How to Optimize Your YouTube Video for Maximum Traffic

How to Optimize Your YouTube Video for Maximum Traffic

When companies plan their marketing strategies, they often make the mistake of ignoring YouTube as a possible channel for lead development. Social media, PPC and other fields are accepted as vital, but YouTube? How much marketing use is the world’s foremost provider of cute kitten videos?

Actually, YouTube represents fertile ground for lead generation. People tend to forget YouTube is in fact a social platform just like as Facebook and Twitter with sharing capabilities, comments and likes as part of its features. While the video site’s search page is now the second most popular search engine (and thanks to Google’s acquisition of YouTube, intricately connected to the number one search option).

Why Upload to YouTube?

Many companies choose to host their videos on their own websites instead of uploading media to YouTube and then linking within the website. This is, quite frankly, a mistake.


  • The video adds value to your website, but only enriches user experiences if people visit the site.
  • A video hosted on your own website only gets viewed by people who come to your site, limiting how many people find and view it.
  • If you let YouTube host your videos, people are more likely to find them, and if their response is favorable, they’re more likely to visit your site for additional information.

Social Media Strategies and YouTube

Many of the social media strategies used on Twitter and Facebook work equally well on YouTube. YouTube users can:

  • “Like” and “Favorite” individual videos
  • Leave comments
  • Subscribe to channels

This much like following Tweets or Liking a Facebook page. These features offer opportunity to engage your audience in dialogue, and not just in the comments section. Your videos give your company a human face no amount of tweeting and Facebooking can match, because the viewer sees and hears you. Some videos spark video responses, offering opportunity for a very public and interactive dialogue.

Cross-Platform Interactivity

YouTube supports cross-platform interactivity with a wide range of social media platforms. Viewers can easily link your content to Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, StumbleUpon and Blogger with a few clicks, increasing the organic growth of your content.

So here are some simple tips on how to optimize your YouTube video for maximum traffic.

Offer an Embed code

Another useful thing to do is create an embedded code like this one that 12 Palms Rehab Center used to promote their motion graphic. This way, when people like the video and want to share it it’s as easy as copy and paste.

YouTube Marketing Tips

Optimize YouTube for search engines

Of course, you can’t just upload a video and expect self-generating viewers. Over 72 hours of video are uploading to YouTube every minute. Fortunately, you’re competing for your target audiences’ attention with a very small percentage of this amount (unless you specialize in cute cat videos).

Optimizing your video title, description and tags helps people find your video, while how you present your video determines if they’ll stick around long enough to watch.


Your video title is the equivalent of a webpage headline or title, and as such needs to balance SEO-friendly keywords with attention-grabbing content. As a general rule, position your keywords early in the headline, and leave your branding for the second half of the title.


The video description should also be optimized for both SEO and readers but pay special attention to the first 1-2 sentences, because these are the only ones YouTube displays in search results. In these two sentences you need to provide your relevant keywords, catch your viewer’s attention and stand out from the hundreds of other search responses.

If you can add a link to your website or landing page in the description introduction, do so. At the end of the description add links to your website, blog and social media pages. If the viewer sees these, he or she has already clicked on the video link, and presumably is already engaged with your content.


YouTube allows you to tag a video with relevant keywords. Use enough tags to completely describe your video, with the most relevant keywords at the front of the list. Key phrases are best entered into the tag list in quotes. There’s no hard rule on how many keywords to use, so experiment with long-tail keywords as well as more popular search terms.

Video production optimization

You don’t need to be a professional video director to make and upload YouTube videos, but it helps to keep some basic rules in mind.

Grab attention early

You have, on average, 15 seconds to convince a viewer to keep watching your content. Grab their interest as early as possible by building trust or curiosity quickly.

Put the most compelling content at the start of the video. In a short video, this may mean just that — deal with the important stuff first. For longer videos, provide a quick preview or tease of upcoming content, so the viewer can decide if your video contains the information or entertainment she’s looking for.


You can also include annotations, text boxes which overlay the video. As a general rule, use annotations carefully, and only when they bring value to the customer. For instance, you can provide links to other videos, your website or your channel in annotations.

Call to action

Provide a call to action at the end of your video. For instance, if you want to increase viewership, ask people to subscribe to your channel or like your video. Surprisingly, simply asking leads many people to provide you with likes, which increases your YouTube credibility.

How Many Videos?

To gain the most leverage out of YouTube, you’ll need to upload new content as often as possible. A good general rule is to upload at least one new video a week.

Keep videos short and highly focused. Instead of covering a large topic in one video, use create a series of shorter videos around the main theme. This allows you to build on each new video, generating interest and creating the incentive to subscribe or check your channel on a regular basis. End each video with a call to action, link to your website and social media platforms on your channel page, and you’ll see much better results than hosting videos on your own site.

Guest author: Courtney Gordner


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  • Sarah @ Sprout Social

    I think YouTube seems intimidating to some because of the effort put into some videos on the channel. I don’t think a big production needs to be the case for successful brand promotion – not to mention smarter in the content marketing-saturated Internet. Like you said, the quicker you can grab attention and get your point across, the better. Great tips here for brands to take advantage of optimizing a video for sharing!

  • chevyd80

    This is well written. Can’t believe I forgot the call to action part. Thanks, Jeff for allowing Courtney to share this.

  • Ken Handumon

    I also think that Youtube is an essential part of networking services especially when the business engages into a worldwide promotion. You can advertise your business in Youtube and share it to millions of users. You can also embed the video to the social networking sites to increase popularity and traffic.

  • John Peltier

    Now that comments are linked to users’ Google Plus profiles, I think this is a boom to both G+ and YouTube!

  • Prudence Shank

    Google Buzz? Blast from the past!

  • Dara Schulenberg

    Ensuring transcripts are available may also help. What about running targeted ads to support or complement CTA to optimize for conversion?

  • Pooja


  • michaeljohnsonws

    This is just what I needed. Finally, a great resource for optimizing YouTube videos for search engines. Thanks.

  • Jody Raines

    Using tags is optimizing for that keyword, assuring that the video should be discovered for that keyword. Thanks Jeff! Your article is very helpful on a number of levels.

  • YiannisBizman

    Yes Youtube with google+ integration is a really powerful tool now!

  • Tom Martin

    Great Call Jeff – YouTube is a seriously underused marketing tool.

    It’s often misunderstood to by those using it.

    It’s much more complicated than first seems as it has it’s own ecosystem and algorithm

    i’ve created an indepth Optimization guide that i hope you audience will find useful –

  • Toby Danylchuk

    As an alternative strategy, consider using a 3rd party to host your video and put it directly on your site so your site gets the SEO equity. YouTube is definitely a big opportunity, but there are some drawbacks. It’s very difficult to monetize traffic on YouTube compared to traffic on your own site. So if your goal is monetization then think of alternatives. And embedding a YouTube video on your site won’t help much from an SEO standpoint since it’s in an Iframe and still lives on YT. Moz is a good example of this as none of their Whiteboard Friday videos are on YouTube – they’re independently hosted and put on their own site. There are great SEO advantages to not always putting your video into YouTube and instead hosting separately and putting the video directly on your own site.