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7 Tips on How to Optimize Your YouTube Videos in 2023

Published August 10, 2023

Achieving success on YouTube may seem like chance and blind luck, but that’s not the case. Although some YouTubers have blown up overnight with seemingly little effort, others use various tactics to slowly build their audience. One of the most successful methods is optimizing YouTube videos so that search engines and algorithms reward them with a higher ranking.

But optimizing is hard when you don’t know what to do. Luckily, with our 7 tips, you’ll have an excellent starting point.

Use Your Keyword(s) in the Video File Name

Much like Google, YouTube’s search engine uses terms from queries and matches them with keywords that appear in the video. Naturally, your first step will be to do keyword research and include those that you want to rank for in your content.

But did you know that optimization begins even before you upload a video to YouTube? As it turns out, the platform’s algorithm can actually read video file names and use them to rank your content.

So, change the file name once you finish filming, but don’t use whatever comes to mind first. Instead, think of a name that incorporates your chosen keyword(s). For instance, if your keyword is “how to optimize your videos,” the file’s name should be “how-to-optimize-your-videos,” followed by a file extension (typically MOV, MP4, or WMV for videos).

Include Your Keyword(s) in the Video Title

Of course, your keyword(s) must find its place in your video title for the algorithm to pick it up. But in this case, you have to consider the user experience as well. Your audience will also see the title, so you need to ensure it sounds natural and compelling enough to draw viewers in.

In other words, the keyword “how to optimize your videos” might be enough for the algorithm, but your viewers need a more appealing title. You could, for instance, put an emphasis on the result and write something along the lines of “How to Optimize Your Videos to Get More Views.” The difference may seem insignificant, but by focusing on achieving the objective, you’ll motivate people to click on your video.

Optimize the Video Description

The description under the video is another place to insert your keywords, but don’t overdo it. If you stuff your description with keywords, YouTube may actually punish you for spamming by ranking your content lower. So, use your keyword(s) 2-4 times, depending on the length of your description.

Speaking of length, your description can theoretically have up to 1 000 characters, but it’s unlikely many of your viewers will read it in its entirety. Therefore, keeping the descriptions short, simple, and to the point is crucial.

If you want to make sure your audience sees important information and links, remember to put them at the top of the description. After all, YouTube only displays the first two or three lines beneath the title. To see the rest, your viewers need to click on Show more, which only a small percentage does.

Categorize Your Videos

When you upload your video, you’ll find the option to categorize it according to its content. For example, if you upload a short clip of your cat doing an obstacle course, put it under Pets & Animals. Similarly, all tutorials and instructions go under the Howto & Style category.

Categorizing your video will automatically group it with other similar content, making it likely to appear in related playlists and suggestions. That way, new audiences interested in the topics you cover will stumble upon your videos easier, bringing in new views, and potentially become loyal subscribers.

Use Hashtags

Hashtags make the social media world go round, and YouTube is no exception. Similarly to categories, hashtags connect your videos to other related content and make it easier for viewers to find answers to their queries. When coming up with them, you don’t need to use your full keyword, but make sure to include related terms.

You can add up to three hashtags above your video title, so pick the ones that best represent the content. On top of that, you may include up to fifteen tags in your video description, but we advise against it. YouTube may rank you lower if the algorithm suspects you’re spamming to boost your video.

Add a Custom Thumbnail

When you upload your video, YouTube automatically displays a few thumbnail suggestions. That way, the platform makes it easier for creators who don’t have resources or time to make their own thumbnails.

But if you want to achieve real success on YouTube, put some extra effort into creating a custom thumbnail. After all, thumbnails are the first thing that will catch your audience’s attention as they search for videos to watch. Thus, it should inform the viewer about the video’s content, and platform-generated thumbnails don’t always succeed in that regard.

So, consider creating a fun, visually pleasing, and compelling thumbnail. It takes some trial and error, but you’ll find out what works over time. Then, you can incorporate your discoveries into your style and make excellent thumbnails that automatically signal to your viewers that your video is up.

Include Cards and End Screens

Cards and end screens allow you to include links to your other videos, playlists, or channels directly in the video your viewers are watching. As a result, you can easily promote your content and increase your channel’s overall engagement.

Even though they have a similar purpose, cards and end screens differ slightly. Cards are small notification icons that pop up in the corner during the video, asking you to click on a link or explore a related playlist. On the other hand, end screens show up as the video is ending, displaying interactive thumbnails over a background.

Ultimately, both are good for your channel, so we highly recommend including them. Don’t forget to customize the end screen, though — it will be more appealing if it matches your brand’s overall aesthetic.

Boost Your YouTube Ranking

YouTube is an excellent tool for promoting your brand or earning extra cash from ad revenue. But, as you can see, you have to do more than upload a video and hope for the best. And if you follow our tips on how to optimize your YouTube videos, you’ll notice an immediate increase in your viewership!

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Written By:
Jessica is a writer who specializes in social media, marketing, and digital strategy. She is a graduate of Antioch College and earned her MBA at Boston College’s Carroll Graduate School of Management, specializing in STEM Management. Her work has been published in numerous academic journals and mainstream publications. She lives in New England with her husband, two children, and three dogs.
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