I can write books about YouTube SEO … it’s both incredibly fascinating, yet subtlety obtuse. This blog will cover a variety of topics regarding to YouTube SEO, so hopefully, you’ll learn as I do, or at least be entertained.

I’ve been doing YouTube SEO for two years now, and as I delve deeper into how things work behind the curtains, my initial fear is proving to be true.

YouTube SEO is as much about writing as it is search engine optimization. I like to write, but when getting a video published to YouTube, I don’t enjoy the process of filling out all the required metadata.

It can be fascinating to watch the results of the metadata in terms of how a video is ultimately placed, but determining my focus word, searching keywords, researching similar channels … well, it can get tedious when you do it three times a day.

When I first discovered the description field I was freaked out. It takes a grand total of 5k characters. Having to provide that much information per video on a daily basis seemed absolutely ridiculous to me, so I ignored it.

Here’s my first description:

The first (and maybe last) video in a Let’s Play series that aims to leave a rather mostly harmless planet and fly to the big red of Mars. Note: the sound is a little soft.

This description is abysmal on so many levels. In my own defense, I knew it was terrible at the time because I didn’t understand the system. My goal was just to upload a lets play video and I counted on my future self to properly learn the ropes (but not write an article on it – how paradoxically embarrassing).

Here’s the thing – YouTube is a massive collection binary data. This is what binary data looks like:


The challenge … how does YouTube know one blob of data from another? It doesn’t. At least not yet so the system needs the author to provide information about the video in order for it to be properly categorized.

YouTube gets information about your video from your transcript. That’s right, YouTube automatically produces subtitles, then analyzes those subtitles – as jank as they tend to be.

YouTube also gets information from your title, tags, and description; based on reoccurring keywords in all your metadata, YouTube will initially find your video  a home, but then Watch Time will determine where it ultimately turns up.

Why is the description so important? Because it’s a way fine tune your video for a particular search term.  When I realized this, I tried copy and pasting text from a game’s Steam page and press docket.

Unfortunately, that’s just not enough … to truly target a video, you must provide your own copy that incorporates all the phrases that you are using. I’ve come to learn that copying material is a valid approach, but at least 2.5k characters should repeat and stress your focus keywords to get the best results. Mind you … this is not meant for tag spam or keyword stuffing. Doing that will get you banned.

For technical videos, I can get away with surgical copying and pasting that is rich in keywords. Of course, when I do this, I always put my source. When writing about a narrative game … I’ve taken to the habit of describing the contents of the video, making sure to emphasize keywords. When doing this, I always pronouns. For example instead of writing:

Kona is a great game. It keeps me on the edge of  my seat.

I may write it like:

Kona is great game. An awesome game. Kona keeps me on the edge of my seat.

I do this throughout my description but not for just one word, but for a matrix of them. Recently, I realized that I had copied and pasted my own description and forgot to update it. That video was only placing in the top twenty results for one keyword. After I rewrote my description, here’s the result:

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 8.38.44 PM.png

I went from one keyword to four all from tailoring my description to match those keywords. Whether those keywords provide fruit or even whether I manage to keep those rankings is to be seen, but as you can see, target descriptions go a long way