YouMake, YouTube. Easy. But how do YouMarket?
Story by Blair Joscelyne
In and of itself, making videos is not that hard. Nor is putting them online. What is hard though, is getting anybody to watch it. There are a lot of incredible videos on YouTube with less than 50 views. And there are plenty of standard ones with counts in the millions. If you’re serious about online video, you will want people to watch your stuff – that’s the whole point of the internet, right? And to that end, having a few extra tools up your sleeve to achieve cut-through and make yours the most attractive click on the page, can’t hurt.
So – let’s optimize!
Probably the most important point to keep in mind is that YouTube is one of the worlds largest search engines (in fact, it’s owned by Google). So a great start is to begin thinking about your YouTube video as if it were a website. How you would categorise it and tag it if it were a video? How would other users find it? What kinds of words and tags would you use to describe it? This will give you a broader overview as to the kinds of tags you can use in your video.
The description and the tags need to work hand in hand with your thumbnail and video title, which will be the most important aspects of capturing the attention of video-hunters online. Make sure the title includes the actual words of what the video is about. This may sound too simplistic, but its not. Too many people upload videos with either no title, or a title that it not appropriate to their content. Here’s the check list when it comes to creating your title.
1. Put the most important words at the front of your title. Don’t write “A guy shows you the features of the new Canon 70D”. A better title would be “Canon 70D review and footage test”.
2. Try and keep the titles short as some people, depending on the settings of their browser and devices won’t be able to see the full title.
3. Make sure the title actually represents what’s in the video. If you lead people to believe it’s going to be a video about a camera review and then it’s actually just a video of you playing your new song and trying to get people to buy it from iTunes, your channel will, rightly, implode. The only exception to this rule is if you are doing it for humour. For example, a video entitled “How to dance like a legend” with footage of your drunk uncle dancing to Black Eyed Peas, might actually work.
4. Remember that you can update your titles depending on what is happening in the online sphere (Read more about this in a previous article)
Next is your description – also a crucial element in discoverability. The description field is probably the least utilised tool that YouTube has to offer, and it is very much included in the search algorithm, so it’s well worth a few minutes of your time.
Try and summarise your video in one single sentence. You can include much more of course, but be aware that people may not read past the first sentence. They also may not be able to see past the first sentence depending on how their displays are set. Once you’ve got a killer single line sentence locked in to capture the attention of human eyes, then you need to flesh out your description with keywords that will help computers find your video through the wider content search engines (Google, Bing etc) as well as YouTube’s own search engine.
You can use your description field to include links to external websites. If the link is important, try and get it up the front within your first sentence. A lot of people won’t read further than your opener, so make sure its upfront to drive the maximum traffic. Some partners can link to external websites from within their videos, but for everyone else you need to include those links in the description.
TIME CODE LINKS
Another great way to make the most of the description field is to make a playlist with time code to specific parts of your video. You’ll often see this used with longer form content and music compilation videos. When you type in a number such as “1:35” into the YouTube description, it becomes a hyerlink that will automatically link to that specific part of the video. So if you put up a video with 4 songs in it, you could put the time code for each song in the description and then viewers can click to instantly see the part of the video that interests them the most.
Underneath the description box you’ll see the field for writing in tags. This is where you can write in a block of searchable words that will help people discover your videos. This is where you would put keywords that may not be part of your video, but are associated with it.
For example, if your video is about how to make nachos, anybody searching for “chilli” would not find your video even though it is related. So the tag field can be filled with accurate associated tags. If it was a cooking video on how to make nachos, then the tags would including terms such as Mexico, chilli, beans, cheese, enchilada, home cooking, international food, easy dinner.
Think about the kinds of things you would search for and then include these in your tags. Updating your tags on existing videos is a great way to spice up videos that you may have already uploaded. And remember to update your tags when there are relevant associated themes trending.
Online content is all about being relevant and a part of the current cultural zeitgeist.
TubeGuru has been making YouTube videos since 2007. He has more than 60 million video views, and more than 750,000 subscribers.