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How to Optimize YouTube Videos

By August 4, 2020No Comments
Optimizing YouTube Captions

If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound? We might ask a similar question when it comes to your YouTube videos: If no one can find them during a search, do they actually exist?

The fact is, if you don’t know how to optimize your YouTube metadata, all the effort you put into your video is wasted. YouTube is the second-largest search engine after Google, so it pays to know how to use it to climb to the top of its results page.

Our marketing and PR experts at Fort Lauderdale- and Aspen-based public relations agency Durée & Company explain why focusing on crucial elements such as keywords and descriptions in your YouTube videos is so important in getting your message seen by more viewers.



When it comes to maximizing your chances of being found on YouTube, the keyword is king.

Because YouTube can’t watch the content of your video, it must depend on the written word. Therefore, you want it to be able to read your keywords in as many places as possible (without overdoing it, of course, because that can get you banned!).

Start by adding your target keywords to the name of your video file before you even upload it. Then insert one or more keywords into the video title, but be careful not to make your title too long (60 characters or less is preferable).

How do you know if you picked the right keywords? It’s important to do your research ahead of time. There are myriad places that can help you select the best keywords for your topic. One good place to start is YouTube itself, using the “Search Suggest” feature.


Here again is a prime to insert your keywords. You can use up to the allotted 1,000 characters to describe the topic of your video. We’d caution you to pack as much information as possible in the first 200 or so characters, however, because beyond that searchers have to select “see more” to finish reading the description.

If they’re interested, they will want to read it all, so think of the description — again, especially the first sentence or two — as your sales pitch.

For example: “In this video, I’ll show you how to lose 10 pounds a week — or MORE — while still eating all the foods you enjoy.”

Then, continue with a description of the rest of your video, while including your target keywords (“lose weight”) once or twice more.


Tags — also known as “video tags” — are also key in helping the YouTube search engine include your video in its result. Don’t overdo it with the tags, though. Adding 15 or 20 tags to your video can end up confusing the search algorithm and backfire when you’re trying to be found.

Instead, stick to a handful of both broad (“swimming,” “lessons,” “kids”) and more focused (“swimming 5-year-olds”) tags. In terms of keywords, these would be known as target keywords and long-tail (or more descriptive) phrases.


Whenever you upload a video to YouTube, you must select a category, such as comedy, beauty, politics, entertainment, etc. The top-four content categories watched by YouTube users are comedy, music, entertainment/pop culture, and “how to.”

To select the appropriate category, YouTube’s Creator Academy suggests you ask yourself questions including:

    • Who are the top creators within the category? What are they known for and what do they do well?
    • Are there any patterns between the audiences of similar channels within a given category?
    • Do the videos within a similar category have shared qualities like production value, length, or format?


You see thumbnails all the time, whether you’re searching a topic on Google or Bing, or browsing for a video on YouTube. If you look up “how to save money on your wedding,” each result will have a thumbnail to the left of it. Some are simple, some have been staged with additional headlines to pull you in.

Think of a thumbnail as a screenshot, or a single frame that plays a snippet of your video. YouTube automatically generates suggested thumbnails you can select from, or you can create and upload one yourself. A custom thumbnail will help you stand out from your competition and help to “sell” your video at a glance.

Closed captions/subtitles

Because YouTube’s search engine can’t watch videos, as previously mentioned, another way to rank higher is by including closed captions along with your video. Both the YouTube and Google bots do crawl the internal captions on videos, so adding a closed-caption transcript of your content can boost your SEO score and help your video rank higher in searches.

Subtitles are similar to closed captions but are not a verbatim transcript. The addition of either of these, however, can help get you noticed by the YouTube search algorithm.


According to YouTube’s Creator Academy, cards are preformatted notifications that you can set up to promote your brand as well as other videos on your channel.

They appear on desktop and mobile devices and include topics such as merchandise, fundraising and video. They can tease viewers to link to other videos, playlists or associated websites, or prompt your audience to buy merchandise or support your crowdfunding campaign.

End screens

Added in the last 5-20 seconds of a video, the end screen is a powerful tool. As with cards, it also can lead viewers to other videos, playlists or channels on YouTube; provide a call to channel subscriptions; or promote your website, merchandise, or crowdfunding campaigns.

Creator Academy notes that card teasers and branding watermarks are suppressed during an end screen and, therefore, suggests that you do not use either during an end screen.


At Durée & Company, we know many more ways to help you achieve a high SEO ranking on YouTube. Contact us today and let us take your video marketing to the next level!


About Durée & Company, Inc.

Durée & Company, Inc. is an award-winning, full-service public relations, marketing and special events firm founded in 1999. The firm has offices in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Aspen, Colorado. Durée & Company serves the corporate, agency and nonprofit arenas for local, national and international clients. Services include public relations, social media, marketing, digital marketing, content development, advertising, special events, branding, radio promotions, affiliate marketing and more. Durée & Company clients include well-known names in yachting, business, real estate, hospitality, travel, cannabis and hemp, wellness and CBD, art and culture, fashion, nonprofit organizations, legal and professional services. Durée & Company is a member of PR Boutiques International™ (PRBI), an international network of boutique PR firms. To learn more, call 954-723-9350; go to; or visit its new, specialized cannabis- and CBD-specific site at Join the social conversation and follow Durée & Company on FacebookInstagramTwitter and LinkedIn at @DureeCoPR, or on YouTube at @DureeAndCompany.


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