YouTube Rank Guide – Time To Dominate In 5 Simple Steps

The YouTube Rank Guide came about initially because of a conversation I had with a fellow marketer about preferred marketing channels. When I talked to more people and researched the topic further I was blown …

Youtube Rank Guide

TheYouTube Rank Guide came about initially because of a conversation I had with a fellow marketer about preferred marketing channels. When I talked to more people and researched the topic further I was blown away by the percentage of online business owners, bloggers and marketers who don’t take Video SEO seriously.

In fact a lot don’t optimise for Video at all! They will spend hours researching keywords, analysing headlines and crafting perfect prose for their written web posts. But then, if they have a YT Channel they quickly upload a video using meta from the blog post.

The same title, the same tags and even the same introductory paragraphs. Brand identity disappears. And little to no time is devoted to what viewers may or may not be searching for. In fact we almost forget all the good marketing behaviours that we apply when writing.

And then we wonder why we aren’t getting any views, leads or channel subscriptions.

So, It was decided something must be done. And so we offer the YouTube Rank Guide as a way to encourage and ensure you have simple steps to smash success in video!

Why Worry About YouTube?

Simple. At last count there are 5 billion YouTube videos viewed every day. That is huge! And a huge market you need to be making the most of!

If you need any further motivation for spending time optimising your video for YouTube, just have a look at some of these statistics.

YouTube Rank Guide - Statistics
YouTube Statistics – source, Similar Web
Alexa Youtube Keyword Opportunties
Youtube Keyword Opportunities – source Alexa
Alexa Rank 90 Day Trend - YouTube Rank Guide
Alexa Rank 90 Day Trend YouTube Rank Guide
Similar Sites Comparison - YouTube Rank Guide
Similar Sites Comparison, Source – Alexa.
YouTube Traffic Sources - YouTube Rank Guide
YouTube Traffic Sources, Alexa – YouTube Rank Guide

YouTube is one of the biggest search engines, second only to Google. And of course as it is Google owned the Search Engine Giant recognized that a huge percentage of online searches were favoring video content.

Google as we know are hugely successful because they view nothing being more important than searcher intent. So the algorithms were shifted to account for this massive rise in video search.

If you look at any of the SERPs, a large proportion do not have the traditional text based posts occupying the prized Number 1 Page 1 position. It is dominated by YouTube Videos.

Anything from On Page SEO, to Asian Recipes, to Cute Cat Memes we see Video being the preferred medium for many searching online.

So if you are not placing your content into YouTube, or not optimising for Video Search, you are leaving money on the table. Potentially a lot of it!

The 5 Simple Steps To Dominate With Video – YouTube Rank Guide

As an online business owner you know the importance of ranking and getting your content and products onto Googles first page for your target keyword term.

And we all know that is easier said than done.

When thinking about YouTube Rank, we first need remember that the majority of the SEO practices we use for text still apply! We simply need to apply them in context. Meaning Video – visual, graphic, engaging and time limited!

Let’s begin!

Step 1 – Follow YouTube Keyword Research best Practice.

Hopefully that doesn’t come as a surprise. Keywords and target terms are the one source of truth in any marketing. We need to find what people are searching for.

However Keyword research is the first step in the YouTube Rank Guide because it is very different to web based, text based keyword research. And why using the same keyword terms you used for your blog post isn’t going to work!

This is backed up by experts!

Keyword research tools designed for Google (like SEMRush) don’t work for YouTube. To find video keywords, you need use a tool designed for YouTube


Searchers Use Google (Search Engines) And YouTube In Completely Distinct Ways

Usually when searchers use Google, or the other search engines, it is for specific information they needs or answers to questions they have. These types of search questions probably only equate to 20-25% of YouTube Traffic.

While YouTube searchers also want to ask questions and find answers, the major search value can be seen in the Alexa Rankings we looked at earlier. YouTube may be the Number 2 Search Engine Worldwide but it is Number 1 when it comes to entertainment.

A massive amount of Youtube traffic is seeking entertainment, be it music, movies, or dogs doing cute things. Plus even if people are seeking solutions to direct questions i.e. how to clean my iMac’s Magic Mouse the vast majority of views you get come from YouTube suggesting your content and not from search engine referrals.

YouTube Rank Guide Keyword Research Techniques.

Lets have a look at this!

YouTube Suggest.

You do this in the same way as you would in Google. But obviously you’re doing it directly in YouTube. Simply type in the term you’d like to target.

YouTube Suggests Keyword Research
YouTube Suggests Keyword Research
Youtube Rank Guide
YouTube Suggests Keyword Research – YouTube Rank Guide

Don’t dismiss how good this technique actually is. It looks easy, and it is. Remember the suggestions you see when entering your keyword term are actual search terms people have entered. This is powerful as YouTube is telling you people are searching for these exact terms.

TubeBuddy KeyWords (Tags)

Out of all the tools available for YouTube Keyword research, TubeBuddy has to be my favorite. This fabulous free extension literally gives you the keywords that all your competitors are ranking for and then helps you plan your SEO Strategy.

Have a look at how this works. First, if you haven’t already install the TubeBuddy Chrome extension. Once installed open YouTube and click your TubeBuddy extension. You’ll see a screen like this.

Do a search for your keyword term.

TubeBuddy Chrome Extension
Searched For Keyword Term In TubeBuddy Chrome Extension

This is fabulous already. You can see the following at first glance.

  1. Your searched for keyword term
  2. Your keyword score in search volume, competition and overall keyword strength.
  3. Related searches, these show searches made by real people!
  4. Common tags – terms often used when this topic is searched for

Then choose a competitors video (5) and you’ll see the following.

TubeBuddy Chrome Extension Competition
TubeBuddy Chrome Extension Competition SEO Analysis

You can see all of the analysis of your competitors video (1), including the tags (keywords) their video ranks for and overall SEO score (2) and you can then see their keywords (tags) in detail (3).

TubeBuddy Competitors Tags
TubeBuddy Tag Analysis – YouTube Rank Guide

As you can see this is incredible information. The tags with green numbers are the rank this video has for that keyword. Now if you can find a ranked keyword that this video has not optimised well. You can claim the keyword and the rank very easily.

That brings us to Step 2!

Step 2 – Optimize Your Videos For YouTube

This again is fairly similar to steps you would use to optimise your web pages for Google but, I’m pleased to say, a lot simpler.

Optimize The Title

This is pretty easy. To optimise titles just use \our targeted keyword in your title. And design your title to have great Click Through Rate (CTR). Click through rate is your title structure, how appealing it is for others to click and how does it make people choose your video.

If you need more detail about optimizing for CTR read my post SEO Step By Step Guide, which explains all you need to know about CTR.

Optimize The Description.

This takes a little more time, but is still straight forward and effective. Make sure you use your keyword in your description and preferably near the beginning of the description.

Also make sure you add a detailed description of at least 200 words. Minimum! In the same way Google gathers meaning and understanding by “reading” your web content, so does YouTube. We want to help YouTube gain a good understanding of our topic, and our description is a major part of this.

YouTube will use your description as its first method for understanding what your video is about.

Optimize Video - YouTube Rank Guide
Optimize Video Title and Description- YouTube Rank Guide

Add Chapters!

This is a relatively new feature in YouTube but already one that SEOs are aware helps rank. This is part of your description.

When you add your video you will see a new section asking if you want to use chapters. If you do, you need to click the checkbox.

YouTube will add the chapters automatically if it can. But I recommend you do it manually to make sure you make the most of the rank value.

Chapters help you to give searchers a great breakdown of what’s in your video. All you need do to add them is as follows.

At the beginning of your description add: 0:00 and a descriptor of the content about to be seen.

Then add the next chapter by giving its timestamp i.e. 0:26 and a descriptor. The only rule is that each chapter needs to be at least 10 seconds in length

This is a great way to ensure people stay for your entire video – let them know what comes next! And make your chapter descriptors accurate and short! Don’t click bait as it’ll annoy when what you offered isn’t what they find. Keep them short and to the point.

Video Chapters - YouTube Rank Guide
Video Chapters – YouTube Rank Guide

YouTube Tags

Maybe not as vital as they once were, I still recommend using them as this gives YouTube more understanding about your videos content.

If you use TubeBuddy this this simple so make sure you use the functionality.

Add A Transcript

To really help YouTube understand your video (as well as a larger percentage of people) make sure you upload your script (or transcript). We also believe that it’s likely videos with an uploaded transcript are more likely to be suggested and shared by YouTube over videos without a transcript.

Step 3 – Click Through Rate For YouTube

This is massive because it has huge impact on your rank and how often YouTube suggest your videos to searchers. It makes sense right? If people search for a keyword, and then click on your video, it sends a message to YouTube that your video is useful and helps you rank.

If on average your video is chosen more often than others with the same keyword term, this is great click through and you’ll be rewarded with rank increase.

So what elements impact CTR

Titles and Heading

While you need to use your keyword, the rest of your headline should be about getting the clicks. So use your emotive and power words. The words that say “you will get your solution here! Faster, easier and better than you’ll get it anywhere else”

Thumbnail Design

Make your thumbnail more appealing than others. Search your keyword and look the the thumbnails of others. How do you make yours standout from the crowd? What would make them choose yours over the others?

Thumbnail CTR - YouTube Rank Guide
Thumbnail CTR – YouTube Rank Guide

As you can see from the example above, the CTR is probably a massive factor when it comes to why this video seems to have ranked number 1 even for keyword terms not mentioned in the video title or the description.

Video Description CTR

As we discussed earlier, the description is a very important component for ranking Youtube videos. It is equally important that your description is optimized for click through rate.

The way to do this is simple. Your first 125 characters in your description need to be the stuff of legend. It should sell your videos content and make people want to click.

Why 125 characters? Because that’s the number that will appear on screen when people are browsing and scanning which videos to watch.

youtube description CTR
Optimize YouTube Video Description CTR – Youtube Rank Guide

Step 4 – Add Cards and End Screens To Maximize Views.

This is another aspect of YouTube that marketers seem to avoid, forget or not bother applying. Seriously! Have a look next time you are browsing YouTube and pay attention to the number of videos that do not have end screens, or cards used in their videos.

Don’t be one of these people.

YouTube Cards

You will have seen these, and perhaps are using them already, the white circular icons with an “i” (info sign) that appear in the upper right corner of the video.

These indicate a card is ready to be viewed.

For those with the teaser text set up you will see a small snippet of text encouraging you to click the button.

The cards are brilliant little notifications that you can set for each of your videos to promote your brand and promote other videos on your channel. They also act as a method to keep viewers engaged, for example using the card to seek feedback.

YouTube Cards
Info Icon and Info Icon with Teaser Text – YouTube Cards
YouTube Card View
Once Clicked You See The Details of The YouTube Card.

The great thing about YouTube Cards, and another majorly under-utilised SE ranking strategy, is the fact you can add up to five cards to a single video, and there are 4 types (but probably only 3 you’d ever use!):

  1. Channel cards that direct viewers to another channel. (so why you would want to direct them away from your channel and onto someone else’s channel is beyond me – would only ever use this is I was sending to another of my own channels.
  2. Video Cards – This card allows you to link to one of your YouTube video for your viewers to interact with
  3. Playlist cards – This card allows you to add a link to a Playlist you have created
  4. Link and Money cards – which direct viewers to an external site, approved crowdfunding platform, or an approved merchandise selling platform. These cards are only available if you have joined the YouTube Partners Programme and have met the necessary conditions (1000 subscribers and 4000 hours viewed)

For detailed steps on adding a card to your video, follow the official steps from Google.

End Screens

End screens should be added to every video you create. This is how you build your brand recognition.

Keep them of similar format so they become known and so your videos are easily recognised under your brand.

There are a couple of rules to be aware of.

  1. They can only be added within the last 5–20 seconds of a video.
  2. Your video has to be at least 25 seconds long ( so this should be easy!)
  3. Keep in mind when your end screen is shown your other interactive elements, like cards, teasers and video watermarks, are not shown. Meaning you should at lest ensure you add your logo to your end screen image.
  4. End screens aren’t available for videos set as made for kids.
YouTube end screens
YouTube End Screen

The 2 most important features (and 1 workaround) for end screens.

  1. Let’s start with the work around. Always include an outro segment to your videos. It can be as simple as an image with your logo, channel name and school media addresses and lasts for 5-10 seconds. Or it can be a video outro with bells and whistles. Both avoid the last few moments of your video being covered by end screen images (it can be very annoying when the final messages of your video are unable to be seen because your end screen is placed over the top). It also helps build brand recognition and means you can display all the other good stuff – channel logo, channel name, web address and social media addresses.
  2. Always include related and relevant videos from your own channel that viewers can choose to move onto next.
  3. Always add a Subscribe to my channel call to action

Example of Static End Screen

YouTube Rank Guide Static End Screen Example
YouTube Rank Guide Static End Screen Example – YouTube Rank Guide

Example of Video Outro End Screen

YouTube Rank Guide End Screen Video Example

If you would like to create your own outro video or outro static end screens I highly recommend Envato Elements which for small cost gives you access to an unlimited number of images, photos, videos, graphics, templates, WordPress themes, WordPress Plugins, mockups etc – the list is endless. You can gain access to Envato Elements collections here.

Or you can use PlaceIt, another Envato Company, with a huge range of logos, videos, social images and more that you place your designs into. The 2 examples above are both templates from PlaceIt.

Both have a free membership with loads of options included!

Step 5 – Channel Branding

Channel Cover Art, Logo, Watermark and Links.

Make sure you utilize all features available to your channel. Go to the channel settings and ensure you add the following elements.

First is to make sure your channel header, or channel art, is optimized for all screen sizes.

YouTube Cover Art Dimensions
YouTube Cover Art Dimensions

Then make sure your channel has all the following 5 features. For growing brand recognition plus getting some great backlinks in place.

YouTube Channel Features
YouTube Channel Features – YouTube Rank Guide
  1. Optimized Cover Art with the important features located in the central safe space.
  2. Channel Name and Brand
  3. Channel Logo (which you also want to use as your watermark (or a white transparent png of the same image). Which ever looks best.
  4. A channel description that accurately reflects your channels themes and purpose. Make sure you use good copywriting to sell your channel. This is a great ad space and also may be used by YouTube to verify your channels themes and video content topics.
  5. You can add as many liks as you like to your websites, your social media sites and even your online stores. Use your most important links in the first 5 spaces as these are the links that will show on your header cover art.

Channel Slogan

If you have a channel slogan make sure you add it to your cover art and also add it to your channel description. Again a helpful element for ranking and an easy element to add.


Make sure you categorize your videos into playlists. The playlists help YouTube understand your content and help searchers find the video topics they are looking for. They break your videos into “similar themes” and also help to keep people on your channel by offering them something similar.

Don’t be tempted to do an eclectic playlist with topics ranging from SEO to Video Production, to family vacations to funny memes.

Break them up into playlists – 1 for SEO techniques, 1 for Video Production Techniques, 1 for vacation videos and 1 for your cats do funny stuff.

That way your Mom doesn’t have to watch a video about adding tags to YouTube. And the online SEO searchers can binge on every video you ever made about SEO without being interrupted by a cat doing cute things.

Channel Trailers

You can add 2 trailers to your channel. These are another factor that help you rank but are most channels don’t use them.

They are the perfect place to pitch your channel and gets subscriptions. Apart from your channel art these short videos are the first thing people see when they arrive at your channels page.

Each should be around 1 minute in length.

The 2 trailers are for 2 different audiences.

The first is for people who have not subscribed to your channel. In this trailer you need to cover what your channel is about, who you are, why is your content is worth watching and why should people subscribe.

The second is for people who have subscribed, and will be the video they see when they arrive at your channels page. In this video you should thank them for being subscribers and remind them of the value your channel offer. Explain why they should remain a subscriber, what’s coming soon, the benefits of being a subscriber and how to contact you / or your website.

So we have come to the end and now you know the 5 simple steps in our YouTube Rank Guide. With these in place you will notice rankings rise and subscriptions grow. I’d love to hear how you get on so please leave me a message in the comments below.