YouTube SEO 2024: How to Optimize YouTube Videos for Maximum Views & Subscribers

YouTube SEO 2024: How to Optimize Your Videos for Maximum Views & Subscribers

With over 2 billion monthly active users on YouTube in 2020, and 500 hours of video content being uploaded every minute, the competition for views and gaining subscribers is increasingly fierce.

That’s why optimizing your YouTube videos for search has never been more important. Mastering YouTube SEO best practices can help rank your videos higher in both YouTube and Google search results. This leads to more views, subscribers, and even potential customers for your business.

In this article we’ll explore the latest YouTube SEO tactics and recommendations for 2024, so you can get more eyes on your vide content this year.

The Importance of YouTube SEO

Over 70% of YouTube watch time comes from its recommendation engine. But the remaining 30% comes directly from YouTube search and suggested videos. So no matter how you slice up the 100% of watch time, YouTube SEO is crucial to the success of your channel!

Optimizing your video content for discovery on YouTube and Google is critical for driving more consistent traffic. Especially when you’re just starting out and lack authority on the platform.

YouTube SEO helps your videos rank for relevant search queries so they appear ahead of competitors in search results. This process works very similar to Google SEO.

The higher your videos rank both on YouTube and Google, the more impressions and traffic they’ll get from people searching for topics covered in your videos.

YouTube SEO 2024: Key Factors to Optimize

The YouTube algorithm is complex with over 200+ ranking factors. But optimizing these few key areas can give your videos a better chance to rank higher in 2024:

● Video Title & Description
● Custom Thumbnails
● Tags
● Watch Time
● Authority & Links
● Subtitles & Transcripts

Let’s look at each factor more closely…

Optimize Video Titles for Clicks

Your video’s title is a critical ranking factor. It appears in search results as the main clickable link that viewers will see.

Follow these YouTube best practices for titles:

● Put your target keyword first in the title
● Keep titles between 60-70 characters
● Use emotional keywords like “best” “ultimate” “how to” etc.
● End titles with strong calls to action

Research competitor videos and leverage tools like VidIQ or TubeBuddy to identify what popular titles in your niche contain.

The goal is to pique viewer interest and get them to click. Short, descriptive, emotional titles work best. When crafting a title zoom in on the purpose of the video and it’s value proposition with laser precision.

Write Compelling Video Descriptions

The second most important on-page factor is your video description.

While not as critical for click-through-rate from search, descriptions do impact watch time and overall rankings.

Follow these YouTube SEO tips for descriptions in 2024:

● Put target keyword first
● Include a succinct overview of the video in first 2 lines
● Use bullet points of timestamps to make it skimmable
● End with a strong call to action – like comment, subscribe etc.

The goal is to provide viewers added context so they fully watch your content once clicking in from search results or suggested videos.

Create Custom Thumbnails That Pop

Your video thumbnail appears right next to titles on the YouTube search results page.

Eye catching custom thumbnails can improve click-through-rate substantially. They act as second visual “titles” to your videos.

Follow these thumbnail design tips:

● Use contrasting background colors that stand out like red, yellow or green
● Make sure central focus point is clear & not too busy
● Include human facial reactions or expressions
● Leverage bright colors, numbers and arrows to draw attention

Services like make it easy to create stunning YouTube thumbnails optimized to perform well in search.

Tag Videos Appropriately

Adding relevant metadata tags to videos serves multiple purposes:

  1. Tags help classify your content so the algorithm can determine topic accuracy
  2. Ranking for target tags means more impressions from searches
  3. Tags associated with higher advertiser spending monetize better

Be sure to include a good mix of primary, secondary and long tail keywords based on search volume and intent. You can identify these with keyword research.

Tools like VidIQ or TubeBuddy can also help suggest related tags that are ranking videos in your niche already. Aim for a minimum of 5-10 highly relevant tags per video.

Optimize Watch Time Metrics

YouTube wants to keep viewers engaged on the platform to maximize ad revenue. So videos that sustain higher audience retention tend to rank better long term.

There are two key watch time metrics to improve for overall YouTube SEO value:

● Average Percentage Viewed: Make content skimmable & valuable from start to end.

● Average View Duration: Aim for above 60% viewer retention on average per video.

Consider adding in-video CTAs to comment and subscribe to improve these metrics over time.

Build Authority with Links & Shares

Like Google algorithm updates over the past few years, YouTube also increasingly factors “authority” into search rankings.

Higher authority YouTube channels trend to rank better than lower authority channels for competitive keywords.

A few ways to build authority with YouTube SEO are:

● Get backlinks to channel homepage from high authority domains
● Promote videos on social media to generate embeds
● Have creator or company featured as guests on influencer channels
● Request press mentions on leading industry publications

While harder to control, increasing online authority indicators both on and off YouTube can improve search visibility substantially if leveraged appropriately.

Add Transcripts & Translated Subtitles

Over 75% of YouTube videos are now watched on mobile globally. And not all viewers watch videos with sound enabled.

Adding closed caption transcripts and translated subtitles to videos can have multiple benefits:

● Expanded reach to non english reading viewers
● Google indexes subtitles & transcripts increasing keywords
● Easier skimming for users & higher watch time

Platforms like or services from YouTube themselves make it easy to implement.

Focus on translating your top performing videos first to reach wider audiences with YouTube SEO.


As YouTube continues evolving both the platform and it’s algorithm in 2024, creators need to stay up to date on best practices that can increase video views, subscribers and revenue.

Optimizing custom thumbnails, watch time metrics and overall production quality coupled with strong YouTube SEO is key.

Consistently publish videos focused on what brings viewers the most value while expanding reach and you’ll find growing success on the world’s second largest search engine.

Stay tuned for more YouTube success tips as the platform crosses over 3 billion logged in users next year. The opportunities have never been bigger.

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