YouTube Tags Explained

What is a YouTube tag? Is it like the tags you use when you search engine optimize other content marketing pieces like blog posts? A YouTube tag, while similar to other tags, have some differences due to the nature of the platform they are being used on. While the title of your video and description is more important, if you want your YouTube videos to reach an audience, using the right tags can help you. In this article, you will learn the answer to the question, “What is a YouTube tag?” and how to use YouTube tags competitively to optimize your videos for search.

what is a youtube tag

What Is a Tag?

Before we get into answering the main question, let’s discuss what a tag is in general. So, what is a tag? In terms of SEO, a tag provides information about your webpage to search engines to help the algorithms detect what your content is about. The more the search engine algorithms understand your content, the more accurately, and hopefully higher, they rank your content in the search results pages. Used correctly, a tag will highlight the page’s most important information. 

YouTube Tags

YouTube is a video-sharing platform popular for businesses, celebrities, and everyday people. 720,000 hours of content are uploaded to the platform every single day. As such, creating engaging and well-produced content is only half the battle. Video-specific SEO techniques can help you get your video seen by the right audience, tagging being one such SEO tool.

So, what is a YouTube tag? They are like the tags described in the section above, but with aspects specific to YouTube. Just as a tag would describe the content of a blog post or website page, a YouTube tag describes the content of the attached video. Just as Google and other search engines have algorithms to sort their content, so too does YouTube. YouTube algorithms use tags as one element of their ranking. The right tags can help push your content higher on the YouTube search results page. 

How to Use YouTube Tags

To add a YouTube tag, you will first need to sign in to your Youtube Studio account. YouTube Studio is YouTube’s platform for creators to track, upload, and organize their content. You will need to use this platform to add tags to your video. If you are uploading a new video, you can add tags before you post it. Click Create to begin the process of uploading a video. The button is in the right-hand corner, labeled CREATE, and is shaped like a video camera. Next, you will select the file you want to upload. While the video is processing, you should click more options to add your tags.

If you want to add tags to a previously uploaded video, the process is similar. Once you log into your YouTube Studio account, you will select content from the left-hand menu. Choose the video you want to add tags to. From there you will be able to add your tags.

tags for youtube

Competitive Tag

Now, we will discuss how to choose competitive tags. You need to choose tags that both relate to your content and are often searched by your desired audience. Choosing YouTube tags is similar to choosing keywords for your blog or webpage. You should take as much time to research YouTube tags as you do research keywords.

YouTube Tagging Best Practices

So how do you make your tagging efforts competitive? There are a few rules of thumb that you should know while tagging your YouTube videos. 

Order of Importance

The first tag you use is the most important one. This will be your target keyword, so make sure that you use the exact keyword you want to rank for as your first tag. Order the rest of your tags by order of importance. YouTube’s algorithms pay the closest attention to the first few tags, so take some time to research and choose the best tags for these first few slots. The best tags are relevant to your content, popular amongst your audience, and versatile. Your first few tags need to be the most relevant, most popular, and most versatile of all your tags. Picking these tags out first might be helpful.

Use a Combination of Broad and Specific Tags

For the rest of your tags, you should use a mix of specific and broad tags. Specific tags will help YouTube suggest your video to the people who want to see it. They tell the algorithms exactly what niche your video fits, what the purpose of your video is, and what specific topic your video is trying to get across. 

Broad tags on the other hand help YouTube understand the context surrounding your video and what category your video should go in. For example, your video might be a tutorial video on how to paint a watercolor flower. A specific tag would be different variations of how to paint a watercolor flower like easy watercolor flower or painting watercolor flowers. A broad tag might include things like art, painting, watercolor technique, or painting lessons. 

Broad tags can refer to a lot of different videos. Specific tags only refer to your video and a few others covering the same topic. The combination of these different types of tags will give YouTube a sense of what your video is about so they can recommend it to the correct audience.

youtube tags

Tag Length Matters

The length of your tags also matters. The best tag length is said to be about two to three words long. It can be tempting to just spew out a ton of short, one-word tags, but these do not give YouTube enough specific information to understand what your video is about. Instead, use short phrases. 

Going back to the watercolor flower tutorial, painting watercolor flowers is a more competitive tag than painting, watercolor, flowers written as separate tags. While all three of those tags relate to the video, they tell YouTube’s algorithms more about your video when they are put together. This is not to say that short tags are bad. On the contrary, you should use some short tags. These will often be your broad tags and a combination of broad and specific tags is very important.

Accurate Tags are Important

There are consequences to incorrectly tagging your video, whether on purpose or by accident. If your tags are all over the place, YouTube’s algorithms will have a hard time knowing who to suggest your video to. If your video does end up suggesting to someone, they might click on your video only to find that it is not what they were looking for. Tagging is only a small piece of YouTube’s ranking algorithm. Watch time and engagement are more important. If this user clicks out of your video, YouTube will interpret that your video is boring. They will be less likely to suggest your video as a result. Accurately and carefully choosing relevant tags can help prevent this outcome and push your video to people who want to see it.

You Can Use Too Many Tags

While accurate tags will help your videos get seen, more tags are not always better. Excessive tagging is against YouTube’s terms of service and will harm your SEO. Using too many tags, especially ones that are way too broad, only loosely related to your video, or completely unrelated, will make it hard for YouTube’s algorithms to understand how to categorize your video. They will have a hard time understanding what your video is about. Five to eight good tags should be enough to describe your video. 

Tags vs Hashtags

It is important to note that the tags you use for YouTube are not the same as hashtags you would use on sites like Instagram. While they both describe what the content is about, hashtags can be a bit more sporadic as they are often used by users to explore similar content. On YouTube, tags are strictly for YouTube’s algorithms. The last thing you want to do is confuse YouTube’s algorithm with very unrelated tags so that they do not know who to suggest your video. 

competitive tag

Tags for YouTube

Tags for YouTube are a small way that you can help YouTube’s algorithm suggest your video correctly. So, what is a YouTube tag? At its core, it is a way for YouTube to understand what your video is about and what purpose it serves to suggest it to people who want to see it. While they do not hold great importance, every bit of SEO can help you reach your goals.

Now that you know what YouTube tags are, how to add them, and how to create competitive ads, you can add these techniques to your video content creation strategy. Do some research to find out what people are searching for in your industry and how you can apply that to your content marketing strategy.


  • What are YouTube tags?
  • How does YouTube rank videos?
  • What makes a YouTube tag effective?
  • What is the purpose of a YouTube tag?
  • How many tags should you use for a YouTube video?

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