YouTube is useless at boosting traffic if you’re not using it to its fullest potential. YouTube is home to 490 million users, and offers the possibility of sending interested users to your website, but only if you know how to use it. If your video isn’t up to snuff, it’ll only gather cobwebs and be forgotten about. Everyone wants their video to go viral, right? So, how do we go about it?

Two factors make up a viral video: the video itself and how well the video is optimized. An example is the infamous ‘Rick Roll’. For those who lucky enough to be spared from the Rick Roll, it’s the Rick Astley song “Never Gonna Give You Up” played as a prank and displayed as something that you was searching for (but obviously is not). Yes it’s irritating, but it shows how well optimized the video was for you to have actually seen it. There’s no relevant content, but by following the algorithms of YouTube, the video has managed to show up in your results. On the other end of the scale, you could have an informative, helpful video, but if it isn’t optimized, no one will see it. It’s the balance of the two elements that leads to your video receiving a lot of viewers – interested viewers, which is what we all want.

Finding Your Keywords

Now, I would say that this would be a first step for all users looking to optimize their videos. It’s essential you decide who you’re targeting and find out what they’re searching for.

A good tool for this would be – this tool suggests keywords to you that are similar to those you entered. It also shows the number of searches per month. Experiment and come up with a list of keywords that are relevant and searched for by a sufficient amount of users.

The Algorithm

To optimize our videos, we must know what the search results are based on. For those of you who don’t know, YouTube is owned by Google, so the algorithms will have some similarities.

When you create your video, there are only three parts that you can control: the Title, Description, and the video’s Tags. These are all vital for your video to be seen and make sure that they’re of the best standard, keyword AND quality wise. These are factors you have control over, but there’s other things you can’t change, such as the amount of views, the amount of likes, and the comments. The basic rule of thumb is the more uncontrolled factors the better, although there are a few variables, which will be explained shortly.


For all of you SEOs out there, treat your YouTube video title as you would a Meta title. Your YouTube title is what shows above the video, but it’s also the first thing that shows in the search results. So, it’s important that you get this right, otherwise users will pass over it if it does not match their needs. First, you need to find your keywords. Once you’ve decided upon them, figure out what terms are the most important and most searched for. It’s vital that the title doesn’t look too spammy and is short and to the point.

Let me give you an example – if your video was a tutorial, showing how to create backlinks from your site to another, simply name it “How to Create Backlinks” and possibly include your company name if it’s relevant.  Bear in mind that search engines don’t pick up words like ‘and’, ‘to’ and ‘for’, so keep these to an absolute minimum. If you’re using YouTube to help develop your branding, I suggest putting in your company name religiously because if someone’s to search the name of the company then all of your videos are easily shown.


Again, for the SEO experts out there, treat your YouTube description how you would a Meta description. The principles are very similar. Addressing users lacking SEO knowledge, the main thing is to include a lot of your keywords in this section. Don’t end up keyword stuffing, though, as this is a black hat method, which is frowned upon by the search engines and could get you banned.

Moving on, the description needs to actually describe your video in a readable format, but make a conscious effort to include your keywords. If you have a website, it’s essential that you include it within the first line of your description, this way your site is always available and always visible. The same thing goes for telephone numbers or email addresses. If you’d like people to contact you then make your contact information clear and visible. Remember people do actually read the descriptions, so format them accordingly.


Now this is the area where you’re supposed to keyword stuff. Anything you think your viewers could potentially search and be looking for in a video similar to yours, put it in. It’s much better to have more tags than less. In addition, make sure you have every variation you can think of with phrases and words; you want your video as visible and available as possible.

There’s a 500 character limit; you’re unlikely to run over that, but make sure you prioritize your keywords in correlation to how many people are searching for them. It’s important that these keywords are 100% relevant to what your video is actually about; otherwise, your video might as well join the Rick Roll.

Likes and Comments

Likes and comments are basically the same thing. With regards to optimization, the more you get the better. If a lot of comments are placed on your video, this means the video impacted the viewer enough for them to make a comment, regardless of whether it was good or bad.

Similarly, the more likes you have the better, but negative likes will affect the search results. Obviously you’ll show lower in YouTube’s results if you have more dislikes than likes. There’s not much you can do to control this, although in regards to comments make sure you engage your audience… maybe ask their opinion, but most importantly, get them involved and encourage them to comment, like and subscribe.


Finally, I come to the views, they have an effect and the more the better. Although, details of the view effects it to some extent, if someone stops watching your video halfway through, then that individual view won’t be as beneficial as a full view.

However, even if you click off the video halfway through watching, it still counts – YouTube just takes note that it wasn’t a full view. The only way you can influence that is by making sure the content of the video is of a high quality throughout and keeps the viewer entertained!

Video Creation

Now, a lot of different elements come into creating a brilliant video, but the ones that have always been the most popular are as follows: How to’s or Tutorials, Comedy, Product or Service Reviews. Cute animals and sexy women will always have a high amount of views, but try not to take advantage of the easy options just remember they’re always there for those who really need them.

When you’ve decided on the type of video, know what it needs to set it apart from the rest. A good opening is essential, it needs to be snappy, capture the attention of its audience, and retain interest. Once you have their full attention, don’t let it go… Make your video consistent throughout. Production of the video is also important, it must be well edited and not slapped together. It needs to be as good as possible otherwise your viewers will just find something else.

Getting Your Video Noticed

There are many methods to get your video noticed and some people just stick to one. If you want your video as viewed as much as possible, make it available as possible. I suggest trying and using all of the following methods.

Join a forum that relates to the videos you’re creating, become an active member and when the opportunity arises, direct potentially interested forum users to your video. For example, if you joined a mobile phone forum someone is likely to be discussing and asking for opinions about the iPhone4. If you’ve actually done a review of that, mention your work and provide a link.

This method also works with YouTube. Look for similar videos and say something along the lines of “I’ve actually created a similar video and I have a different point of view”. Also, post your video in the video responses section; this gives your video as much opportunity as possible in the sense of YouTube.

If you’re an active Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media platform user, then write a short post and a link about your video. Upload the video only to your YouTube account, this way all of your traffic is put into one place and will benefit you more as opposed to uploading on separate sites.

An exception to this is to upload the video onto your own site, possibly in your blog. Use the embed code provided by YouTube and put it onto your site with a short description about the video, similar to the YouTube description page.


It essential you carry out the video’s production and distribution to the best standard if you want great results from YouTube. You’ll notice the effect it has on your business once you utilize YouTube’s potential. Remember, just one factor on its own won’t provide the results you’re looking for, unless you are a “Rick Roller”, so put effort in all the different elements that add up to a useful YouTube video.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

YouTube is Useless