) and no interaction, all of which are red flags to viewers and YouTube.

Bonus Tips

Here are a few other ways to boost your ranking:

  • Upload in HD. There are also 4K, 360 and even VR upload options.
  • Add closedcaption files. With closed-caption files, your scripts can be read and indexed by YouTube and Google. If you have the resources, translate your caption files into a language spoken in a secondary market or a market you’re trying to break into.
tyler oakley video with subtitles

YouTube superstar Tyler Oakley called on his worldwide audience to translate his closed captions into multiple languages (62 and counting!). His video has been indexed and ranks higher in non–English-speaking countries.

  • Include links in your descriptions. Like Google, YouTube likes when you link to other relevant websites (and videos).
  • Choose a relevant video category. If your video can easily be placed in more than one category, choose the one that has the least competition.


As with any platform you publish on, you’ll only get out of YouTube what you put into it. The steps above might seem like a lot of work, but the results make it a sound investment of your time.

Go to your YouTube Analytics now and see how many views youre currently getting from search. You can do this by clicking Creator Studio > Analytics > Traffic Sources and look for the stats for YouTube Search.

youtube video analytics

Check out your YouTube stats.

Make a note of your average monthly views from search and then revisit this metric once youve implemented the tips above.

Even if you don’t have time to implement all of these suggestions, putting just a few into practice should result in an uptick in views. Remember, too, that this process isn’t only for new videos. The beauty of YouTube is that it allows you to revisit and optimize old videos so you can get those working harder for you, too.

What do you think? Have you tried any of these tactics to boost your YouTube views and rankings? What were the results? What tips do you have to share? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

six tips to improve youtube search rank

Tips for improving your YouTube search rank.

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  • cezarejte

    Hey , awesome content as usual. As a webmaster and now a new YouTube Channel owner i did a lot of reasearch, and by a lot i mean months and months only for the metadata and i still learnt new things on this article.


  • Msh Chowdhury

    Thank you for a awesome content .I follow this rules but I learnt new things here

  • Glad it’s helped.

    The beauty of YouTube is that it’s designed so that anyone can use it easily. But to get the results you want it takes a bit more, effort and strategy.

  • Great tips. Here is one more I think is interesting… YouTube counts minutes spent watching on your channel as a factor in its ranking of the videos on your channel. More minutes people spend on your channel watching, the better your videos will rank. No surprise there. What I was surprised to learn is that you can get credit for minutes people spend watching other people’s videos! If you create a Playlist on say “dog training” videos. Maybe you have 2 of your videos and then 3 videos from other sources. If people watch those other videos, via your playlist, you get credit for minutes spent on your channel. Cool way to increase minutes spent on your channel, even if you don’t have a ton of videos.

  • THIS. WAS. AWESOME. Sometimes its hard to find true, actionable, up-to-date info on YouTube best practices, so this post is extremely helpful. Thanks Tom!

  • I need this tips for my work .Wait more articles on my email .

  • No worries Vincent – everything here is tried and tested and hope it gets you results too

  • Lisa Theresa Downey-Dent

    What a great comprehensive article. Very useful to have such in-depth tips and instructions to follow!

  • Really informative article and a great set of points. These are ideal for the beginner but also for anyone who has an existing channel as, like you mentioned, old videos can be made to work harder for you as well. I am launching a YouTube channel to supplement my personal lifestyle blog very soon so I’m excited to get started with some of these points.

  • DIYonYouTube

    Once again Tom, you have done an outstanding job.

  • This was an excellent post, I thought it was very good and informative! Thanks for the wonderful information!

  • ColorCrunchApp

    Hey there @jaystaniforth:disqus, what is the channel called? I’m curious! 🙂

  • Is it good to publish shorter videos so your average watch time is high?

  • i wouldn’t artificially shorten your videos as it’s a mixture between average watch time and amount of minutes watch. What you should do though is that the video doesn’t contain anything that doesn’t need to be included like long intros or outros or excessive branding.

    YouTube have recently muddies these waters a little because their new subscription service “red” pays out via total minutes watched so i can see a trend where people aim to make longer videos.

  • MahmudulAlam

    I am using VidIQ for long time. What do you think about VidIQ premium versions? Should I use them or the FREE one is enough? @disqus_0u6XsNVvBS:disqus

  • Very nice article, very nicely written, thanks very much for it 🙂