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Section 4:
Optimize Your Content
Optimize your videos and channel to ensure you reach and keep your audience.
Creating great content is essential to finding success on YouTube, but it’s only half 
A successful optimization strategy will help you take full benefit of the platform’s 
functionalities and avoid execution mistakes.
Contents:
Metadata
Thumbnails
Annotations
Playlists
Channel Experience
Checklist
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Metadata
Time Cost 
Optimization 
  Brand Awareness
  Loyalty
  Influence  
Consideration
 Drive Sales
Effect 
  Search traffic 
  Viewership
  Click-through Rate
Impact  
Minimal 
5 minutes
Strategy:
Write optimized titles, tags and 
descriptions for your content.
Why It Works:
Metadata helps YouTube index 
your content. This is critical to 
building views from search and 
suggested videos.
How To Do It:
Use optimized keywords and 
formatting when writing metadata 
for your videos.
5 out of 5
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Metadata
YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine, and it 
uses metadata – your video’s title, tags and description – to 
index your video correctly. To maximize your presence in 
search, promotion, suggested videos and ad-serving, make 
sure your metadata is well-optimized. This includes title, 
description and tags. 
Title
Make it compelling – this is your video’s headline. If it showed  
up in a search, would you click on it?
• Always represent your content accurately.
• Offer keywords first, branding at the end.
• For serial content, add the episode number to the end  
of the title.
• Update video titles so they continue to grab views.
Tip
Avoid titles that trick viewers into clicking on the video. This will 
cause drop-offs in the first few seconds of your video and will 
negatively impact your video’s watch time.
Compelling title
>  GE: How much science can you fit into 6 seconds
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Metadata
Description
Only the first few sentences of your description will appear in 
search results or above the fold on a watch page – so make 
them count! Follow a template for all of your video descriptions 
to create consistency.
A video description should:
• Accurately describe your video in one or two concise 
sentences.
• Describe your channel and link to your channel page.
• Drive viewers to subscribe (and include a subscribe link).
• Link to other episodes or related videos and playlists.
Tip
While you may want to link offsite in your videos, keep in mind 
that this could affect your video’s watch time. Videos with lower 
watch times appear lower in search results.
YouTube’s new “metadata defaults” feature allows you to create 
templates for your metadata and ensure important text or links 
are always included when you upload a video.
A video description may:
• Include your channel’s release schedule.
• Include links to time-codes in the video for long-form content.
• Include a recurring keyword tagline. The keyword tagline is a 
group of sentences that describe your channel. They should 
include several search-driven keywords. Repeating this tagline 
in episode descriptions will inform first-time viewers about 
your channel.
Reminder: Remember that it is a violation of YouTube Terms of 
Service to use misleading metadata on your videos.
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Tags
Tags are descriptive keywords that will help people find your 
videos. Create a set of standard tags for your channel that can 
be applied to any video you publish (e.g. filmmaking, animation, 
comedy, “Funny Videos,” “Pet Videos,” etc).
• Include a mix of both general and specific tags.
• Use enough tags to thoroughly and accurately describe 
the video.
• Update catalogue videos’ tags when new search trends 
emerge.
• Properly format tags to ensure proper indexing of your video.
• Include keywords from your title in your video’s tags.
• List them in order of relevance to the video and try to use 
the whole 120-character limit. 
Tip
Update the metadata on older videos if title, tags or descriptions 
are not optimized. This can increase views even if the video’s been 
public for a long time.
Metadata resources and inspiration
YouTube Keyword Generator/Video Targeting Tool 
youtube.com/keyword_tool 
YouTube Trending Topics 
youtube.com/videos
Google Trends 
google.com/trends
Metadata
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Metadata
Examples: 
Series titling
> GoPro
Informative, keywords-first title
> Lego Star Wars
47
Metadata
Examples: 
Thorough description with relevant links
> TheCreatorsProject (Intel & Vice)
Thorough description with relevant links
> Chevy
48
Thumbnails
Time Cost 
Optimization 
  Brand Awareness
  Loyalty
  Influence  
Consideration
 Drive Sales
Effect 
  Search traffic 
  Viewership
  Click-through Rate
Impact  
Moderate 
<1 hour
2 out of 5
Why It Works:
Thumbnails act as miniature 
marketing posters for your videos – 
they attract viewers to your content 
and compel them to click through 
to watch.
Strategy:
Create high-quality, custom 
thumbnails for your videos that 
accurately represent the content 
and are consistent with your 
brand identity.
How To Do It:
Design and upload custom 
thumbnails for new videos. 
Update archive video thumbnails.
49
Thumbnails
Thumbnails show up in different sizes and formats all across 
the platform and outside of it. Make sure you’ve got a strong, 
vibrant image that pops no matter what size it is.
General guidelines
• When shooting a video, take shots that will make great 
thumbnails.
• Always upload custom thumbnails with the video file.
• Make sure the thumbnail is not racy.
• Consider the legibility of your thumbnail at multiple sizes. 
Thumbnails change size depending on the YouTube 
placement and device.
Visual guidelines
• Use visual cues (colors, images, shapes, personalities)  
that are consistent with your brand.
• Clear, in-focus, high-resolution  
(640px x 360px min., 16:9 aspect ratio)
• Bright, high-contrast
• Close-ups of faces
• Visually compelling imagery
• Well-framed, good composition
• Foreground stands out from background
• Looks great at both small and large sizes
• Accurately represents the content
Tip
Upload high-resolution thumbnails so they appear crisp and clear 
wherever viewers happen to see them.
50
Thumbnails
Examples: 
> Vogue
> GoPro
> BMW
> HotWheels
Clear, high-quality thumbnails
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