4 YouTube Optimization Tips for Digital Marketers

Customer Experience · Digital Marketing

YouTube's growth over the past decade-plus has been pretty mind-blowing, and the statistics paint an incredible picture. It's become the second largest social media platform with over 1.5 billion monthly users, second only to Facebook's two billion and more than twice the amount on Instagram, which is 700 million. About 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute to users across 88 countries around the world. Mobile views also make up half of the site's streaming.

Suffice to say; YouTube occupies an enormous and crucial piece of online real estate. It has grown steadily since its launch in 2005 and is the single largest and most-visited video service online. Many other video sharing networks have come and gone, but YouTube has outlasted them all.

It’s because of all this; many digital marketing specialists are trying desperately to increase exposure and boost sales by using the platform. YouTube might be the most important video site on the Internet, and video-based content can greatly affect digital marketing, but it's hard to stand out from the crowd. Approximately 720,000 hours of footage is uploaded every day. If you want your five-minute piece of digital content to get noticed you have to make every bit of it count.

Well, that's why we're here to help you. Here are 4 simple YouTube optimization tips for digital marketers who want to climb the search rankings, increase shares and gain more social capital.

1. Pay Attention to Video Title Length

There's more to choosing a title for your YouTube video than coming up with something that's engaging, catchy and easy to read. Just like with blog posts, keywords matter when it comes to video titles. They help with its search rankings in both YouTube and Google. Be sure to use something that's both attractive to viewers and search bots if you want a better shot at making the first page.

One more thing to consider is what portion of the title is visible when people search through YouTube or other search engines that include results from the video sharing service. Were you able to get to the point quickly enough? Does the thumbnail match the title?

After taking everything above into account, you may also want to know the sweet spot for video titles is about 100 characters. It may be challenging, but this should be enough space for you to come up with a descriptive yet captivating title without being cut off by the character limit. Not only does the title have to make it clear what the video is about, but it must also contain key phrases while being compelling enough people will impulsively want to click on it. No pressure, right?

Here are a few things to consider when crafting a title for your video, which may make things easier. Always include important names and characters, such as the featured brand, subject of the video or event you're promoting. Be sure to mention any location relevant to the video, especially if you're targeting a specific area. Last, but not least, insert that all-important keyword you want the video to show up under searches for. This will help it garner views even if a user isn't specifically searching for your content.

2. Write Longer Video Descriptions

It might appear to be counterintuitive, but users of the platform can actually see a lengthy video description as helpful. Video and channel descriptions can, therefore, be a valuable resource for bringing traffic to your content. YouTube permits up to 5,000 characters for descriptions, which equates to about 500 to 700 words.

In addition, the more original content you provide, such as what you write below a video in the description field, the easier it is for search engines to understand what your video is about and which search queries to give it a ranking for.

Now, there's no need to take advantage of every character you're given to write a comprehensive essay, but you should aim for about 2,000 characters for video descriptions and 3,000 characters for channel descriptions. This is a good amount of space, which allows you to provide solid context to viewers while flexing your search engine optimization muscles. Use more characters if you feel it's necessary, but it's best not to fill the entire text box with pointless content.

Another thing to take under advisement regarding video descriptions is to make the first 150 characters count. Of everything you write, these characters matter the most because it's where YouTube cuts the description off and inserts a 'Show More' button, at which point the viewer has to click it to opt into reading the rest. Many viewers aren't willing to invest that much work into finishing the entire description.

Those first few characters must give viewers the essential information. It should tell them everything they need to know in order to connect with what they're about to consume. Afterward, you can focus on inserting more keywords and phrases and more detailed information about your product or service and brand.

Finally, descriptions are also a great space to link to any affiliated channels, websites, and your social media accounts. It helps to introduce these with a call to action, such as liking, subscribing and learning more.

3. Use Quality, High-Resolution Thumbnails

These days, everybody uses a customized, high-resolution thumbnail when sharing videos. Long gone are the days when you would let the platform itself use a screen grab from a random moment as the face of the video. People are now able to help with self-promotion by creating their own, on-brand thumbnails. Many of them follow a certain pattern. They're bright, highlight a silly moment or put something intriguing in them. Some users even use them to write a second and far briefer title.

It's not necessary for brands to create the same type of meme-tastic thumbnails—actually, it's discouraged—but yours should be sleek, professional and eye-catching all the same. The size of the thumbnail should be 1280 x 720 pixels large. There are some websites that help you generate thumbnails, but if you have a graphics department, we recommend using their skills to craft one.

One more thing to keep in mind is you should employ a standard format with all of your thumbnails across every platform. If you put your face or company logo on one thumbnail, you should put it on each one. It's important for your videos to be instantly recognizable to anybody who follows your brand or channel. That way if they see your face or logo on the suggested videos sidebar or in search results they're more inclined to click on it. If you any older videos, we recommend going back and uploading new thumbnails to all of them, so every video on your channel matches. It's a simple way of getting better results.

Also, in case it isn't obvious, be sure your thumbnails are readable and easy to recognize. They're called thumbnails for a reason—they're small in size. Viewers may only have a moment to process what your video is all about based on a tiny image in the right-hand column or a mobile device.

4. Utilize Playlists

Playlists on YouTube can be incredibly helpful in drumming up views. You can group together certain of videos in your channel based on type or subject, which can make it easier for your followers to access the videos they desire in one place. This is especially nice if you have created a video series.

But there's more reason to use playlists. YouTube's search tends to show playlists at the top of its results pages. It also allows users to specifically search for playlists. If you make a bundle of videos on a subject a viewer has a particular interest in, they can also just one-click access the playlist and watch every one in a single session. This can up your engagement rate dramatically, even though, well, all viewers have to do is sit back and watch your videos endlessly. Engagement is a crucial factor when it comes to YouTube search rankings.

YouTube playlists also help you boost your chances of increasing your search rankings for content with a wider variety of key phrases. Take advantage of this and stuff more keywords into your playlist titles.

Don't Forget to Feature Your Own Videos

Be sure to display your videos prominently on your website. More people will watch your videos if you splatter them on the front page. It will also mark your video as being related to the industry your site represents, which means YouTube will categorize it as such.

Promoting your videos away from YouTube is a great way of generating more views, especially since it means potential customers don't have to navigate away from your site to watch them. Make good use of the embedded video feature. Point to your videos in blogs and social media posts. This way it can gain additional shares and generate even more views.

About The Author
Clodagh O'Brien

Clodagh is a Content Marketing Specialist at the Digital Marketing Institute. She has a passion for words and in her spare time writes flash fiction and tries to limit her Netflix watching to two shows a night (three max).