Top 10 YouTube Ranking Factors To Stay Ahead in 2018 & Beyond

Marketers who are able to rank their YouTube videos do two things really well.

First, they quickly find out YouTube ranking factors that have the biggest impact.

Second, they dedicate 100% of their time, efforts and resources into scaling these YouTube ranking factors.

I’m sure you’re wondering:

“YouTube uses a dozen of ranking signals to rank videos. So how do I find out YouTube rankings factors that can help me make big wins?

Turns out:

Luck is by your side because I’m going to pull the curtains and reveal top 10 most important YouTube ranking factors that you must focus on this 2018 to get more views, subscribers and traffic from YouTube.

Let get started!

1. Keywords

You probably already know:

Keywords are most important elements that you need to focus on to rank on both Google and YouTube SERPs.

In fact:

Keywords are essential ingredients of any YouTube SEO process. Without optimizing your YouTube channel and videos for keywords, you can’t really rank your videos on YouTube.

You’ll be surprised:

Just like Google, YouTube gives a lot of significance to your metadata and keywords are an essential part of that. Naturally, YouTube gives more weightage to videos and channels that are well optimized with keywords.

This is because it becomes easy for YouTube crawlers to understand what your YouTube channel is all about if it is well optimized with keywords.

But here’s an advice:

Don’t stuff keywords in the about section of your channel. After all, you don’t want to risk losing your YouTube rank for useless back-hat YouTube SEO tricks like that. Ensure that your Channel is filled with naturally used, targeted keywords, both short-tail and long-tail.

Talking about long-tail keywords…

Long-tail keywords make 85% of total search traffic. In addition, long-tail keywords make it easy for your videos to get higher rank on YouTube.

Long Tail Keywords

2. Video Title

YouTube has clearly mentioned, “Titles contain valuable information to help viewers find your videos in search results.

And it’s true:

Titles make it easy for Google, YouTube, and users to understand the context of your video. In addition, an impressive title can help you attract more traffic and views.


YouTube video titles also make it easy for you to:

  • Add your targeted keyword.
  • Drive maximum click-through-rates (CTR) for your YouTube videos.

But here’s something to keep in mind:

Always aim for shorter video titles. It is best to use five words or less for your video titles. And never forget to keyword-optimize your video titles with exact match keywords.


Because exact match keywords in video titles have a fair correlation with YouTube rankings:

exact match keywords in video titles have a fair correlation with YouTube rankings

Bottom line?

Using exact-match, targeted keyword in your video title can go a long way in ensuring better rank on YouTube.

3. Video Description

YouTube explains, “Well-written descriptions with the right keywords can boost views and watch time because they help your video show up in search results.

This means:

Videos descriptions are vital for getting better rank for your YouTube videos, just like keywords.

After all:

Video descriptions make it easy for YouTube and Google crawlers to understand your video’s context. And the better YouTube and Google crawlers understand your video’s context, the better will be your YouTube ranking.

Here’s what you must do:

  • Don’t forget to add your targeted keyword in the first 25 words of your description
  • Ensure that your YouTube video description is at least 200 words longer
  • Add your keyword at least 2 to 4 times in the description. But don’t force keywords.

But here’s the shocker:

In a study of 1.3 million YouTube videos, Brian Dean of Backlinko found that there is there’s no correlation between keyword-optimized descriptions and YouTube rankings.

there’s no correlation between keyword-optimized descriptions and YouTube rankings

I’m sure you’re wondering why?

One of the probable reasons may be the lesser weightage of “keyword appearing in video’s description” as YouTube ranking signal.

But here’s the deal:

Keyword-rich descriptions can still help you rank in the “suggested video” list that can help you boost your CTR. And CTR is one of the most impactful YouTube ranking signals.

So the better keyword-optimized will be your descriptions, the better will be the CTR and higher will be your video’s YouTube ranking.

4. Video Tags

I’m sure you’d have already noticed:

Over the years, tags have lost the importance they carried as far as YouTube SEO process is concerned.

In fact:

Brian Dean found a very weak correlation between keyword-rich video tags and YouTube rankings:

There is a very weak correlation between keyword-rich video tags and YouTube rankings

Though tags have a very weak correlation with YouTube rankings, it’s important to carefully use them as they can still make a difference in your YouTube rankings.

Bottom line?

Include some keywords to help YouTube and Google understand what your video is all about.

Here’s how to make the maximum of your tags:

  1. Use exact target keyword as your tag
  2. Include LSI keywords as tags
  3. Use tags that top ranking videos (on the same topic as yours) have used

Using tags can help you rank your videos in related videos sidebar of YouTube. :

So that’s everything you need to know about using tags to rank your videos on YouTube.

Now let’s move on to the next important ranking factor – Video Quality.

5. Video Quality

Video quality is one of the most important YouTube ranking signals.

Here’s what studies reveal:

HD quality YouTube videos have a very strong correlation with better YouTube video ranking.

Video Quality has a strong correlation with YouTube ranking

This means:

HD Quality videos rank better than SD quality videos on YouTube’s first page. In fact, 68.2% of all the videos on YouTube’s first page are HD-quality.

But why does YouTube love HD quality videos?

This is because HD quality videos have a greater impact on the user experience. Often, low-quality videos are abandoned by viewers despite having great content.

If the user interaction on a video is negative, YouTube’s crawlers get to understand that the video lacks in quality and content. Resultantly, crawlers don’t assign better YouTube ranks to such pages.

Bottom line?

You’ll need to consistently create high quality videos if you’re planning to rank your videos on first page of YouTube’s first page.

Talking of user experience…

6. User Experience Metrics

I’m sure you already know:

YouTube focuses on user engagement when ranking videos on its SERP.

But here’s something you don’t know:

YouTube makes use of multiple user experience metrics to understand the quality of your YouTube videos.

What are these user experience metrics?

  • Comments
  • Subscriptions
  • Likes/Dislikes
  • Shares

YouTube uses these signals to determine the quality of the video content. Videos that are able to engage users and get lots of comments, likes, and shares usually rank better on YouTube’s first page.

In fact:

Video comments have a very strong correlation with YouTube rankings.

Video comments have a very strong correlation with YouTube rankings

And that’s not all:

Video ‘shares’ too have a very strong correlation with YouTube rankings!

Video ‘shares’ too have a very strong correlation with YouTube rankings

Even, video ‘likes’ have a very strong correlation with YouTube video rankings:

video likes have a very strong correlation with YouTube video rankings


Videos that get higher number of new channel subscribers rank higher than those without new channel subscribers.

Videos driving more subscriptions get higher YouTube ranking

Here’s what you should do:

Make sure your videos are engaging enough to encourage viewers to watch your full video. Also, ask viewers to ‘Like’, and ‘Share’ your videos. Don’t forget to ask them to “Subscribe” to your channel and encourage comments on your YouTube videos.

7. Watch Time

Yet another thing that you must focus on is Watch Time. It is the length of your YouTube video that viewers watch.

It is one of the most significant ranking factors that YouTube uses to rank videos on its SERPs. The length of videos watched by users sends a signal to YouTube about the quality of your YouTube video.

As it turns out:

Videos that are watched for a longer time are often ranked better on YouTube’s first page.

Here’s some good news:

Brian Dean found that longer YouTube videos tend to rank better than the shorter ones.

longer YouTube videos rank better than Short YouTube Videos

In fact:

The average length of a videos ranking on YouTube’s first page is 14 minutes and 50 seconds.

What does this mean for you?

You must aim at creating longer and engaging YouTube videos. Make sure of providing links to other videos in the description to make sure that your viewers stay for a long time browsing around your YouTube Channel. In addition, make sure that your videos pique user curiosity so that they watch your videos till the very end helping you rank your YouTube videos better.

8. View Count

View Count is yet another YouTube ranking factor that plays a big role in deciding the ranking of Your YouTube videos.

You’ll be surprised:

A video’s total view count has a significant correlation with YouTube rankings.

View count has a significant correlation with YouTube rankings

This is because without views your YouTube videos can’t really generate other important signals like user retention and engagement.

Simply stated:

If you’re looking to rank higher for your targeted keywords, you’ll need to make sure that your videos get a lot of views.

Here’s how you can maximize video views:

Promote your video at different social media platforms. Post relevant, engaging videos at QUORA and other popular forums.

Reach out to influencers to get more eyes for your YouTube videos. Embed your videos in your blogs and use YouTube video links in your email signature.

9. Thumbnails

Thumbnails have substantial impact on Your YouTube video ranking.


Thumbnails yield enough power and potential to attract better click-through rates. And the better your click-through rates, the better will be your YouTube rankings.

Here’s something you must know:

YouTube automatically generates thumbnail for your videos.

But here’s the deal:

These thumbnails may not be the best ones. In fact, videos with customized thumbnails always work better than those with automatically generated thumbnails.

Here’s what you must do:

Take time to create compelling thumbnails for your YouTube videos. Make sure your thumbnails look appealing and instantly capture viewers’ attention right from the get-go. But ensure that your thumbnail is relevant to your video’s content.

Don’t forget to play by the rules. Make sure your thumbnails have 1280 x 720 px resolution and are in 16:9 aspect ratio.

10. Closed Captions & Subtitles

YouTube allows video creators to add closed captions and subtitles in their videos.

But here’s an observation:

More than 67% video publishers do not use closed captions and subtitles.

Closed captions and subtitles help you reach out to people who do not necessarily speak your language or hearing impaired.

Adding subtitles and closed captions can help you improve your view counts dramatically’ eventually, boosting your YouTube rankings.

In addition:

YouTube crawlers crawl closed captions. This means closed captions can make it easy for YouTube crawlers to understand the context of your YouTube videos and boost your rankings.

Don’t forget to add closed captions and subtitles in your YouTube videos!

Now it’s Your Turn!

So, there you’ve it – 10 most significant YouTube ranking factors to rank YouTube videos higher! We’re sure you would have definitely picked up a few tips that you’ll want to try now.

Let me know what you do think of these YouTube ranking factors?

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