Creating videos for your small business can be as easy or as complicated as you want to make it. You can simply shoot an off the cuff video from your phone for a more casual video, or you can hire the services of a professional videographer for something more high-end and polished. There are many options for how small businesses can use video for their marketing efforts but one thing is for sure:  if you’re not taking the extra steps to optimize your videos when you post them on YouTube, you’re missing out on getting the most out of your efforts. Why not take the time and do it right? For many, it’s because they simply don’t know how or think it’s too complicated. Not true! Here’s what you need to know about optimizing your YouTube videos. It’s easier than you think!

There are 9 steps to fully optimizing your videos for YouTube

Nine steps! Sounds like a lot, but it’s not!  Most are so quick and easy peasy you’ll be amazed. In a nutshell, here are the 9 steps:

  1. Create a compelling video title
  2. Optimize your video description
  3. Use tags
  4. Create custom thumbnails
  5. Utilize end screens
  6. Use cards
  7. Use and correct transcriptions
  8. Create playlists
  9. Start the conversation

Ready for a quick review on each?  Keep reading…

Create a video title that makes people want to watch your video

Create a title between 70 – 100 characters. When you’re creating a title, think about the content and what people are looking for, and help people find your video by capturing their attention when they search.

Optimize your video description

Write a short summary that will go above the “show more” link, then add a longer summary or even the full transcription of the video. Add general information about your business, then tell people how they can stay connected to you through social channels, your blog, etc.

Use tags

You have up to 500 characters to use here; take advantage of it! If you set up your default upload tags correctly, this should already be done for you every time you upload a video. Not sure you set up default upload takes?  Here’s a great video about upload defaults for YouTube.

Create custom thumbnails

When uploading a video, YouTube offers a few thumbnail options but if you’re not loving any of those and want a more customized thumbnail, you can use a program called YouTube Buddy to help create custom thumbnails. It’s super easy to use and it’s free (our favorite price!).

Utilizing end screens

Once someone has watched your video, don’t leave your viewers hanging! End screens are awesome for recommending another video (preferably of yours!), asking people to subscribe to your YouTube channel, or some other call to action.

Use cards

YouTube cards are interactive “panels” that slide in and out when a video is playing, encouraging further interaction by the viewer. You can use them to promote a cause, encourage further interaction by viewers, or provide a direct link to your website. Cards are a must!


YouTube will try to create a transcription for you when you upload a video, but it’s often incorrect or indecipherable so take the time to go back and correct it. Better yet, just upload your video script if you have it and you’ll be good to go!

Create playlists

It’s good to group your videos into playlists so people know how to find like or related videos to watch if they totally loved what they just watched. Below the social post on YouTube is where you can add your videos to playlists and create playlists while you’re first uploading. It’s easy to find and easy to do! Label them however you want but like your video title, keep in mind what people are looking for when you name your playlists.

Start the conversation

You hooked ’em with your awesome video, now keep the conversation going! Create a social post and share your video with the world! Videos are wonderful but they’re one-way conversations, which is why you need to leverage social media to keep the conversation going.

That’s it!  Those are the nine steps. Need more instruction on how to pull these off?  We actually created a series of how-to videos on how to fully optimize your YouTube video with step-by-step instructions and screen shots. Check it out!

Patty Hughes
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