In the early days of YouTube and social media as a whole, the rules of engagement were rather simple when compared to today. Each platform specialized in one or two things, and once you did the thing, the internet just handled the rest. Luckily, we’ve come a long way from basic SEO and Google now offers a bevy of solutions you can use to optimize your YouTube videos.

Use Keywords in Titles for Best SEO

There are generally two main strategies for title selection on YouTube, clickbait and using proper keywords. The former is utilized across the internet and will probably always be effective. Creating clickbait titles may be good for getting extra views or impulse clicks, but including strong keywords is vastly better for SEO. 

You may be tempted to even follow a simple naming structure like “Name of Podcast: Episode #” and while this is a clean tactic, you lose out on crucial exposure. Including the topic of your episode or video helps to better serve your content to the right viewers, a crucial step to optimize your YouTube videos.

Make Eye-catching Thumbnails

Your thumbnail is the first thing viewers will see, and putting your best foot forward is the best way to be noticed. Including important keywords, photos, and color schemes will immediately set you apart from other videos who merely choose a frame from their video.

One tactic that may seem overused, utilizes a clear face photo of the video’s “stars” with clear and prominent text of the keywords or even clickbaity titles. While scrolling, you’re more likely to see these types of thumbnails first, even before reading the titles, which may or may not contain the same information. Combine this with color schemes that pop, and you will have a winning formula on your hands.

Use Video Cards and End Screens to Cross-Promote

When first introduced, these two elements may have been underutilized, but today, if you truly want to optimize your YouTube videos, they can’t be forgotten. Whenever you mention relevant content, whether it’s your own or another creator’s, try to use in-video cards to link viewers to them. 

In the same vein, the end screen card should be used after every video you post. It gives the viewer an immediate chance to subscribe to your channel, or that of a creator that you mentioned. Here, you will have another opportunity to link relevant content which can keep viewers watching your content for many more precious minutes.

Make Playlists & Video Chapters

Once you’ve amassed a decent number of videos that fall into similar enough categories, it would be wise to organize those relevant videos into playlists. Packaging these videos in a tidy list can increase watch time, and is especially helpful for certain content like tutorials, which require viewers to watch in a specific order.

Video chapters are another solid way to optimize your YouTube videos. Breaking your video into subtopics can help viers find exactly the content they want if they’re in a rush, or simply clue them into the topics you’ll cover before deciding to settle into your video.  As a bonus, utilizing the chapters function also gives Google’s algorithm more information to crawl and can better deliver your content to the right viewers.

Include Closed Captions

While YouTube automatically adds closed captions to most videos, they may not be too accurate. Including your own captions will not only lead to a better viewing experience, but can also increase your SEO. This is made possible because the text that appears on your video is also scrubbed by Google for relevant keywords, proving that every word counts!