How To Optimize Your YouTube Channel

How To Optimize Your YouTube Channel

By Dave GrendzynskiJul 23 /2020

If you’re in the business of creating videos, you should have a properly optimized YouTube channel to make sure your videos aren’t all for naught. But what exactly does an optimized YouTube channel look like and how do you apply optimizations to your channel?

There are so many channels that rely on things like a creative YouTube channel name or a random funny cat video to get views, but it takes more than that. And the good thing is once you do all of the upfront work on your channel, you can sit back and watch it grow.

With over a billion unique YouTube visitors per month, there is a large potential audience for every video you upload. So, let’s take a look at some of the strategies you can apply to your channel and the best ways to optimize your YouTube channel for SEO.

10 Strategies to Optimize Your YouTube Channel

  1. Use keywords in your titles and descriptions
  2.  Add a transcription in the description field
  3. Say the keyword in the video
  4. Add hyperlinked citations for Key Moments
  5. Create impactful thumbnails
  6. Include related tags and hashtags
  7. Add cards to cross-promote
  8. Utilize end screens as calls-to-action
  9. Keep it organized with playlists
  10. Add accurate closed captions

Use Keywords in Your Titles and Descriptions

Video titles are extremely important for Google searches. But it’s not the cool, funny name you came up with for your YouTube video that search engines care about. It’s keywords.

Your title should include a keyword that will help you rank on Google. You can produce a high-quality video, but if your title doesn’t include a keyword, it may not get the views you want. But make sure to optimize your titles for keywords that fit naturally into a title and tell your viewers exactly what they're about to see.

For individual videos, try going after long-tail keyword phrases, which are more specific. For example, “digital marketing for small businesses” would be a more targeted keyword phrase than just optimizing for “digital marketing.”

Your video descriptions are also critical. And don’t forget to include keywords here. Make sure it’s at least 250 words. This is all critical for YouTube SEO because people search on YouTube, just like they do Google, except they’re looking for video content as opposed to a blog.

Also, an optimized description helps you show up in the suggested videos sidebar, which is a significant source of views for most channels. If you have a transcript of your video, you should include it in the description. It’s also a great place to add links to your website, other channels, and anything else you want to drive traffic to.

And remember that your targeted keyword should appear in the title, description, tags and transcript.

Add a Transcript to the Description Field

Speaking of the transcript, be sure to add it to the description field as well. According to Google, transcripts are a simple way of creating captions. And if your transcript is naturally keyword-optimized for your topic, it’s great fuel for YouTube SEO.

You can enter a transcript directly in your video or follow the steps that Google provides to create a transcript file.  After you've created your file, follow the instructions to upload it to your video.

Say Your Keyword In Your Video

Your targeted keyword should appear in the title, description, tags, and in your transcript. You can use marketing analytics software like SEMrush to help find your keyword, or Keyword Tool for YouTube.

Add Hyperlinked Citations for Key Moments

Kuno Creative's SEO and Demand Generation Manager Brendan Bowers wrote a great blog on this topic not too long ago.  The “key moments” feature is designed to help searchers quickly find content within a video, based on timestamps provided within the video's description.

Here's the example Brendan used in his blog. A timestamp is given to each topic that is referred to in the video. It helps to make your video more "viewer-friendly" because if you click on 0:56 it takes you right to the “microphones” portion of the video. The same thing will happen with regards to “boom arm” when you click on 2:11, “shock mount” when you click 2:28, etc.

Kuno Blog - Google has just added key moments for videos in search results

Create Impactful Thumbnails

Getting potential viewers to read your titles and descriptions is important, but you can help the cause by creating impactful thumbnails. Custom thumbnails are typically the way to go. YouTube will provide you with a few suggestions, but creating (even a screenshot from the video) and uploading a custom thumbnail is not difficult. Think “eye-catching.”

Also, be sure to have your title and thumbnail work together to tell a compelling story.


Include Related Tags and Hashtags

Another thing you’ll want to include in your descriptions is hashtags. When you think of YouTube content, hashtags may not come to mind, but they’re also part of a strategy you can employ to build viewership on your channel.

Hashtags on YouTube work like other social media platforms (for example, Twitter and Facebook). When you click on a hashtag, it takes you to other posts that also use that same hashtag.

Add hashtags to your description and be sure to add tags in the tag box after uploading your

Look for keyword variations with less competition so you can stand out from the crowd.

Add Cards to Cross-Promote

Cards are a great way to cross-promote. You can place up to five cards in each of your videos and each will promote your videos or your playlists. It entices the viewer to check out more of your content while they watch your videos.


Utilize End Screens as Calls-to-Action

An end screen (also referred to as an “end card” or “endslate”) is a YouTube feature that appears in the last 5-20 seconds of a video. YouTubers can use their end screen to promote videos, playlists, merchandise and external websites.

Consider it your call-to-action.


Keep It Organized with Playlists

First, playlists organize your content into themes where a visitor can have a pleasant experience finding and watching content that is centralized around a single thought or vision.

Additionally, linking similar relevant videos into a single playlist helps with SEO and gives your channel a cleaner look. You can rearrange the playlists to make your channel look more organized as well and rank in order of importance.

Add Accurate Closed Captions

Including accurately captioned videos will help rank your videos higher because search engines can crawl the caption text. The simplest solution to getting closed-caption text is to send your videos to a professional video transcription service or you can upload your own file.

Additional benefits to including closed captions for your videos include:

  • Better user engagement: A study performed by YouTube revealed that captioned videos earn 4% more views
  • Video accessibility: Viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing are now able to access your video content
  • Added credibility: Decreases your risk of being labeled as spam and losing search rank for your whole YouTube channel

Putting These YouTube Channel Tactics To The Test

I couldn’t tell you how to promote your YouTube channel without trying some of these tactics out first. So I implemented all of these strategies on the Kuno Creative YouTube channel. This was actually a good test because our channel needed a facelift. Even I am astonished by the results.

Here’s the stat line from the first 90 days after I optimized the channel.


Not only did our channel see more views and unique views, but impressions and click-through rate went through the roof.

An impression is counted when a video thumbnail is shown to someone on YouTube. Impressions are only counted if the thumbnail is shown for more than one second and at least 50% of the thumbnail is visible on the screen. This goes back to creating thumbnails people will stop for.

When it comes to click-through rate and YouTube Watch Time, more is better. YouTube rewards you when you improve these two numbers. Ours is up over 266% since the optimization.

Where To Start

These are some simple optimization and promotion strategies and techniques that you can use from today onward for your YouTube videos. These tricks and tips will surely help you get a lot more traffic, and ultimately, more YouTube subscribers. Doing a lot of this leg work upfront will allow you to move on to other things and get more return on your video marketing investment.

But it doesn’t mean you can “set it and forget it.” You have to ensure that you’re keeping a consistent posting schedule and making sure your videos (not just your channel) are optimized when you put them up.

If you’d like to learn more about how to promote your YouTube channel and other strategies that can help get your videos noticed, schedule a free consultation today. We can talk about making a YouTube optimization strategy part of your video marketing plan.Video Marketing

The Author

Dave Grendzynski

Dave uses the skills that won him three Emmy Awards as a television news producer to create compelling content for our clients. Dave honed his email, blog and social media writing skills in the Corporate Communications Department at Cleveland Clinic.