If you’re posting videos on YouTube — whether they’re videos to promote your business, videos to show off your talents, or videos featuring your family and friends — you probably don’t want them to sit unwatched, collecting virtual dust. You want them to be seen!

ReelSEO recently reported that 5% of YouTube videos drive 95% of YouTube views. What can you do to stand out? We’ve compiled a quick guide to video SEO to help you optimize your video metadata (that’s any written data that adds context to your video) so that you can maximize your chances of getting discovered on YouTube.

The Basics: Titles, Descriptions, Tags, and Categories

For every video you upload, at a bare minimum you should always be adding a title, description, tags, and a category. The form where you can add each of these will pop up as soon as you begin uploading your video to YouTube.

YouTube Metadata

Title Tips

Keep your titles short and to the point and include relevant keywords up front. This will ensure that they stand out and are easy to digest by potential viewers scrolling through search results. Try to keep your titles to 70 characters or fewer (including spaces) so that they’ll fit on a single line and not be cut off.

Description Tips

Be succinct in your description as well. Include a single sentence up front that explains what viewers can expect when they watch your video, and keep it to 150 characters or less so it won’t be truncated. The below description is a great example of how you can let potential viewers know, in a very small number of words, what a video is about.

YouTube Search Optimize Metadata

After you’ve crafted a short sentence to describe what you’re video is about, you can add extra text in the description for added SEO benefits. This text will be hidden unless viewers click on “Show More” but will still help viewers discover your video. PRO TIP: Include translations of the description in other languages, if you think your content will appeal to people who speak those languages.

Tagging Tips

When tagging videos on YouTube, think of keywords and phrases potential viewers might search for that would be interested in your content. Include common misspellings as well. Just remember that you should only use tags that are actually relevant to your video, or it may hurt your search ranking.

Category Tips

Don’t forget to click on “Advanced Settings” to select a category for your video. YouTube’s category selections include things like Autos & Vehicles, Comedy, Education, Entertainment, Pets & Entertainment, and Science & Technology. Select the category that makes the most sense for your video.


Your video thumbnail isn’t officially “metadata,” but it will help drive traffic to your video once your metadata helps your video show up in search results.

Select an eye-catching image that represents what your video is about. When you upload your video, YouTube will give you three thumbnail options. Choose the most appealing or, if your account is in good standing, you can create and upload your own thumbnail.


Playlists are a great way to get a little more SEO juice on YouTube. When you create a playlist, you include a title and description as well. This helps surface your playlist (and all the videos in it) in YouTube search results. Creating themed playlists is also a great way to get viewers to stick around and watch more of your videos.

Captions & Subtitles

A more advanced way to beef up your metadata game is to add captions and subtitles to your video. According to YouTube’s Creator Academy, “These files are indexed and broaden your audience to non-native language speakers and viewers who are deaf and hard of hearing.” Read more about how to add captions and subtitles in the YouTube Help Center.

Update as you go

Finally, it’s important to note that your metadata is never set in stone. You can always go in and update your titles, descriptions, tags, thumbnails, and more if you aren’t seeing the results you’d like. YouTube offers great tools to help you decide if you should update this information. Visit the YouTube Creator Academy to find out how you can improve your thumbnails, how you can improve your titles, and whether you should change the existing metadata on a video.

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