Optimizing YouTube Video Metadata

In our last post in this series we took a look at YouTube in depth. The benefits, limitations, channel options and how they differ.

Video Optimization

Creating a stellar video is crucial, but it’s only half the battle. Remember, a ton of great content lives on YouTube. To help your videos and channel succeed on the platform, you’ve got to optimize them. This means developing an intimate understanding of how audiences discover and engage with your videos, and using all available tools to take advantage of these insights. You’ll also need to monitor performance on both a channel and video level and adjust your strategy as necessary.

Metadata

Strategy Overview

  • Write optimized titles, tags, and descriptions for your video content.

Why It Works

  • Metadata helps YouTube index your content. This is critical to building views from search and suggested videos.

How To Do It

  • Use optimized keywords and formatting when writing metadata for your videos.

Effect

  • Search Traffic, Views, Suggested Video Traffic, Subscribers.

Strategy Details

Title

Titles help audiences and YouTube’s discovery systems make sense of your content - so be sure to include relevant keywords that help describe your content. It is also important to treat titles and thumbnails as complementary elements that work together to tell a cohesive story about your content. If your video's title and thumbnail showed up in a search, would you click on it?

  • Include descriptive and relevant keywords toward the beginning of a title.
  • Display branding and episode numbers toward the end when appropriate.
  • Keep titles concise so they don’t get cut-off because of a high character count.
  • Always represent your content accurately; misleading titles can cause audience drop-offs that negatively impact viewership and watch-time.
  • Create titles that reinforce their respective thumbnails. Together, they should tell a cohesive and click-compelling story.
  • Update titles so they remain relevant and continue to attract views over time.

Video Metadata Optimization

Descriptions

Like the title, a video’s description field is valuable real estate that helps audiences and YouTube’s discovery systems understand what your content is about. Only the first few sentences of your video description will appear in search results and above the fold on a watch page - so make them count!

  • Accurately describe your video in one to three concise sentences at the top.
  • Include relevant keywords in your description that can aid in content discovery.
  • Add experience-enhancing links such as subscribe, related videos, playlists, etc.

Video Metadata Optimization - Description

A video description should:

  • Link to other YouTube videos and channels,
  • Link to the permanent location on your site for video accreditation.
  • Include links to specific video time-codes for long-form content.
  • Display a recurring channel boilerplate that includes relevant search-driven keywords. Including this boilerplate in all descriptions will inform first-time viewers about your channel.
  • Take advantage of the ‘metadata defaults’ feature that allows you to create metadata templates that ensure important text or links are always included.

Reminder: It is a violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service to use misleading metadata and blocks of keywords in your description field.

Tags

Tags are descriptive keywords that help YouTube’s discovery systems surface your videos to new audiences. Create unique tags that distill the most important video topics, characters, talent names, etc. (ex: Psy, Gangnam Style, Dancing, etc.). Also, consider including a set of standard tags that can be applied across all of your videos to help explain what your channel is all about (ex: Music, Korean Pop, etc.).

  • Include a mix of video-specific and more general (but still relevant) tags.
  • Only use enough tags to thoroughly and accurately describe your videos.
  • Update video tags when new and relevant viewership trends emerge.
  • Include keywords from your title in your video’s tags.
  • Use quotation marks (“) to convey multi-word tags (ex: “Harry Potter”)

Note: If you have older videos that lack proper metadata, consider updating them with relevant information. This may increase discoverability, even for videos that have been public for a long time.

In our next post we'll take a closer look at Thumbnail Optimization.

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Post Script: Some of this content originally appeared on the YouTube Playbook - We have included it here as part of this series because we believe it is relevant and adds value to this series. It is not intended to indicate that we are the original author of this specific part of the Video SEO Playbook.... So, yeah, Google please don't sue me. That'd be swell! Thanks.

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