YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine trailing behind only Google itself. Part of the way YouTube indexes videos is with the use of metadata.
Metadata is an ambiguous term that really means “data about data” but in the YouTube world, we are referring to the video title, description, and tags of a video.
We’ve said it before, but it’s worth noting again. Online videos are not inherently searchable. It’s imperative that you surround your videos with text that web crawlers can find.
YouTube won’t know what your video is about until you tell it. It’s critical to make your videos discoverable for views from search and related videos through YouTube metadata.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Is YouTube Metadata?
YouTube metadata refers to the information that accompanies and describes a video uploaded on YouTube.
This metadata plays a critical role in how videos are discovered and organized on the platform. It includes various elements:
- Title: The title of the video, which is often the first thing viewers see and is crucial for search optimization and attracting viewers.
- Description: A detailed description of the video’s content. This can include information about the video, links to social media, credits, and other relevant details.
- Tags: Keywords related to the video that help in search and discovery. Tags can include topics covered in the video, names of people or places mentioned, and other related terms.
- Category: The category under which the video falls, such as music, education, gaming, etc. This helps in classifying the video in YouTube’s search and recommendation algorithms.
- Thumbnail: A visual preview image for the video. An engaging thumbnail can significantly impact a video’s click-through rate.
- Closed Captions and Subtitles: Textual versions of the dialogue in the video, which are essential for accessibility and can also aid in searchability.
- Privacy Settings: Determines who can see the video (public, private, or unlisted).
- Comments and Ratings Settings: Options to enable or disable comments and the like/dislike ratings on the video.
- License and Rights Ownership: Information about the copyright status of the video and the license under which it is distributed (e.g., standard YouTube license or Creative Commons).
- End Screens and Cards: Interactive elements that can be added to a video to promote other content, channels, or external links.
- Video Location and Recording Date: Information about where and when the video was recorded.
This metadata is crucial for YouTube’s algorithms to understand, categorize, and appropriately recommend videos to users. It also aids creators in optimizing their content for better visibility and engagement on the platform.
Let’s explore the most essential pieces of Youtube metadata and how to optimize them for maximum visibility.
YouTube Video Title
The most important piece of the metadata puzzle is the title. YouTube says:
“Make it compelling – this is your video’s headline. Title and thumbnails are often the primary elements driving viewers’ decisions of what they’ll watch next. If your video’s title showed up in a search, would you click on it?”
But the reality is the title is much more important than this.
Beyond watch time this is the number one most important thing you can do to help your video become more discoverable.
To illustrate the importance consider the following example. A generic search on YouTube for “financial advice” yields results of videos with “financial advice” directly in the title.
Do a few other searches on YouTube and you’ll get similar results, so put yourself in the shoes of one of your potential viewers. What would they be searching for if they were looking for this type of content?
In most cases you’ll want to stay away from being too creative and steer more towards being literal.
YouTube Video Descriptions
Your description is your chance to give more context to your viewers and search engines to the subject matter of your content. There’s lots of room so use it!
The structure I prefer is…
- 1st Paragraph: Describe the video.
- 2nd Paragraph: Describe the video series.
- 3rd Paragraph: Describe the channel and / or video.
- 4th Paragraph: Link to other content.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Order Matters: Only the first few sentences appear in search results. Put your important keyword rich text up front.
- Use Links: YouTube descriptions are one of the few places you can link off of YouTube to drive traffic to your website, social networks and other videos on YouTube and encourage subscribers.
- Use a recurring keyword tagline: Your second and third paragraphs can be consistent across your video series or your channel.
- Use Timestamps: For longer form content, adding timestamps can help your viewers navigate to the parts of the video that are important to them.
Last year YouTube eliminated public tags to reduce spam and discourage people from copy and pasting tags from popular videos to manipulate their rankings.
YouTube tags remain an important way to help YouTube index your videos and help others find them.
- Order Matters: As with the description the tags you put up front are the most important.
- Include Keywords from your title: Whatever you titled your video should be repeated here and in your video description.
- Quantity: While YouTube doesn’t give a specific suggestion of how many tags to use I like to use a minimum of 8 – 12.
To generate a good list of tags I use the following tools and strategies.
- The YouTube keyword suggestion tool and the Keyword planner can help give you related tag suggestions and an idea of search volume. Remember you want a list of general and specific tags so don’t get too caught up if some of your tags doesn’t have much search traffic.
- Another great strategy is to just perform a few search queries on YouTube. What kinds of videos are showing up for the term you wish to be ranked?
Software Tools That Help You Optimize Your Meta
There are several software tools available that can assist with optimizing YouTube metadata, making the process more efficient and effective.
One of the most widely-known and notable tools is the Mattw.io YouTube Metadata website.
This tool provides a user-friendly interface to analyze YouTube video metadata providing insights into how well it is optimized for YouTube’s search and recommendation algorithms.
In addition to the YouTube Metadata tool, other software solutions that can aid in this process include:
- TubeBuddy: A browser extension that integrates directly into YouTube’s website. It offers a range of features including keyword research, tag suggestions, and SEO tools to improve the visibility and ranking of your videos.
- VidIQ: Another popular tool that provides a suite of features to enhance your YouTube SEO. It offers keyword research, analytics, and competitor analysis to help you understand what works in your niche.
- Social Blade: This tool offers a variety of analytical data about YouTube channels, including growth trends, projections, and comparisons with other channels. It’s useful for understanding your channel’s performance in the context of the broader YouTube ecosystem.
- Google Trends: While not exclusively for YouTube, Google Trends can be incredibly useful for identifying trending topics and keywords that you can incorporate into your video titles, descriptions, and tags.
Each of these tools provides unique features and benefits that can help in different aspects of optimizing your YouTube metadata.
By leveraging these tools, you can gain a competitive edge and increase the likelihood of your videos being discovered and viewed by a larger audience.
Top 11 Tips for Optimizing Your Youtube Metadata
Below, we have listed 11 pro tips on how to optimize your youtube video’s metadata.
1. Create Keyword-Rich Video Titles
Develop video titles that effectively combine descriptiveness and keyword optimization.
As we’ve already mentioned, your title should accurately represent the content while incorporating key phrases that are likely to be used in search queries.
This enhances the discoverability of your videos on YouTube and search engines.
2. Write Thorough Descriptions
The description box is an opportunity to provide more in-depth information about your video.
Use this space to include relevant keywords, a detailed summary, backstory, or any context that adds value to your video. Additionally, include links to social media, websites, or other videos to drive engagement across platforms.
3. Include Industry-Specific Tags
Tags are crucial for search algorithms.
Use specific, relevant tags that relate directly to your video’s content, target audience, and industry. Avoid generic or overly broad tags, as they dilute your video’s relevance.
Instead, focus on tags that accurately describe the specifics of your video.
4. Design Attention-Grabbing Video Thumbnails
Thumbnails are the first impression viewers have of your video. Design thumbnails that are visually appealing and reflective of the content. Use bright colors, clear text, and engaging imagery.
A well-crafted thumbnail can significantly improve the click-through rate of your videos.
5. Upload Video Captions Manually
Adding captions to your videos makes them accessible to a wider audience, including viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Manually uploaded captions tend to be more accurate than auto-generated ones and can include important keywords, boosting your SEO.
6. Set Up Cards to Keep Viewers Engaged
Cards are interactive elements that can be added during specific parts of your video. They can direct viewers to other videos, playlists, or external links.
Use them strategically to promote related content, encourage channel subscriptions, or link to merchandise or crowdfunding campaigns.
7. Select the Appropriate Video Category
Choosing the right category for your video helps YouTube’s algorithm understand and classify your content.
This categorization plays a role in how your video is recommended to viewers and where it appears on the platform.
8. Use End Screens Effectively
End screens appear in the last 5-20 seconds of a video and can showcase other videos, playlists, or encourage subscriptions.
This is a powerful tool to keep viewers within your content ecosystem, boosting your channel’s watch time and viewer retention.
9. Keep Your Metadata Updated
Periodically revisit and update your video metadata to ensure it remains relevant and optimized. This includes tweaking titles, descriptions, and tags to reflect any ongoing trends, new information, or changes in your content strategy.
10. Encourage Viewer Interaction
Engagement metrics like likes, comments, and shares are crucial for YouTube’s algorithm. Encourage viewers to engage with your content by asking questions, inviting comments, and prompting them to like and share.
This interaction signals to YouTube that your content is engaging and valuable, thus improving its visibility.
11. Monitor Analytics for Insights
Regularly review your YouTube analytics to understand your audience better and see what works.
Pay attention to metrics like watch time, viewer demographics, and traffic sources. Use these insights to refine your content and metadata strategy for better performance.
Even though it’s behind the scenes the title of the file you upload matters.
So instead of uploading a video with a name like 100NCD40_Edit4.MOV take the time to retitle your file something more descriptive with a keyword like bestfinancialadvice.MOV before you upload your video.
This marks the end of our Youtube metadata in the do.
None of this is going to make your corporate videos “go viral” but neglecting to put some thought into your metadata is pretty much guaranteeing that your videos won’t be seen by anyone.
It’s a little bit of art with a little bit of science and there is no “right” or “wrong” metadata.
The best you can do is to tell YouTube a little bit about your videos and let YouTube Analytics be your guide to what is working and what isn’t working and make adjustments.