Let’s look at a few tips for how to optimize video content for top Google ranking.You may have wondered how certain websites and links manage to cut in line and get to the top of a Google search list. After all, there are potentially thousands of similar websites out there, so how does Google determine the winners? Well, like everything else online, there’s an algorithm for calculating this. The algorithm processes specific metrics and qualities from your site’s content and creates its list to drive traffic. This applies to video content as well.

The good news is that there are certain video optimization techniques you can use to increase the odds of your video being viewed or your website visited. After all the time, money, and effort spent on video production, why wouldn’t you want to maximize your video’s viewership?

What is Video Optimization?

What determines Google search ranking? Video search engine optimization (SEO) is a process by which the online traffic of your videos, both in terms of quality and quantity, are increased so that your video shows up in Google search results. The quality of traffic refers to the type of user doing the searching and if your content matches their desire.


Quantity simply refers to the volume of visitors to your website who can find your video. You can then track how long your video is being played for. Ideally, you want both quantity and quality for your video SEO optimization, which means your link showing up for the right people followed by them clicking through to view your content. For instance, if your video was about car wheels, but the traffic was people searching for cheese wheels, this may not have the desired effect of gaining more customers.

Video Optimization Techniques

Use Keywords in the File Name

Identifying keywords to attach to your video is crucial for search engine optimization (SEO) and it can be done a few different ways. First, make sure to include keywords in the actual video file. YouTube reads the code of your file, which includes the file name. So, by including keywords in your video’s file name you are helping YouTube begin the process of optimizing users’ ability to find your content. You may have saved your video file as, “Final Cut For Real V36.mov” but be sure to change it to, let’s say, “Cow-Milking-Tips,” or whatever the video is about, specifically. This will help your video get ranked and therefore increase the chance that it gains more search volume.

Use Keywords in the Video Title

Another place you can utilize keywords is in your video’s title. You don’t want to just cram keywords in nonsensically, but the more you’re able to naturally insert them, the bigger the SEO boost your video will get. Just like the file name, the title will also help your video rank. Make your title as clear and concise as possible. Remember, it’s the first thing a user will see, along with the thumbnail. The title should tell the user exactly what the video is about. It doesn’t hurt to be clever, either, but don’t do it at the expense of keywords. Some recommend keeping your title below 60 characters in order to help it land on search result pages.


Another technique to keep in mind with your title is to try to match it with the target audience’s intent. If you’re posting a tutorial on how to use a new software, you may include the popular, “How to…” in your title. Consider what your viewers might be searching to find your video and work backwards from that. If you’re posting a product video, be sure to include the name of the product in the title.

Use Keywords in the Video Description

Another place to include keywords is in your video description. Even though the character limit for YouTube is 1,000, a detailed yet concise description with keywords will be most effective for video optimization. YouTube actually recommends making your description no longer than 200 words and including the most important keywords in the first couple of sentences. Include only what is relevant to the video and nothing more. It’s also important to note that YouTube only displays the first two or three lines of text followed by the “Show More” option. This means including your most important information upfront, like links or a call-to-action (CTA).

YouTube Recommendations

YouTube also recommends the following tips for video description:

Insert the most important keywords at the beginning of your description
Use natural language, don’t force multiple keywords
Select 1-2 main words that describe your video and include them in the title and description
Use tools like Google Trends and Google Ads Keyword Planner to find popular keywords
Do NOT include irrelevant words in your description

Optimizing the video description can also help get it added to YouTube’s “Suggested Videos” sidebar as users view other related videos.


Your video’s thumbnail image can also be helpful for boosting video optimization. The thumbnail is the first image a user sees, so it is vital to spend time creating a strong one. Thumbnails help get clicks, which helps get views, which helps you accomplish your video production or business goals.

Thumbnails must accomplish a few things. First, it must grab the attention of the viewer. Determine how it can stand out from all of the other videos out there. Often, people posting video content to YouTube just use a still image from the video (which YouTube helps you do) and that’s it. This will likely not be sufficient for video optimization. Instead, try creating your own original thumbnail.

An effective thumbnail may also include the title of the video in large, clear lettering. Even if it’s not the exact title, it could include a piece of it or at least a few intriguing words that hints to the video’s content.

Examples of Effective Thumbnails

I recommend looking at Mr. Beast’s YouTube page for examples of effective thumbnails. It’s true that Mr. Beast already has many followers, but he didn’t achieve this by not doing his homework. His latest thumbnails include polished images with detailed perspective, greenscreen effects, graphics, and his own expressive face as he does the next crazy thing.

Note: The recommended size of a thumbnail is 1280×720 pixels, which is a 16:9 ratio. It must be 2MB or smaller and uploaded as  a .jpg, .bmp, .gif, or .png file.

Add Subtitles and Closed Captions

Adding subtitles and closed captions are another way to boost video optimization. Subtitles are useful for viewers who may not understand the video’s language, while closed captions are for viewers who cannot hear what’s being said. To add these elements, you need to upload a timed subtitles file or a supported text transcript. You can also limit the amount of text you want displayed. One benefit of including a transcript with your video is that it can be found by multiple search engines.

Add Timestamps

Another technique is to add a timestamp to your video. Think of timestamps as chapters that label different sections of your video. They are extremely helpful for skipping ahead to specific content on a long video. Most viewers don’t want to sit through a full hour if they’re just interested in a 10-minute section. When your video comes up after a Google search, Google will provide “key moments” from the video which includes timestamps. This is yet another opportunity to include some keywords and further indicate what your video is all about.

Use Tags

Tags can be used to let viewers know what the content of your video is about, but they’re also helpful for letting YouTube know what the video is about. This allows the platform to properly categorize it and put it in front of the right audience. There are different categories on YouTube that you can select for your video, like comedy, music, or pets and animals. Before uploading your video, make sure you’ve selected the relevant channel. Tags help identify the video from different categories, so including your keywords here is also recommended.

Refrain from using irrelevant tags to try and gain more views. YouTube is smarter than you.


As you can see, there are several techniques to help optimize your videos for top Google ranking and boost SEO. Getting to the front of the line after a Google search means more clicks and more views. Keywords are, well, key. First, figure out what keywords are relevant to your video. Once you’ve determined this, include them in the file name, title, and description. Don’t force them. Remember to create an original, eye-catching thumbnail image that includes relevant text and a strong visual hook.

Subtitles and captions can also be utilized to include keywords and aid in view-ability for the hearing impaired or those who speak a different language. You can also include a timestamp, particularly for a longer video, that divides your video into chapters. Lastly, choose the correct category and tags for your video. If you follow these video optimization techniques, you will be on your way to increasing your viewership and building an audience.