SEO / Marketing

Beginners Guide to SEO for YouTube

Youtube seo
Published 15 April 2021

Last updated on 14 April 2022

This is a beginners guide to SEO for YouTube. In today’s world it is becoming increasingly common for people to work from home. This means that a lot more people are having to learn how to increase notice for their social media platforms.

What I’ve written below is hopefully going to help you incorporate some basic SEO tactics, mainly through the use of ‘Keywords‘ into your YouTube profile. This will better help you gain the exposure that you need.

What is SEO and why is it needed?

First of all it’s important to understand what SEO is. SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’. It’s a term of increasing importance in today’s world. It is an extremely important factor in digital marketing.

By incorporating SEO tactics into your platforms you are giving yourself an advantage in directing organic traffic to your sites. This is done through the use of ‘Keywords’. As a result of identifying your content with the appropriate keywords you will be helping search engine algorithms identify when your content/pages contain relevant or similar information to what is being searched for. By doing this you will give yourself a better chance of gaining the recognition you deserve.

Put simply SEO is the act of associating your chosen content with the appropriate keywords. which will help the algorithms understand why, where and when your page/videos/pictures etc should be chosen to appear.

While using SEO tactics on your YouTube page there are 4 key tips to remember. These will give your content the best chance it has in appearing within peoples search results and suggested videos. We have listed the main Beginner SEO tips for YouTube below. 

Video File Name and Video Title

Video File Name

Before you have even uploaded your video to YouTube it is an important, and often overlooked factor, to make sure that your file has an appropriate and relevant save file name. This is important because it helps YouTube to identify what/where your video should be shown. YouTube’s algorithm can’t watch your video so by doing this you’re allowing it to understand the relevancy of your keywords.

For example instead of having your file called ‘F204_554.Mov’ change the title to include relevant keywords for your content. Such as ‘Minecraft-Gameplay-Vlog.Mov’.

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Screenshot 2021 04 14 at 15. 37. 37

Youtube will read these keywords when the file is first uploaded.

Video Title

Once you have identified the keywords you wish to incorporate, you’re going to want to use them in the video title. Make sure that you include it naturally within the title. Using other keywords, within your desired sector, will help identify and suggest your content to the right people and places. 

The correlation between keyword rich titles and your YouTube rankings isn’t always a great one. With that being said it is always beneficial to optimise your content as best as you can.

Video Description, Hashtags and Categorising your Video

Video Description

As YouTube is dedicated to an audio/visual experience people wont always read your videos description and only the first 100 characters are shown to viewers before being prompted to press the ‘Show More‘ button to continue reading. However it is still important to add relevant information where you can.

With this information at hand we would suggest including the most important information within the first few lines. Again you will want to optimise your description with relevant keywords. This will help YouTube show you off in the ‘suggested videos’ sidebar which helps to create a large percentage of viewership for most users.


Now using hashtags is important for two main reasons:

  1. It helps your viewers identify what your video is about.
  2. It helps YouTube to understand the content and context of your videos.

YouTube uses this information to associate your content with that of other similar uploads and extend your organic reach. Try to include the most relevant tags first and avoid using any tags that are irrelevant to your content as this may make it more difficult for your video to appear.


Lastly make sure that you choose the correct category for your upload. To do this you simply click the ‘Advanced Options’ once your video has finished uploading and from there select the correct category for you.

Understanding what other users are doing and what’s working for them within each category is important and you should ask yourself other questions when selecting a category for your video. What are audiences of similar channels behaviors? Who are the top creators within your category? And what is the optimal length for your videos? 

Knowing these tips and incorporating them into your uploads consistently will greatly help your videos gain increased exposure.

This may seem obvious but if you’re just starting out, implementing beginner SEO ideas to YouTube, its best to start from the bottom and build up.

Subtitles and Closed Captions

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Click ‘Subtitles’ within YouTube Studio

You can also increase YouTubes search optimisation through the use of subtitles and closed captions which highlight specific keywords.

To do this you can either make use of SRT files. An SRT file, or SubRip Subtitle File, are plain text files which contain the information of your desired subtitles. They also include stop and start sections ensuring your captions/subtitles appear at exactly the right moment. Or alternatively you can make use of the ’Transcribe and Auto-Sync’ Option. 

In either case you will want to open the ‘Video Manager’ page and then continue to press ‘videos’. From here you can select the video you want to edit and press ‘Subtitles/CC’. You will then select how you would like to incorporate your subtitles or closed captioning.

Cards, Custom Thumbnails and End Screens


As described, by Youtube Creator Academy “cards are pre-formatted notifications that appear on desktop and mobile which you can set up to promote your brand and other videos on your channel”.

These cards are extremely beneficial when promoting your brand or channel. You can add up to 5 cards per video and there are multiple types of cards to choose from. These include: channel cards, donation/fundraising cards, link cards, poll cards and video/playlist cards. 

For more information on how to include cards to your YouTube videos you can get more detailed information via these official steps provided by Google.

Custom Thumbnail

Now including a custom thumbnail image may not seem all that important and you can always use YouTubes auto-generated images. But it is worth noting that YouTube Creator Academy reports that:

“90% of the best performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails”

YouTube Creator Academy

Adding a custom thumbnail enables you to better define the content of your video and increases the chance of viewers clicking you video and viewing your content. 

End Screens

As well as incorporating the previous two elements into your uploads, ‘End Screens’ are also an important factor to think about including within your content. You can get free end screen templates online or create your own and then use them at the end of your footage.

This will help you gain more views on your other YouTube videos and possibly increase the amount of people that subscribe to your page. Creating an appropriately optimised end screen might take a bit of work initially but once you have found one works for you and your content the process will become much more streamlined. Please see this article which will help you better understand ‘End Screens’ and how to make use of them.


In conclusion we hope this beginner guide to SEO for YouTube has helped you! Without the use of using a platform such as ‘Google Analytics’ in order to bid for keywords, you will be limited in the amount that you can optimise your content.

That being said these tips are definitely beneficial to you and the brand you are developing and although they may not shoot your content to the top of the YouTube’s ranking list, they will 100% give your page a better chance at gaining the recognition it deserves and extending your reach.

About Author

I am super passionate about Photography, Gaming & Music. Love my tech!