How to write YouTube descriptions

If you plan to make YouTube as an integral part of your brand campaign, it’s important to understand how to write YouTube video descriptions.

Writing video descriptions serves two purposes:

  • Provides a quick description for a potential viewer.
  • Helps the YouTube algorithm to understand the video content.

In this article, I discussed how 70 percent of YouTube views come from curated content marked as “Recommended” by YouTube’s algorithm.

To understand why video descriptions are important, you need to be cognizant of who owns YouTube.

📢 Google owns YouTube!

Why video descriptions are important

This is important because if you understand how Google search ranks websites, then you can understand how YouTube ranks videos.

Google ranks websites on many factors, and one of the important factors is the content itself. A website or webpage will rank for “best cat breeds” if their content is designed for this particular term. The webpage will have a lot of useful informational text about the best dog breeds.

In YouTube land, the content is in the form of a video. However, YouTube hasn’t advanced to a degree, when they can fully understand a video.

But they’re getting close as voice search becomes an important part of the search engine.

YouTube still relies heavily on various factors to understand the content of the video.

First, there’s the title of the video. Then there’s the description of the video.

Think of the video description as a short Facebook update or a Tumblr post to tell the Google AI (as well as the viewer) what the video is about.

This information is used by the YouTube AI to push your videos to the right audience.

Take a look at this example in my video about “what are advantages to video marketing”, which you can read about in this video recap:

Based on the title, it’s clear I’m targeting the phrase “what are advantages to video marketing.” I give a strong hint to the YouTube AI about the contents of my video. Furthermore, when a user searches for this particular term —

… He or she will be able to understand what the video is all about just from the short description and title.

YouTube highly recommends informative descriptions as it helps push your video to the Suggestions and Recommended pages of their users.

Steps to writing a video description

Aim for at least 250 words

Again, be mindful that Google owns YouTube. Thus, what works in text based search will likely work in YouTube.

Google search loves text information. According to Backlinko, the average Google first page result contains 1,890 words.

Now you can’t write that many words into a YouTube description, as they’ve limited the number of characters allowed. But there’s a strong correlation between the amount of text content and higher rankings on Google search.

Thus, I recommend you write as much as possible in your YouTube descriptions with an aim for 250 words.

First 2-3 sentences are most important

The first 3 sentences are key for two reasons:

  • They become the short description showcased in search results.
  • YouTube’s AI puts a greater emphasis on the short description.

Take a look at my results for “best cat breeds:”

If you read the short text descriptions, they quickly and efficiently discuss what the video is about. The first 2 videos are top 10 videos about best cat breeds. The third is a more specific overview of 1 top cat breed — the Maine Coon.

Each video uses the proper combination of title and short description to rank high on YouTube search (which is the second largest search engine in the world).

Also, notice how each video has the keyword (best cat breeds) sprinkled in the title, video description or both.

In the first video, it’s a more generic description with “.. what kind of feline friend to have in you home…” It’s not an exact match of the keyword, but the intent is clear enough. It’s a video about the best or right cat breed for a user.

The second video is about “the most popular cat videos.” Again, not an exact match phrase but it’s clear the video will highlight content about popular cats.

Finally, the third video highlights one particular top cat – the Maine Coon.

All three videos are clearly about popular (best) cat breeds so it’s not a surprise that YouTube pushed these videos as a response to my query.

Along with a clever use of thumbnails, these videos are optimized to get that initial click from a potential viewer perusing YouTube.

Detailed video description

The first 2-3 sentences of a video will give you about 50-70 words. You’ll still need to add about 200 more words to keep feeding the YouTube AI.

The detailed section of the video description should contain a quick summary about the video. Most videos are answer and response type of videos.

YouTube videos are often designed to answer popular queries with 2-3 points. You can highlight these 2-3 points and provide a quick overview.

For example, let’s say your video is about “why the tabby cat is the best breed.” You write something like this:

✔️ Tabby cats have a lot of variety from sly orange Garfield to the mysterious gray tabby.

✔️ Tabbies are best because they’re so smart!

✔️ Garfield was a tabby so tabby cats rule!

There’s no bullet point functionality in YouTube, but you can use emojis instead. You may or may not like emojis. I’m certainly from the old school Internet crowd (as I grew up in the ‘90s).

But I understand all the cool kids are using emojis on social media and certainly on YouTube. So I go with the flow and use emojis. It also “pops” and stands out in your descriptions.

Notice how I sprinkle the keyword or search intent in the bullet points. Each bullet provides a different point on why tabby cats are best (again the search term is “best cat breed”).

I suggest you sprinkle your target keyword in your short description. Or at least the synonyms.

As a general rule, use the exact match of a keyword (in this case “best cat breeds”) 2-4 times at most in your 250 word video description. You don’t want to over optimize your description. 2-4 times (including the first 3 sentences) should suffice.

Then sprinkle various synonyms or similar terms that hint at the topic of your video.

These steps should suffice to give a strong hint about your video.

Use hashtags

YouTube allows you to tag your video with hashtags.

Hashtags are important in YouTube! In fact, even Google recommends hashtags in the support pages. So if it’s in Google’s support pages, then you know it’s important.

More specifically, the first hashtag is most important. This is when you use the exact match of your keyword. In the image above, you can clearly see I’m targeting “video marketing.” Hence, it’s my first and only hashtag for the video.

Don’t do over-tagging! It’s even mentioned in the link from Google. Unlike Instagram (where you can have 30 hashtags), too many tags will only dilute the power of each hashtag. It will only confuse the AI about what your video is all about.

In fact, according to Google, “we’ll ignore all hashtags” on a video with 15 or more hashtags. Google goes on to say “over-tagging may result in the removal of your video from your uploads or from search.” So don’t overdo it!

Personally, I only use 1 main hashtag to give a clear and unequivocal message to the YouTube algorithm about my video content. Then I add a branded term (“2Bridges”) for any customers or potential clients searching for my company.

Add a call-to-action

Most people don’t read video descriptions. But if they do, then they must really like your video or they really want more info.

I’ve already discussed HERE the importance of call-to-action in your videos. Always sprinkle CTAs in your videos. This rule applies to video descriptions as well.

YouTube allows you to post links to your websites so link your landing pages in the description. Usually, these links are inserted at the bottom of the video description.

Also, remind the viewer to subscribe, like, share and comment your videos. This will help boost engagement, which helps your video rank higher on YouTube.

Other things to highlight:

  • Encourage viewers to follow you on other social media platforms (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, Twitter, etc.).
  • Provide useful links to resources, especially when you’re referencing statistics, laws or academic research (i.e. Wikipedia, government websites, university research).
  • Media attribution to music or fair use of copyright material (i.e. YouTube videos, films, artist website).
  • Other YouTube channels – YouTube is a community first and foremost so encourage users to check out cool channels like yourself.

Final Word

Understand YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. Although it’s video based (not text based like Google search), it’s still owned by Google.

Thus, best SEO practices on Google search will also work on YouTube.

Google AI loves informative text with strategic placement of keywords. This tactic also works with YouTube video descriptions.

So it pays to understand how to write youtube video descriptions. Along with a good title and a catchy thumbnail, video descriptions will help rank your videos on YouTube and increase your organic views.

These best practices has helped me service my clients, and they will help you build brand awareness in YouTube. Protection Status