5 Tips on How to Write Good YouTube Titles (YouTube Tips #1)

By November 16, 2013 5 Comments

This short post will kick off a series of posts on how to get the most out YouTube as a hosting/sharing platform. Note: Youtube may not be the best place to host your content. For more information on which hosting provider to use, read this post.

YouTube is a great place to put your video to expose it to as large an audience as possible. At the time of this writing, the site boasts over 6 billion hours of video watched each month. This is the reason why most businesses have content on YouTube. It has become the de-facto place to watch video online. YouTube has also risen as a search engine in its own right, and is the second largest search engine on the internet.

But despite knowledge of YouTube’s prominence as a search engine, many marketers fail to optimize their videos to be indexed and found by that search engine. One of the biggest mistakes is using bad titles. When YouTube crawls and indexes your video, one of the most important pieces of information used is the information you put into the “title” field.  Use the 5 tips below to get the most out of your titles and the most traffic to your videos.

Know What Keywords You’re Targeting (and use them in your title)

Ideally your video title will reflect phrases that people are actually searching for in the real world. So how do you find out what people are searching for? There are a few different options. Google has a keyword planner that can help (note: you must have a google Adwords account to access the keyword planner. You can sign up for adwords account for free). The keyword planner allows you to type in a keyword or phrase and see what the google search volume is for that phrase.    This will give you an idea for how competitive your term is to rank for.

Here’s the trick to using the google keyword planner to gain insight into YouTube searches: modify your phrases by adding “video” to them. This will give you insight on what YouTubers are likely searching for. Here’s a helpful article on YouTube keyword research with some more helpful methods.

Whatever keywords you choose, you should use them in your title if possible.

Stick to 50 Characters or Less

YouTube allows for up to 100 characters in the title field, but only 50-60 characters are shown in search results. Google places an ellipses at the end for longer titles, which can clutter up the search result for that video.

Use Numbers

Using numbers in titles has a bit of a bad rap, especially in the blog world (i.e. “10 Tips for.. ” “5 Reasons Why…” “12 Amazing Pictures..”) The reality is they work very well and consistently outperform similar titles that don’t contain numbers. So if you’re a plumbing company and you’ve produced a video that explains 5 tips to keep your pipes from freezing then consider titling the video “5 Things You Must Do to Avoid Frozen Pipes” instead of “Tips for Avoiding Frozen Pipes”

Don’t Overdo It With Keywords

It may be tempting to just stuff all of your target keywords into a YouTube title, but this might actually hurt you. Google is constantly refining their search engine and the latest update puts an increased emphasis on search results that answer questions as opposed to simply returning results with high keyword density. The “Hummingbird” update (September 2013) changed the way google handles “long-tail” phrases. This means that it will now be easier to get found through long keyword phrases and phrases that use natural language. This is a good thing for content creators and a good thing for users as well. Here is an article that explains the Hummingbird update in greater detail.

Measure and Adjust

As with any marketing strategy, you may need to change course after you publish your video if it’s not performing how you wanted it to. YouTube allows you to change your title at any time so keep tweaking until you find a title that’s right for you.

Next post: Optimizing descriptions in YouTube


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