By Easy, staff writer and founder
March 3rd, 2013
I’ve done a lot of experimenting on how to get the most views for my YouTube videos. I am no expert by any means and I am always learning (or teaching myself) something new. In my first year of making videos, there were many things I could have done better. It’s not that I was doing anything wrong, it’s that there were much better ways to get my videos noticed other than how I was doing it at the time, which to be very honest, was very little. It wasn’t my fault, I just didn’t know any better. One thing became very clear right away. It’s one thing to be able to make a decent video but it really doesn’t matter if people can’t find it.
This isn’t an article about how to promote your videos on sites like Facebook etc. This is an article about using basic techniques when you make your videos to help your video have the best chance of being found by anyone searching on the topic your video is about. In other words, if someone does a search on YouTube or Google (who owns YouTube) for the type of information you have in your video, what can you do to make sure your video has the best chance of showing up somewhere in the search results?
There is a name and a whole science about doing just that. It’s called SEO – Search Engine Optimization. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft (think Bing.com), advertisers, and others have spent enough time and money on the subject of SEO that if they had spent the same amount of time and money on world hunger and energy, nobody in the world would be hungry or cold and all of our cars would be getting 200 MPG.
According to Wikipedia the definition of SEO is…”Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results.” Even though this doesn’t specifically state it, this includes each of your YouTube videos.
If all this is sounding too complicated, don’t worry, we’re just going to be covering the basics and the basics are all you need to make a big difference in your view counts. When it comes to your YouTube videos, you can keep it simple just by adhering to certain basic criteria…Video Titles, Tags and Descriptions. Think of it as the old Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. We’re not on a world wide advertising campaign to promote an international business here. We’re just trying to get a YouTube video found and then watched. Much less complicated by any means. Don’t worry. I’ll keep it basic and applicable to our YouTube needs.
So, let’s get to the important stuff we need to cover. As I stated earlier, the three basic items to focus on, in order of SEO importance, is the video’s title, video tags and the video description. If I wrote about all three in one article, it would be a very long article indeed. For that reason, I am breaking it down into a series of three articles instead, Video Titles being the first. When I complete the other two articles of the series, Video Tags and Video Descriptions, I will post links to them at the bottom of this article.
Video titles are number one when it comes to search engines. If you search for a video on “how to make a cake” and someone has a video with a title “How to make a cake”, what do you think will show up in your search results? That’s right. But had they titled it “My first time baking” with no tags or descriptions, guess what wouldn’t have shown up in search results? That’s a basic example of search engine optimization. That wasn’t too difficult was it?
Here’s an easy way to look at how to title your video. If you were to search for the subject matter that’s in your video, what search terms would you put in the Google or YouTube search box to find it? If you’re looking for a video on how to remove mustard stains, chances are, you’ll put “how to remove mustard stains” or just “remove mustard stains” in the search box. So if your video is about removing mustard stains, name it using the same words you would have used to search for it yourself.
Of course you don’t have to keep things that simple. If I was searching for “How to make tuna salad”, you could name your tuna salad video “How to make great tuna salad”. Your title still has all of the search words in the title (how, to, make, tuna, salad) but it sounds more interesting than just “How to make tuna salad”. Let’s face it, when you search for something you want the results to match what you are searching for and then out of the results, you pick the one’s that sound the most interesting. “How to make great tuna salad” sounds much more interesting than “How to make tuna salad”.
Another thing to keep in mind when making titles is that most likely, a lot of people might have made videos on the same subject. You need to make your title stand out compared to the competition and/or make it show up more often in results of various searches on the subject. Someone might search for “How to make tuna salad”. Someone else might search for “Tuna salad recipe”. Another person might search for “Easy tuna salad”. But you named your video “How to make great tuna salad”. How could you name it so you can have your video found by most or all of these searches someone might do? Just think of how different people might phrase their search, write them down on paper and then mix and match words from the searches to come up with a more inclusive title. Let’s see, we have the words “how, tuna, salad, recipe, make, to (by the way, some search engines ignore words like and, a, to, and the), great and easy”. So how can you make a title using all or most of these words. Well, that’s when you have to get a little creative. Let’s see, how about…
“How to make great tuna salad – an easy recipe”
“Great recipe for easy tuna salad”
you can add even more words…
“An easy recipe to make great tasting tuna salad”
After over two years of making videos and experimenting with SEO, this is the system I’ve created to make my title names. It’s simple, easy and effective. Just the way I like it. The hardest part is figuring out different ways people might phrase a search and trying to put all of the words together for a comprehensive title, yet still sound interesting. It’s not always easy and sometimes you just have to leave some words out but it gets easier with experience. Sometimes it’s good to bounce your title ideas off of friends who also make YouTube videos to get their opinions as well.
Now, on the subject of titles I have one final tip to offer, but it’s an important one, although it might sound a bit odd at first take…
Never put the title of your video in your video! That’s right. Never put the title of your video in your video!
You might be saying to yourself “But a video has to have an opening title!” Not true, it doesn’t have to have a title anywhere in the video itself. Experience has taught me NOT to put a title in any of my videos. I figured that one out in my first year making videos. You see, back before I started to figure out how important titles were, I would name my video and put the title right on the video. Then when I figured out better ways of titling my videos, I would go back and change the title name in YouTube (yes, you can go back and change a title to a video any time you want), but it looks really odd to name it one thing and then have a different title in your video. So, I quit putting the title right in my videos for that reason. It gives me the flexibility I need.
Sometimes when I title a video and it doesn’t get very many views it might just be that it’s not a very good video or it might be that a different title might give it the views I think it deserves. If a video doesn’t seem to get much attention after a month or longer, I very well might change it’s title. I’ve been known to change titles on a video up to five or six times. Keep in mind though, after you do a title change, it might get little or no views until it gets indexed in Google’s search engine again. It could take a few days before you see what the true results of the change might be. Either way, after changing the title, leave it be for at least a month. From experience, some videos will never get many views no matter what you name it. Others might suddenly come to life and get a lot of views after a year of getting few views. It could be due to any number of unknown reasons.
This is a system I developed to name my YouTube videos. I am in no way suggesting that this is how everyone should name their videos or that this is the only way to do so. If you are new to making YouTube videos, this might be helpful to you to get you started until you develop your own style and methods. Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope you find this information useful and beneficial in your YouTube endeavors.
I will be posting the other two articles of the series within a few weeks at the latest.