Online Video Optimization Tips From The YouTube Partner Playbook

Ryan Nugent of YouTube’s Next Up Lab says, “50% of the work is making a great video and the other 50% is what you do when you upload it.” After the jump, we lay out some helpful rules and guidelines for optimizing your content.

YouTube is working on a Partner Playbook, chock full of tips to help their partners build their audiences, optimize discovery and maximize views.  At a YouTube Partner MeetUp in New York on June 16, 2011, Ryan Nugent from the YouTube Next Up Lab presented a draft of the Playbook.  This is part one in a series presenting tips gleaned from Ryan’s presentation of the YouTube Partner Playbook.

Creating great content is, without a doubt, the most important ingredient in the recipe to YouTube success.  However, even if you have the best content on the planet, nobody will see it if you haven’t optimized it for discovery.  Ryan Nugent of YouTube’s Next Up Lab says, “50% of the work is making a great video and the other 50% is what you do when you upload it.”  Here, we lay out some helpful rules and guidelines for optimizing your content, as outlined in Ryan’s presentation of the YouTube Partner Playbook.

YouTube Metadata

One of the first things you have to do when you upload a video to YouTube is to enter all your metadata, aka title, tags and description.  YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and the way you write your title, tags and description can make or break you when it comes to your position in search results.


When coming up with a title, use keywords first and make your title compelling.  A lot of people like to go with branding first—getting the name of a show, person, product or brand into the title.  The problem with this?  A lot of people will skip over your video if they’ve never heard of the show, person, product or brand.  Therefore, you should always side with relevant keywords over branding.  Also, don’t forget to make your title catchy and interesting.  Is your title something that will make somebody curious and interested in watching?  If not, keep brainstorming!


When it comes to tags, it’s important to use a mix of common and specific keywords.  What does this mean?  Say you’ve got a cooking show.  You’ll want to use common keywords like cooking, recipe and ingredients.  Then narrow things down to keywords more specific to your video.  If your video features you making Pad Thai, for instance, then you should add specific keywords like Thai food, Pad Thai, noodles and Asian.

Ryan points out that it is also important to use variations of keywords, such as common misspellings.  He says that you should use up all the space you can when adding keywords, but make sure you are adding tags that are relevant to your video.  If you use Lady Gaga as a tag just because she’s a popular search term, the YouTube algorithm will be able to tell if your video has got nothing to do with the pop star and this will hurt you in the long run.

Ryan also says that, as far as optimization goes, it’s a good idea to list your first tags in the same order they appear in the title.  If your title is ‘Batman and Joker Fight’ then your keywords should be listed in that order—Batman, Joker, fight.


When writing your description, remember that only the first line or two show up in search results.  Therefore, it’s important to include the most compelling information first.

You should try to use as many of the keywords that you included in your tags within the body of your description.  Additionally, include links that are relevant to your show.

Finally, Ryan suggests creating an “SEO Tagline”—two or three sentences that describe your show—that you can copy-paste into all of your video descriptions.  This insures the inclusion of keywords that you would like to appear in every episode of your show.

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