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Before Pressing Play: What You Need to Know About YouTube Optimization

Insights December 12, 2013

The consumption of information in society has invariably changed over the past decade and so to have the attention spans of the average person consuming that information. There is a multitude of ways people can consume information on the Internet, which include but are not limited to text, images, infographics, videos, advertisements, news, social, etc. This has an extreme effect on the way digital marketers need to think about consumers and what type of information should be presented in what form media. How can we grab the consumer’s attention for as long as possible while drawing their eye line and attention to what we want them to see?


One form of media that is exponentially rising in popularity across the Internet is video. YouTube is now the second largest search engine in the world with over 1 Billion unique user visits per month and over 6 Billion hours of video watched. This is one form of media consumption that will only continue to rise in popularity through the coming years. Optimizing all videos in accordance to YouTube’s optimization playbook is critical in order to maximize any video’s potential of going viral and getting the right people to view it. After the production of a video it is important to take into account all of the metadata factors in YouTube’s ranking algorithm and the algorithm it uses to suggest related videos to users.


The first and most important step to optimizing a video is creating a title. The title of the video is often times the primary element in driving a potential viewer’s decision within the search results. It is also an extremely important component to the search algorithm within YouTube. The title of the video should be compelling, keyword rich, and branded, yet also must accurately represent the content that it portrays. The best way to title a video is to think of it as a headline that will grab the potential viewers attention with well-formatted keywords in mind.

Example – If Trek (bike company) produced a video on how to correctly tune a bike they would want to have the keyword rich title first with branding to follow.

How To Tune A Bike | Trek

Do not try to trick the viewer into clicking your video by choosing a title that has nothing to do with the content of your video. It will negatively affect the watch-time of your video, which is also a large signal to YouTube to devalue that video.


Tags are used strictly for YouTube’s index and the machine classification of your videos. They are essentially descriptive words that will categorize your videos in order to make them easier for the user to find. You will want to have a set of standard tags that you can use for all the videos on your channel as well as specific tags that satisfy the content of each individual query. Start by mimicking the keyword rich part of your title and go from there. Mix in general tags with that of very specific categories. Think about what search queries you would want your video to rank for and choose those tags.

“How to Tune A Bike” Example –

“how to tune a bike” Trek “tuning a bike” tuning “best way to tune a bike” biking “learn how to tune a bike” “tuning a bicycle” bicycle “bike tuning” “bike tuning video”

The user does not see the tags associated with the video, but they are very useful within YouTube’s search engine. Make sure to satisfy many possible relevant queries by being very detailed along with satisfying those general queries.

Transcript & Custom URL

YouTube offers the option to insert transcripts of your content. Transcripts are crawled by Google and YouTube, so adding that content will provide more depth to your video page and if it contains keywords you are targeting, it can’t hurt your cause.

While you can’t edit the URL of specific videos, your account as a whole can have a custom URL. It is suggested it be the name of your brand, company, or your personal name, whichever applies to your campaign. Be careful though, you only get to change the URL once, so make sure your choice makes sense and doesn’t contain typos.

Example: htttp://


The description is used to provide extra information about your video that the user cannot get within the content of the video. This is a key opportunity for you to let your viewers know about your channel, brand, social networks, and any other links that are pertinent to your brand and video.

  • Make sure to provide a detailed, yet concise description of the video and the most relevant link (to the content of the video) within the first few sentences of the description. The reason for this is that only the first few sentences of the description are visible “above the fold” on the video’s watch page.
    • You want to be very keyword rich within these first two sentences in order to satisfy search intent.
    • If the video is largely informational, then the body of the description should also describe the content of the video in more detail without transcribing the exact content of the video.
    • At the end of the description is where you will place all pertinent links to the brand such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube Channel, etc. This will help tie your video more closely to your brand as a whole, and give users a navigation system within the video to your online brand.
    • It is important to create a “recurring keyword tagline” on all your videos. This tagline should be a couple sentences that accurately describe your channel for newcomer to your videos.


As with most marketing initiatives, when optimizing a video’s metadata, it is extremely important to try to think of the consumer in order to satisfy their search intent. Avoid the crux of a low attention span consumer base and start producing multi-media that will keep their attention, increase your brand image, and garner brand loyalty.

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