10 Key YouTube Optimization Tips you need to learn!

I admit I've learned a lot along the way of growing Rainbow Zebra and one thing I have really got my head into is web marketing, social media and of course SEO.

So it was a pleasant surprise that my name was mentioned at a supplier's as someone to turn to as a set of YouTube videos needed optimizing.

When I got the call, I said yes and then thought "How in the world do I optimize videos for YouTube search?"

I'll admit my next question was "Is it even worth it?"

Well with:

  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube – that's almost an hour for every person on Earth, and 50% more than last year
  • 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • 80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US
  • YouTube is localised in 61 countries and across 61 languages
  • According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults aged 18-34 than any cable network
  • Millions of subscriptions happen each day. The number of people subscribing daily is up more than 3 times since last year, and the number of daily subscriptions is up more than 4 times since last year

Source: http://www.youtube.com/yt/press/en-GB/statistics.html

You would be mad not to!

Reading my 10 useful YouTube optimization tips below will help you get your videos seen by more people online.

1st Tentative step - Tip 1:

My first step was to spent time figuring out how the YouTube algorithm works in ranking videos.

I did a lot of reading on the techniques of marketing and optimization of videos for YouTube and found Google's own site to be of particular use:


I also realised that to maximise my efforts it would pay dividends to optimize the YouTube Channel, not just the videos.


Step 2 - Correctly Name your YouTube Video

Don't name your video something obscure like I did instead use highly relevant, targeted keywords in your file name to help you.

After some keyword research and then named the Video based on the product's own name and chair type. So for example one of the videos became:

Kempes Mesh Office Chair Video.mp4


Step 3 - Optimize your Video's Title

Again I applied from what I learnt about SEO and remembered it would be a good idea to put my primary keywords in the Video Title section. I placed the primary keyword at the start of the title.

I did not stuff the Title section with keywords, I used the product name, the manufacturer and then added the type of chair (Manager Chair), the colour and accessories. As a means of attracting more clicks I also called it "Demo Video".

I'm still looking to improve this by shortening it, but it is what it is, a Demo video with instructions on how to build the Baresi Office Chair!

Optimise your Youtube Video's Title

Ensure you get your Video Title right


Step 4 - Description Optimization

Writing a great description using your primary (and secondary) keyword phrases is an important part of YouTube optimization.

Not sure which keyword phrases to use?

Use Google's Keyword Planner and then run your list of identified keywords back through YouTube's Keyword tool for greater accuracy.

I aimed for more than 100 words in a description and added a call to action and linked to the website involved. Don't overdo it though, keep your keywords to a natural flow. Overdoing your description optimization - aka keyword stuffing - will only result in a lower ranking so don't do it!

YouTube allows 5000 characters in the description, so there is plenty to go round but do remember your description is "cut off" at 150 characters in the results and will only show up to 70 characters on the video's own page.


Step 5 - Video Tags

In my bid for ranking I was careful to look at YouTube video tags as I'd heard they are not as useful in on-page SEO as they once were:


With that in mind I recommend keeping your tags to no more than 15 - even then I feel that is too many, to me 7 to 10 YouTube tags felt far more natural.

Looking around it seems some think Google uses tags for ranking purposes in the SERPs, so put them in based on the content and what you your video to rank for on Google. Make sure tags are relevant to your content.

Step 6 - Optimize your Video's Transcript with Closed Captions

In my experience YouTube does a terrible job trying to transcript narrative or voice-over in your video.

I recommend spending a few minutes listening to your talkover/narrative and as you begin to type what you hear YouTube "automagically" pauses the video for you. Once you stop typing the video then plays and you can listen and then type again. It is a good idea here to learn to be able to listen to long sections of voice-over and remember it all in one burst of typing. If you miss something said you can always rewind by 5 second intervals till you find what you need to listen to again.

Using Closed Captions helps people with impaired hearing to be able to follow along the content of your video's, naturally it will also help with your long tail SEO efforts!

Step 7 - Adding in Annotations

Adding in annotations to the videos for me, at least, was a little tricky and clunky, I had to dig around and find out which type of annotation was the right one to use.

YouTube Annotation Screen

YouTube's Annotation User Screen

It seems using annotations within your videos is important as you can encourage people to subscribe or even visit your website - cool! However if your video already incorporate company text, straplines or logos ensure you do not set an annotation over the top of them as it will make them unreadable.

Whilst looking at different types of annotations I found some great examples over on:


Here's my take on the different types of annotations you can and should use:

Speech Bubbles

Literally looks like a speech bubble in your video. You can use a speech bubble to point out important information or link across to a different YouTube video, playlist, or channel of your choice


Notes are somewhat similar to speech bubbles, but in my opinion allow you far more control over the size, color, location, and duration of the note's appearance in your video. Notes are great if you need a to embed a “Subscribe to My Channel” call-to-action button.


Use the title annotation when you wish to add an opening frame to your video. Do note title annotations are not linkable to other videos, playlists or channels - they are what they are, titles!


Searching around it seems a lot of people get confused by spotlight annotations. Simply put they are interactive transparent boxes with a frame that appear over an area of the video that you want to point out. So if you want you can have the viewer hover an object (or person) within your video and they see a text or highlight response in their browser outside of the frame. Spotlights are designed to make your videos far more interactive and can be linked to other videos, playlists, or channels.

If there is one annotation I'd exhort you to learn and use it would be the Spotlight feature.


The label annotation is similar to the spotlight annotation, it can link to other video media in YuoTube but instead of text appearing outside a frame it appears inside.


Step 8 - Let YouTube Enhance your Video

Letting YouTube enhance your video

YouTube Video Enhance Feature

If you wish to improve the lighting and sharpness of your video then let Youtube enhance it for you. Clicking "Auto-fix" will brighten your video. The great thing about all this is that you can revert back to your original video if you don't like the enhancements later on.

In the menu above you can see that YouTube splits your video into two as it plays, allowing you to preview the enhancement before you decide to save it. If your video is a little shaky then choosing "Stabilize" can help reduce camera shake, making it more viewable.


Tip 9 - Create Playlists (under Video Manager)

If you have a series of videos then create a playlist so that people can see more of your YouTube movies!

YouTube Playlist being set up

Setting up a YouTube Playlist

This is really easy, just head to Video Manager and choose Playlists. Then create a new Playlist and add a rich description. Then choose "Add Video by URL" and add each video's YouTube URL in to complete your playlist.

Your final step for optimizing your playlist is to highlight the tick box next to "Actions" and then choose "Tag", you'll then see a dropdown of tags previously used for your videos. Pick the tags you want to include for your playlist and then click "Done".

Tip 10 - Optimize your YouTube Channel

If you plan to add regular videos then it is a good idea to optimize your YouTube channel - it's likely most people won't bother so make the effort, it'll be worth it.

You can optimize your YouTube Channel in the following way:

YouTube Channel Optimization tip

Optimizing your YouTube Channel

If you click on the top right of your Channel Art you will see a link appear "Edit Links" - you'll then gain access to this page below, where you can add a Call to Action with a live link to your website!

Add a Link to your Website from your YouTube Channel

Adding a link to your website from YouTube

After that you can add your Channel Description, keep it on the same lines as your Video Description - tell people what they will find in your videos and don't forget to include a reminder for them to Subscribe to your YouTube channel.

Also don't forget to add the links to your Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn profiles to encourage more people to engage with you and your brand via more Social Media channels.


I found this in Channel settings and came upon it a bit by accident:

Editing Channel Settings

Found this by accident, shows how to access Channel Settings

I then added keywords associated with my YouTube Channel, again helping with the optimization level.

Oh and the finished result?

Check it out here:

Office Manager Chairs YouTube Video

Questions? Ask me below, I'm no YouTube guru but fire away and I'll do my best to help you!

Posted by Paul Randall
19th February 2014