The essence of YouTube is helpful, educational or entertaining videos + high searchability. On YouTube, it’s possible (and recommended) to optimize your channel as well as your videos for search. YouTube videos show up in Google search results in addition to searches performed on the YouTube platform, so your videos being optimized well and highly searchable is especially important.
We’re going to discuss how to optimize your YouTube videos (and save YouTube channel optimization for a different blog post). We’re focusing on how to optimize a YouTube video at the time it’s uploaded.
Ideally, you’d fully optimize your videos upon upload to YouTube, but you definitely can (and should) go back to previously-uploaded videos and optimize them in the same ways. To do so, you’d start by clicking the blue Edit Video button and then locate the video elements discussed below, from the Edit Video view.
8 Ways to Optimize your YouTube Videos
Proper optimization of your YouTube videos is partly SEO-related and partly just putting in the time. It can feel like a lot of work in addition to creating the video itself, but again, an important part of a strong video marketing strategy includes making your videos live on for a long time after publishing.
- Write a keyword-rich, self-explanatory video title Your YouTube video title is not the place to get creative; you want to be very literal in describing the content that is included in the video. A good way to “test” if your title is worthwhile is to type it into the YouTube search bar, and see what other videos pop up and how many search results are pulled for that search query. Also, pay attention to the YouTube autofill suggestions as you type your desired video title; you may find a few other (and better) video title ideas by doing so.
- Craft a long(er) form video description If you want your video to have a chance to surface in search results, a single sentence in your video description area isn’t going to cut it. For ideas, take a look at YouTube videos on popular channels in your niche. Take a read through their video descriptions and see what’s included. Often you’ll find at least a paragraph of text just about the video itself, not including many of the additional items discussed below. You’ll also notice a high use of relevant keywords in the text.
- Include time stamps in the video description This aids your viewers because A.) they know if the video is worth the time to watch (because they’ll know if the video content provides the answers they seek) and B.) where to locate what they want to know in your video. Instead of listening to the entirety of a 20 minute long video (and chancing getting aggravated or bored, and clicking away before finding what they are searching for), they can jump straight to that part of the video thanks to the provided time stamps.
- Include relevant links + addition information on your company and other social profiles The best way to handle this is to craft some text and standard links, and save it somewhere that’s easy for you to refer to. That way you can copy and paste this standard section of text into the bottom of every YouTube video you publish. Also, if your video is tied to a blog post or page on your website, make sure to include a link to that post or page in the video description.
- Add Tags Tags are the one thing that the average user can’t see about someone else’s YouTube video. Video Tags are essential to your videos being surfaced and suggested on the YouTube platform, and are typically written as short to long phrases (vs. a bunch of single words). Learn more in this post about YouTube Tags. What I suggest is completing a bunch of video tag research on YouTube (by typing phrases you think you want to use as tags into YouTube search and see not only what videos come up when you search those phrases, but also what phrases are suggested to you as you type), and keeping a list of those YouTube tags in a doc for easy reference and use in the future.
- Add your video to a Playlist If you haven’t already created YouTube Playlists for your channel, you can create a new one at the time of adding this new video to a Playlist. Playlists organize your video into logical groupings, and get their own title and description. Videos can be put into multiple Playlists, too. For more details, visit our YouTube Playlist post.
- Select a video thumbnail YouTube gives you 3 options to choose from. You can also upload a custom image to use as your video thumbnail. Just keep the file size below 2 MB. Consider creating a branded thumbnail image that you tweak with a new video title for all future videos. This adds a visual consistency to your channel, too.
- Tweak additional video settings Visit the Translations, Monetization and Advanced Settings tabs to adjust your settings as needed. Under the Advanced Settings tab, you can (de)select things like embedding, notifying subscribers, video category, allowing ratings and comments on your video, etc. Consider adding captions, too. Captions are helpful to a viewer, provide YouTube (i.e. Google) with essentially a transcript of what your video is about (since YouTube can’t “listen” to your video), and your captions file can be exported and uploaded to that same video on Facebook (via .srt file).
Here’s what the same video looks like fully optimized and before clicking on the Publish button.
Here’s what the video looks like live on YouTube. This is a view of the title, description and time stamps.
Once you have your video fully optimized and set for the world to see it, click on the Publish button and it will be live on your YouTube channel.
Ready to ‘up’ your YouTube video game even more? Add End screen Elements to your videos and designate your Playlists as Series.