I’ve personally spent much of the past year digging through and optimizing past videos hosted on the variety of YouTube channels I manage, and with an SEO team, we optimize each video for better engagement. The following YouTube keyword SEO tips aren’t hidden secrets to success. It’s very hard to have overnight success when growing a YouTube channel, but with persistence and a dedication to quality content — you will find your audience.

One of the channels I manage just reached over 100,000 subscribers, and these are the guidelines our team set and use on every single video we publish. These are proven SEO keyword tips and are very simple things you can do to grow your own channel.

Using Keywords in YouTube Videos

Image by contributor Inasmi.

Determining keywords is a crucial step to any type of online content, including YouTube videos. Search engines use keywords to scrape information about the content you are presenting.

You should be using keywords frequently and effectively. Don’t cram several keywords into a video if they aren’t on topic. It’s best to focus on a limited number of keywords for each video. The main keyword should be the topic of the video.

Let’s say you have a YouTube channel that focuses on cooking. For each different video, you should use keywords describing the dish your are preparing — for example “Cooking Steak” for a video on steak, or “Cooking Chicken” for chicken recipes. It’s even better to get more specific, like “Cooking Ribeye Steaks” or “Cooking Chicken Breasts.”

Now that you know the keywords you want to focus on, it’s best to use them throughout the video. Let’s take the steak example and apply it to the fictional YouTube channel Chef Me.

1. YouTube Video Title Keywords

YouTube SEO: 5 Tips for Boosting Rank Using Keywords — Steaks

The title of your video should be the first place where you use your keywords. Be specific to the video you have created. Something along the lines of “5 Tips for Cooking Ribeye Steaks,” “The Best Way to Cook Ribeye Steaks,” or even your channel name like “Cooking Ribeye Steaks with Chef Me.”

2. YouTube Description Keywords

YouTube SEO: 5 Tips for Boosting Rank Using Keywords — Descriptions

Next, move into the YouTube video description. There you will want to reiterate the title and keywords: “In this episode of Chef Me, we are going to show you how to prepare and cook ribeye steaks.” If you also run a blog alongside your YouTube channel, be sure to link to your own blog where you discuss your steak cooking techniques.

3. YouTube Thumbnail Keywords

YouTube SEO: 5 Tips for Boosting Rank Using Keywords — Thumbnails
Image by contributor Lisovskaya Natalia.

You should also be creating custom thumbnail images for each of your videos. For a cooking channel, YouTube thumbnails may just be images of the final dish or the title of the video. Here are the steps you should follow to create YouTube thumbnails. You should also name the final image using your keywords, like Cooking_Ribeye_Steak.jpg.

4. Subtitles and Closed-Captioning Keywords

YouTube SEO: 5 Tips for Boosting Rank Using Keywords — Subtitles
Image by contributor Belokoni Dmitri.

Each YouTube video you upload should include subtitles, bonus for subtitles in other languages. Not only can viewers in other countries follow along, search engines are also able to scrape information from subtitles to better understand what the video is about.

These keywords should be planned out before you shoot, so you can naturally use your keywords whenever they fit into the script.

5. Filename Keywords

YouTube SEO: 5 Tips for Boosting Rank Using Keywords — Filename Keywords

Just like the thumbnail technique, you should name the export of your video with your keywords. That way when you upload to YouTube, the filename Cooking_Ribeye_Steak_Tutorial.mov will have additional SEO value.

For more YouTube tips, be sure to check in on the Shutterstock blog. We have a whole series dedicated to making better YouTube content.

If you aren’t caught up yet, check out these helpful YouTube tips and tutorials:

Top image by contributor HAKINMHAN.