YouTube SEO Examine: Insights & Data to Help You Rank Higher

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It’s fairly spectacular to see one thing that began as a video-dating web site turn into the second most-used search engine (and web site) after Google, with greater than 2 billion month-to-month lively customers.

At the moment, YouTube is greater than only a video platform for informal leisure and music movies – it’s a full-fledged search engine of its personal. Simply take into account how pandemic-inspired shifts on YouTube align with our earlier findings for Google:

  • In March 2020, YouTube searches for movies that had “home office” within the title grew by a whopping 210%, “home workout” views surged by 515%, and movies that includes doing one thing “at home” acquired 700% extra every day uploads.
  • These demand patterns are similar to what we uncovered in our research that assessed the pandemic impression on Google searches: House Decor and Sports activities & Open air have been the fastest-growing e-commerce classes again in 2020.

And if YouTube is a search engine, there are rating algorithms that have an effect on movies’ natural visibility.

Along with Tubics, we’ve run intensive analysis, finding out many various variables, to unwrap YouTube’s rating algo and arm you with key takeaways and actionable suggestions to doubtlessly get your movies rating at place one!

YouTube SEO Examine: Key Takeaways

Beneath, we are going to get into the nitty-gritty of YouTube SEO, however here’s a sneak peek into the necessary discoveries from our research:

  • Greater than half of the movies that ranked on the first place have greater than 50 phrases within the description.
  • 52% of movies rating for “how-to” key phrases have greater than 100 phrases within the descriptions, whereas for the overall pattern, it’s solely 31%.
  • 52% of movies rating for “how-to” key phrases are longer than 5 minutes, whereas for the overall pattern, it’s solely 33%.
  • Solely 8% of movies with timestamps rank on the first place.
  • 55% of movies have a match ratio between title and key phrase equal to 1.
  • Title similarity with key phrase ratio, variety of views, and video length are an important parameters, in accordance to the Machine Studying mannequin we used for this analysis.

What Is YouTube SEO?

Earlier than we take a deep dive into the research, we should always spotlight that YouTube SEO is a bit completely different from common SEO and video creators actually need to perceive the algorithm to seem excessive in search outcomes.

YouTube’s rating selections are largely primarily based on the next components: 

  • Channel development dynamics (variety of subscribers and views);
  • Engagement alerts (likes, dislikes, feedback); and 
  • Video options (video size, metadata, descriptions, and many others.).

We’ve analyzed every variable to uncover data-driven insights that may assist in getting your movies one of the best visibility on YouTube.

Examine Methodology

We pulled 15,000 key phrases from our Google Key phrases Database, which triggered a Featured Video outcome on the SERP. Then we took a take a look at YouTube’s high 10 search outcomes for every of those key phrases to examine how completely different video options have an effect on their positions in YouTube search. Primarily based on this information, we gathered a variety of metrics to assess which ones have an effect on movies’ efficiency. 

Amongst different issues, we’ve analyzed the efficiency of “how-to” key phrases versus normal key phrases, the search positioning of movies primarily based on their engagement metrics (likes, feedback, views), and a video’s key components (description, title, tags). 

We used median values as an alternative of common values to evaluate metrics for various positions since they’re extra resistant to outliers.

Machine Studying Mannequin

We used a Machine Studying mannequin to determine what options of a YouTube video have been most necessary for rating. By utilizing determination tree fashions, we recognized that title similarity with key phrase ratio, the variety of views and video length have been an important components for this mannequin.

Alongside these metrics, we tracked non-engagement-related metrics (title size, tag similarity ratio, description size), which confirmed an impression on rankings as properly.

To match search phrases, titles, descriptions, and tags, we used the Levenshtein Distance Similarity Partial Ratio. This metric has values from 0 to 1, the place 0 means key phrases are completely completely different, and 1 means key phrases are a match. 

Dissecting YouTube’s Rating Algo 

Exploring the highest 10 outcomes for the analyzed key phrases, we have been in a position to pinpoint some normal patterns throughout the important thing components affecting movies’ visibility on YouTube.

Let’s check out issues that form YouTube’s distinctive rating algo. 

When It Comes to YouTube SEO, Do Progress Dynamics Matter?


Our information reveals that a lot of the leads to a YouTube search come from the channels with the most important variety of subscribers. Nevertheless, 18% of movies have been featured on channels which have lower than 1,000 subscribers. Which means even small channels can discover themselves among the many high 10 search outcomes.


For instance, when trying to find the key phrases “how to apply thermal paste” or “most annoying sound in the world,” we are able to see that smaller channels take the primary place. Beneath we are able to see that Tech Illiterate with 6.43K subscribers outranks Linus Tech Suggestions with 13.7M. 


If we needed to clarify why, we might instantly pinpoint that Tech Illiterate has a decrease share of dislikes and a extra elaborate video description. However do these components actually matter and have a rating impression? Maintain studying.

Tip: When making an attempt to rank for key phrases, don’t focus in your competitors. Don’t fear about getting hundreds of thousands of subscribers, though it helps. Deal with creating partaking, high-quality content material. The great stats and followers will come.


The common variety of views for a YouTube video sitting within the second place is 74% lower than the common variety of views for a video within the first spot.

The causation might be reversed, nevertheless. The primary video on the checklist is just extra probably to be considered. So this can be extra of a hen and egg matter. 

However there’s one view-related issue that actually impacts rankings. YouTube estimates the watch time for every video for every key phrase, so it should counsel those which might be extra probably to be considered until the top.


In the event you seek for “baking tips,” you’ll find an enormous distinction within the variety of views between the primary place video from Scrumdiddlyumptious at 3.9M and the second-place video from Claire Saffitz x Dessert Particular person at solely 446K views. The primary video is 9X shorter, so chances are high, it has higher probabilities of being considered until the very finish.

Tip: Don’t wait round for YouTube’s rating algo to kick in. Actively promote your video and share it throughout a number of channels when it’s contemporary out of the oven, to guarantee extra early traction and attain a broader viewers. 

Assessing How Engagement Metrics Have an effect on YouTube Rankings

YouTube has publicly stated that it encourages creatives to work together with their viewers to maximize engagement and assist with rating.

Whereas we might take YouTube’s phrase for it, we determined to see to what extent engagement impacts video rankings and the way.


The common variety of likes for the second place on YouTube’s search outcomes is 72% lower than the common variety of likes for the primary place. 

This information is mirrored within the above instance, the place Scrumdiddlyumptious’ video acquired twice the variety of likes than that of Claire Saffitz x Dessert Particular person (24K vs. 12K likes).

The distinction between the primary place and the opposite positions is kind of dramatic. However this perception might have the same chicken-egg connotation. 

Higher-ranking movies get extra views and thus extra likes and dislikes. The variety of likes correlates with the variety of views, with the correlation coefficient being 99%. 


The common variety of dislikes for the second place is 70% lower than the common variety of dislikes for the primary place. This reveals the identical logic as with likes.


With feedback, issues are extra simple. 

We noticed a shared correlation, that if a video acquired extra views, it was extra probably to get feedback. This confirmed a correlation of 99.9%, the place the median* variety of feedback was 259.

Tip: Uninterested in listening to “like the video and don’t forget to subscribe to my channel” whereas watching YouTube? There’s a cause the creators do that. Encourage viewers to like your video and depart feedback with any opinions or ideas and get again to them inside 24 or 48 hours to present viewer engagement. The feedback and opinions of your followers can drive strong discussions; reactions to your video and to feedback additionally gasoline engagement. 

Video Options and Parts’ Impression On YouTube Rankings

From promotional efforts and engagement alerts to channel dimension and its development dynamics, what we mentioned above had to do with the “external” components affecting your movies’ rating efficiency. 

The interior qualities of the video could make an enormous distinction, too.

Video length

A video’s size can play a job when it comes to rankings.Our outcomes present the distribution of video length by percentages the place 45% of movies in our research had a length of three to 5 minutes, and 5% had a length of lower than 1 minute. It’s necessary to observe that a number of the outcomes (0.4%) are stay streams, which haven’t any length parameter.


The “go concise or go elaborate” query stands earlier than each creator. And information can provide us some ballpark numbers.

Nearly half of all movies making it to the highest 10 search outcomes on YouTube are 3-5-minutes lengthy. The subsequent most profitable video codecs are both 1-3 or 5-10 minutes lengthy.

If we take a dynamic view at video size, we’ll see that the median video size will increase with the place of the video. Nevertheless, the distinction will not be too dramatic.


Whereas it appears to be like like 3-5-minute movies are the way in which to go, the logical (and possibly proper) reply could be “it depends.” In any case, customers trying to find “crunch exercise” and “The Sopranos” ending defined” anticipate completely different ranges of element.

When doing a seek for a “crunch exercise” on YouTube, we sometimes get a choice of movies which might be on the shorter finish of the spectrum:


As for “The Sopranos’ ending explained,” we get extra elaborate video items that truly tackle the question, which means they go all-in on clarifying the sequence’ finale:


Tip: Create movies which have the appropriate stability between size and high quality. Have a superb intro and outro to maintain customers engaged all through your entire video. Use end-screens to present a seamless viewer stream. 

Titles and descriptions

Our research reveals that when it comes to titles and descriptions, there are two issues to deal with:

  • Phrase restrict; and
  • Key phrases. 

54% of all of the analyzed movies include a median of 8 phrases of their title. And all the info, we are able to see that being overly wordy will not be a well-liked tactic amongst YouTubers.


You can get extra beneficiant with video descriptions, although. They provide each YouTube and customers extra context of what to anticipate in a video, and as we’ll see additional, supply extra space for key phrase placement. 


31% of the top-performing movies function 11-30-word descriptions. Nevertheless it looks as if you will get extra wordy right here.

We discovered that the common variety of phrases in an outline was 107, and 17% of movies rating for place one had at the very least 250 phrases within the description.


Mentioning the key phrase that your video is optimized round will permit YouTube to simply perceive that your video addresses the person’s search time period. 

Our research reveals that 30% of video descriptions had a similarity with key phrases equal to 1, which means that the principle key phrase was talked about in a video’s description. The common description similarity with a key phrase was 0.42.


Tip: Our analysis signifies that the highest movies have longer descriptions. Be sure that your description precisely displays the video’s content material in order that customers have a good suggestion of what to anticipate. Typical headline finest practices work for YouTube, too. Attempt together with the principle goal key phrase in your video’s title with out key phrase stuffing. Add numbers to your title to entice viewers to click on (e.g. ‘5 Ways to Change a Flat Tire’).

Variety of hyperlinks, hashtags, and tags within the description

Our research reveals that the common variety of hyperlinks in a video description was 3.


Having references and hyperlinks in your video’s description is an effective manner of driving viewers via their buyer journey by easily directing them to different movies in your channel and even again to your web site. 

When it comes to including hyperlinks to video descriptions, strive to embrace branded hyperlinks (e.g., as an alternative of bit.ly/xx, we’d use semrush.com/xx) as they doubtlessly improve CTR by 39%.

YouTube Creator Academy has publicly stated in one in all their articles that they advise video creators to use hashtags of their descriptions. 

Our outcomes present that 36% of movies rating place one do have them. Ranging from place two, hashtag utilization goes down to 24%.


Some YouTubers go all in and add as many hashtags as attainable. However YouTube will solely show three hashtags, and for those who use greater than 15, it should merely ignore all of them. So it’s finest to keep cheap and stick to YouTube’s tips. 

Now let’s take a look at the impression of YouTube Tags. 

Tags should not to be confused with hashtags, that are displayed beneath a video. These are the hidden messages related to a video, and it’s up to a creator to add them when importing a video. 

Our research reveals top-ranking movies use a median of 13 tags. Their utilization appears to have a decent correlation with rankings: movies with fewer tags have a tendency to come at decrease rankings.


Tags (as is the cope with our ‘regular’ metatags) ought to be carefully intertwined with key phrases as this is a component meant for crawlers and never for people. 

From our analysis, the common tag similarity with key phrases was 0.58, the place 0 means key phrases are completely completely different, and 1 means key phrases match.


Clearly, the nearer the match between tags and key phrases, the upper the rankings.

Tip: Use hyperlinks to different movies in your description in the event that they’re related. When utilizing hashtags, take into account the key phrases you may have found with Semrush and your YouTube visitors supply report. Lastly, don’t go overboard with using tags. Use this Chrome extension to discover out all of the tags on a video. Mind Dean recommends having your first tag as your goal key phrase.


Timestamps permit video creators to hyperlink to particular “moments” of a video so viewers can simply navigate to sure components of a video. Timestamps even seem on Google SERP with the video. 


Timestamps now provoke fairly some discussions amongst YouTubers, with some pondering that timestamps lower the size of viewership and others anticipating an engagement improve.

Our research reveals that movies with timestamps make up 8% of all movies that rank for the primary place. 


Variety of movies

Share amongst all of the movies on the identical place

Share amongst all of the movies with timestamps









































We might infer that for search rankings, timestamps don’t make a lot of a distinction. Nevertheless, this pattern predominantly incorporates shorter movies that don’t sometimes function timestamps. For longer movies, they will have rising significance.

With “how-to” key phrases, solely 4% of movies from our pattern have timestamps within the description. This quantity doesn’t change considerably with the place.

As for the “to add or not to add” query, since each watch time and engagement have equal significance when it comes to YouTube SEO, it’s all the time finest to experiment on this case and see how your rankings and different metrics change with or with out timestamps.

Tip: There isn’t any magic quantity when it comes to timestamps, however don’t go overboard. Be sure to checklist timestamps in chronological order (primarily based on the video’s timeline) and maintain the timestamp label to the purpose however descriptive.

Exploring YouTube SEO Specifics For “How-to” Key phrases vs. Different Key phrases

We analyzed 1,165 key phrases that begin with “how-to.” We selected “how-to” queries as a result of they often symbolize the academic intent and people movies folks principally discover from searches. So our assumption was that search optimization ought to be extra necessary for them than for different key phrases.

Listed here are the principle variations from the overall outcomes.

  1. Video length (in seconds)

For normal key phrases, the median video length was 16 minutes and 53 seconds, whereas it was at 7 minutes and 57 seconds for “how-to” key phrases. 

If the overall key phrases’ top-performing movies have been sometimes of a median size, within the “how-to” case, they’re on the longer finish of the spectrum. 

  1. Timestamp utilization

It might appear counterintuitive however in contrast to normal key phrases, extra educational-focused “how-to” search phrases set off fewer movies with timestamps. And the distinction of 2X is kind of dramatic.

  1. Variety of phrases within the description

The common variety of phrases in an outline for normal key phrases was 152 versus 107 phrases for “how-to” key phrases. 


Utilizing YouTube SEO Insights For Rising Our YouTube Channel

Over a 12 months in the past, we started optimizing our personal movies on the Semrush YouTube Channel. We launched the YouTube finetuning marketing campaign to higher tackle customers’ queries, in addition to to enhance our movies’ positions throughout YouTube’s search outcomes. 

Consequently, natural visitors to our movies grew by 37%.

Listed here are a number of the quickest tweaks that introduced the most important impression to our rankings and general channel’s efficiency: 

  • Added lengthy descriptions (at the very least 2,000 symbols, 400-600 phrases);
  • Used timestamps and tags in all of the movies (in our case, timestamps didn’t have an effect on watch instances and even positively affected our person engagement stats);
  • Added 2-3 primary key phrases in video titles to fulfill search intent.

On this video, we reveal our confirmed YouTube SEO suggestions. 

Closing Phrases

Now that you’re outfitted with data-driven insights from our YouTube SEO research and also have a heads up from our personal YouTube development expertise, right here’s a remaining guidelines to undergo when you begin your YouTube optimization journey:

  1. When contemplating competitors, do not let their channel dimension discourage you. With some key phrases, the variety of subscribers does not all the time matter. Focus extra on creating a high quality video that totally addresses a person’s question.
  1. Give your video the eye it deserves by sharing it throughout a number of social media channels (Twitter, Fb, Instagram, Pinterest, Quora).
  1. YouTube channel has robust engagement metrics. Be sure that the content material you add entices customers to have interaction by having a motivating intro and outro.
  1. Get artistic together with your titles to encourage customers to click on.
  1. It doesn’t matter what sort of video you’re importing, ensure you have an elaborate and compelling description. 
  1. Make the most of the ability of tags and hashtags and profit from your channel’s insights. Leverage what you may have full management of.
  1. Make the most of free instruments and chrome extensions, equivalent to Video Rank Tracker and vidIQ, that may make it easier to in YouTube rank monitoring, analytics, competitor scouting, and extra.

Video Rank Tracker

Sustain together with your YouTube rankings to your goal key phrases

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