A Quick Guide to Writing Effective, SEO-Friendly Video Titles and Descriptions
Video SEO is one of the best (and cheapest!) ways to attract high-quality viewers to your content.
And it doesn’t take a lot of time and effort, either. Even optimizing just your video titles and descriptions can give you more traffic, more views, and more leads.
In this week’s article, we’re going to show you how to create effective video titles and descriptions that also help your content rank higher on Google and YouTube. If you’re making amazing videos and feel frustrated that they don’t get the love and attention they deserve, our advice will help you fix it post-haste!
You will learn:
- How to write great video titles people actually want to click on
- 3 ways to get the most SEO juice out of your video descriptions
- An easy way to get more views on your older videos (with no extra promotion)
And more. So, let’s start with the most important bit — your video title…
Part 1: writing click-worthy, SEO-friendly video titles
Your video content lives and dies by its title, plain and simple. You could make the best video in the world on any given topic, but if your title isn’t SEO optimized — and most importantly, doesn’t make people want to click on it — hardly anyone will ever watch it.
Well, we don’t want that! So here’s how to write an awesome video title…
1. Use your target keyword in the headline (but only once)
Yeah, we know — it sounds super-obvious… but business owners and marketers everywhere still ignore this bit of advice! And we think we know why.
The thing is, many keywords just don’t sound like anything an actual human being would write or say. So it can be a little difficult to work them into a video title naturally! We totally get it – so here are a few things you can do to make things easier on yourself:
- Research shorter keywords. Long-tail keywords (4+ words) don’t work all that well with video titles. So instead, try to find a shorter, more general keyword that your customers are searching for. E.g. “sleep music for deep sleeping” won’t sound very good in a video title — but “sleep music” will work in just about any headline.
- Explore related keywords (to find something better). Both Google and YouTube will give you keyword suggestions as you’re typing your search query — and you can steal a ton of good keywords from there! You can also use a keyword suggestion tool like Ubersuggest or TubeBuddy (for Google and YouTube respectively).
- Insert your keyword as early as possible. First off, it’s better for your video SEO than putting it in the middle or at the end. But also, you can separate it from the rest of the video title with a colon or a dash, and your title will read just fine. Aaah, isn’t punctuation just the best?
2. Hint at the value your viewers will get
SEO shouldn’t be your primary goal when writing a video title. That’s what descriptions and metadata are for. Your title has another, much more critical job…
Getting viewers to click through and watch your video.
Clickthrough rate is a super-important ranking signal for both Google and YouTube — so indirectly it will help you with video SEO anyway! Plus, how are you gonna get those sweet views if nobody clicks on your videos?
The best way to maximize your clickthrough rate is to spark curiosity and promise value. For example, let’s take a video title like this:
“How to Close the Sale with a New Prospect in 3 Steps”
So far, it’s just OK. Chances are, your viewer is going to at least wonder what the steps are, and they might watch the video. Now, let’s try to make it more appealing…
“Use This 3-Step Sales Template to 2x Your Close Rate”
Here, we have a promise of an outcome: closing twice as many prospects. And we also have a hint of value — a template your viewers can take and apply to their sales process immediately. Much more compelling!
3. Use one of the dozens of proven headline formulas
Top copywriters and salespeople in the world have already dreamed up dozens, if not hundreds, of high-performing formulas for headlines. So why reinvent the wheel when you can just look them up and use them for inspiration?
Here are two great ways to find winning formulas for your video titles:
- Find articles with headline templates (like this one or this one). Not all of these will be a good fit for video content — but there are sooo many of them that you’re bound to find a great template that works for you!
- Browse YouTube videos with tons of views and swipe video titles that catch your eye. Don’t lift them from your direct competition, though — it will make you sound generic. Instead, look at video titles in unrelated industries and topics.
Part 2: helping your videos rank higher with great descriptions
A well-crafted video description will help it rank higher, attract the right viewers, and boost your brand’s credibility. And it’s pretty easy to write one! Here are the 3 most important guidelines you want to follow…
1. Maximize your clickthrough rate with the first 125/164 characters
When YouTube displays search results on its website, it shows people the first 125 characters in a video description. And when Google shows results for web pages with hosted videos, it displays the meta description — up to 164 characters.
If you embed videos on your company’s website, make sure that your meta description…
- …mentions that there’s a video on the page that people can watch. This is proven to boost clickthrough rates, because consumers looove video (it’s just science!).
- …entices them to click through. Follow the same guidelines that we’ve already given you for video titles — spark curiosity and promise value.
Ditto for YouTube videos. Make sure that the first 125 characters of your video description stand “on their own” and persuades viewers to give it a watch. For example, let’s take our earlier mock video title, “Use This 3-Step Sales Template to 2x Your Close Rate” — and try to write a nice 125-character teaser for it.
“My close rate for sales calls used to be <5% (ugh). Then, my mentor taught me this 3-step technique, and it shot up to 30%”
Easy enough, right? Now, what do you do with the rest of your description?
2. Write longer video descriptions that are actually useful
Video descriptions are critical for SEO, but most marketers and business owners ignore them. Here’s how to make the most out of every video description you write, so that your content always ranks highly:
- Keep it at 200+ words (for YouTube). The longer your video description is, the more useful search data YouTube can pull from it. Now, this doesn’t mean you should pad out your video description length artificially — don’t just paste the entire “Braveheart” script in there and call it a day! No, you need to…
- Treat it like a mini-article. Use your video descriptions to give some helpful info on the topic of the video. You can even paste the whole transcript in there! Just make sure to format it so it’s actually readable.
- Mention your target keyword (once is enough). This gives YouTube another signal that your video is relevant to the topic of the keyword, which helps the content rank higher.
Tip: for videos hosted on your website, you want to follow the same basic guidelines. Write a mini-article that’s at least 340+ words long (that’s how Google likes ‘em); mention your target keyword in the video title (once) and in the body copy (2-3 times); or just provide a transcript underneath the video.
3. Find keywords you already rank for and add them
This tip won’t help you much with new videos… but it works like a charm for optimizing your older content and getting more traffic and views!
Here’s how it works:
Chances are, Google/YouTube are already showing your videos to people who search for keywords you’ve never even thought about. If you knew what those keywords are for a given video, you could optimize it around those keywords intentionally and reap the benefits.
Luckily, it’s really easy to do!
If you host your brand videos on YouTube, you can use a tool like YouTube Studio to look up your channel analytics and see what keywords are leading viewers to specific videos. E.g. let’s say that you have a video on sleep hacks, and “sleep hacks” is your target keyword. But apparently YouTube also shows your video to people searching for “can’t fall asleep.”
Now, all you have to do is take this new keyword you’ve discovered and incorporate it into your video description. Boom! You’ve optimized your content in like 5 minutes.
If your videos are hosted on your website or blog, Google Analytics can show you which keywords people are using to find your website, right down to specific pages. Then, you can follow the same basic process: pick the keywords that are most relevant, work them into the body copy, get more traffic!
Tip: this advice comes with an obvious caveat. Not all keywords will be a good fit for your brand — or even relevant. Like, maybe you made a joke about how much you love your local donut shop, and now your video shows up in search results with the shop’s name! As with everything in life, use your judgment.
Annnd there you have it! Now you can optimize any video you create (and the ones you’ve created before) to rank higher, get more views, and ultimately — generate more leads and customers. Enjoy!
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