YouTube Channel Optimization Guide

Youtube videos are more than just watching someone play video games and opinion pieces. It is a home for how-to videos and learning new things that you never thought were possible.

Youtube Channel Optimization Guide

YouTube viewers watch a lot of videos — over 6 BILLION hours a month at last count. But the average household also watches several hours of video per day on their TVs.

If you have something to say you can do this by creating your own channel and growing your subscribers. 

You can have users find your videos via Youtube searches and Google searches. 

I’ve put together a guide to help understand how to rank Youtube videos on Google. You will have the tips needed to get you started and recommendations from some online resources to help implement the Youtube SEO strategy. 

I am using a past client to walk you through the creation of the channel and everything you need to start ranking.

Youtube is the 2nd largest search engine behind the parent company Google. These tips will help with your strategy whenever you need to update your existing channel or if you are looking for new areas of opportunity.

Sometimes the client will ask us about ranking Youtube videos and it’s something that can generate plenty of search traffic if done correctly.

Source: Youtube Creators

Just like any task, it’s all about the setup process. Just like SEO, it takes time in implementing the strategy to get these videos to rank and deliver search traffic.

According to Google’s John Mueller, it is important to know that embedding videos won’t directly improve your rankings in Google SERPs. 

I personally believe that video views on embedded videos will improve your user engagement on your website and reduce bounce rate.

Youtube Ranking Factors:

YouTube has cited Audience Retention is one of its main ranking factors. In short, this is how long people watch your videos before exiting. 

The Audience Retention report analyzes the following: 

  1. Average view duration for all videos on your channel
  2. Top videos or channels listed by watch time
  3. Audience retention data for a specific video for different time frames
  4. Relative audience retention for a video compared to the YouTube average for similar videos

Additional Ranking Factors: 

  • Video comments
  • Subscribers – after watching a video
  • Video shares
  • Click-through rate
  • Thumbs up/Thumbs down

Source: Audience Retention

Sharing your videos on social profiles, email newsletters, embedded to the website, and even use the video as an outreach platform for other websites. 

Youtube Tools Keyword Research: 

  1. Keyword Everywhere Chrome/Firefox Extension
  2. VidIQ Vision
  3. TubeBuddy
  4. Google Keyword Planner
  5. Youtube search box
Youtube Search Bar

One mistake I see a lot of creators making is ranking for a keyword with very little traffic… I recommend choosing keywords with estimated searches of at least 1000 per month.

Optimizing The Videos

Video Title

The title of your video should be at least 5 words long. Keep titles concise (between 60 and 70 characters) with the most target keyword upfront. While there is no official character limit given by YouTube guidelines for titles, they do not get cut off in YouTube search results.

A strategy that hasn’t been flagged yet is intent modifiers: 

(e.g. best, compare, free, local (Irish, American, etc.), top, review, etc.)  


Your video description should also start with the keyword or keywords you want to target.

YouTube allows up to 5,000 characters in their description field, but the more concise and informational description, ranging from 300-350 words

  • Include your keyword in the first 25 words
  • Include your keyword 2-4 times throughout the description
  • Don’t Be Spammy

The description can also help drive relevant traffic to your website. Including a link to your domain within your video description can bring additional traffic to your site.

Again, the more concise content the better. 300-350 words works great for YouTube descriptions.

ALWAYS put a link to subscribe to your channel in your description. Try to use your main keyword at least 2 other times in the description outside of the first sentence.


URL to the client website or page that relates to the video topic can be added to the description in the first 155 characters.

You can add links to your different social media channels below or add links to the other videos in your channel.

Adding links to the other videos is like doing internal link building, you are trying to improve the rankings and engagement of your videos.


Add tags to help with keyword searches that are done on Youtube. Create tags that are based on your topic and are relevant to your targeted keyword.

Adding keywords to the video title, description, and tags are part of the core ranking factors. Make sure the very first tag matches the title’s main keyword that you put first.

Youtube title and description

Closed Captions

Adding closed captions will increase video rankability and is crawled by search engines.

You can use Youtube’s closed caption but make sure to review it and fix any text issues it may provide.

closed caption implementation

Add Chapters

Video walkthrough on how to add chapters to your videos. This is a newer feature I highly recommend using for your clients. 

The link below explains how to implement chapters to your videos. This will allow users to jump to certain sections of the video without having to skim through to find what they are looking for.

Video HD Quality

Having HD video quality will rank higher against low-quality videos. In my case, the client didn’t have many videos in HD and it could be because HD was something that was implemented later on.

Make sure any new videos that are uploaded are all HD quality. 

HD quality videos on Youtube

Thumbnail Optimization & Annotations

Custom thumbnails for the featured videos and annotations help increase:

  • Video CTR
  • Views
  • Shares 

The image should be of high quality over 640X360. It’s about visual appeal. Use Canva or Crello since the size is pre-generated by default. 

If your client is doing local SEO download a program like Exif Pilot Editor. Stuff the thumbnail image with Exif data as well as geotagging the image through this Exif editor.

If you are geotagging the image you need to find the latitude and longitude of the city. 

Simply enter into Google… “lat lng [CITY NAME] [STATE]”.

*No quotes and replace CITY NAME with the actual city and replace STATE with the actual state.

Also, the thumbnail metadata should be optimized with the main keyword. If it is a local client, the thumbnail image should be geo-tagged for the area where you are trying to rank.

Youtube Video Thumbnail

Annotations allow for highlighted text in a video.

Whether it’s notes or links it can help get the user to do other items on the site.

(NOTE: Annotations do not show up when someone is on a mobile device.)

Video Annotation

Share Your Videos:

Share the videos you create via your social media platforms to have your audience help increase your channel engagement.

Add link to video to an email signature.

Embed the video into your blog posts (helps reduce bounce rate to your post, increase engagement, and is relevant to the topic)

Youtube Channel Optimization

Channel Name, Branding, and Vanity URL

Proper channel branding that will reflect the brand. Colors, name, and consistency are key.

Gaining a vanity URL for your Youtube channel. A channel without a vanity URL will receive an unoptimized URL which will have a ton of random letters and numbers at the end. 


To create a custom URL for your channel, your account needs to:

  1. Have 100 or more subscribers.
  2. Be at least 30 days old.
  3. Have an uploaded photo as a channel icon.
  4. Have uploaded channel art. (This can also be created via Canva  or Crello as they have the size dimensions already preset)
Youtube Channel Branding

To create a custom URL for your client with the approved guidelines you can 

Click on the image on the right for the brand or headshot. Select Settings from the drop-down.

Youtube Channel Settings


Under Account Select Channel status and features.

Channel Status and Features

Under Status and Features, you are able to verify your account. Channel violations and Community Guidelines strikes. (3 chances)

You can enable and find out if you are eligible or ineligible to use certain features for your channel. It will provide you with information about each individual feature.

  • Uploading
  • Monetization
  • Live streaming
  • Embed live streams
  • Longer videos
  • Unlisted and private videos
  • Custom thumbnails
  • External annotations
  • Custom URL
  • Content ID appeals
  • Channel memberships
Youtube Status and Features section

Custom URL

Click on Advanced Settings and you can select the Custom URL after agreeing to the Terms of Service.

Custom URL

Proper Video File Name

If a client has a new video they want to add to YouTube make sure they name the file properly. Works the same way as naming a page or an image for optimization.

*Any older videos may be hard to change and may need to be reuploaded if it does not allow you to change them.

Youtube Studio Settings

Here is where you are going to spend most of your time. Once you click on Youtube Studio it will take you to the Channel dashboard where you can view the following: 

  • Upload A Video
  • Channel Analytics
    • Current Subscribers
    • Top videos
    • Summary: Last 28 days
  • Youtube News
  • Recent Subscribers
  • Latest Comments
  • Creator Insider
Youtube Studios Settings

After clicking on Youtube Studio on the left side you will select Settings

Youtube Channel dashboard

Branding Watermark

  • Under the user image select Youtube Studio
  • Click on Settings located on the left sidebar 
  • In Settings Under Channel select Branding

Adding a .png file with a transparent background is helpful and you can have it appear in the videos from any starting point or throughout the whole video. 

Channel Watermark

Advanced Settings

There are a few things you want to accomplish in Advanced settings located under Channel to help the overall channel. 

  1. Answer the question if the channel is for kids. You get the option of deciding to review this setting as each video is uploaded. 
  2. Link Google Ads account if the client is running Google Ads
    1. Linking AdWords. Can lead to Youtube AdWords campaign. (Upsell Opportunity)
  3. Select to show people subscribed to the channel
  4. Turn on Advertisements

Advertisements: Turning off interest-based advertising may result in fewer ads being eligible to show in your channel, and potentially less ad revenue.

Under Advanced Settings go to Other channel settings and click on Advanced Channel Settings

Youtube advanced channel settings

Advanced Channel Setting

You will find a lot of the items already addressed in the other settings area will repeat below. The Advanced Channel Settings is laid out to look similar to the old layout.

  1. Country.  Make sure the country is selected for where your target audience is located. (Sound Fighter is an American company so the United States is selected)
  2. Channel keywords are important as it provides Youtube with the idea of what it is you want to rank for. Start with your #1 keyword target and add from there.
  3. Advertisements must be unchecked. This is more so there is no outside promotion to take the client away.
  4. Link AdWords. If there is a Youtube account, link it. Can lead to Youtube AdWords campaign. (Upsell)
  5. Associate website. Helps establish brand authority in the Youtube search results. This will also allow you to insert a direct link to any page on the website with Cards.
associated website
  1. Channel Recommendations: Select allow your channel to appear in other channels. 
  2. Subscriber Counts: Select whether to display subscribers or not. (Recommend to show)
  3. Google Analytics. Make sure analytics is added for tracking. It is the last item on the list.
  4. Click Save and Return to Youtube Studio

Channel Description & Links

This is the user side of your Youtube Channel. The changes you make here will reflect what the users see. Click on Customize Channel to get started.

Youtube customized channel

Under Home

You can add a New Visitor video and a Returning Subscribers video. The video you select will be from your list of videos. Selecting or creating the right one for your audience is important. 

video for returning subscribers


This is where you are able to view all of your current videos. One of many upload options throughout Youtube. 


The playlist is where you will be able to create groups of videos for your client to watch if there is a certain topic you created multiple videos for. They are like categories when creating your playlists.

Channel playlist

We discuss Playlists even more below.


This is if you are featuring other channels in your industry. This is good for resources that are relevant to your client. Do not add competitors, it is just counterintuitive.


If turned on it will display comments left on your channel.


Here is where you will update the following: 

  • Description

The first 100-150 characters of your channel show a snippet of the channel search result. This is the first part of the description that users read. Avoid keyword stuffing and write descriptions that would entice someone to subscribe. Include a handful of your most important keywords throughout the description.

Have a call to action at the end asking for the person to subscribe.

  • Email for inquiries
  • Location
  • Links to the website and social media channels

Additional Channel Settings

Click on the Settings Gear under your links.

youtube channel settings customize channel

In this Channel Settings you will find the following: 


You can keep your subscriptions private and your saved playlist private. Each individual playlist that a user sees can have public or private settings.

Customize the layout of your channel

Recommended for people who upload videos regularly. Add a channel trailer, suggest content for your subscribers, and organize all your videos and playlists into sections.

Show discussion tab

Allows users to comment on your channel. 

Translate info

Reaching audience in different countries.

Create Playlists

Create different playlists that cover a variety of topics that the business offers. Users can watch them continuously without searching or leaving your channel. This is similar to creating service pages on your client’s website.

youtube playlist setup

Share Your Youtube Channel

Have the client share the link to their Youtube channel with their audience on social media, their website, and email marketing campaign. 


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