How to Write Effective and Optimized YouTube Descriptions

Last Updated: March 27, 2023

It’s no secret that YouTube has an enormous online presence. The site has garnered over 80 billion visits in a month (via Statista). Even more astounding is that an overwhelming majority of these are on mobile devices. YouTube has become a go-to means for gathering information, watching entertainment, and listening to the latest music. 

This portable access means that users are looking for videos quickly and can be easily distracted. Making sure your video is discovered easily is a huge priority. One effective way to make that happen is by optimizing your YouTube descriptions. These can drastically impact the ranking of your videos in search results. Their content can also help YouTube automatically recommend your video to users based on their preferences. So, learn how to craft fully optimized YouTube descriptions to boost your video and gain valuable views.

Why is an Effective YouTube Description Important?

A billion YouTube videos are watched every single day. And, since the platform is home to over 800 million videos, users have plenty of options to choose from (via EarthWeb). This is some pretty tough competition to overcome and earn those views. In order to get users to watch your videos, they first need to be able to find them. Fortunately, you have two key opportunities to make them more likely to be discovered.

  • Channel description: This is where you define your brand and what viewers can expect from your videos as a whole. First, select a channel name that’s catchy, memorable, and matches your brand image. Then, fill your description with relevant details about your content, sprinkling keywords in naturally along the way.
  • Video descriptions: These appear on each video’s specific page. This is the perfect chance to go into detail and capture the interest of scrollers. Provide a captivating intro to entice viewers to watch your video. Add keywords here strategically and hashtags to help with discoverability. 

Key Components of an Effective YouTube Description

An effective YouTube description isn’t just a well-written blurb. It should be carefully crafted strategic content that includes some key components.

  • Relevant keywords: You should think about this in the same way you research and select keywords for search engines. After all, many people now use YouTube in the same way — as a means to find the information that they’re looking for quickly. Hone in on a primary keyword that relates strongly to your video. Then, expand your list to related terms and phrases for secondary keywords. These will help you capture more relevant searchers.
  • Timestamps: These essentially function like a table of contents in a book or a jumpable section listing on a webpage. By providing time stamps to key video sections, you allow your video to be more user-friendly. It also gives you a chance to sprinkle in additional highly-specific keywords.
  • Links to social media pages and external websites: This is a perfect chance to move viewers to the sales funnel or deepen their relationship with your brand. However, YouTube can ding channels that send viewers away from the platform. So, as a rule, only include links that enhance the user experience. For example, links to product or affiliate pages make purchasing featured products easier. To stay within the YouTube realm, add links to other related videos so users can continue their viewing journey on your channel.

    Key tip – make sure links are formatted with “http://” or “https://” not “www.” so they work correctly.
  • A call to action when appropriate: If a call to action makes sense for your video, it’s the perfect way to wrap up your description. This identifies the action you’d like the reader to do next. Consider your objective and intention for the video. Are you trying to gain channel subscribers? Is your goal to boost sales? Add links and concise verbiage to encourage viewers to follow your channel or order the featured product.
  • Hashtags: A few key hashtags can boost your video’s organic discovery. These are a perfect way for viewers to happen on related content. Select two or three related to your content and keywords. Then, check them out on the platform, and make sure your video makes sense for the tag.  

Writing YouTube Descriptions That Increase Views

Sure, it’s ideal for your videos to rank well and be discovered. But how do you get viewers to actually watch your content? Writing YouTube descriptions that draw users in is an art that’s pretty simple to master. There are a few critical things to keep in mind when it comes to reader-friendly descriptions.

Use Keywords Effectively

Keywords are the backbone of optimizing your YouTube descriptions. However, you can’t just add them to your content without a strategy. These key concepts help you select the most effective keywords and use them in an authentic way.

Using Searchable Keywords

When deciding on your keywords, put yourself in the place of the user. What would you type in if you were looking for the info in your video?

User-focused keywords help you better match with relevant searches. For example, someone looking to make bread is likely going to type “how to make bread” in the search box rather than “bread-making tutorial.” Remember, searchers want info quickly and easily. So simple and natural keywords will better match their queries.

Make a list of these terms and do a little research on their popularity. Tools like Google Trends can give you insight into what users are searching for. This allows you to compare keywords and identify the most popular. It can also give you valuable data like how keywords are trending over time and what regions tend to prefer certain ones.

Once you nail down a keyword, expand your list to include related words and terms. Searchers will often use variations of your target keyword. If your video is a product review of the newest Nikes, your primary keyword might be “Nike running shoes.” Then, expand your list to terms like “best running shoes,” “best Nikes,” and “shoes for runners.” If you’re stumped on related terms, you can use actual Google searches as a tool. Perform an incognito search for your primary keyword. Then, scroll to the bottom of the results pages and check out the list of related searches. You can use any of the ones listed that are relevant and accurate to your video content.

Add Keywords Naturally

Readers don’t want to feel like they are reading a list of keywords or be thrown off when they are forced into sentences. Add them to your content in ways that flow naturally with your verbiage. The reader’s experience should be primary while optimization should be a secondary effort.

Try to keep your keyword frequency to around two to three for each term. This number should be lower if you’re using any long-tail keywords. The more words in your keyword phrase, the fewer times it should appear. Being tempted to add too many keywords could also alert the algorithm that you’re keyword stuffing. This could backfire on your optimization efforts and lead to your video being penalized.

Inject a keyword towards the beginning of your description for the best results. Then, add them throughout the verbiage where they make sense. Also, be mindful not to start each sentence with a keyword. To aid in readability, vary your sentences and the placement of the keywords in their structure.

Keep an Eye on Keyword Data

Even after your description is written and your video is posted, the work isn’t done. You want to monitor and continually optimize it for the best results. One helpful piece of information you can use is right on YouTube itself. The analytics tool can break down the actual searches that lead viewers to your video.

The analytics tool can also help you detect keyword popularity over time. YouTube and Google search trends are constantly changing. Check out what keywords are increasing performance and which are falling flat to update your descriptions accordingly.

Search Nurture can help grow your YouTube presence with optimized descriptions.

Entice the Viewer to Your Brand

Your description is a key way to entice viewers to watch your video. It’s also a key way to amplify your brand’s voice. Both of these are key to the success of your YouTube presence.

Start off Strong

Draw users in with a strong intro. What do users have to gain by watching your video? Make it clear and concise to encourage them to click on your video. Provide indicators of the value of your content like solving a problem or providing expert info.

This structure should be done with strategy in mind. You have 5,000 characters worth of space for your YouTube description. But that doesn’t mean that you need to fill them all. Where you place the information is the biggest priority.

  • YouTube search results: When your video comes up in search results, users will only see less than 130 characters of your description. Make sure this snippet is attention-grabbing and gives them enough information to want to read more. With a little trial and error, you can craft two clear sentences to be displayed here as an effective snippet. 
  • YouTube video page: Once users get to your video page, they still don’t automatically see your full description. Depending on your spacing, it’s likely that just the first few sentences (about 130 to 180 characters) will be displayed above the fold. Use these to continue to add value and describe more features of your video. Be engaging to encourage users to keep watching or click “show more” to read your entire description.

Once you write your description, it’s important to test the format of both of these. Make sure none of your prioritized info is cut off and edit it accordingly.

Be Authentic to Your Brand’s Voice

Start off with an engaging intro that represents your brand’s voice. Welcome users to your video and explain why it will benefit them. Use a consistent voice across all of the videos on your channel to build and authentic image.

Remember that all of your channels and points of online interaction are interconnected. Users may have found your video through your website or may follow the social media link in your description. Make sure they receive a cohesive message and voice throughout all of these interactions. This allows them to build trust and confidence in your brand.

Amplifying Your Brand on YouTube and Beyond

Harnessing the power of YouTube and increasingly popular online platforms is key to success. These ever-changing digital spaces have evolving algorithms and growing capabilities. Search Nurture provides a multi-faceted service that allows brands to best use these tools. From expert SEO strategy to advertising campaigns, we can create a holistic plan to bolster your brand and elevate its performance. Learn more about our YouTube services
💡 If you found this article helpful, check out our guide to YouTube ad types.


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