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YouTube SEO: Complete Guide to Getting Your Video Viral in 2021

Youtube Seo Complete Guide 2021

YouTube SEO: Complete Guide to Getting Your Video Viral in 2021

YouTube’s introduction around 2005 was revolutionary, to say the least. The platform quickly took the world by storm and to this day, is the most popular and powerful video-sharing website on the internet. Its uses vary drastically. More than 70% of users turn towards YouTube to solve a problem, whereas several million people visit it just for fun.

Organic growth and popularity on YouTube are essential for all creators and brands. Various filmmakers and artists have gone viral first on websites like YouTube and SoundCloud, which has later helped them score deals and offers. Apart from their own talents, YouTube SEO was one of the most prominent factors that helped them receive maximum engagement.

This article focuses on the latter. It is a complete SEO guide for getting your video viral on YouTube. Let us dive in.

1. Keywords are the key

Without keywords, even your subscribers are unlikely to find your videos since the lack of keywords affects video rankings apart from various other things.

Keywords are important because they connect your video across the internet. On YouTube, when a user searches for a video, keywords from it are matched against your caption and your title. Thus, keyword research is essential before uploading your video. It will help you discover what combination works best, which keywords are trending, and which ones are most likely to help you go viral.

There are literally hundreds of websites and tools that help you with keywords, but Google Trends and Ahref’s Keyword Explorer top the list.

2. The filename is also important

One thing that people fail to remember is that metadata drives YouTube. Metadata includes everything from your video file name to its length, genre, categories, etc. Thus, a tiny but highly effective change you can make is to change your video file name so that it contains keywords.

It hardly takes a moment since from point number one, we are guessing that you have already done your keyword research, but it goes a long way in making your video more visible and discoverable.

3. Titles need special adjustment

Solely adding keywords to your titles will only worsen the whole deal. While keywords are important, titles are an important part of what drives users to your video. If you fill it with nothing but keywords, it will sound weird, and no one will click on it. If it does not contain keywords, it will not be easily visible to people and no one can click on it. Thus, you must strike that balance.

Make your titles easy to understand and relevant to your genre, industry, and content. Along with titles, one more factor that determines whether your video will see any traction is your thumbnail image. This brings us to our next point.

4. Create attractive thumbnails

Scrolling away on today’s modern devices does not take longer than a few milliseconds. So, you can imagine the impact of a bad thumbnail image on your video. If the thumbnail is not attractive and engaging, people will scroll through without so much as a second glance at your video.

Our advice is not that you should make your thumbnails completely click-bait. That only makes things worse. Instead, make it creative and engaging. And for your own sake, do not let YouTube choose a random screen grab off of your video. You have the option to choose a thumbnail for yourself, and you should use it.

5. Optimize the description

The description is the most useful part of your video. It allows you to include a plethora of information. Simultaneously, you can fill it with keywords to increase engagement and popularity.

While keywords in your video description do not correlate with search visibility, it has an amazing side-perk. Videos connected with keywords can end up in the suggested section of each other (this is also true for video titles, by the way).

The suggested section is one of the most powerful features on YouTube since most people watch more than a single video and their discovery is aided mostly by the suggested section. Hence, optimizing video description can have a significant impact on going viral.

6. Use subtitles

Fun fact: subtitles are YouTube searchable! I guess you do learn something new every day. With that knowledge in mind, I believe you can already infer why subtitles are so essential.

There are two ways of adding subtitles. As usual, these are the easy way and the hard way. I know that is a cliched thing to say but it is the truth. You can either create your own subtitles but will have to manually sync it with the video, making your job more difficult.

Or you can use the subtitles that YouTube generates automatically, correct their errors since automatic subtitles are never a hundred percent accurate, and then re-upload them, saving precious time and effort.

7. Bonus: Use YouTube cards

Think of these YouTube cards as the digital version of annotations. At certain instances in your video, you can add a card that can redirect users to either of the following:

  • A website, either your own or an affiliate link.
  • Funding option that allows your fans to support you financially.
  • Merchandise: You can list items for sale
  • You can also link to another YouTube video or playlist to increase brand awareness for your content.


Using the above seven options cleverly can lead to a drastic change and help you go viral significantly faster. If you have other tips you would like to add to this complete YouTube SEO guide, let us know through the comments box below.