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How to Optimize Your Video Content Like a Pro

Olivia Craig
April 18th, 2018
In 2018, it’s safe to say we watch a lot of videos, to the tune of over 500 million hours a day, spent on YouTube alone. The staggering statistics around such screen time don’t end there: with one-third of online activity spent watching video and over half a billion people watching videos on Facebook every day, businesses and brands alike should be turning their focus to video marketing as a crucial, undeniable component to their success. As video continues to climb, so does the need to optimize such content for search. Below, you’ll find ten of our top tips for successfully optimizing your video content.

Why Video? 

Chances are if you’ve spent significant time online within the past year, you’ve found yourself face-to-face with countless videos pushed by a variety of brands, businesses, and individuals – with good reason, too. According to research reported by Hubspot, 95% of potential customers have watched an explainer video to learn more about a service or product, and 81% of people have been convinced to purchase a product or service by watching a brand’s video. As we covered above, the amount of video streamed daily has reached an all-time high with consumers devouring hours each day – and loving it. Video’s tremendous value isn’t one sided – though 87% of online marketers report leveraging video content successfully –  today’s customers seem to rely on video, engage best with video, and share video greater than any other form of content. Speaking of sharing, Hubspot research found that people will share branded or business-related video when it’s created with a specific audience in mind! Move over, kitten clips, video can and absolutely should be harnessed to drive optimal results for businesses.

Optimizing for facebook 

When it comes to video, Facebook remains at the tippity top of the social ladder (don’t worry, we will certainly cover King YouTube in a minute!). As we mentioned above, the number of consumers digesting video daily on Facebook alone is mind-blowing, with daily views boiling down to over 8 billion, daily. Clearly, video is quite a force that when optimized properly, can have the highest impact for your business. Now, let’s get to it.

Captions, Captions, Captions

Did someone say captions? Most of us speed scroll through our newsfeed until something catches our eye – when a high-quality video begins to autoplay, we’re totally captivated until…audio is off, captions are nowhere to be found, and we’re back to scrolling. With 85% of Facebook videos being watched without sound, your message may be missed if captions aren’t part of your checklist for Facebook video optimization.

If your video is being used as part of a Facebook Ad, you have two options when it comes to captions: you can select Generate Automatically which gives you the opportunity to either review the auto-populated caption alongside your video and adjust accordingly, or let Facebook review for accuracy and add automatically. Review manually before they are added will be selected by default, and if you choose to let Facebook review for accuracy it may take up to 24 hours to do so.

For any of your brand’s videos, you can include captions by uploading a SubRip (.srt) file, as well which gives you the opportunity to add multiple captions in various languages, should your intended audience best be suited for that. Most videos are watched without volume, don’t forget about captions!

Brands that upload their videos natively to Facebook see on average a 109% higher interaction rate and a 477% higher share rate vs. sharing a YouTube video. Uploading your video directly also enables autoplay, pulling viewers in without having to click ‘Play’. By uploading directly you can also take advantage of the ‘view count’ feature, which will help you best identify what video is resonating with your fans. Uploading your video directly is a great way to increase the likelihood of engagement and take advantage of all Facebook has to offer in support of video marketing. Upload your videos natively to take advantage of autoplay and higher engagement


Optimize for YouTube 

You already know that video continues to climb and that in order to keep up, stay competitive, and get your content in front of the right eyes – you must optimize. It’s become increasingly important to do so for the powerhouse of video distribution: YouTube. The second largest search engine online, YouTube ideally aims to give the most relevant results to users’ search queries, pulling metrics based off of various key components such as keywords, social engagement, video length and audience retention. Below are the key factors to consider when optimizing your videos for YouTube.


A strong title is captivating, compelling, clear, concise and draws your viewers in. It’s the first thing your potential viewers see when searching for a video that has potential to inform them, educate them, or entertain them. By creating a captivating title that best encompasses the content of the video, both YouTube and viewers will recognize the relevance it holds to their topic.  On average, the sweet spot for your video title is going to be around 60 characters, taking into consideration that a quality video title is eye-catching and closely matching what the intended viewers may be searching for. Only 50 characters are displayed in video result in Google search, and 55 characters within YouTube Search, so keeping that character count in mind. If your video is location specific or related to one of your important keywords, including such details, preferably at the beginning, will help your video rank, as well. According to research done by Backlinko, videos that do contain exact match keywords in their title appear to have an advantage over videos that don’t. Optimizing your video title is an imperative part of the optimization process.

  • Write a catchy, strong title that contains relevant keyword
  • Aim for 50 – 60 characters
  • Skip branding terms to save room for more relevant themed keywords

Write a Length, Solid Description

Your video’s informative description is crucial because it’s how YouTube and Google will watch your video, essentially. Hear us out. Search engines can’t quite watch your video yet, but they can lean on the text around your video to best understand the topic. Aim for at least 200 but shoot for 500 words – including long tail keywords and target keywords so that Google, YouTube, and all other search engines can easily find and identify your content. The first 150 characters of your description should be front-loaded with information, hooking the viewer with the need-to-know specifics like CTA’s or links needed. That’s because, after the first few lines of text, YouTube will cut your description off with a (More) tag, so your viewer will have to specifically click to read on. Your description should ideally be a keyword focused set of copy written like a summary blog post that will help boost your video’s rankings. Keep in mind that the first 160 characters act as the “meta description” in the search engine results page, so keeping the first line of content relevant and specific to the topic is key. Avoid stuffing too many keywords into your description, however, and as always, remember that you are writing for the reader first.

  • Description should be at least 200 characters summarizing what video is about
  • Should include strong CTA< links to websites and social profiles
  • Keep it unique

Effective Tags

When it comes to informing both YouTube and viewers what your video is all about, tags are key! Tags are keywords that you are adding into your video to describe and highlight the content within. Tags can be one of the most effective ways to rank your video in YouTube search results, by helping the search engine identify your video as a quality, relevant result for search queries. These descriptive tags are hidden from viewers but when users search YouTube for keywords relevant to the tags, your video will show up in the search results. Choose your tags wisely, you don’t want views that aren’t relevant to your video or brand. Whether your video was created with keywords in mind or a topic with keyword research you’ve already generated, we suggest adding a mix of long-tail keywords, best keywords from your list, and low-competition keywords. It’s important to consider using low-competition keywords specifically if your channel doesn’t have a fairly established amount of subscribers because the competition could essentially bury your videos. Consider searching for your keyword in and clicking the “About results” to see how many results it populates. That number will give you an idea of how many videos YouTube has pertaining to that keyword, meaning the higher the number, the more competitive a keyword would be. You can also use the YouTube keyword suggestion tool which will generate suggestions around your main keyword, or you can take a peek at what your competitors are tagging to analyze your own strategy.

  • Consider exploring competitor’s tags to brainstorm
  • Include keywords video is optimized around
  • Consider including low-competition keywords if you do not have a high subscribers list



Add a Custom Thumbnail

Believe it or not, adding a custom thumbnail can increase views of your audience alone, with 90% of the highest performing videos including a custom thumbnail. Wondering what a custom thumbnail is? It essentially lets viewers see a quick snapshot of your video as they’re browsing YouTube. While YouTube automatically populates three options of thumbnails, creating and uploading a custom one is a great way to optimize your video for success. Your custom thumbnail should be as large as possible, with a resolution of 1280×720 and in image formats such as .JPG, .GIF, .PNG or .BMP. In order to upload a custom thumbnail, your account must be verified. Consider using tools like Canva or another photo editor to create yours.

Keep It Quality

This sounds like a no-brainer but, it’s worth saying again (and again): your videos need to be quality. While a poor quality video may not directly influence YouTube’s video ranking, it certainly carries enough weight to be imperative. Considering that consumers land on your video – if the quality is lacking, chances are high that users will click away within a couple seconds. That’s a problem. Not just because of missed opportunity, but because Audience Retention is one of YouTube’s main ranking factors. Audience Retention essentially is calibrated by: the longer users watch your videos, the higher the ranking. YouTube wants to keep viewers on YouTube, so by keeping your audience entertained, informed and engaged with a high-quality video, you’ll be rewarded for it. As explained by YouTube in their Creators Academy, videos with consistently high audience retention and watch time will have the potential to show up more frequently in Search and Suggested locations on YouTube.

You may be wondering what exactly makes a video ‘high quality’ aside from the above-mentioned optimizations? Here are some key tips to keep in mind when creating videos

  • Ensure audio and video quality is high so that your audience is enticed to watch as much of your content as possible
  • Hook your audience from the start, within the first ten seconds, ideally. Around 20% of viewers will wander off after the first 10 seconds if they aren’t positive the video is showing them something they’re searching for. By pointing out what they’ll learn in the beginning, your ideal audience will see great value, and stick around.
  • Plan out your videos ahead of time, scripting them to guarantee that you not only stay on point and cover the most timely, important aspects of the topic, but that you answer potential questions that may arise as viewers watch


Like most platforms, YouTube views engagement in the form of comments as a positive, and videos are no different. Consider encouraging your viewers to leave comments by asking questions within the video or including a gripping CTA that sparks engagement in the form of responses.

  • Encourage comments and conversations with strong calls to actions and questions within video
  • Respond to comments left on YouTube video


Don’t underestimate the power of a playlist. This YouTube feature helps group together certain videos within your channel, helping organize relevant or grouped content for your viewers. Playlists can help introduce your audience to multiple videos at one time rather than just one, which can be especially powerful if you’ve created a series or themed string of video content. Playlists don’t just help your potential viewers, but they can also increase your video’s engagement rate and watch time, by delivering a stream of videos your audience is more likely to watch through. Consider creating a playlist on your channel that consists of key, high-quality, informative videos based on a relevant topic, encouraging your viewers to sit back, relax, and watch!

  • Organize your relevant or themed videos
  • Encourage increased watch time


If you’ve ever seen a little white, circular icon with an ‘i’ in the center pop up in the corner of your video, that is a card – used to promote your brand and other videos on your channel by asking viewers to engage in some form whether it be subscribe, link to another video, etc. You can use cards to add a sense of interactivity to your videos, pointing viewers to specific URLs, CTA’s, or even links to donate directly to a nonprofit, depending on the card type. While you can add up to five cards to one video, we suggest starting with one or two, and popping the card towards the end of the video to ensure people don’t click off your video too early. Cards perform best when coupled with scripted CTA’s and are relevant to your video content. Ideally, cards will link to other videos, playlists, or associated websites that keep your audience engaging with your content and brand.

  • You can add up to five cards per one video
  • Position cards towards the end or most relevant point of video to avoid clicking away



Your audience is online, and clearly, spending a great majority of that time watching videos that offer them some form of value. By optimizing your current channel or creating videos with our tips in mind, not only are you maximizing your video marketing potential but ensuring your videos are as discoverable and enjoyable for search engines as they are viewers. Remember that it all begins and ends with high-quality content and your audience in mind – create for them, optimize for them, and watch YouTube reward you.




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