How to Rank YouTube Videos: A Comprehensive Guide for the Travel Industry

It sounds like you need to learn how to rank your YouTube videos.

That’s what this article is about. Keep reading and I’ll show you why high-ranking YouTube videos can be so valuable to your travel business, and five steps you can start using today to rank your videos higher in YouTube search results.

Let’s dive in!

The Benefits of High Ranking YouTube Videos

There are many benefits to high ranking YouTube videos — especially for businesses in the travel and hospitality industries. You’re probably already aware of most of them. But let’s cover a few of the basics and make sure we’re on the same page.

First and foremost, a high ranking YouTube video is a great potential driver of traffic for your business. YouTube is the second largest search engine on the planet, processing over 3 billion searches a month. That’s a lot of potential eyeballs on your content!

But that’s not all. Many YouTube videos also end up ranking in Google search results as well. In fact, it’s generally easier to rank well on Google by creating YouTube videos than it is by creating content for traditional web pages. If you’re looking to improve your SEO strategy, YouTube videos may be the answer.

A boost in traffic is great, but the real value is what that traffic will allow you to do. Video views can lead to more and better-targeted leads. Those who watch your videos may decide to subscribe to your channel, check out your website, join your email list, or even spend money with your business — all because they enjoyed a video that they found organically through search results.

Video marketing for travel businesses is especially powerful. Your customers want to see where they’ll be staying, how they’ll get from point A to point B, and the experiences available to them once they arrive. There’s no better way to show them than via a travel video. The trick is getting your videos in front of enough eyeballs. That’s what the rest of this article will teach you.

Rank Your YouTube Videos in 5 Simple Steps

Ready to learn how to rank YouTube videos? I have five steps for you to follow:

1. Create Great Videos

It all starts with great content. I’ve written an entire guide on how to create amazing travel videos. I encourage you to read it and implement the strategies. In regards to ranking your YouTube videos, there are two main metrics you need to keep in mind when crafting your content: audience retention and engagement.

Let’s look at each in greater detail.

Audience Retention

Audience retention is the metric that measures how long viewers watch your videos. This metric is very important to YouTube and the longer you can keep viewers watching the better. In general, an audience retention score of 50% or higher (meaning, on average, your viewers watch at least half of each video your publish) is very good.

Audience Engagement

Beyond the amount of time that your audience spends watching your videos, YouTube also measures viewer engagement levels. YouTube likes videos that get lots of comments, thumbs ups, and shares. These actions signify to the platform that a video is worth a high ranking.

Why? Because these are fantastic indicators that people enjoy the content you’ve created. If your current viewers enjoyed your video, YouTube figures that other viewers will like it too and will rank it higher in search results.

When creating your videos, keep both audience retention and engagement in mind. Try to create content that will encourage viewers to keep watching and move them to comment, share, or give you a thumbs up. If you can create content that’s so good people subscribe because of it, even better!

Pro Tip: Mention Your Keyword in Your Video

YouTube analyzes and automatically transcribes every video uploaded to its platform. By verbally saying the keyword you hope to rank for in search results, you’ll give yourself a much better chance of actually doing so.

2. Conduct Thorough YouTube Keyword Research

Just like in your general and local SEO, efforts keywords are also essential to ranking on the first page of YouTube search results. The process for finding keywords is similar too, though the tools you’ll use will be different.

Create Your Keyword List

First, you need to create a huge list of potential keywords. You can do this in a few different ways. A free and highly effective strategy is to use YouTube’s Search Suggest feature. Just go to YouTube and start typing in phrases that relate to your content. YouTube will automatically give you keyword options based on what it knows users search for.

You can also use a YouTube-specific keyword research tool like or VidIQ. Traditional SEO tools like SEMrush won’t help you much when attempting to find keywords for YouTube. An added benefit of using a YouTube keyword research tool is that you’ll get access to some helpful metrics like search volume and competition.

Choose the Best Keyword

Now that you’ve created a large list of potential keywords that pertain to your travel video, it’s time to narrow it down and choose a lucky winner. But how? There are a few factors you need to look at:

  • Competition: The less competitive a keyword is, the easier it will be to rank for. If you’re new to YouTube and still have a small following, you absolutely need to choose keywords with low competition. To find keywords that fit this criterion, use either the metrics in your YouTube keyword research tool or simply type the keyword into YouTube’s search bar and check the “About Results” number. The smaller the number, the less competitive that keyword is.
  • Search Volume: You want to use keywords that aren’t uber competitive. But you also need to make sure that people are actually using and searching for the term. Again, you can find this information inside a YouTube keyword research tool. The two solutions mentioned earlier have free options that will get you started. Additionally, you can use Keywords Everywhere. Find the balance between a keyword that gets a good amount of traffic but isn’t terribly competitive.

Pro Tip: Do Keyword Research Before Creating Your Videos

I recommend doing keyword research before you create your travel videos. This will ensure that there is a demand for the content you make and that you’ll have a good chance of driving traffic. There’s nothing worse than spending a lot of time and money creating an amazing video, only to find out that nobody cares.

3. Optimize Your YouTube Videos

Now that you’ve created an amazing video and conducted thorough YouTube keyword research, it’s time to optimize. There are four main video elements you need to pay attention to if you want to rank well in YouTube results. They are:

1. The File Name

YouTube video optimization starts with the file name. Before you even upload your content to YouTube, optimize its name to include the keyword you hope to rank for. For example, if your keyword is “Nashville Summer Activities”, name your file something like, “The Top Nashville Summer Activities for Your Family”.

2. The Title

The title of your YouTube video plays a major role in its rankability. Like we just mentioned for the file name, your title should also include the keyword you hope to rank for— preferably at the beginning. Note: oftentimes your title can be used for your file name as well.

3. The Description

It’s best to create long, lengthy descriptions for your YouTube videos that start with your keyword. How long? Anywhere between 200 and 400 words are ideal. Use this space to describe what your video contains, what viewers will learn or how they’ll benefit from watching your content, why they might find it entertaining, and what makes your business unique. This will help YouTube understand what your video is about and allow its algorithm to rank your content higher.

Want a few bonus tips? Never reuse video descriptions. Each description should be unique to the video it describes. Also, try and use your keyword 2 – 4 times throughout the description copy.

4. A Custom Thumbnail

This isn’t a YouTube ranking factor, but it can help drive traffic to your video. The reason being, viewers tend to click on videos that look “good” more often. So do yourself a favor and upload an appealing image to use as your thumbnail.

5. Tags

Tags aren’t as important as they used to be, but they still give YouTube some useful information regarding the content of your video. Make your first tag the keyword your video is optimized for. Then include a few variations of this phrase. For example, “New York City Restaurants” becomes, “NYC Restaurants,” “Top NYC Eateries,” etc. Lastly, include tags for any other topics your video covers.

Pro Tip: Stay Away From Keyword Stuffing

Making sure your video’s keyword is included in each of the four sections above is essential if you want to rank your YouTube videos. But it’s also important that you don’t stoop down, or even appear to stoop down, to keyword stuffing. YouTube will penalize your videos if they believe you are doing this.

To avoid the appearance of keyword stuffing, simply include other words in your file names, titles, and descriptions. For example, if your keyword is “The Best Beaches in Florida”, give your video a title like, “The Best Beaches in Florida: 5 Locations to Add to Your Bucket List”.

Notice how I’ve included more words in this title than just the keyword, but the keyword is at the beginning of the title. This will ensure that the YouTube algorithm knows exactly what the video is about, but won’t penalize you for keyword stuffing.

4. Promote Your YouTube Videos

Our next tip is to promote your content. If you can drive traffic to your YouTube videos immediately after they’ve been posted, YouTube will be more willing to rank them higher. You can promote your videos in many different ways. Here are a few of our favorites.


Once your video is live on YouTube, email your subscribers and let them know. Ask them to watch your content, give it a thumbs up, comment on it, and even share it if they feel so inclined. You can also include a link to the video in your email signature. That way people are made aware of it anytime you email them.

Social Media

You should also post about your YouTube video on social media. Send out a tweet, make a post on Instagram, whatever you have to do to let people know about your shiny new piece of content. This can be done on both personal and business pages.

Now, other social networks may penalize you for sharing content from a different platform in the form of reduced reach. You can get around this by creating platform specific “teaser videos” that promote full thing on YouTube.

For example, you could create a Facebook video that only features the first two minutes of your video. Then let viewers know that if they want to see the full piece of content, they can go to your YouTube channel. This will help pique people’s interest without killing your reach.

Blog Posts

YouTube videos can be embedded onto other webpages across the internet. Start with your business blog and create a new post that features your YouTube video. This is just another way your audience can find your content.

You can also try getting your videos featured on other blogs that cover similar topics. This often takes a fair amount of work, but the backlinks generated will help propel your video to the top of YouTube search results.

Pro Tip: Use Quora

Another great channel to promote your YouTube videos on is Quora and other Q&A forums. People frequent these sites to find answers to their most pressing questions. I encourage you to scour these communities to find questions that you’re qualified to answer. Then respond to each query with valuable information and link to your video.

5. Make Use of Playlists

Playlists are an incredible way to boost video views on YouTube. Unfamiliar with what a YouTube playlist is? Don’t worry, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a group of videos that automatically play one after the other.

To use this strategy, look over your videos and identify any that have similar themes. Then group them together into a playlist. For example, videos titled, “Your Guide to the Grand Canyon,” “Top Phoenix Attractions,” “Take a Babymoon to Sedona, AZ,” and, “The Best Budget Hotels in Tucson, AZ,” could all be grouped into an “Arizona Travel” playlist.

Once you’ve created a few different playlists, add them to your channel page.

You Now Know How to Rank YouTube Videos

Congratulations! You now know how to rank YouTube videos and drive more high-quality traffic to your travel business. Just follow the five-step process outlined above. Here’s a quick recap:

  1. Create great video content. Even the best marketing tactics in the world won’t help you rank a sub-par video.
  2. Do your keyword research. This is the foundation. You want to find keywords that get a lot of traffic but aren’t too competitive. YouTube-specific keyword research tools can help.
  3. Optimize Your Videos for YouTube. You need to optimize your video’s file name, title, and description, use a custom thumbnail image and choose multiple tags. Doing so will make it easier for YouTube to understand what your video is about and you’ll receive a higher ranking in return.
  4. Promote Your YouTube Videos. Every video needs an initial push. Use your email list, social media profiles, company blog, and Q&A sites like Quora to get the word out about your new piece of content.
  5. Create Playlists. Finally, playlists are a great way to increase your video views.

YouTube is a fantastic platform for travel brands. After reading this article, you now have the knowledge you need to make YouTube work for you, not the other way around. Good luck!

– Jacob Thomas

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