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Techniques to improve the visibility of your YouTube videos in searches

Author's avatar By Neil Davidson 09 May, 2014
Essential Essential topic

YouTube's 2014 guide to meta data in video optimisation

Did you see that YouTube released a Creator Playbook for Brands in March 2014? The Playbook is essentially a YouTube handbook – it tells you what you need to do as a brand to get the most out of the functions and tools that are available to YouTube channel owners. Possibly more than anyone else, YouTube (of the Google machine) are very aware of how advertising is changing shape in a climate of growing online content and shrinking attention spans.

In this article, I will provide you with what I hope will be a handy summary on what the Playbook says about optimising your content with video metadata.

Why bother with metadata?

There are a number of avenues through which you can generate views of your YouTube videos. Some viewers will find your videos in a simple, direct step. For example, they may visit your website and see it there. Or they may follow you on Facebook and see your video in their newsfeed because they ‘like’ your page. Video metadata helps you to access new audiences because it enables YouTube to index your context and serve it to YouTubers in search results in YouTube or in Google, and as suggested videos.

Video Metadata – title, description & tags

The term metadata sounds more complex than the reality. In the context of YouTube, it simply refers to your title, description and tags.

Video Title

If you saw the title for your video, would you click on it? If it is not compelling enough to make you want to click on it, the likelihood is that your average viewer also won’t be interested. There are a few key points to remember when crafting a good title:

  • Be accurate in how you represent your content – viewers will just click away if they don’t get what they wanted/expected.
  • Use keywords before branding – viewers might not recognize your branding, but they will recognize keywords associated with your industry. Also, YouTube will index your video by using your keywords more than from using your own unique brand name.
  • Include episode numbers for serial content – how annoying do you think it is to be looking for an episode in a series that isn’t numbered?
  • If appropriate and possible, update your titles so that they can still grab views in the light of new developments or context. For example, you can use the title to highlight different elements of the video that have their own associated list of keywords.

If appropriate and possible, update your titles so that they can still grab views in the light of new developments or context. For example, you can use the title to highlight different elements of the video that have their own associated list of keywords.

Using keywords in video title

The Playbook offers a tip that you should avoid using deceptive titles just to encourage click throughs. Here is an example of a video that uses a deceptive title and accompanying thumbnail. The actual video is ridiculous – but this is YouTube, and it has therefore had A LOT of views:

How to feed a baby:


You can write a 1,000 word video description if you would like, but it would be a waste of time. You will know from surfing YouTube that only the first couple of sentences are visible (above the fold) on the video page. For this reason, your energy should be focused on making those first couple of sentences as concise and useful to you and your audience as possible. YouTube recommend following a template description for all of the videos on your channel to create consistency.

In terms of must-haves, this is what the Playbook recommends for your video description:

  • An accurate two sentence description to open.
  • Description of your channel and a link to your channel page.
  • A call for viewers to subscribe to your channel and a link to help them do it quickly and easily.
  • Links to other related videos/episodes/playlists.

video meta data

It is obvious that YouTube want to keep viewers on YouTube and they are asking you to help them do it.

Tags for videos

Tags are keywords that describe your video content and will help interested viewers find your videos. You can create a set of ‘standard tags’ for your YouTube channel which are broad enough to be applied to any video you publish e.g. ‘sport’, ‘football’, ‘fitness’, ‘liverpool football club’. Here are the Playbook tips:

  • When you tag your videos, include a mix of general and specific tags.
  • Use plenty of tags so that you thoroughly and accurately describe what your video is about.
  • Update old videos when new trends emerge.
  • Use tags that are the same as the keywords in your video’s title.
  • Format the tags correctly otherwise they won’t help your video be indexed.
  • When inputting your tags, aim to do so in order of relevance to your video.

Top metadata tip: Update the title, description and tags on old videos, because even if they have been on there for a while, these amendments to the metadata can help them be found again and give them a new lease of life.

Useful tools to help with metadata generation

YouTube Keyword Generator/Video Targeting Tool

YouTube Trending Topics

Google Trends

We hope this post has offered some insight into how small and simple changes to your video meta data might help you be more successful on YouTube.

Author's avatar

By Neil Davidson

Neil Davidson is the Founder of MWP Digital Media, a leading Corporate Video Production Company. He also runs My Web Presenters who specialise in creating video spokesperson videos. They work with businesses of all sizes to create and market compelling and emotive videos that get specific and clear results. If you would like to have a conversation about how to create video for the web then please  contact Neil here.

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