How to Optimize a Video for YouTube Search & SEO

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Phil Singleton

Phil Singleton is a Google Marketing and SEO expert in Kansas City. Contact Phil today for a free SEO strategy consultation.

youtube video seo

Table of Contents

This is the process we use at our agency(ies) to post videos on YouTube (with custom thumbnail images) to quickly and seamlessly create an SEO optimized blog post every time.

This process has changed over time as Google’s algorithm changed, but what you see on this post is up to date  – and will continue to update the process as SEO evolves and adapts to Google, AI, etc.

If we do it right, our videos will boost E-E-A-T (Google it) and the videos will rank on Google if we do all of our SOPs correctly and consistently:


youtube video ranks on google search


Create a YouTube Optimized Video Title

Add title EXACTLY how it’s provided to you in the original question list that the Content team or SEO team sends you.

It’s critical to have the question as the video title, but only add the company name if there is enough room after the title:



youtube video seo title


Create & Add YouTube Hashtags

Add keyword(s) to hashtags, this may seem backwards, but the hashtags will help you with the with the description you need to create later.

But also, you can use common sense to create useful keywords that are related to the business, their subject matter and the keyword provided to you in the title:

youtube seo hashtags


If you are not sure what to add for the 2nd and 3rd hashtag, try a YouTube search and get something from related from their auto suggestions:




youtube keyword research


Create an Optimized YouTube Meta Description

Now that you have set the video title, add a 1-2 sentence description and be sure to add the target keyword phrase at least once in the description, as well as the other two hashtag keywords.

If the client’s geographic territory is a metro area (such as Kansas City, or St Louis, Denver, Chicago, etc add the city name in the description:

YoutTube Optimized Meta Description



Add Optimized Timestamps to a YouTube Video

Add 3-5 timestamps; please capitalize the first letter; have the timestamp titles make sense and be relevant to the video:

youtube seo timestamps


YouTube will do this for us some time after we publish the video:


youtube auto chapters


Add Custom YouTube Thumbnail Image

In our process, our video team will create a custom template for every client, and each thumbnail should include an abbreviated title with a custom content-related image (stock image or client-provided image) or head-shot variation(s) of the speaker:


custom youtube thumnail image


youtube thumbnail image


We have a SOP document that is specific to creating each thumbnail image which you can find here.


Set YouTube Restrictions

In many cases, the client doesn’t yet have enough videos to create play lists so you can leave that as default.  But please:

  • Be sure to check the box that the video is “No, it’s not made for kids” and;
  • Check the box to not restrict video “No, don’t restrict my video to viewer over 18 only”
  • Leave Paid Promotion unchecked

youtube audience settings

Set YouTube “Show More Settings” Section

  • Check for Automatic chapters and key moments
  • Check for Featured places
  • Check for automatic concepts

Set other youtube feaures settings

Set YouTube Keywords Tags for SEO

Aside from the title, description and hashtags, one of the most important place to optimize each YouTube video for SEO is in the Tags section.

Most people don’t have the discipline to set these tags, and if they do, its not usually in a useful format

Please note: Please use common sense and do your best to set these tags according to the video title and the content. It’s pretty easy to come up with 6-10 tags, and do so in a way where you’re not just stuffing in words to complete this part of the task.  Think about words that would make sense for a user that is looking to find a video on this topic:

youtube keyword tag settings

Set YouTube Video Language

Set language to English (United States), this is really easy but it needs to be done:



YouTube Video Settings

This is an important one to set, especially for educational blog videos where the intention of the video is to answer popular questions so our client can establish authority with educational video content.

Leave most settings default; CHANGE to “How to & Style” and hold all comments for review:


youtube category settings


Send the Complete List to Your Content Team

When all the videos from the shoot are uploaded to the client’s YouTube account (as unlisted) please send back the list of questions, with the bold keywords in tact, with a line space between each one (this is how we sent to our writers who will write blog posts around the videos):

youtube video email list


The Final Product