When optimizing your YouTube videos to rank well in search results, writing YouTube tags can often be the most confusing piece of metadata to properly write. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult as long as you don’t overthink it. Let me show you how to best write YouTube tags for your videos for SEO so they rank better in search results.


Today, let’s talk about writing good titles and good tags for your videos, really help them get discovered in search. Sabrina faith wrote and asked this– “Can you talk about how to use tags / titles to get your video to be the most searchable? People say tags aren’t useful anymore, and I’ve search YouTube, and all the videos are old and aren’t helpful. It seems that the best thing is watch time, likes, and views. But if you’re a small channel like me, you can’t get a lot of likes or views, and therefore, can’t compete with the larger channels.”

Do Tags Still Matter?

Good question, Sabrina. There’s actually a couple different levels to this answer. So let’s go through them one at a time. The first one is, do tags still matter? And we could debate that, but the fact is Google still asks for them and they still want them as part of your video. So you should still do your best to give Google as much good information about your video as possible to help them rank it in Search accordingly.

How Should You Write Good Tags?

So how should you write good tags? Well, we actually have a full video dedicated to this. Link up in the description below this video. But just to summarize it here, just use whatever words you would use to describe your video to a friend in either one or two-word compound phrases. Not a whole string or a sentence or anything, but just one or two words.

This video is probably going to have tags like “tags,” “metadata,” “title,” “YouTube,” “SEO,” things like that. Those are some of the tags I’ll probably use for this video. Don’t overthink it too much. Just use your gut feeling. What words come to mind that naturally describe this video? And use those.

Does YouTube Likes Influence SEO?

Now number two, concerning likes. Likes actually have nothing to do with how your video is ranked and searched. So whether you get thumbs up, thumbs down, it’s a form of engagement. But Google doesn’t take that into consideration for how they rank videos because the whole liking system is too easy to be gamed. And so they just ignore it, at least as far as Search is concerned. And again, I’ve done another video that digs into this more in detail, so that’s something you can look into, and other videos in the description of this video. You can go check that out.

How Does Watch Time Influence YouTube SEO?

And number three, yes, you are right. Watch time is the number one biggest determining factor in how your videos rank in search results. So the question you’re basically asking is, how do I get watch time when I don’t have any subscribers to give me watch time? And I can’t get subscribers unless I get watch time to get that video ranked in Search. So it’s kind of like– it feels impossible.

But here’s the thing. For the first week after your video is published on YouTube, for those first seven days or so, Google gives it a little extra special boost in Search and say, OK, we don’t really know much about this video other than the metadata– which is the title, the tags, the description, things like that.

And after a couple days, Google is collecting a lot of different data points about your video. They’re looking at a lot of different user signals about who’s clicking. If they do click, what do they do? What searches are they clicking on your video for? And lots of different things. And then at the end of that seven-day period, they will ranking your video accordingly.

What to do When Your Video Is Doing Well?

So if your video is not doing well in Search, then there’s probably a couple things going on besides just titles and tags that I would consider. Number one is the title and the thumbnail are actually so important for getting people to click, to tease the actual value of the video, and to really set up that content for success. And again, I’ve gone into this in more detail in another video. So that’s down there below if you want to dig into that.

But going along with that then, I also would evaluate the actual content itself. People think that it’s all about metadata. And that is true for initially after you first publish the video. But like I said, Google Search is ranking it based on other factors that go beyond your metadata after that. And that is often how the actual content itself is performing.

So look at how well is the first 15 seconds of your video hooking a viewer. Or how well you’re actually delivering the value that your title and your thumbnail suggests that you are going to deliver. There’s a lot of things to consider.

But the fact is your video could be showing up for people in Search and Related Videos, and no one’s just clicking on it. So you’re not getting any views and traffic. And then Google, after seven days, is like, hey, we gave this video a shot. It didn’t do anything. So let’s put other videos there and see how those perform instead.

If you have a couple videos that you think are just highly valuable, and very searchable, and just aren’t performing well, you can always go back, update their title, give them a new thumbnail. You can give it different descriptions and tags. You can rework all that. And sometimes, it does kind of tell Google to reset and like, hey, try this video again. And that has worked for me several times in the past.

But the last thing I will say about all this is that it’s not like the bigger channels just keep getting bigger and the smaller channels just stay small because there’s no way out of this. Guys, channels are starting from zero and growing to millions all the time here on YouTube.

But the reason for that isn’t because Google decided that they want to favor this channel versus that channel. No, it’s because the channels that are growing have figured out how to craft good content to reach a specific audience. And Google quickly figures that out based on the data points and the user signals that it’s collecting from people who happen to see that video.

So, guys, if that’s something you’re interested in and you really want to learn how to take your channel to the next level, and how to convert viewers into subscribers, and how to get viewers in the first place, guys, my book, “30 Days to a Better YouTube Channel” goes into all that in-depth.

Each day in that book includes a teaching– something you need to know. It includes a task– something that you will do right then on your YouTube channel. And then it also includes further resources if you really want to dive in deep and really learn more about both the what and the why of that task.

I would love to hear from you guys in the comments below. What advice do you have as a small channel for getting your videos ranked in Search?