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YouTube Video Descriptions – How to Keep Them Solid

You have just created a video you plan to use in promoting your brand. You have gone through all the necessary steps for making sure the video is of excellent quality—from ensuring the relevance of the topic covered to researching information to be included in the video to creating a script for the video to editing the video for clarity of visuals and sound. You’ve probably even given the video a title and chosen an attractive thumbnail for it. Now you’re ready to showcase it to the world by uploading it to your YouTube channel.

YouTube Logo Screen

But, wait! Have you already prepared a description for your YouTube video? Have you made sure the description is as enticing as the title and thumbnail or even more? Does your video description provide a compelling reason for people to watch the video in full? Will search engines and YouTube users alike be attracted to your video description? You may not realize this, but a video description can have a huge impact not only on the number of views the video receives, but also on the chances of that video ranking well in search results. This is why you need to make sure the description you attach to every single video you post is solid.

It is sad that so many businesses have failed to take advantage of the space for video descriptions provided by YouTube. Without ever realizing it, they have allowed a huge opportunity to drive conversions, improve their rankings, and engage with their audience pass them by. You are allowed to post up to 5000 characters in the description box. Why not make the most of it? Use it wisely and enjoy more engagement and longer watch times for your videos.

YouTube Description Field Facts

The main purpose of the video description field is to help YouTube, the viewers, and search engines understand what each video is all about. Note that although YouTube allows you to use up to 5000 characters for the description, only about 157 are seen above the “Show More” button. It is therefore important for you to explain what the video is about right in the opening statement of your description. This is also important because in the YouTube search results, only the first 125 characters will be shown along with the video title and thumbnail. And in the Google Universal Search Snippets, only the first 100 characters are shown.

Description Writing Tips

So, how do you make sure the descriptions you write are solid? Here are a few tips:

  1. Be as informative as possible.

In a study conducted by aimClear in early 2014, it was shown that informational descriptions had the most impact on a video’s chances of landing on top of search results on Google and Bing. To be specific, informational descriptions scored 84%, navigational descriptions 18%, and transactional descriptions 12%.

What is the difference between these three types of video descriptions? Well, transactional descriptions are those where you use phrases like “Buy Here” or any other ways to convince viewers to make a purchase or patronize a service. Navigational descriptions are those that tell viewers to visit another site and include a link to that site. Informational descriptions simply inform viewers what the video is about, using words like, “learn how” or “what are” and the like.

The biggest reason why informational descriptions work best is that the words used therein are also the words commonly used in searches. It would therefore be wise to create descriptions in the informational format for each of your videos. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include links and calls to action in your description, of course; only that the link and call to action should be accompanied by relevant keywords and useful information.

  1. Be concise.

I know I said your description needs to be filled with useful information, but that doesn’t mean you have to exhaust all 5000 characters allowed by YouTube for every description you make. If you can create an excellent description using only 1000 characters, then do so. Remember that people go to YouTube to watch videos, not read lengthy text. You have to learn the art of making descriptions that are not only informative, but also concise and compelling. Keeping it short and sweet is the key to convince more people to watch your videos.

 YouTube Character Limit

Just because YouTube set a 5000-character limit for video descriptions doesn’t mean you should write an entire essay in the description field; short and sweet does the trick. Flickr.com photo by Dave catchpole

  1. Make sure the description is searchable.

Remember I said your video descriptions have to be attractive to both viewers and search engines? Well, one way of making a video description attractive to search engines is to make sure it is searchable. If, for example, you have a video about creating YouTube video descriptions, then you should make sure the words “YouTube” and “description” are prominently incorporated in your description. Using obvious keywords will make it easy for search engines to properly index your videos.

  1. Use timestamps.

If you have a video that includes a special announcement or if you’re creating longer how-to/step-by-step videos, then the timestamp feature will definitely come in handy. Let’s say, for example, that you have a special announcement at the 6:00 mark of the video. By including the timestamp 6:00 in your video description, you can direct viewers to that specific part of the video. The timestamp automatically creates a link to that part. Making things easy for viewers is a very effective way of earning their trust.

  1. Give credit where it’s due.

If, for whatever reason, you didn’t include credits in your video, then you definitely should do that in the video description. Thank everyone who has helped you get the video together. If any of them has a website or YouTube channel, then feel free to share their links in your video description as well. You’ll have to be very creative to accomplish this and still keep your description informational and within the 5000-character limit.

Using Links

Links have already been mentioned a few times in this article, so it goes without saying that it is indeed advisable to include links in your vide descriptions. In fact, the description is perhaps the best venue for you to link off-platform. This is where you can actually bring people from YouTube to any of your landing pages. Linking is especially important for videos that serve as a preview or direct advertisement for a product or service that you offer, considering that 73% of people are likelier to buy a product after watching a video about it. This is why you need to learn how to use links wisely in your video descriptions.

YouTube Channel Sample

You generally have two options in terms of where—within the video description—you should place your links. These options depend on what you want to achieve with your link. If you want the link to help you establish or strengthen your YouTube presence, then it is best to place the link below the fold. This way, the focus is on gaining viewers, rather than getting people to click on the link; click-throughs are simply bonuses in this case. However, if your goal is to get more traffic to your site, then you should place the link towards the beginning of the description. It may be a good idea to do this only after you’ve established a solid YouTube presence.

Whether you include an outbound link in your video description or not, there is one link that should always be present: the “Subscribe Here” link. Of course, the best way to encourage people to subscribe to your channel is still via an annotation in the video itself. But it doesn’t hurt to place the link in the description as well. Most people respond positively when asked to do something nicely.

If you are active on social media (as you very well should be if you truly hope to achieve online marketing success these days), then it is also advisable to provide viewers with links to your social media pages. Even when these links are already included in your YouTube “About” page, it still pays to include them in your video descriptions. The easier you make it for people to connect with you elsewhere on the Internet, the more likely they are to do so.

If you’ve already set up a YouTube channel and posted a number of videos there, now is the best time to revisit those videos and check their descriptions. Did you even put anything there at all? So many brands waste the space by leaving the description field completely blank. If you did include a description, check to see if it is informative, concise, and searchable enough to achieve its purpose. Do this for every video you have posted and then keep the above tips in mind for all your future video descriptions.

If you are still in the process of giving the final touches to your videos before uploading them to YouTube, then you definitely should take the time to write compelling descriptions for each. YouTube has already armed us with a way to optimize our videos; all that’s left is for us to grab the opportunity and use it.

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