Optimising your YouTube videos



We’ve all got caught up in the whirlwind adventure that is the suggested videos bar on YouTube. One after another after another… six hours later questioning your life choices. But how do you go about having your videos appear in that bar?

The bar in question, that sits on the right-hand side of the video you’re watching, is usually composed of three things:

  • Suggested videos from the creator of the one you’re watching now (these are algorithmically chosen)
  • Related videos that are similar to the ones you’re watching at that very moment (these are made by other creators)
  • Recommended videos that are based on you, the viewer, and your history

We’re talking about the bar to the right of the video!

The ability to appear in this YouTube bar as one of those related videos is based on a few metrics and your ability to optimise your video content. Crazily enough, as marketers, we’ve got some advice on how to optimise!

Never underestimate the power of video, no matter what your business is. It’s hardly a secret that YouTube is the second most popular search engine, just behind Google itself. With statistics such as the fact that 46% of viewers saying they’ve made a purchase as a result of a branded video, you really can’t ignore the medium when it comes to your digital marketing strategy.  

Some of the metrics considered by YouTube algorithms when deciding who to place on the East of the website are; watch time, relevancy, viewership history and engagement figures/types. There are many more, we’re sure, but as you may know, Google updates their algorithm so regularly that there is a lot of trial and error with optimising content. Really though, it’s all fun and games.  

Making cool, engaging and inspiring video content is down to you – although we can show you how in our DIY Video Marketing workshop – but we’re here, in the form of words, to help you when it comes to uploading your masterpiece to YouTube itself.

Let’s begin!

So, you’ve made a video. Great! Now open up YouTube and hit the upload button that, on a desktop, sits on the top right of the window. Drag in your video and let’s get started.

First up, Video Titles.

This is one of your first chances to explain the content of your video and entice the user to click, so make it juicy (and relevant, of course). It’s also somewhere you can use keywords to improve the reach of your content.

Use tools like Adwords Keyword Planner, Answer the Public and Google Trends to identify popular keywords, topics and search terms. Title your video accordingly. You can also use this data to inspire your future content.

But remember to not only optimise your video titles for search, but for people. Don’t stuff the title full of nonsensical keywords in an attempt to appear first. People won’t click if they don’t understand.

Rather than ‘camera unboxing video’ you could title it ‘Unboxing my new camera | Canon 60D’. Including the name of the camera narrows it down within search when a user is looking for that particular make. It’s also more likely to then appear as suggested content next to other Canon reviews and unboxings.

Secondly, thumbnails.

If someone is on YouTube watching video content, then it’s kind of a given that visuals are a stimulant for them. In the suggested bar the first things a viewer will see are the title and the thumbnail. The thumbnail should be able to tell them all they need to know about the type of video it is before they even get to glance at the title. If you mislead them with a thumbnail that is not relevant and they click away from your video, it will affect your algorithm performance.  

What makes a good YouTube video thumbnail? Well, as with most things, consistency is key! Using similar colour palettes, font sizes, styles and general format mean the content is recognisable to the viewer. Similarly, keeping it branded with either a style or logo will mean the videos are more identifiable and therefore, the viewer is more likely to click through to watch. Check out the lesson on YouTube Creators to learn more about what makes a good video thumbnail.

Thirdly, tags.

Rather than stuffing your description with keywords that, whilst relevant to your content, aren’t necessarily easy to put within context, you can use the tag field. These are nice and simple, just add relevant keywords and phrases to the field. Don’t put in irrelevant ones or you will be penalised by the platform.

We suggest ten to fifteen keywords, despite the 500 character limit, to avoid it looking like you’re keyword stuffing. There are even algorithm-friendly patterns for adding your tags. At the beginning of your tag list include the longer tail keywords (usually three to five word long phrases), then medium length, and single length. But don’t ask me to explain why this works – it just does!

Fourthly (that’s a weird word?), video description.

Well-written descriptions and the right keywords can boost the visibility of your content, views and watch time as they appear more in search results. As mentioned in the video title section, you should research relevant keywords that you can include in the description that still do the job of describing the content and boosting your reach, whilst remaining relevant to the content.

Make sure every description is unique so YouTube and viewers can clearly understand the difference. We then suggest adding something about your channel and your social links at the bottom. You can set a default description that auto-populates when you upload – check out how here.

You can also use hashtags within video descriptions in the same way you’d use them on Twitter or Instagram. Viewers can find your content this way. But don’t overdo it, YouTube will automatically ignore the hashtags in your description if there are more than fifteen of them. They’re a great way to jump on trending subjects.

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These are just some of the many things you can do to help optimise your YouTube content in the first stage of uploading video to the platform. If you want to know more, we recommend checking out the YouTube Creators Academy that is jam-packed with lessons on making the most of the platform, just like Google’s Digital Garage.

We’d love to subscribe to your YouTube channel to see how you’re doing. Tag us into a post on social media that links to your account and we’ll subscribe.

Once you’ve learnt the basics of search engine optimisation, you can transfer these skills to other formats too. Check out our mastering search workshop to, well… master search.


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