5 YouTube Optimization Tips to Drive up Views

youtube logoVideo and especially YouTube is one of the most important things to understand when you are trying to do SEO and make money online. Unfortunately, there is roughly 48 hours’ worth of video uploaded to YouTube every single minute. That means that effectively, you have a tremendous amount of competition to grab eyeballs online.

By the way, did you know that YouTube is the second most popular search engine on the web? If you’re like me, you probably thought that it was Bing with Yahoo! a distant third. Based strictly on text search, you’d be right. However, when you figure this based exclusively on the number of searches per day, YouTube comes out second only to its parent company, Google.

So what can you do to tap into this tremendous market? I did some research recently to learn about the best ways to get your message out there and actually build yourself a serious YouTube presence without breaking the bank. These techniques don’t necessarily require you to spend a fortune for slick videos (though it does help to do so). They do however require that you spend some time doing things correctly.

Sourcing Video

Let’s start with how to source your video. Your smartphone very likely is capable of doing the job but if you want to look like someone who isn’t running an amateur hour production, you’ll need to augment it. For some reason, every single guide I looked at while researching this article ignores this basic requirement. They just assume you have a video and don’t talk about sourcing.

Fortunately, making your smartphone function as a camcorder is pretty easy. I won’t waste your time telling you to go to the app store for whatever flavor of OS you have (iOS, Android and Windows Phone all have decent video recording apps and most phones come with some kind of basic video recording app as well).

However, I do recommend that you get yourself a smartphone tripod grip. This is a little device that can grip your phone and attach to a standard tripod. Put your phone on one and you go from shaky, handheld amateur hour productions to a professional looking video where even if all you do is talk to the camera, it looks like it was shot by a pro. Joby makes a pretty decent one but there are others available too.

smartphone tripod adapter

I also recommend checking out Camtasia Studio. It’s not free but it can help you edit your videos and add special effects without costing an arm and a leg. Okay, enough of discussing how to take the video. Now that you have one, let’s talk YouTube optimization.

Start with the Description

The description in your video is vitally important to getting it noticed. The fact is that no search engine will actually check what your video is about. YouTube does try to do a speech to text capture of your video’s content but this is a very limited service which still tends to get quite a bit wrong. Plus, if you do an anidoodle style video, there isn’t going to be any speech.

Your description should lead off with your URL. This can either be a link to your homepage or to a specific page on your site which is related to the video. Ideally, you should link it to a page specific to your video because that will drive the most sales. Thus if you create a video all about muscle building supplements, you should probably have a link straight to the purchase page instead of the home page.

The reason you want to put your link right in the top of the description is simple by the way. When your video’s description is minimized, that and perhaps one or two more lines are all that will show. Thus you need it in a prominent place to grab as much traffic as possible from it.

On to the description. It should be keyword heavy but not keyword stuffed. In essence, a good paragraph for a video about SEO might be:

Find out the five secrets of doing SEO correctly. SEO is one of the most confusing aspects of making money online and without it, you will find that it is difficult if not impossible to get your website noticed. Here, we’ll teach you five secrets of how to do SEO correctly. These ideas won’t cost you a penny but will help your efforts to build your search engine visibility tremendously.

A keyword stuffed description (which will first of all turn off human visitors to your site and will second of all likely get your video penalized as spam) by comparison might be:

SEO is all about getting noticed by the search engines through SEO techniques. SEO is really important to building a business online and without SEO, you are wasting your time online. In fact, SEO is so important that without SEO, you will find that sites simply die and lose out to those with good SEO. 5 SEO secrets will teach you the five SEO techniques that every SEO expert already knows to use when he or she does SEO.

I think you get the point there and if you don’t, please hire yourself a professional writer to do your descriptions. You need it.

Other Metadata

Of course, while the description is extremely important to ensuring that your video will get noticed by the masses, it’s important to remember to look at all the other metadata that you can put into a video. Think back to the early days of the web and you’ll pretty much have the idea of how this is supposed to work.

Back in the early days of the web, SEO often consisted of stuffing the keyword metadata section of a post with every keyword you could think of to attract people to your content. Porn operators famously started to put irrelevant keywords into their metadata and so the search engines started to ignore the keyword.

Today, keywords are nowhere near as important in SEO as they once were. We recommend putting them in mostly for internal indexing purposes. However, when it comes to videos, keyword tags become vitally important. Again, because the search engines have no way to see what your video is about, they need other clues. Your keyword tags provide those clues so use them wisely.

Consider using YouTube’s Keyword Suggestion tool. This tool is designed to suggest keywords that are specifically searched for on YouTube in much the same way the old AdWords keyword tool did the same thing.

YouTube Keyword Finder

It is also important to think carefully about your title. It should include keywords while at the same time being interesting enough to get people to want to click it and see what the video is all about.

Use Annotations

YouTube videos can include annotations. These are those little text boxes which pop up throughout a video. They can be absolutely invaluable to you for several reasons. First of all, the annotations can help you to get your message across. They can tell your viewers about your products and why they’re so great while the video is playing.

YouTube annotations

In addition, you can include a link in your annotations. While the link must be within YouTube, this does allow you to point people to all kinds of things, including another video where the description has a link back to your website.

There are six basic kinds of annotations available to you here.

Pause – This is actually pretty useful because it can allow you to stop the video just after you suggest a call to action. This will keep a URL up on the screen so that people can go to take a look at what your company has for sale. You could also include a pause where your contact information appears. Finally, you may want to use the pause annotation to simply create dramatic effect.

Title does pretty much what it sounds like – it includes a title on your video. The nice thing is that you can create a title which reinforces for your customers exactly who created this video that they’re enjoying and where they can find out more information about your company.

Note is one of the most popular annotations on YouTube because it allows you to insert a professional looking note with links into the video. In essence, it will create a note down at the bottom of the video which appears at a specific point in the video.

Spotlight in essence turns an entire section of your video into a link to something else somewhere on YouTube. Thus in essence, people could click anywhere when you use the spotlight.

Speech bubble is probably most useful if you have a video where someone is doing something without speaking. The speech bubble pretty much does what it sounds like – it allows you to create a speech bubble which can be positioned anywhere on the video. It’s often used for comic effect when creating a video to say what someone is thinking as opposed to what they’re saying.

Labels basically allow you to create a box with a caption on it. They’re pretty similar to the note feature but with a bit less flexibility.

In order to use any of these annotation features, you simply select “add annotation” on an existing video and then start adding in annotations.

Remember Your Play Lists

The odds are good that you know what a playlist is. Anyone who has ever plugged an iPod into a pair of speakers for a party knows that you pick an appropriate playlist of your favorite songs and let everyone else hear what you picked out. What some people may not realize is that YouTube offers a similar feature.

Playlists on YouTube allow you to create lists of your own related videos or lists of other videos which you happen to think your visitors might be interested in. Now, why might you want to call attention to someone else’s videos? There are several reasons:

First and foremost, by including someone else’s videos, you increase the value of your own videos. Think about this: Let’s say you run a company selling weight loss supplements. You created a few videos explaining how your weight loss supplements work and why they’re so great. What if you took those videos and now combined them with a few videos about proper dieting and how to exercise?

Instantly, you have created a playlist which has much broader appeal to your potential customers and which sneakily includes your own video selling your products. People will click the playlist because it promises lots of weight loss tips and tricks and your video slides right in there whereas the same person might not have looked at your video alone.

In addition to this, when you create a playlist with other people’s videos and make it public, they can find it and they may well decide to put a link to your playlist on their YouTube page thus increasing the visibility of your own videos and playlists.

It also goes without saying that every playlist you create should follow the same basic rules as your videos. Good titles, good descriptions and good use of keyword tags are all critical to getting your playlist noticed.

Brand That Page

Finally, remember that your YouTube channel has a personal page attached to it. This means that you can add graphics, include plenty of descriptions and of course lots of links back to your home page or whatever other page you want. Thus it’s important to go in and do some branding. Let your customers know when they visit your page that this is who you are.

You can also create custom banners for your page though YouTube does charge a fee for this service. However, the results can be stunning to say the least and they will really help you to sell your company as a big, professional company as opposed to a small outfit which people shouldn’t pay any attention to.