How to optimize YouTube videos for better visibility & discoverability

YouTube how to

Creating an engaging video is not enough, paying heed to its visibility so it’s discovered more often and reaches a wider audience is significant too. This guide will help you understand how to optimize YouTube videos, so it gets the engagement it deserves.

Whether you’re a brand pushing a video ad campaign for organic engagement or a creator looking to increase the reach of your videos, this guide would aid in optimizing all sorts of YouTube videos.

Creating unique content with a substantial production value serves its purpose when it is optimized to the fullest on the platform, to use the whole potential of the audience on YouTube and recover the cost of production.

Here are a few highlights that would describe the potential of the platform in 2020:

  • India is one of the fastest-growing YouTube markets
  • YouTube watch time in July 2020 was 45% higher than the same time last year
  • The number of YouTube creators with over a million subscribers in India has grown from 20 in 2016 to 2500 in 2020
  • YouTube is now the most used platform for watching online videos in the country
  • 89% of YouTube campaigns deliver a significant lift in offline sales

There are two main factors that impact the visibility and discoverability of a video:

External Traffic

Viewers who discover your video outside the YouTube platform and watch or engage with it. For instance, external websites, Google Search, and more.

Internal Traffic

Viewers who discover your video on the YouTube platform, through search results, recommendations on Home Page, Suggested, etc

Title, thumbnails, captions, description, and everything that comprises metadata, helps optimize the video SEO. But you have to be extra prudent about understanding the YouTube recommendation systems, and the keywords used.


Keywords are responsible for your video showing up in search results for both internal traffic i.e. YouTube SEO and external traffic i.e. Google SEO in search results and for other websites.

Keywords used in Title, description, and tags are one of the most impactful factors for improving the visibility of your video. Which is why it is important to research apt keywords for your video and the topic it’s based on with respect to the relevance of the keyword to your audience.

Before researching the keywords to use for your video, it is important to first define the purpose of your video and the viewer’s intent when they would be looking for a video like the one created by you.

While there are tons of keyword research tools available on the web, both free and paid, the best ones are already at your disposal, they’re free and apt for optimizing the content on YouTube.

Both of these tools are based on the Google search engine. Irrespective of where you or your target audience is located, Google has data for almost every region, plus as it is the most used search engine worldwide, the chances of the data being more accurate than most research tools are higher.

How to research for effective keywords?

Google Trends

  • Go to or alternatively search for ‘Google Trends’ and select the first result
  • Select the desired region from the dropdown menu on the top right corner
  • Search for the topic your video is based on or a term related to your video that viewers would search for while looking for a video like yours
  • You would be redirected to the results and you will see filters for the region, timeline such as ‘Past 12 months’, categories such as ‘Arts & Entertainment’, and the most important filter ‘YouTube Search’, ‘Web Search’, and more
  • You can adjust the filters as desired but more importantly, note down the results for the filters ‘YouTube Search’ and ‘Web Search’
  • Scroll down and you’ll see sub-regions that have the highest number of users that search for that keyword, and ‘Related topics’ and ‘Related queries’ will show you the topics and keywords that are most searched, and try using them in the title, description, and tags

Also Read: How to repurpose content for social media posts effectively


The Google Autocomplete feature is present everywhere you see a Google search box, Google apps, chrome, widget on phone, and more.

Google mentions that the autocomplete feature provides predictions and not suggestions. Predictions of what is most likely the user are looking for based on the letter(s) or word(s) typed.

These predictions are based on common and trending ones relevant to the characters entered and also related to the location and previous searches.

This is how you can find keywords that are most searched for. Type in a word or term related to your video, note down what shows up, and use them. Try variations, try only typing a few letters, as the predictions change with each character entered. But only use the ones related to your video.

Do the same on YouTube Search, note down the predictions, and use the most relevant or effective ones that are ranked higher.


Tags play an integral role in a video being discovered, all terms or related terms added to improve its discovery.

Tag Snag, a Google Chrome extension can help you find popular tags on YouTube for your video and also grab all your competitor’s tags.

The tool can help you grab all tags from a single video, bag all video tags from the top ten videos of a search keyword, and copy tags for your own videos on YouTube.

  • Once you’ve downloaded the extension and toggled it on, you would see the Tag Snag button on the right corner of the top toolbar, besides the URL
  • If you want to bag tags from a single video, open the video in a new tab (important), select ‘Single Video’ and tap ‘Snag’, and then click ‘Copy’
  • To bag tags from multiple videos, search for the keyword, while you’re on the window showing search results, tap the Tag Snag button, select ‘Multiple Videos’, then tap ‘Snag’, and click ‘Copy’

Although, using this tool or similar tools would be ethically wrong, as creators whose videos are performing well would have gone through research and mastered it with experience.

You have two options using such tools or learning the hard way, which is recommended as it reduces dependence on such tools that may not be available one day.


There is not much one can do about the recommendation system, as it is primarily based on user behavior and their viewing habits, but it is important to understand it, to identify indications of performance. Get rid of tactics that lead to poor performance, and improve & adapt the ones that boost the videos.

Rachel & Todd from YouTube explained how recommendations on YouTube work and bust some common myths in one of the videos put out from the channel ‘Creator Insider’.

Busting some common myths and important pointers:

  • All recommendation systems primarily learn from the Home Page
  • The YouTube platform looks at each individual and their viewing habits, so the recommendations are subjective on the user-level
  • The users who are going to see your upload on the Home Page and other recommendations are the ones who are active on your channel and would be interested in watching our videos
  • If a few videos underperform, it will not impact future performance. Variations in impressions are impacted by the audience
  • Channel’s reputation doesn’t matter to the performance unless you’re doing something that would affect how the audience feels about your channel
  • If you’re uploading more videos than usual, and they’re receiving fewer views per video, that is an indication that you’ve exhausted your audience and uploaded too much
  • There is no limit for recommendations, but there is a limit for notifications, the notifications limit is that viewers can get a maximum of three new video notifications per channel in a 24-hour period
  • External traffic is a signal considered in identifying videos that became popular outside YouTube. If a video starts getting more external traffic, it can help kick off the process of your video getting recommended
  • But the systems learn more from the recommendations on the Home Page or suggested, as they surface by observing if viewers watch your video and engage with it, if yes it will continue to rank higher on that surface

While following this guide, continue to experiment, experiment with thumbnails keywords used, titles that get more clicks (but don’t clickbait) and keep a vigilant check on metrics, and monitor traffic. Observe what’s working and what’s not, more importantly, create unique and engaging content. Now go break YouTube.


A wordsmith by profession who likes art, Beatles, Coffee, DiCaprio and Eminem brings a fresh perspective contrary to existing perceptions and believes in questioning everything, also has a belief that there should be a bigger place in the world for words and not war. He prefers the phenomena of the physical world of plants and animals(especially dogs) over possessions. Reckons moving to the rhythm and moving on.