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Discoverability and Optimization

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Optimizing content

Optimizing your videos is the best way to make sure your content gets discovered by the right viewers.

  • Video title. Over half of Google searches return at least one video in the results. Having the right title on your video vastly improves the click-through on it.
  • Video description. The description on your video also helps the viewer understand what your video is about.
  • Thumbnails. The thumbnail is often the first piece of content that a viewer sees. It needs to capture their attention.
  • Keyword tags. Keyword tags give you the opportunity to list as many relevant keywords as you can think of, up to 120 characters. Use as many high search volume keywords as you can.

Universal Search

Google Universal Search is where YouTube videos appear within Google search engine results pages. Universal Search returns a multitude of info types when a user enters a search query. At least one video is included in nearly 50% of search queries, with most results from YouTube.

Keyword research

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. It’s important to do keyword research when developing video content campaigns, to make sure that your videos are being discovered by the right audience. You can use YouTube’s auto-complete feature to see suggested titles for your videos. You can also use Google’s Keyword Planner, Google Trends, and YouTube Trends to help with your keyword research.

Search pages and ranking factors

The YouTube search page is the page that appears after you have entered search parameters in YouTube. To make sure your videos appear in these results, you need to know the three factors that affect search results:

  • Metadata. The data that is attached to your content. These are the video titles, video descriptions, and keyword tags.
  • Watch time. This is the aggregate amount of time that viewers are watching your content.
  • Recency. How relevant is your metadata to your content? If your tags are not relevant to your content, you will see high abandonment rates and your recency will be low.

Video titles

With limited plain text for search engines to crawl, your title of your video is probably the most important SEO factor to consider. Video titles need to include relevant keywords, while still being compelling enough to encourage clicks and views.

Tips for creating video titles

Titles help your audience and YouTube make sense of your content. Here are some tips for creating video titles:

  • Make sure that your video titles and your thumbnails tell a cohesive story and align with each other.
  • Integrate a call-to-action in your video title.
  • Use relevant keywords in the beginning of your title.
  • If you need to put your brand in the title, make sure it’s at the end.
  • Avoid misleading titles. This will cause abandonment and hurt your recency.
  • Keep your titles concise, so they don’t get cutoff by the character limit of 100 characters.


Thumbnails are the most important aspect of any video’s release, other than the content itself. Remember that in most search results, thumbnails will much smaller, so your images need to be clear and easily recognizable. Here are some tips to keep in mind when creating thumbnails:

  • Make sure your thumbnails clearly represent your content.
  • Reinforce the title of your content with your thumbnail.
  • When shooting your video, take a couple of pictures in high resolution that you can use later for thumbnails.
  • Make sure your thumbnails look great in both small and large formats.
  • Use close-ups of faces with expressive reactions to grab the viewer’s attention.
  • Make sure your thumbnail is visually impactful, and that it stands out from other thumbnails.

Hook your viewers

Make sure that your video hooks your viewers from the beginning, so that they will keep watching until the end. As soon as your video starts, you need to tell viewers what they can expect from the video. The first few seconds are crucial, so avoid long intros. Keep your audience engaged by asking questions and inviting participation throughout the video.

Optimizing video descriptions

The description field on the YouTube watch page helps the viewer – as well as YouTube algorithms – understand what your video is about. In the watch page, only the first 157 characters are visible to viewers. They need to click on ‘show more’ to read the rest. Each video should have at least a 200-word description, not only to create context and value for the viewer, but also for SEO purposes. You should use the description box to let the viewer know what they are about the watch, give them a reason to watch, and let them know what to expect.

Description box tips

  • Use at least a couple of keywords in the first few sentences to help with search engine discovery.
  • Try not to drive your audience away from YouTube in your description. YouTube wants viewers to stay on YouTube. If you drive too many viewers off the platform, YouTube will penalize your videos and stop them from being recommended.
  • Use the description box to link to your website and social media profiles.
  • Include transcripts of your videos, if you have them, for search engine discovery.
  • Use chapter markers if your video is long.
  • Channels with over 5,000 subscribers can add Creator Credits to their videos; these will appear in the description.

Keyword types

Tags help users find your video when they search the site. Using the right mix of broad and specific keyword tags will help ensure that videos are suggested next to other relevant videos.


Using closed captions is a key element in helping your videos rank higher in search results. Closed captions are read and indexed by both YouTube and Google, which means that your content will have a higher chance of being discovered in searches. Captions have also been shown to increase viewer watch time and engagement with videos. They also make your videos accessible to hearing-impaired viewers.

Ranking and suggested videos

On your watch page, YouTube uses various factors to suggest videos to watch next. The suggested videos on the right side of your watch page are split into three sets of videos:

  • The first four videos are algorithmically selected from the channel.
  • After that are related videos: videos from other channels that are related to the type of content that you are watching.
  • Finally, there are recommended videos: these are based on your watch history.
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Carlos Pacheco

Carlos Pacheco is the Vice President of Audience Development at Boat Rocker Media. Managing a team dedicated to online audience growth, Carlos has grown YouTube channels to have millions of subscribers and billions of views. Follow Carlos on Twitter on @carlospache_co for great social media tips.

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

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YouTube and Social Video
Carlos Pacheco
Skills Expert

This module introduces the concept of social video marketing, focusing on YouTube. It begins by outlining the benefits of incorporating social video into your marketing campaigns, and provides best practices for doing so. It then teaches you how to set up, customize, and manage a YouTube channel, and how to use the platform’s features effectively. It also teaches you how to use enhancement features to improve your video content. Finally, it provides you with the tools and knowledge you need to build an audience for your videos, and to use YouTube Analytics to measure their performance.