Brands often focus on Google search visibility, but it’s important to remember that the world’s second-largest search engine is YouTube. Ensuring that your brand’s videos appear in YouTube’s search results as well as Google’s is one of the few ways to secure organic (i.e. free) video views.

With a billion hours of video watched on YouTube per day, what steps can you take to increase the likelihood that your videos will be included in its search results?

Unlike Google, which can simply read the text of a brand site to identify what the content relates to, YouTube can’t understand what a video is about unless you tell it. That means brands need to optimize video titles, descriptions, and meta tags, which help YouTube understand the content and its relevance to searches.

When uploading any video to YouTube, follow these four steps:

1. Include a complete title and description

Your video’s title is the most important factor that YouTube considers when determining its topic, content, and theme. Ensure you make full use of the 100 characters available to clearly describe the video’s content and relevancy to possible search query terms.

In addition, use the description field to provide a deeper explanation of the video’s subject matter. As there is no character limit here, you can use this space to include:

  • An extensive description of the products or services shown in the video (including search-friendly keywords)
  • A full transcript of the voiceover
  • URL links to relevant product pages on your site to allow the customer to find out more or make a purchase
  • Links to social media profiles

This example from Origins has a title that provides little insight into the video’s content and no description. Consequently, it has achieved only 286 views over 12 months.

Makeup tutorial

A better example is this video from Charlotte Tilbury that has a title succinctly describing its content, including the full name of the model. The description then provides a deeper summary, including links to the product page for every product featured in the video.

Makeup tutorial

2. Add multiple tags

Video tags provide YouTube with additional clues to a video’s content and the search keywords you want it to appear against. Five to ten keywords are generally sufficient to provide YouTube’s algorithm with a good understanding.

3. Add closed captions

Closed captions are transcripts of your video’s voiceover that allow hearing-impaired viewers or those watching the video with sound off (often on mobile devices) to fully enjoy a video. Adding closed captions is a great way to strengthen your search optimization, since they provide YouTube with a rich amount of text and keywords for its algorithm.

To add closed captions to any video, choose the ‘Subtitles/CC’ option in the editing menu.

Closed captioning

4. Promote and share your video outside YouTube

While video views are no longer the only determinant of search rank, YouTube is still more likely to show popular videos ahead of less popular content. Therefore, boosting your video views (whether through paid promotion or syndication through other channels) will help your search visibility.

The easiest way to grow your view count is to embed your YouTube videos into your website and social media profiles. This is especially important for newly uploaded videos, as YouTube’s search algorithm gives new content a higher priority than older content. Publishing new videos regularly will also signify to YouTube that your channel includes fresh content.

L2's Daily Insights in Your Inbox.

Edit your preferences or unsubscribe