This is the first segment of our How To Optimize YouTube Videos To Rank series. I thought we would start with the video description because so many people leave this section blank. From an SEO perspective not providing a detailed video description is a huge mistake, especially if you are trying to get your video to rank for a specific keyword.

For anyone who is new to SEO (search engine optimization), keep in mind that YouTube is a search engine. Every time a word or phrase is entered into search, YouTube returns what it believes to be the most relevant videos to the specified term based on a number of metrics. We refer to these words or phrases as keywords.

Quick Note About Video Titles

Now we will be discussing optimizing the video title another time, but in general you should only focus on ranking a video for one specific keyword or phrase. Why? Well, it’s very important that your video title begins with the same keyword you are trying to rank for.

I will also be discussing keywords and keyword research in detail at a later time in the future as well. For now take your time choosing a keyword that’s relevant to your video and that you believe people will search for. The more common a keyword or phrase is the more difficult it will be to rank for that term, this is referred to as keyword competition.

Let’s Begin

Getting back to the task at hand, how do we go about optimizing the video description to improve a videos rank in YouTube?

It’s actually pretty simple, just include a description when you upload your video. It’s not rocket science, but there are a couple techniques and guidelines you should follow.

First, you should know that YouTube does limit video descriptions to 5,000 characters. Keep in mind that if your video appears in Google’s search results it will only display the first 100-120 characters of the description. The short description that always appears below the video from a non-mobile browser will display the first few lines or paragraph up to about 430 characters.

YouTube’s 5,000 character limit for video descriptions should allow for well over 500 words on average, but I highly discourage ever writing a description that long. (Did I just hear a sigh of relief?) Ideally the video description should be 250-450 words long, but please do your best to use at least 250 words.

Keyword Placement

There is a method to the madness because you DO NOT want to throw a description together and just toss in a bunch of keywords all over the place. Over optimizing a video for specific keywords is possible and can actually have a negative impact on a video’s rank. After all, this is Google we’re talking about and I’m sure YouTube is using very similar algorithms to rank videos. In a nutshell the engine crawls a video’s page and reads all the metadata and text. This data is then factored in with a number of other metrics to rank the video.

Google SEO

That being said, we’re going to keep things simple. I suggest using your keyword three times in the description, but no more than four! We’re also going to take things a step further and strategically place these keywords in the description.

Assuming you are using three keywords DEFENITELY include the keyword or phrase in the first sentence of the description and somewhere in the last paragraph. Use the keyword a third time anywhere in the body of the description that appears and reads in a natural way.

That’s it! The most difficult part of optimizing a video description is actually just taking the time to write a description. If you are not a fan of writing keep in mind that you’re not writing a book. It’s just a short couple of paragraphs. If it helps think of it as a 5-10 minute investment that will start working immediately towards improving your video’s rank.

YouTube Video Transcripts

If you’re really lazy when it comes to writing you can always generate your video’s transcript. Granted the speech to text is not 100% accurate, but once the transcript has been edited a bit it does provide a bunch of unique text relevant to your video.

To get a transcript of a video navigate to the video’s YouTube page, click the “More” button (more options), and then click “transcript”. As I mentioned previously the transcript will likely have some incorrect & jumbled words, especially if you mumble, but it’s still pretty accurate and will give you a bunch of text to work with. Just make sure you take a few minutes to edit the transcript so that it reads coherently and includes your keywords.

To Recap:

  • Choose a keyword you want to rank for and use it at the very beginning of your title
  • Write a 250-450 word video description
  • Only use your keyword 3-4 times
  • Include one keyword in the first sentence & last paragraph of the description

Optimizing YouTube videos to rank higher is not difficult, and with a little guidance you will be well on your way to improving your ranks. Following these four easy steps to optimize your video descriptions is a great first step. If you have a video missing a description remember that it’s never too late to go back and add one. Anyways, I hope you have found this article helpful and best of luck with ranking your videos. Expect to see more optimization articles like this very soon!