What’s the second most-used search engine in the world?

Nope, not Bing. Or DuckDuckGo. Certainly not Yahoo, AltaVista or AskJeeves. 

The second most-used search engine in the world is YouTube. Over 2.5 billion users visit the site per month, and people watch over a billion hours of video on the platform every day.

It’s no surprise that brands are looking to connect with an audience on YouTube. But the sheer size of the site — and the algorithms that govern it — can make it hard to be seen.

Here’s a quick guide to help your channel make the grade.

Keys to an effective YouTube SEO strategy

As with any content marketing, a great video SEO strategy takes great content. Make sure that the video content you’re producing is relevant to your audience, offers genuine value, and meets the specific intent of the keywords you’re targeting. It doesn’t need to be a Hollywood-grade production, but should cast your brand as credible and worth remembering.

When you’re ready to upload that killer content and start racking up views, keep these elements in mind.

Optimize the video title

A title is just as important to a YouTube video as a headline is for your blog posts. Treat your title the same way. The goal is to entice people to press play and clearly identify your subject matter for the search algorithm.

Aim for specific and quantifiable value for the best result. For example, consider these two titles:

  • New trends in B2B automation
  • Make your invoicing more efficient with these B2B automation tips

The first title is short and it has our keyword (B2B automation). But it’s too vague — it doesn’t tell me what I’m going to get for my time investment. You could get even more granular, depending on the audience: “Save 10 hours of accounting time with B2B Automation.”

To avoid having your title truncated, aim for 75 characters or less. The descriptive second title above is only 65 characters, so you have more room than you think.

Optimize the description

YouTube offers a generous 5,000 characters for the description field. But it doesn’t offer a guarantee that anyone will read to the bottom. It’s a good idea to be thorough in your description, including links and time stamps, but don’t feel like you need to fill space. And definitely don’t feel like you need to shoehorn in more keywords!

For long videos, your description should include:

  • A one-sentence quick description
  • A one-paragraph summary
  • Timestamps for each topic you cover
  • Links to other relevant content
  • Links to your brand’s social media
  • Hashtags (more on that later)

For shorter videos, a quick summary may be all you need. It shouldn’t take longer to read the description than it does to watch the video.

Add hashtags

Hashtags on YouTube work the same way as they do on X, Facebook or Instagram: They are intended to help people find content on a specific topic. For YouTube, it’s best not to do an Instagram-style deluge of hashtags #wokeuplikethis #marketerlife #B2B5eva #Hashtag. 

Stick to the two or three most relevant terms related to your topic, and include them in your description and (if there’s room) the tail end of your title. 

Choose a category and add tags

When you upload new content, YouTube gives the option to add it to an existing category. Don’t pass up that drop-down box; it’s one way that the search engine knows what your video is about.

YouTube tags are the other crucial add-on that can help your video show up in search. You can select these tags when you’re uploading video, or edit the video’s details to add them after the fact. 

It’s important to include both hashtags and YouTube tags for each video. Hashtags only apply to the hashtag search, while YouTube tags inform the results for every search on the site. Keep the tags short and descriptive, and aim for 3-5 total. One easy way to know what tags are most relevant for your audience: Check the tags on your competitors’ videos.

Organize your content

Once you have a decent content library built up, it’s important to organize it for both human and algorithmic browsers. YouTube offers a robust set of tools for organizing your channel’s home page and it’s worth exploring them all.

If you have multiple videos on the same topic, make a playlist to group them together. That way if someone finds one video, they’re more likely to be recommended the next one (and the next and the next).

Add eye-catching thumbnails 

A compelling thumbnail won’t help the algorithm find your video, but it will help your offering stand out in a search. It’s just as important to get humans to click on your video as it is to show up in search results.

When choosing a thumbnail, make sure it:

  • Accurately depicts the content
  • Includes the topic as in-image text

In other words, if your video is about B2B automation, don’t make your thumbnail about hilarious skydiving fails. An eye-catching thumbnail is only useful if it makes a promise the content can keep.

Take that, radio star!

Video content has been a rising star for B2B, and it’s only going to get more popular. YouTube makes it easy for your brand to upload and host content—but it’s up to you to make sure the content gets seen.

With great content and a solid SEO strategy, you’ll be ready to rock the world’s second-biggest search engine.

Need help with your SEO? Request a free site SEO scorecard.

About the author

Joshua Nite is dedicated to bringing humanity, empathy, and humor to content marketing. His two ironclad rules: Never settle for commodity content, and never write anything you wouldn’t want to read. Great writing takes heart, soul, guts and rhythm. Josh is also the once and future Pundamonium Pun Slam champion, a stand-up comedian and storyteller, and is getting pretty good at electric guitar. His only weakness: Extreme self-consciousness when writing about himself in the third person.