Create A YouTube Traffic Jam With These 4 Simple Optimization Tips

Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google? As a Google product, YouTube has climbed to the top with over 4 billion videos being viewed every single day and a staggering 60 hours of video getting uploaded every minute. Uploading and marketing your videos on YouTube can help give your content visibility in both YouTube and Google search.

A YouTube channel serves as a hub for all your companies video content, allowing you to present your product, service or mission to a platform that sees over 800 million unique users visit each month. Today we’ll explore four ways to optimize your YouTube channel to ensure your videos are being discovered, watched and shared by looking at examples from existing innovators.

1. Optimize Your Videos Metadata

What is metadata you ask? Metadata is all the information you enter about a video to help clearly define the subject of a video. In terms of YouTube, the metadata makes up the title, descriptions and tags of your videos.

Optimizing these key sections of your video content will help rank your videos in both Google and YouTube. It’s important to note that content is king – if your video is the type of content your audience wants to see then these optimizations will help further a video’s reach. If your video content stinks, then optimizing your metadata is going to do very little to extend its visibility. For a worthwhile example of optimized metadata on YouTube, we’ll take a look at the Zappos YouTube channel.

How can you optimize your metadata like Zappos?

How can you optimize your metadata like Zappos?

Title Your Video Correctly

Write a concise, descriptive title using key phrases that people would search to find your video. Be as natural as possible, but also incorporate YouTube’s Keyword Suggestion Tool as an approximation of how much global monthly traffic a particular key phrase receives. Make sure you choose “exact match” when doing keyword research with this tool.

In the above example, Zappos chose to title their video 5 Ways to Cuff Your Jeans! as a means of making viewers with style questions aware that Zappos is here to help style your clothing as well as offer some for sale. The title is more likely to be found by someone not searching for Zappos specifically, but more so for someone looking for help styling jeans. Zappos used the title of the video to help illustrate the video’s purpose of providing a service to viewers. In the end, helping bring the video in front of a relevant audience for Zappos.

Make Use of Your Video’s Description

Each of your videos should have a lengthy description of what the video’s content is all about. In this case, Zappos could have been lengthier in its description of this video but nonetheless they describe the contents of the video using similar keywords they used in the title.

One thing Zappos did correctly was include a URL at the very beginning of their description of this video. Always include a relevant URL to your website, whether it is a specific page or just the homepage of your website, so your viewers can find the corresponding information from your video on your company’s website.

Following the URL, include your most important keywords in the first few sentences of your description because some of your description. This is because depending on the length, gets hidden behind the show more tab. Aim to have at least a 250 word description using key phrases you’ve researched for the title of the video. Remember to keep your videos balanced with use of key phrases, while remaining natural.

Add Tags to Your Videos

Adding ten to twenty tags per video is an ideal way to make use of keywords relevant to your video but that couldn’t naturally fit in your title or description. Each tag should be a word or phrase (use mostly phrases), that are relevant to the content of the video as well as the ways in which you predict users would discover such a video. Follow Zappos examples of how to tag your videos with their use of keywords like how to, how to dress, 2012 fashion, what to wear, how to cuff your jeans etc.

Why is your video’s metadata a beneficial aspect of your YouTube strategy?

Correctly optimizing your videos title, description and tags is an important way to help YouTube and Google’s search algorithm determine the subject of your video and help it rank in the search results for relevant searches. Again, the metadata is only a small piece of the puzzle and will only help take your videos to the next level if you’ve got quality content to share with your audience.

Optimizing your metadata helps get your videos discovered by a relevant audience more likely to watch your video. The more views a video gets in a short time period of time, the higher it will rank for a variety of key phrases related to its subject. All and all, the first step to your YouTube strategy should be to follow Zappos in the steps described above and optimize your quality video content from the beginning.

2. Use Descriptive Playlists

Playlists are a feature that allows you to organize your videos on your channel into groupings based on a topic of your choice. There are a few benefits in using playlists to organize your video collections on YouTube when it comes to achieving greater visibility to your channel’s content.

Target’s YouTube channel is making wonderful use of the playlist feature when it comes to grouping videos of a similar topic, choosing a keyword focused title and correctly providing a description for the playlist.

Target Featured Playlists

How can you optimize your playlists for greater visibility in YouTube just like Target?

Begin grouping videos of a similar topic into playlists.

Target chose to group all their web exclusive content in one playlist and all their TV commercials into another. By grouping your videos together based on their topic, these videos are more likely to drive traffic between one another due to both usability and YouTube’s search algorithm. A user is more likely to watch a video of the same subject matter right after they’ve just watched a video on that topic.

Use keyword focused titles for your playlists.

YouTube’s search algorithm takes into account many factors to determine what videos show up for what keywords. Keep this in mind when naming your playlists because it’s one of the factors YouTube takes into account to determine the subject matter of a video. Keep the title short, descriptive and use YouTube’s Keyword Suggestion Tool as a reference for finding keywords with a substantial global monthly search volume. Make sure when you’re using this tool to search with exact match types and to only use it as an approximate estimate on the value of certain keywords.

Write a keyword focused, accurate description for the playlist.

This description can be a maximum of 5,000 words, allowing users to understand the subject of the playlist at a glance and YouTube’s algorithm to take into account the contents of the playlist. Target wrote one sentence describing their Current TV Spots playlist, using keywords like great commercials, exclusive online content and of course Target. Completing the same type of research for the title of your playlist is also recommended when writing the descriptions of your playlists as well.

Target Playlist Description

Why are playlists a beneficial aspect of your YouTube strategy?

Target Related Videos

Playlists are beneficial because they help facilitate more views to your content by helping define the subject matter of a video for YouTube’s search algorithm when it comes to the playlist’s title and description. Playlists even rank in Google and YouTube’s search results, providing another means of getting your content seen.

Using playlists also drive increased traffic via related videos. When viewing a video on Target’s Current TV Spots playlist, other videos from this playlist appear on the related videos sidebar to the right of the video. Since videos of a similar subject matter were placed in an optimized playlist, other videos from Target appeared and therefore are helping drive traffic to one another. Related videos are one of the most common ways to drive traffic to your existing videos, playlists help facilitate this traffic.

Also, the playlist bar automatically plays an entire playlist once you begin watching one of the videos from the selection, which provides another opportunity for more than one of your videos to be played in front of a user who you’ve already gotten the attention of. This feature doesn’t come off as abrasive because it’s very easy for a user to stop, play, pause, skip or return to your YouTube channel by interacting with the playlist bar at the bottom of the browser at anytime.

Target Autoplay Playlist Feature

3. Make the Most of Annotations

YouTube annotations are a way of adding interactive commentary to your videos. They act as a call to action on your content to help drive a viewer to complete a certain task, such as subscribing to your channel, watching more videos, pausing the video, adding a comment, following your brand on Twitter or Facebook and among many others.

Expert Village’s YouTube channel, which is part of the organization’s greater ehow network, takes the use of annotations to a new level of innovation by providing call to actions that don’t interfere with the viewers experience.

How can you add annotations to your YouTube videos just like Expert Village?

To begin adding annotations, select edit video on a video you’ve already uploaded to your channel and then select the annotations tab. In the annotations dashboard you can scroll throughout your video, selecting the timeframe where you wish to add an annotation from the add annotation drop down menu. There are six different types of annotations to help drive further interaction with your videos, each with a different purpose for optimizing your content.

Add anotations

The Speech Bubble:

This annotation acts as way of adding additional text not supplied in the video, but is still important that the user be aware of it. For instance, adding a speech bubble to someone who is talking during a video is an easy way to add additional content to what they’re already discussing.

This annotation can be especially helpful because it not only allows you to display text, but also the opportunity to add a link to another YouTube video, YouTube playlist, YouTube channel or the ability for a viewer to subscribe to your YouTube channel. Links to other websites can only be displayed in text form, requiring a user to type the URL displayed in an annotation into their browser as opposed to clicking. Unless it relevant, stick with sending traffic to other destinations within YouTube and keep links elsewhere to a minimum.

The Note:

This is one of the most usable annotations of them all. It’s a simple square that you can enter text into, as well as the links to other YouTube features like the speech bubble allows you to add. This annotation looks professional and is an easier way to present links to relevant destinations like a brand’s Twitter account or website. A marketer could utilize this annotation in a similar way to the speech bubble, but this annotation is more relevant for a variety of video content.

Expert Village’s Garden Home Challenge video uses the note annotation throughout the first nine seconds of the video as seen below. This adds a clear call to action to the beginning of the video, connecting it with the other videos in the series.

A clever innovation used in this video was after the first nine seconds of the video, when the note annotations changed over to spotlight annotations. Expert Village used both forms of annotations on this video series because note annotations draw more attention and take over more of the screen visually; therefore changing over to spotlight annotations after the first nine seconds removes the more distracting calls to action from the video experience, but still keeps them in a smaller form with the use of spotlight.

Always keeping the viewers experience in mind is the most important thing you can do and Expert Village does just this while making use of best practices for optimization.

Expert Village Annotations

The Title:

This annotation acts simply as an added function for videos without a title built into the production of the video. Users can customize the color, font and size of the title box they wish to have for their entire video or if they wish to, they can cut their video in various sections with various subtitles. This annotation is more helpful for branding purposes because it helps clarify for the user what the video is and what company is being represented.

The Spotlight:

The spotlight annotation acts similarly to the note annotation in that it allows you to link to various aspects of the YouTube network with or without text, but the only difference is it highlights a section of an existing video. Therefore, you can create aspects of your video that added with the spotlight annotation appear as custom links to your other YouTube assets. By placing the spotlight over a particular item within your video that section now acts a working link to other content.

Expert Village added a subscribe and a watch now image to the end of their video during its original production. Once the video was uploaded to YouTube, the spotlight annotation was placed over each of these images to create a custom call to action, adding a link to the appropriate next step.

Expert Village Annotations Subscribe

The Label:

The label annotation is a newer addition to the YouTube annotation family. Think of it as a combination of the spotlight and note annotation, acting as a frame with space below it for a caption and/or link.

The Pause:

The pause function freezes the video during a period of time of your choosing, then resumes the video once that pause time is over. This annotation is helpful to help emphasize a particular part of a video that may be beneficial for viewers to focus on for a longer moment than the video allows.

For instance, a user with a video with important contact information about a particular product or service may choose to give viewers more time to take down this information. This annotation would appear to be used the least, just by the nature of what it does. However, it’s still useful to highlight an important message or image about your company to consumers, so vital that the video needs a brief pause.

Why are annotations a beneficial aspect of your YouTube strategy?

Annotations are beneficial aspect of your YouTube strategy because they are a free and easy way to expand your social following, gain greater visibility and add an interactive element to your content.

Your social following can grow from your YouTube videos due to provided calls to action in your annotations like the subscribe feature, making it as simple as possible for YouTube users to receive your future YouTube content. Using a call to action is surprisingly effective, proven to increase engagement as compared to not including them in your videos. Asking your viewers to subscribe to your YouTube channel is the most successful social call to action on YouTube but that doesn’t rule out the benefit of drawing attention to your other social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more.

Annotations allow for both increased visibility and a way for viewers to interact with your content. Expert Village’s YouTube Valentine’s Day Essentials highlights ten different Valentine’s day videos within one video using the spotlight annotation over built in features of the video. Expert Village incorporated this menu of YouTube content thru annotations in the beginning of the video, during the video and at the end of the video. Annotations used in this way help drive traffic to your content if it’s relevant, especially when highlighting videos in a series. Annotations can also help to give your viewers more ways of watching and interacting with your content as opposed to browsing elsewhere once they’ve finished watching your video.

Expert Village Valentines Day Annotations

4. Brand Your Page Consistently

Branding is important no matter the marketing channel. Many features for branding your YouTube channel are free and should be taken full advantage of. Customizing the background of your channel, showcasing your other social networks and creating a custom header are just a few of the many ways to brand your presence on YouTube.

CHOW.com YouTube Branding

How can you brand your YouTube channel just like CHOW.com?

Upload a Custom Background

Many YouTube channels have a custom background as a testament that this is the official YouTube presence of their brand. CHOW.com’s background is simple, high quality and highlighting what they do best, food. Making sure to incorporate those three tactics in creating your own YouTube background is vital. Here’s a link to download your own YouTube Photoshop Template for getting started with your own YouTube channel design with the proper dimensions courtesy of Line25.

Showcase Your Other Social Channels Everywhere

Any opportunity to showcase links to your other social networks, blogs, website etc is worth utilizing. With YouTube’s latest upgrade to the look and feel of the channel there’s new ways of displaying your other online properties. Many brands, like Oralbrush and Dell as seen below, choose to utilize the space about their channel at the top right of the dashboard as a place to link to their Twitter, Facebook, blog, website and other destinations of relevance to their YouTube audience. It also allows for a brief description of your channel which should be utilized with keywords and natural phrasing in mind, much like the optimization of your metadata above.

Oral Brush About Section

Dell About Section

This is a great use of this space, but something unique CHOW.com has done with this about section is highlight noteworthy videos and playlists. For another way to showcase your most viral, successful or otherwise important videos and playlists, make sure to add them to the about section of your YouTube channel just like CHOW.com has done so below.

CHOW About Section

Custom Banners and Layout as a Brand Channel

Customizing the banner and layout of your YouTube channel can go a long way towards improving the experience of your subscribers and viewers, but it unfortunately comes at a cost compared to these other free optimization suggestions.

If you’re a non-profit, this can be done for free but otherwise you’ll have to explore your payment options on YouTube’s brand channel product offerings page. These optimizations are often only undertaken by large companies but don’t let that dissuade you from taking on such a customization of your channel.

CHOW.com created their custom header focused around sharing a similar branded look to their website with a focus on the icons of their other social networks. Take into consideration how you can better utilize this space by taking a quick look at a couple other YouTube channel with customized channels.

PacSun YouTube Channel Banner

GoPRO Header

Walmart YouTube Banner

Why is branding your channel a beneficial aspect of your YouTube strategy?

Branding your channel helps bring a consistent experience to your viewers and subscribers on YouTube that they would see similarly reflected elsewhere. It’s important to let each marketing channel have its own feel, but also be tied together with other channels as well. Highlighting your most important videos on your channel, alongside your other social networks is a helpful way to help flaunt your digital savvy and help make it as easy as possible for your online advocates to connect with you wherever they’re active.

Those are four of the many ways innovators on YouTube are better optimizing their videos for the platform. What other innovative uses of YouTube optimization have you encountered? Share any thoughts or questions you might have in the comments below!

About the Author: Brian Honigman is the Social Media Account Manager at LunaMetrics, a Google Analytics certified partner that also specializes in social media, search engine optimization and PPC. You can follow him on Twitter @Brian_Honigman or @LunaMetrics.

  1. This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been uploading videos to YouTube for a while, but I’ve realized recently that I have to get more strategic about what I’m doing on YouTube.

    I had no idea playlists could be so valuable – and your annotation points were amazingly thorough. Much appreciated!

  2. The article is simple and to the point. the use of a real life example helps people understand better how to optimize the video. Congrats.

  3. Thanks a lot. I’m about to launch some videos in the nearest future, so this information really helps.

  4. Wow…so…much…detail.

    I can tell you didn’t slack off on this at all. What an interesting use for the pause function, which I only had seen in several places and I had presumed it was mostly for making sure the video would fully buffer.

    However, playlists…hmm…perhaps I should make one for the yMusic series I just started on my blog.

  5. Hey Brian,

    Awesome post but I have two questions:

    1) What’s the average cost of a branded channel? I just looked at YouTube’s page and it says I need to contact a representative for a cost. I just want to get an idea if it’s something I can do for some of my clients.

    2) You mention the YouTube template from Line25.com but never link directly to it. I went to their site and I found a YouTube PSD for the old format of YouTube. Did they update a new one and I just found the wrong one? Can you provide the link?

    Thanks!
    Andrew

  6. Hey Andrew,

    1) Honestly, the price has fluctuated over the years so I don’t know the exact cost. At one point, it was as much as $50,000 all the way to $5,000. Contact them to see if it’s a possibility in terms of price but at this point it depends on the size of your audience and your type of client.

    2) Here’s the link that was supposed to be included: http://line25.com/tutorials/how-to-design-a-custom-youtube-background

    I hope that helps, good luck!

  7. Great article – thanks soo much – I’m just about to start creating content for YouTube. This will be really helpful to get visibility.

  8. If I could find your RSS feed I’d sign up …

    • Thanks for reading Lena. Good luck with your YouTube content! For more updates on social media marketing from me, just follow me on Twitter @Brian_Honigman

  9. Great post really well laid out with clear instructions… Thanks for sharing

  10. Now, to become a Youtube Partner, you have to monetize your videos. Any idea how to brand your page or become a partner without doing this? I manage a university’s page and we do not want advertisements, but are not eligible to be a non-profit partner. HELP!!

  11. Now, to become a Youtube Partner, you have to monetize your videos. Any idea how to brand your page or become a partner without doing this? I manage a university’s page and we do not want advertisements, but are not eligible to be a non-profit partner. HELP, please!

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      Becoming a partner channel does require monetizing your videos with ads, however the ads are pretty non-intrusive since you can skip them a majority of the time when viewing videos. If you don’t go the partner route, the design of your YouTube channel is limited but still customizable to your needs in terms of the background you can upload.

  12. Great write up. The tags area and the title area is where I see the most problems. Youtube is powered by Google so what works with Google will work on youtube. Your video title is akin to the page title. And by adding lots of high volume keywords to your tags you are increasing the chance of a video showing up in the suggested area portion of youtube.

  13. Great Article!
    Will put this to good use!

  14. Excellent article,great information on how to actually do the SEO,not the normal generalised guff!
    Great information and I will be back for more!!

  15. Brian,
    Wow, what a great tutorial. You know I’ve wasted a lot of time and money on info products that didn’t come close to sharing all the details and tricks you’ve covered here. I’m just getting started with video and it can be very confusing getting the details straight i.e. picking a good channel name, organizing playlist. What your post showed me was… I’ve got a lot of work to do. Thanks again!

  16. If I am creating a you tube channel for a company, is it ok to put videos related to the company’s work (books in my case) knowing that these videos were not produced by the company itself?

  17. thats really good information, God bless you

  18. An interesting article about Youtube, I found it on Google while doing research partner.Your guide is great.

    A summary of experience makes me very happy and look forward to follow your instructions to MMO.

    Sincerely thank you for what has been written to the online community

    TCTT

  19. I’m fairly new to YouTube but not to SEO, I’ve just started loading videos to YouTube and have a questions about tags. I’ve read a few articles that say to put word phrases in quotes, the tags seem to do this for you, is this correct. I also noticed that the auto suggest below the tag box suggested something like this: “Klim (gear)”. So do the tags use exact and phrase match much like ad-words does.

    So do I need to use quotes and does phrase and exact match work also.

  20. Great (and extremely thorough) article! Must have taken you a while to put together.

    Question: Have you heard anything about looking up competing videos that rank well, and using a bunch of the same tags they use as a strategy to show up in related videos? Obviously, you don’t want to copy everything, but I think if you use a lot of the same tags that make sense for you to use, it would make sense that this could be one of the factors in showing up as a related video. Do you have any thoughts on this?

    Appreciate it!

  21. Great post!

    Love the details you mentioned in this post, I am happy that I spend half an hour on reading good post, now gonna apply these things on my youtube channel.

  22. Thanks for the information. USA, Chicago, IL

  23. Hello, I’m in the process of setting up my youtube channel and your information has been very valuable. Thanks to your article, I feel more comfortable that I have set up channel correctly and named and tagged my videos correctly.

    Thanks,
    Steve G

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