YouTube SEO - Retention

YouTube SEO 2023: How to rank your video – Engagement


The engagement of your community on your YouTube videos is the fourth article in the series on YouTube videos SEO:

  1. Youtube and the evolution of video consumption
  2. What they want to see – The search for words
  3. What they want to see – Video optimisation

As we mentioned in previous articles, YouTube’s goal is to deliver the most relevant content to the person regardless of whether your video has a title, description or tags. So the focus is on the video and whether it is useful or interesting to users.The way YouTube delivers content is all about providing users with the best videos, no matter if they have tags, transcriptions, titles, etc. It’s first of all about the video itself, and how useful/interesting it is to people.

User Engagement Factors

Now that we went through all YouTube Video Content factors, the next topic to work on are the User Engagement Factors. We won’t go as far in details because these are elements you’ve much less control on. However, these are important to keep an eye on as key metrics that you should follow and work on maximizing.

These factors are the following :

  2. Inbound Links
  3. Videos sharing
  4. Embedded links
  6. Thumbs up & subscriptions
  7. Playlist
  8. Thumbnails 

As for website SEO, your content will determine user activity, and natural links to your videos. So qualitative video and delivery will drive user engagement for all your videos.

Let’s go through these further in detail.


This part is obvious since you publish the videos for them to be viewed. To increase your views, you can use the promotion for example by posting your videos on your networks. You can also use forums to answer questions from a user for example.

But this is not limited to the promotion. YouTube evaluates the quality of your video and measures the time users spend watching it. All these elements can be viewed in the “analytics” section of the channel.

There are techniques to capture the user’s attention throughout the video such as the use of loops but which we will not discuss in this article.

2. Inbound Links

It’s not a surprise that YouTube uses Inbound links (links to your content from external sources) as a ranking factor of four videos. However, most people don’t know that for YouTube SEO, you have to build links for both Videos and the channel in order to be efficient.

3. Video sharing

Sharing a video on social networks is quite convenient since there are buttons for this. As these buttons are also included in the engagement metric, most YouTubers ask their community to share the content. It is therefore important to focus on the quality of the video in order to encourage your community to share your content.

4. Embedded links

When you have a blog, for example, you can embed a YouTube video directly onto a page or article. This ability to export a YouTube video outside of the platform is measurable and is included in the engagement measurement. You can enable the feature on your videos.


Feedback is the most important factor in engagement. Having comments and responses from your community is an indication of the relevance to YouTube.

You still need to be careful about the type of comments. The platform is improving in its ability to detect spam. The best way to get comments is to engage your community in conversation, by asking them questions, by asking their point of view in the videos you make. Then you can also respond to their comments to continue the discussion. If you don’t want to comment, you can still give a heart to a comment you like, this might encourage the person to put another comment on a future video.

6. Thumbs up & Subscriptions

Just like Facebook with the thumb up/down, YouTube also has these elements that allow users to give their opinion on the content. So having thumbs up tells the platform that your community liked the content and this can have a positive impact on the SEO of the video. You have probably already noticed that most YouTubers ask at the beginning or end of their video to put a green thumb “if you liked the content”. This is because it plays a role in the metric of user engagement for your content.

Other Factors to look into

We’ve been through the most important ranking factors, but some extra elements can also be tackled to improve User Experience as well as SEO.

7. Creation of Playlists

Playlists are one of the best ways to get more views on your videos. Playlists automatically play all the videos on them, which can result in a large volume of additional views each month. To set them up, the first thing to do is to identify videos that have a common theme or topic. Then simply include this playlist on your channel’s page, and you’re done.

8. Thumbnails

The video thumbnail is the main image that users will see when scrolling through a list of video results, or in recommended videos. Like the video title, the thumbnail allows the viewer to get an idea of the video content, which can influence the number of clicks you get. It is therefore very important to use eye-catching and qualitative thumbnails for your videos. It is always possible to use the automatically generated thumbnail (from YouTube), but note that 90% of the best performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails.


We are coming to the end of our series on YouTube video SEO. We tried to put the essentials, but to avoid making articles that stretch in length we did not integrate some points. In particular how to keep the user’s attention throughout the video.We started the series by searching for keywords related to the topic of your video. Then we used this selection of keywords in the content of the video. Finally, we ended with the factors that can influence engagement on your videos.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or just leave a comment.

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