Back in 2005, there was a single video uploaded on YouTube. This video was titled “Me at the zoo” and shot by Jawed Karim – co-founder of Youtube. It has been viewed over 85 million times as of February 2020.

Nowadays, YouTube is the second largest search platform after Google. More and more people upload their videos, create channels, and earn solid money using this video resource, proving that leveraging YouTube videos for your company can have some major benefits.

Nevertheless, there is still one burning question. “How do you rank YouTube videos on Google?” Let’s find the answer to this question with help from this guide!

YouTube as a Powerful Business Platform 

The modern business era is dynamic and quite competitive. It dictates its own rules on how you should run your business and stay on your audience’s radar. And with such a saturated market, it is especially hard for small businesses to meet the competition. 

Why? Because there are common problems that small businesses face, which are unique and trying. They have to focus on hiring the right professionals to create a team, product development, spreading brand awareness, finding potential customers, etc. These obstacles make it incredibly hard for them to succeed past the first few years. Even if they gain their footing and solidify it with a base of loyal customers, they’re not totally out of the woods. 

As you can see, small businesses have their hands full. Luckily, there are tools like Google and Youtube that can aid their efforts of putting their product or service in front of potential customers, which is arguably their biggest struggle.

Here are a few core benefits of using YouTube to market your small business:

  • Videos are great at inspiring people to take action.
  • You can utilize YouTube ads to reach an even bigger audience.
  • After watching a video, users are more likely to buy a product online.
  • YouTube will expose you to a huge audience.
  • You can repurpose YouTube videos into written content, infographics, white papers, or webinars.
  • It’s another way to drive traffic back to your site.
  • It will help people find your business when searching online

Understand the Basics of YouTube’s Search Engine Algorithm 

Before we start digging into how to rank your YouTube videos on Google, we must understand the basics of how YouTube’s search engine algorithm works. 

The YouTube Creator Academy says:

Like Google’s search engine, search on YouTube strives to surface the most relevant results according to keyword queries. Videos are ranked based on a variety of factors including how well the title, description, and video content match the viewer’s query. Beyond that, we look at which videos have driven the most engagement for a query.

The driver for drawing attention to your video is effectively matching search intent. In other words, you must optimize your video by researching keywords that would align with what your audience is searching on YouTube and using them when uploading your video.

Also, note that it is critically important to drive more engagement to your video content. The more views your video has, the more advertisements are shown, and the more money you will get in return. This engagement is measured with a few metrics like average watch time, click-through-rate, likes (or dislikes), and comments. 

If these metrics have a low level of performance, it will affect your ability to rank well on YouTube. Consequently, you can forget about your videos ranking on Google as well. 

Now, let’s discuss the steps you should take to get your YouTube content to rank on Google. 

1. Identify Traffic Potential for Your Video Content Topics 

You might be surprised, but some videos on YouTube with millions of views have no keywords to rank for on Google. For example, the video, “Top Smartest People Ever” has 1,832,096 views:

But it has not one organic keyword to rank for on Google:

How does this happen?

It happens because nobody searches for this video on Google, and the topic of the video doesn’t have intent. People prefer to watch a video that covers the subject instead of reading about it. 

To avoid this issue, you should always identify the topics that would align with a “video intent” and Google’s search queries. 

Let me show you how this works by using the search query, “how to tune a guitar.”


Google always tries to provide users with the information they need, and in many cases, video content is the best option. However, how do you find those topics with “video intent?”

You can do this with the help of the Content Explorer tool and the following formula: inurl:watch title:topic

Sort the results by using the “Organic traffic” filter and pay attention to those videos that have the highest traffic value. 

Now let’s talk about how to optimize your video content properly. 

2. Create and Optimize Your Video

Optimizing your content is an important step in any content creation process. Content that is optimized makes your website’s pages more attractive to search engines and users, and it elevates the overall quality of your content. The same applies to video content. 

The hard fact is that people’s tastes differ. It’s hard to know how to create a video that most people would like. A good rule of thumb is to try and get your videos to rank under the “suggested clips” feature:

To get your video featured under “suggested clips” on Google, you must write down each step in your video. For instance, if your video is about how to change the strings on an acoustic guitar, you should explain and list out all the steps you cover in the video. Don’t use unnecessary words, if possible, as that will delude Google’s algorithms. 

Once that step is completed, double check your video’s audio to ensure there’s no background noise, and everything can be heard clearly.

3. Pay Attention to Closed Captions in Your Video

Have you ever noticed grammatical errors when you’re reading closed captions (CC) on some YouTube videos? YouTube ads closed captions to videos, but they are not always correct, which is why you should revise their suggestions where necessary. Benefits of doing so include:

  • Allowing people who are watching your video in a noisy or crowded place to understand what you’re talking about. When the sound is off, closed captions clearly indicate what the video is about, which leads to increased video engagement and positive ranking on search engine results pages.
  • Closed captions help Google understand your video as well. And when Google understands your video, it aids in ranking it appropriately. 

4. Use Enticing Thumbnails

When it comes to creating a video thumbnail, you should try to make it engaging, especially if you want to get clicks from Google. To make sure your video thumbnails are on-the-mark, remember these five rules:

  • Create a custom thumbnail that will attract viewers.
  • Follow the correct aspect ratio. Google displays thumbnails in the 16:9 format.
  • Apply contextual images.
  • Don’t use bland colors. Stick to bright, eye-catching colors.
  • Add descriptive text for video thumbnails.

5. Use Timestamps and Labels Correctly

Google can show “key moments” of YouTube videos in search results, which allow viewers to easily scan a video to determine if it has the content they’re looking for or not. What’s more, Google Search enables these clips based on YouTube video descriptions. So, to get the video’s “key moments” shown, you must mark the important parts of your video in the YouTube description. Hence, you must use “labels” and “timestamps.”

Here is an example of how it should be done:

To make sure that your labels and timestamps are added properly, you should consider the following suggestions:

  • Timestamps should be placed in the video description, but not in the comment section. 
  • Timestamps and labels must be placed in the same new line.
  • Keep each label short and descriptive.
  • Follow the timestamps chronology.
  • Labels must be around 40 characters, maximum.
  • Don’t overdo with the timestamps. Google won’t show a large number of them.
  • On-screen content must reflect what each timestamp says.

6. Practical Tips for Getting More Traffic with Video Content

Now it is time to talk about YouTube SEO specifically and how you can get more traffic from Google with the help of your YouTube video content.

There are two pieces of advice to consider:

  • Don’t shy away from adding the embed code for videos on ranking pages. If you click on the “Videos” tab in Google search, you will see that there are two types of results:
  • Relevant YouTube videos
  • Pages from the organic results with video embeds 


If someone clicks on the second result in a “videos” tab, it will redirect to the website, not the YouTube channel. 

To find the pages that are the best place to embed your video, use Google Search Console, and figure out what pages drive more traffic:

Then embed a topic-related video on this page for optimal results. 

  • Use schema markup. Doing so allows your content to be displayed as a video-rich result. However, if the video is hosted directly on YouTube, Google will show a video-rich result even if there is no VideoObject schema markup applied. 

The post below contains an embedded YouTube video:

If you check the URL with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool, you will see that there is no VideoObject schema markup being used:

For those website owners who use WordPress, the best way to add VideoObject markup is to apply the free Schema & Structured Data for WP & AMP plugin.

Optimizing YouTube video content may not be the most straightforward strategy out there. It requires time and technical knowledge to get it right. Nevertheless, if you create video material that your audience will love and do your part to help Google understand your video content, you’ll succeed every time.

Author Bio

Sergey Aliokhin is a marketing specialist who works with various different projects. Currently, he works on marketing for Bannersnack. In his spare time, he likes to study martial arts, play the bass guitar, and read.