How To Rank Your Video On YouTube

Ranking your videos on YouTube is not just about traditional SEO but instead about the quality of your content and how your viewers interact with it. This article introduces some ideas to help you to produce content that your viewers will want to see and that YouTube will want to put in front of its users.

When you created your first video, you probably put everything into it. You did your best with the shooting, you worked hard to get the lighting right, you wrote a script that everyone you showed it loved – everything you could do, you did the best you could. Then you uploaded it to YouTube and… crickets.

No views, no subscriptions, when you checked rankings for the search terms you created tags for your video might as well have not existed. That’s not what you did this for. Every video is designed to be seen by the audience that you targeted.

So, what went wrong? Or more particularly, what can you do to make your videos visible to the millions of people using YouTube every day?

Today I am going to share seven tips to get you started on creating content that will be seen by your audience, and that will help you to grow your online business. Of course, in a brief article we can only touch the surface, but if you would like to see more in-depth coverage of some of these points, please let me know in the comments.

  1. Work on your video content:
  2. Generate a fresh idea:
  3. Make short videos:
  4. Keep them watching:
  5. Optimize for YouTube Suggest and Browse:
  6. Increase your subscribers:
  7. BONUS TIP: Use YouTube Creators Academy[i]

YouTube makes no secret of the importance of engagement and retention in ranking videos on its platform. They do not want to suggest videos to their audience that other viewers have not found interesting. This means that all the suggestions I am making to you to increase your ranking, in one way or another, all relate to providing content that people will view from beginning to end.

Here’s what YouTube has to say:

“When viewers enjoy a video, they generally watch it to the end. Your goal is to keep audience retention as close to 100% as possible. Analyzing which videos have consistently high audience retention and watch time can help you understand which content best matches viewers’ interests.”[ii]

  1. Work On Your Video Content – It is a cliché, but content is STILL king. Great video content catches the audience’s attention and doesn’t let go. Attention-grabbing content gets likes and subscribers because people are hungry for content that answers their questions and interests them. YouTube rewards this kind of material by offering it to viewers through the suggestions and browse tools that lead to the majority of video views.
  2. Provide Fresh Ideas – Don’t create content just because somebody else has done it and been successful. YouTube success doesn’t come by following others. It is undoubtedly true that there’s nothing new under the sun, but your content should reflect your ideas, your knowledge and your style. Put your spin on the content you create, make sure that your subscribers can identify the content as being yours by the style and presentation.
  3. Keep Your Videos Short – Many YouTube creators suggest that 10 minutes is a sweet spot for video length. Because of YouTube’s reliance upon engagement and retention you need to make sure that your videos are short enough that your audience does not stop watching before the video is ended. You only have a short time to catch and hold the audience attention, don’t waste it.

Best strategy? Start out by making very short videos and monitor the retention. Increase the length as you find you are creating content that holds your viewers’ attention for longer periods. This strategy conflicts with another of YouTube’s metrics called Total Watch Time (TWT) which is another important ranking factor. Under TWT, longer videos will tend to rank better; however, when starting out, you need to make sure that you are keeping your audience throughout the video so you should get that aspect right before starting to make your videos longer.

  1. Keep Them Watching – Once again, back to audience retention. When you look at your audience retention charts for your videos, you will see that there are peaks and troughs throughout the video.[iii] Go back to your videos and see what you were doing in the video at the points where audience retention peaks and double down on these positive aspects. At the same time analyse the troughs, see what drove viewers away and stop doing it! You can see this vital information and other metrics from within YouTube Studio.[iv]
  2. Optimize for YouTube Suggest and Browse – Unlike Google and other major search engines YouTube views tend to come not as the result of search enquiries but from YouTube’s Suggest and Browse tools. Some networks report that 40%, and more, of their views, come from YouTube’s suggested videos, and that certainly reflects my own usage. I might enter a search term to launch a session, but then I will watch the suggested videos to dive into the topic. The same goes for more casual sessions where I rarely use search.

Optimizing for suggestions means paying attention to making videos that engage the audience, encourage the audience to take actions such as liking and sharing, optimize the titles by speaking the words used in the title in the video content, and keep viewers watching rather than tuning out. YouTube wants people to stay on the platform for as long as possible, and so they reward videos that serve that function.

  1. Increase your subscribers – YouTube will always reward content creators who are able to create content that generates new subscribers. Subscribers will return to your channel and content to watch, share, and like your content. As your videos garner more views, they will rise through the search rankings and appear more prominently in suggested content.

Some people try to take shortcuts and buy subscribers, but this can be counterproductive as these subscribers will not interact with your content and thus decrease other possibly even more critical ranking metrics. However, you should always ask your viewers to subscribe and like your content. Nowadays ask them to click on the red bell symbol under your videos so that they get notified of your newest content.


YouTube wants it’s content creators to serve the platform well. To this end, YouTube has introduced the YouTube Creators Academy.[v] The Creators Academy,,  will teach you how to make the most of your YouTube videos with a series of courses and lessons designed to show you best practice in content creation and promotion. Everything is free of charge, and although the lessons are structured to be taken in order, you can also search for relevant content if you have immediate problems to solve.

Not So Much About SEO!

This article has not been so much about old fashioned SEO. I have not concentrated upon the keyword analysis, use of search terms in the content and the like because although YouTube is now the second largest search engine the biggest bang for your buck in ranking terms is going to come from optimizing the way that your viewers perceive your content and interact with it. No amount of keyword research will replace content that viewers find boring or irrelevant!

This article is only a brief overview of some ideas for ranking your YouTube content. Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments. Do you disagree with some of the ideas shared above? Did I miss something vital? Please let me know!






What Are The Best Ways to Rank Your Videos On YouTube?
March 18, 2019