Whether you’re new to YouTube or not, the video description is an important part of every video. Unfortunately, many YouTube creators aren’t writing effective YouTube descriptions.
A YouTube description should contain four main components: a brief video summary, a call to action, other relevant content, and hashtags. YouTube gives creators 5,000 characters for their video descriptions; however, the first 130 to 150 characters affect search engine optimization the most.
If you want your YouTube videos to get more views, writing a good description could be the solution. In this article, you will learn how to write a YouTube description, why it matters, and how to tell if it is effective. Let’s get started!
YouTube Descriptions: Why They Matter
Let’s get this out of the way right at the beginning: YouTube video descriptions are not the most important thing. You should put more emphasis on the title, the video content, and the thumbnail. That said, you definitely shouldn’t leave your video description blank.
Video descriptions show up in search results, at least a portion of them do. This portion is used for search engine optimization (SEO). If someone searches “what do Grizzly bears eat?” and your video description uses the words “grizzly” and “food”, your video will appear. If you’re a blogger, then you know that keywords matter. Use this same principle when writing a YouTube video description.
The main reason YouTube descriptions matter is that they affect whether viewers watch your video or not. While the video description is written in fairly small print, it still has impacts the viewer’s behavior. A poorly written YouTube description will turn viewers away, not draw them in. Instead, they’ll most likely choose a video with a better description.
What to Include in a YouTube Description
Before you start writing your YouTube description, know that YouTube limits you to 5,000 characters per video. This shouldn’t scare you, very few YouTubers use the full 5,000 characters and still do very well.
The first thing you need to include in your YouTube description is the summary of the video it is associated with. Use keywords to help your video appear in more search results. This summary portion should land somewhere between 130 and 150 characters. YouTubers refer to this section as “above the fold.” How did it get this name? Because YouTube only shows so much information on the page, the rest of the description is hidden by a “see more” button. Anything in the “see more” section is referred to as “below the fold.”
The video summary is the section of the description that should be keyword-heavy. A keyword is a word frequently used in searches. If your video description uses popular keywords, more people will be able to find it in their search.
Use tools such as Google Trends to identify which keywords are the most popular at the moment. This information could even help you plan what content you’ll publish next. It is a good idea to get very familiar with keyword trends.
After your video summary, you should include information that is most important to the success of your channel. Do you have a website? Link it! Do you offer an online course of some sort? Link it!
Next, add a link to a relevant video on your channel. These videos don’t need to be directly related but should be something similar to what the viewer is currently watching.
Once you have these items added to your description, list the chapters of your video. Viewers can use this tool to navigate through your video easily. But how do you add chapters to your YouTube videos?
- Start by opening the description on one of your YouTube videos. Give the section a title. Something as simple as “Chapters” will work.
- Next, determine the key points in your video and at what time you switch to new ones.
- Write out the time stamp (it must start at 0:00) and give it a “subtitle.” For example, the first chapter of your video would likely be titled “Intro” or something similar.
- Add the timestamps and titles for the rest of the key points. For YouTube to recognize these as chapters, you need to have at least three key points. Additionally, each point needs to have at least 10 seconds of content. YouTube will not recognize two distinct key points with only nine seconds between them.
- Save the description and go watch your video! You’ll now see chapters on your video.
Watch the video below to learn why adding your own video chapters is important!
If you have a way for viewers to contact you, include this information after the video chapters. Consider this portion your call to action.
The final portion of the description that helps your video appear in more search results is the hashtags. Use between three and fourteen hashtags. If you use 15 or more hashtags, YouTube won’t view them as hashtags. In other words, too many hashtags will negatively impact your video.
You can also include a legal disclaimer at the end of your video description. Only do this if applicable to your video’s content and channel.
How to Know if Your YouTube Description is Effective
So you’ve been adding the elements described above to your YouTube videos’ descriptions. But how do you know if your descriptions are working?
One way to know if your YouTube video descriptions are working is by checking what searches your video appears in. If your video description contains any of the search terms, then your description is working! But how do you find this information?
Open the video analytics for the video in question. Select the “Reach” tab. At the top of the page is information about click-throughs and other helpful information, but these analytics don’t tell whether the description is helping the video appear in more YouTube searches.
Scroll down until you see the “Traffic source: YouTube search” section. This section shows you what searches your video appeared in most. You should also look at the proportion of your total traffic as an indicator. If a fair percentage of your video’s traffic comes from YouTube searches, then your description is doing its job perfectly. However, if only a fraction of your views are from searches, it may need some more work. That said, one video may have 1 million total views. If 10,000 people find your video via YouTube searches, this will only amount to 1% of total views.
Convert the percentage to a whole number before scrapping your current description. Appearing in 10,000 search results is an incredible feat.
Watch the following video clip to see how you can find YouTube search information on each of your videos.
After you look at several of your videos, you’ll start to notice which descriptions are working better than others. Hone in on the aspects that work best for your videos and use that! While the formula described above makes for some excellent video descriptions, every YouTuber is different, and some things may work better for you than others!
How to Write a YouTube Title
While the description is important, the title you give your YouTube video affects the frequency that it appears in searches. Now that you know how to write a good description, let’s also discuss what it takes for a title to succeed.
Before you even make the video, you should have done some keyword research. Take note of which keywords appear in more searches; you’ll need them for your title.
If you’ve done keyword research, you’ve already won half the battle. How so? Your YouTube video title needs to be something people actually want to watch. Choosing content based on popular keyword searches already proves that people want to see that type of content.
The most important thing to consider when writing a title is clarity. If the title has misspelled words, improper grammar, or just doesn’t make sense, viewers will choose a different video instead. Always triple-check your title for these mistakes.
A factor affecting whether your title makes sense or not is how specific it is. Vague titles don’t attract much attention. However, you also don’t want your title to be so specific that the viewer has no reason to watch your video.
Not only do your YouTube video titles need to make sense, but they need to be interesting! To make your titles sound more interesting, use descriptive words. You could even keyword search the adjectives you choose to ensure that they help your video’s SEO.
Take these two titles for example: “Baked Bean Recipe” and “The Best Baked Bean Recipe.” There’s really only a one-word difference between the two titles, and yet, one is clearly more interesting than another. But don’t forget to be specific! Instead of saying “The Best Baked Bean Recipe,” say “The Best 10 Minute Baked Bean Recipe.” This way viewers know exactly what to expect but don’t have all the answers they need to just keep scrolling.
Pairing a powerful title with a well-written YouTube video description will guarantee the maximum number of views.
Learn more about writing the perfect titles in the following video: