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Bruce Deery
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Published on 5/14/2016
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The difference between a video that gets lost and languishes on YouTube and a video that’s seen by thousands is often just a matter of a few simple “optimization” tactics. Below is a guide to getting the most out of every video you post.

Basic Optimization Techniques:

Title/Description/Tags – The three, key fields that YouTube requires when you upload a video are arguably the most important – particularly from a Search Engine Optimization standpoint. To maximize the SEO benefits, your title should be descriptive and keyword-rich. Think in terms of what viewers would be searching for; keeping in mind that YouTube is the world’s second biggest search engine.

Similarly, your description should be as detailed and descriptive as possible. Include your keywords here, as well. Take advantage of the generous real estate that YouTube provides, and use that space to direct viewers to your other social platforms and sites. And be sure to start your description with the full URL of your main website (including the http://), as this will be a live link back to your site.

Tags are simply keywords, so again be sure to use your main keywords and keyword phrases. You may also want to include a “nonsense” keyword that’s unique to you (like your name backwards), as this will help link all your videos together.

Custom Thumbnails – By default, YouTube provides 3 thumbnail choices – but they’re usually the ones where your eyes are closed or you look silly! Instead of settling for the thumbnails YouTube provides, take the time to create and upload a custom thumbnail of your choosing. Select a good, representative screenshot from your video, and go one step further and overlay some text to help the viewer identify the video. Use a photo editor to create the perfect thumbnail to promote your video.

3-Second Video Intro – YouTube now lets you start your videos with a brief, 3-second intro video. This is a great way to build your brand and give all your videos a

consistent introduction. To add your 3-second intro, go to “Channel” and then select “Branding.”

Social Sharing – YouTube makes it so easy to share your videos to other social platforms, so you’d be crazy not to! Once you’ve uploaded your video, just click the “share” button, and a row of social icons will open. As long as you’ve connected your YouTube account to these platforms, (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.) you can share your video with one click.

Playlists – YouTube’s playlist feature is a great way to curate and organize your videos, so you’ll want to take advantage of this function to make it easy for your viewers to find the videos they’re looking for. Another benefit of creating playlists is that they are also searchable on their own, so you get additional SEO opportunities. Plus, playlists play in sequence, so viewers may stay on your channel longer!


Advanced Optimization Strategies:

Annotations – YouTube’s annotations require a bit more time, but the payoff can definitely be worth it! Annotations are notes or transparent overlays that you can add to your video once it’s uploaded. These help guide your viewer through the video and can also serve as powerful “call to action” reminders. Best of all, annotations can contain live links, so if a viewer clicks on an annotation, they can can you take to places that you specify - such as another video, a playlist, a subscribe to your channel button, or even to your own website.


Captions – This advanced feature allows you to manually add captions to your video, again making it easier for your viewers to watch and stay engaged with your video. Adding captions also has tremendous SEO value. Keep in mind that YouTube can do “automatic captions” to transcribe your video, but it’s notoriously inaccurate. You’re better off taking the time to upload a script or manually add your captions to get the full benefit.


End Cards – Adding a closing slide or “end card” is another post-production technique that can ensure that your viewers stay with you longer and, hopefully, take the specific action that you request at the end of your video, i.e. subscribe, watch a related video, etc. This also requires a bit of editing, but it’s a way to really customize your video and cement your call to action. The Tonight Show (my go-to example) also uses End Cards brilliantly.

Related Videos – Finally, you can take better control of what your viewers see when your video ends by making sure the “related videos” they see are yours and not a competitors .To NOT show “related videos,” you can manually manipulate the html code and simply add a “rel=0” to the code. You can also uncheck the “show related videos when the video finishes” section. Taking these extra steps should ensure that any videos that show up are your own.

Follow these guidelines and watch your YouTube views soar and your engagement take off. Does it take extra effort, yes! But the return on investment can be significant with more views and more engagement leading to more fans, followers and customers.


If you found this article helpful please subscribe to my Youtube channel at

Or if you would like to discuss anything in this article you can reach me at 828-989-7771

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