Only Google outranks YouTube as the world’s most popular search engine. The video-sharing platform has a monthly user base of over two billion and is the best platform for anyone looking to generate visibility for their brand.
However, only 9% of small businesses in the U.S. use YouTube to reach their audiences.
If you decide to jump into the world of YouTube marketing, it pays to take the time to use each of the tools it offers you to target your audience and make your efforts count.
One way to get your YouTube videos noticed is by writing amazing descriptions. While descriptions are not mandatory on YouTube, there’s incredible power in them.
YouTube descriptions play a major role in your marketing strategy. Their content (as well as the title, the tags, and the captions) help YouTube determine how to rank your videos—both on search or as related videos.
If you use them correctly, you’ll get more views. If you’re selling or promoting products/services, you’ll make more money.
What Are YouTube Descriptions?
There are two types of YouTube descriptions:
1. YouTube Channel Description
This is a brief outline of the content you publish on your channel. It helps viewers know what to expect from your brand. It can be one paragraph that immediately tells viewers what they'll find on your channel, like this one below:
Hi! Welcome to my channel. I’m Jamie, and I vlog about interior design. I love sharing my experiences with interior design lovers. Please subscribe to see more of my videos on your feed!
2. YouTube Video Description
This is the text found below each video. It helps viewers find your content easily and decide if it’s worth watching or not.
In this post, we’ll focus on video descriptions.
If done right, video descriptions can improve SEO, increase subscriptions, and boost watch time. They can also make your videos appear on YouTube’s “suggested search” list.
Here are four important things you should do when writing YouTube descriptions.
Tip 1: Tell Viewers About Your Video
YouTube descriptions let YouTube know what your video is all about. The first thing you should do is write a description that’s easy to read. You can also include links and additional resources.
When describing your video, include keywords as this helps with SEO rankings. In addition, it makes the video accessible to deaf people and those who have difficulty hearing. You should also add closed captions to your videos for this reason.
A YouTube description differs from the meta description on a web page. While a meta description has a limited number of characters, you can go in-depth with a YouTube description. You can explain in detail what your video is about and link to external resources.
YouTube gives you 5,000 characters, so make good use of them. You can use all-caps or asterisks when writing the titles because it's all plain text. Viewers will see the first three lines (the first 200 characters) before the “see more” break.
Work hard to capture their attention with those three lines so they click on “see more.” The first line of the video description will show up under the video in search results, so get straight to the point.
If you don’t have the time to write a description from scratch, you can summarize the key points from the video or simply paste the video’s transcription into the description box.
Tip 2: Use Specific Keywords
Before you start writing the description, perform keyword research. Most people search for videos on YouTube using questions like, “How do I uninstall an app?” Find out what people are searching for in your industry, then use that phrase as the title for your video. Also, use the same keyword in your description.
YouTube is owned by the same company that owns Google, and search dictates video discovery on the site—just like it dictates content discovery on Google. Both platforms provide content based on what users search for. That’s why YouTube videos prominently feature in Google results. They also show up on other search engines, like Yahoo!, Bing, and DuckDuckGo.
Include the keywords you're targeting in the video description and in the title. This will ensure your video stands out, because YouTube highlights any searched-for keywords in search results. While the best videos are those created for people and not algorithms, if you do keyword research the right way, you’ll enhance your content.
You can also use tools dedicated to YouTube Research, like TubeBuddy. Google’s Keyword Planner and Google Trends can also be of great help. They show you the keywords you should use in your video, the description, the title, and the tags. Just type in the words that accurately describe your channel or video and the sites will suggest the best keywords.
You should also use keywords in your channel description. YouTube’s algorithm closely examines the keywords in your About Page, so use them wisely. It’s okay to repeat keywords, but don’t do it more than three times. If you do, your description may get flagged for keyword stuffing.
Tip 3: Write Like a Human
A YouTube description shouldn’t be boring. It should be fun and show off your brand’s personality. When writing a video description, you can instil some humor and creativity into the content, unlike with traditional forms of advertising.
Your YouTube descriptions should mirror your brand’s unique voice. They should be candid and casual—like you’re writing to a friend. Take time to know your viewers, then write content they will understand and relate to. And when adding keywords, add them naturally; they should not be forced.
You don’t have to be a wordsmith to craft great YouTube descriptions. You can use ProWritingAid as part of your writing process to make sure every description you post is clear, readable, and engaging.
Many YouTube channels make their video descriptions about them. For example, a YouTuber may write something like, “This video is about my favorite TV series. I explain what I think of every episode.”
Unless you’re an influencer and your brand is yourself—or you only want your family and friends to watch your videos—you’ll want to avoid this kind of subjectivity. Tell the viewer what they’ll gain from watching your videos—demonstrate the benefit.
Include a value proposition in each description. Why should someone watch your video? How will it benefit them? Here’s an example of a personalized YouTube description:
In this 10-episode series, we share easy tips to help you decrease your garbage output and embrace a zero-waste lifestyle. You can also help us reduce waste around the world by supporting our cause.
Tip 4: Add a Call to Action
A few years ago, speech bubbles would pop up at the start of every YouTube video. The bubble Calls To Action (CTAs) screamed, “Watch my next video!” or “Subscribe to my channel!” They got on our nerves and ruined the beginning of every video. The only solution was to click exit on every bubble, or close YouTube altogether.
It’s a good thing that YouTube got rid of them—well, not entirely. The folks that run the site knew how important CTAs were for brands. They boost subscriptions, views, and watch time. Over the years, YouTube has worked on CTAs and today they seamlessly blend into videos, providing a great user experience.
YouTube CTAs can help drive viewers to your site and social media pages, so it’s important to add them to your descriptions. You can provide additional resources that help viewers learn more about a topic or ask them to continue engaging with your channel.
For example, if your video talks about adding prices to your Instagram products, but you’re also an expert in Instagram marketing, you can link to your video that covers Instagram Marketing. Chances are, viewers who enjoy watching your video on adding prices to products will also want to learn more about Instagram marketing.
You can also ask viewers to turn on notifications, subscribe, or share your content with CTAs. And don’t forget to add CTAs to your videos. They should be visible from the start of the video to the end to generate more clicks.
Remember to format your description so the most important information appears first. Remember, viewers will only see the first 200 characters of the description. If you want them to see the CTA or link, keep it above the fold.
Leverage the Power of YouTube and Grow Your Brand
Creating YouTube videos is no easy task. You have to brainstorm, research, find the right keywords, take time to record the videos, then spend hours editing each one. When uploading the videos, you may forget to write the descriptions. Or you may ignore them altogether because you think they aren’t important.
The YouTube description box is an undervalued player in video marketing. Many brands, business channels, vloggers, and other content producers skip it. They think it’s not worth optimizing. But if you don’t write YouTube descriptions, you may end up killing your channel. Start optimizing your videos for maximum effectiveness. You’ll get more followers and make more money from your YouTube channel.
YouTube descriptions determine the success of your latest uploads. But it’s not just about SEO, keywords, tags, and captions. It’s also about your writing style. Download the ProWritingAid Chrome Extension and you’ll never have to worry about poorly written YouTube descriptions again.
Writing a YouTube description? Run it through ProWritingAid before you post.