YouTube SEO: How to Rank YouTube Videos in 2021

Once considered an option or “nice to have” for marketers, having an active YouTube channel is quickly becoming essential for brands across industries. In 2020, the already-prevalent video platform saw a dramatic spike in the number of published videos and the amount of content consumed.

YouTube has released some statistics for 2020. Most notable is the fact that every month, over 2 billion users log into the platform. That number doesn’t account for viewers who watch videos and never log into accounts. It translates to billions of hours of video watched every day, and 500 hours of content uploaded every minute.

If your brand already has a YouTube channel, you know how challenging it can be to stand out from the crowd. Even so, it’s more important than ever to prioritize YouTube SEO in your marketing strategy.

In 2021, brands should focus on optimizing their YouTube channel as part of their overall social media marketing strategy. As the second most prominent search engine, YouTube relies on keywords and an algorithm to help users find the type of video content they are looking for.

Here are some ideas for how to rank your YouTube videos in 2021 so you can stand out from the rest of the noise that lives on the platform.


YouTube SEO Tips

These SEO YouTube tips can help you consistently deliver informative and engaging video content to your followers as you grow your audience.


Start a YouTube Channel with SEO in Mind

Optimizing your YouTube channel starts at the beginning. It’s relatively easy to set up a YouTube channel. Don’t just create one and skip all the details.

It’s important to take the time to craft your description using relevant keywords to help you rank in search results. The algorithm also relies on keywords and other factors to pull videos into the “Suggested Video” column. This can be an excellent way for you to reach a broader audience interested in your topic.

Keywords are essential for optimizing your channel and videos. Make sure you are using keywords that are relevant to your audience without going overboard. Having too many keywords can make it difficult for the algorithm to figure out what your channel is about. Aim for 5 – 7 keywords or keyword phrases for your channel, and use the same criteria when choosing each video’s keywords. Put your primary keywords in your title to help people find it when they search.

Don’t panic if you don’t know how to figure out which keywords to use! There are a lot of helpful tools you can use to figure out keywords. A few to try include Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, Tube Buddy, vidIQ Vision, and Tubics. You can also search YouTube using one or two keywords you are considering to see what phrases auto-populate in the search box.


Create Great Content

SEO is about much more than just having great keywords. There are over a dozen elements that factor into your ranking, probably more.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the details. Instead, focus on creating content that speaks to your audience. Each video should be engaging to keep viewers interested. Make sure to use a video editor, so your videos look professional, even if you are shooting them in the closet with your iPhone. A few video editors to try include Final Cut Pro, Fastreel, and Lightworks.

Like Google, YouTube’s algorithm rewards content that people want to see. The algorithm takes a lot into account, including how many views a video gets, how many likes it gets, how frequently videos get posted on a channel, and how many subscribers a channel has.

The technical SEO things, like using the right keywords and tags, will help you get viewers and subscribers as much as publishing professional-quality videos will. All of these elements go hand-in-hand.


Optimize Your Channel

There are a few other technical areas to cover when optimizing your YouTube channel to help your channel rank.

First, use a strong title that conveys what the video is about using keywords. Next, use a custom thumbnail for every video. (YouTube will need to verify you as a user for this.) If you aren’t verified, that’s OK. You should still use an attractive thumbnail. The thumbnail is arguably more important than the title. If people see an image that conveys that the video will be boring or uninteresting, they’ll keep scrolling.

Finally, write a description for your video using keywords. This is a critical step many people miss. Use the most important keywords and include a link to your website before the “read more” button. Use additional space to give more insight into the video and your brand. YouTube allows you to write up to 5,000 words. While you may not need to fill that entire space, you should aim for at least 300 words. Make sure to add relevant tags as well. However, efforts mean nothing without measurable results. Therefore, it is equally important to measure your progress as you go. This is where you will need a YouTube rank checker, to help you receive instant ranking updates with real-time data and tweak your approach wherever necessary. At large, it saves you from indefinite trials and errors by taking the guesswork out of the equation.

Your YouTube videos should all end with a call to action to encourage viewers to subscribe. Be obvious about it, and don’t worry about repeating the same message every time.


Be Consistent

Once your channel is created, use it! One of the elements that determine ranking is the frequency of video posts. If you are only using your YouTube channel every once in a while, make posting more consistently in 2021 a key component of your video marketing strategy.

Track your rankings and make sure to keep an eye on comments and feedback. Receiving and responding to comments can also boost your rankings. Reading comments is a great way to see what your audience enjoys and can help guide your strategy so you can continue to deliver content your audience wants to see.



Optimizing your YouTube channel comes down to creating content people want to see and using the right balance of keywords to help them find it. Use these best practices to rank higher on YouTube and other search engines, and make sure to check out all the tools available to help your social media marketing strategy.

Apply these tips to your content strategy in 2021 to generate brand awareness and build your following.

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