A Quick Guide to Optimizing Online Video
Through trial and error, millions of uploaded videos, countless hours of time spent glued to our monitors, and oh-so-much data, a rule book has began to emerge on the best ways to optimize videos for the web. There are specific strategies you should follow to get more video views, and this post is meant to serve as a reference guide for your online video efforts.
1. Find the right subject
Many people say that you need to create a video that is either educational or emotional. We like to split emotional up into a third category: entertaining. If you can teach something, make someone “feel”, or make them laugh, you’ve got a solid foundation to build your video content strategy on.
2. Get to the point
Humans have incredibly short attention spans. According to Visual Measures, 33% of viewers stop watching after the first 30 seconds of your video, 45% after the first minute, and 60% after the first two minutes. This means videos should be kept short.
There are exceptions to this rule. For example, if you are creating an educational video, then it is often more accepted by users to watch a full 5-minute video versus one meant to entertain and get to the point quickly. You need to grab people’s attention in the first ten seconds to encourage them to stick around for the video’s duration.
3. Use a short, but powerful title
When it comes to getting clicks, the video title is one of the most important aspect of your video. A good rule of thumb is the shorter the better. Stay accurate to what your video is about because YouTube penalizes misleading videos titles. One tool we love to use is Coschedule’s Headline Optimizer. It makes sure you’re using highly-searched, impactful words, and tells you if your headline is too short or too long.
4. Add tags
Tags allows search engines to find you. When tagging your video, be sure to make these videos specific and not channel-specific. There are tools such as TubeBuddy that will find keyword suggestions for you, but if you’re looking for a free option, using YouTube’s suggested keywords from its search bar is a great place to start.
For example, let’s say you’re making a video on content marketing. You can type “content marketing” into the search bar to get some good ideas of what people are searching for. From there, you can usually craft the right kinds of keywords to use.
5. Write descriptions
Use your descriptions to provide extra information to your viewers. You can place links with a call-to-action here, or link to other sources that provide depth to your videos. If you talk about a great tool for someone to use, placing a link for them to learn more about it in the description is a simple way to provide value.
6. Create custom thumbnails
This is just like having a second title on your video to grab people’s attention, only in image format. You can’t leave it up to chance for YouTube or Facebook to grab a flattering image of your video for your thumbnail. You’re much safer to grab your own screenshot and place some text over it that repeats your title, or an image of something that describes your video. Here are some other tips for creating your thumbnail:
- Pick a bright colored background
- Place your logo in the photo
- Choose complementary colors
- Try to convey emotion with your imagery
7. Add captions
This point is two-fold:
- SEO: Closed captioning your videos boosts SEO by allowing search engines to know exactly what your video is about. Yes, YouTube provides auto-captions, but if you’ve ever used them, you know how bad they are. The auto-captioning feature struggles with accents, background noise and multiple speakers. You probably don’t want typos or grammar errors on your website or in your marketing collateral. Allowing them in your closed captions looks just as unprofessional.
- Accessibility: It’s generally understood that captions benefit the hard-of-hearing, deaf, and even non-native English speakers. What is often overlooked is that people without hearing disabilities also benefit from captions. According to Digiday, a whopping 85% of people watch Facebook videos without sound. 85%! It’s unlikely you’d be happy with only 15% of your potential audience knowing what your video is about so be sure to have accurate captions.
You can do closed captions yourself inside of YouTube’s editor. For those that have done it, you know it can be quite tedious. To save time and energy, you can use an online service like Rev.com to have them quickly caption your entire video. They have professionals transcriptionists that do the work, rather than software, so the accuracy is 99% or better.
8. Ask people to like and subscribe
It’s important to remember that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. At the end of your videos, you need to ask people to like and subscribe to your videos. You work hard to give people good content, so encourage them to give back to you by becoming a fan. This gives them notifications on when you post a new video, and it will let YouTube, Facebook and other platforms know that you’ve made a good video, which will help more people find you organically.
The most important thing to remember is that you need to test and see what works for your audience. Experiment, analyze and adjust consistently and your video stats will be shooting through the roof in no time. What other strategies have you discovered that help get more views for your videos?
About Taylor Kerby
Taylor is the Creative Director at Cave Social – an international marketing agency with offices in Los Angeles, Vancouver and Toronto. You can connect with him on Twitter or his weekly marketing series In The Cave on YouTube.