Here on the Artlist blog, we've covered the importance of nailing your YouTube SEO, including the importance of YouTube keywords and creating the perfect YouTube thumbnail. We'd argue that these are some of the most important aspects of growing your YouTube channel. Still, they're by no means the only things that you can master and leverage to help you gain more views and subscribers.
Did you know that even the YouTube description can be a key factor in ranking higher on YouTube? Below, we'll give you everything you need to know on how to write a YouTube description that will increase your video's chances of appearing in search results across YouTube and Google.
What are YouTube descriptions?
First, it's important to clarify that there isn't just 1 "YouTube description" but 2, technically. So you have your video description (this is usually the one we all associate with "YouTube description"), but there is also a YouTube channel description.
Video descriptions are where you can share more details with your audience about what they can expect from the video. You can include relevant links that may be referenced in the video ("check the link in my description"), as well as pack it with your main keywords to help with SEO.
Meanwhile, a YouTube channel description is all about summarizing what your audience can expect from your channel. Imagine your channel as your company. The description needs to describe what it does and why it's worth watching your videos.
Why is a YouTube description so important?
If you can include popular search terms and relevant keywords in your YouTube descriptions, it will help your videos show up in both search results and the "related videos" sidebar. The equation is very simple:
Better written YouTube description = higher ranking in search results = more views and subscribers.
There are differences in how to go about writing these 2 YouTube descriptions, so below, we'll take a look at best practices for both. A YouTube channel description is a little more straightforward, so we'll start there.
How to write a YouTube channel description
If you look at YouTube channel description examples, you'll find that there's no set way to do it. There's no "YouTube description template" that is the definitive way to write a channel description. However, here are a few key pointers:
- Introduce who you are and what you do.
- Tell your audience what your channel is about and what they can expect (including an upload schedule if you feel comfortable committing to one).
- Include relevant links such as other social media platforms you're on, as well as a business email address for any inquiries people may have.
- Include keywords and phrases that are relevant to your channel.
Stick to these 4 pointers, and you can't go too far wrong. You have 1,000 characters to play with, which is plenty. Be mindful of your audience's and their time - keeping it short, concise and to the point is best.
If you're a little bit stuck, take the time to research YouTube channel description examples. So visit your favorite YouTube channels and see what they're doing for a bit of inspiration and extra guidance.
9 essential tips on how to write a YouTube video description
When it comes to a YouTube video description, it's a whole different ball game. So let's break it down.
1. Grab the audience's attention
The first few lines of your YouTube video description really matter. Although you have a YouTube description character limit of 5,000, not all of that will show up in search results. For a bit of context, here's how many characters will be visible to a user who's looking at your video in various places:
- On Google Search, 150 to 160 characters are visible (this includes spaces)
- On YouTube search (on a desktop computer): 138 characters are visible (this includes spaces)
- YouTube watch page: on a desktop computer, the full 5,000 characters are available, but only the first 2 or 3 lines will be visible before the viewer has to click the "show more" link. If you're browsing on a smartphone, none of the description is shown.
So, as you can see, it's really important that you immediately grab your viewers' attention if you want them to keep reading.
2. Write like a human, not a robot
When you're writing for SEO purposes, it can be easy to fall into the trap of sounding a bit "like a robot." This can be a really boring turn-off. Remember to write with your own voice - be friendly and conversational in tone. It'll be easier and much more enjoyable for your viewers to read. They're likely to read more, knowing that it came directly from you, rather than some YouTube description generator.
3. Let your audience know what to expect
Sometimes, viewers may check out your YouTube video description to see if they can find out what the video is about. It's important to use YouTube descriptions for this purpose. Let your audience know what to expect and don't be afraid to go into a bit of detail about it. Most importantly, what's in it for them? Why should they watch?
4. Use keywords
Honestly, there's little point in spending time on the YouTube description box if you're not going to bother with keywords. So conduct some research into what you want your keywords and phrases to be, then weave them in throughout the YouTube video description. It will help your video rank better in search engine results, as well as helping people who search for those specific keywords and phrases find your video.
Remember - if you over-saturate your YouTube description box with the same keywords again and again, it will actually work against you. So don't force the issue - keep it natural and flowing. Repeating certain keywords 3 to 4 times throughout should be enough.
5. Break it down
Lay out your YouTube descriptions in an easy-to-read format, breaking them up into distinct sections. For example, the top of the YouTube description box may be designated for detailing what the video is about. The following section may be your affiliate links, followed by another section detailing social media links and so on. It will help your audience navigate and read the YouTube description quicker - something they'll greatly appreciate.
6. Include links
Users often navigate to the YouTube description in search of relevant links. For example, perhaps you mentioned in your video that you're selling some new merchandise or wrote a blog post that they should read? The YouTube description box is the place to link this.
As mentioned above, try to organize your links into different sections. So, 1 section listing links to your various social media profiles, another for your affiliate links, your website, another for another video or playlist they should check out and so on. There are 3 main reasons to do so:
- Improve user experience
- Increase watch time
- Help build your brand as people find out more about you, follow you in other spaces and perhaps even support you with a purchase.
7. Include hashtags
Similar to keywords, hashtags help viewers find your video. I would suggest choosing the 3 most important ones. They can be added anywhere in the YouTube description and will really help the YouTube algorithm out.
8. Include calls to action
Alongside your links, it's worth adding in a call to action (CTA). Perhaps you're prompting readers to go check out your Instagram feed or just reminding them to like and subscribe? You'd be surprised how well this seemingly simple detail works.
Lastly, don't forget to timestamp. This is a fairly new feature, but it's essential for longer videos, and many people forget to do it! Adding timestamps in the YouTube video description ensures that your video is automatically broken up into "chapters." It will help with user experience and navigation.
The format for timestamps is hour:minutes:seconds (00:00:00). You can title each chapter to what that video segment is showing. For example, if it's a drone sequence, you may title it "cinematic drone sequence."
So, that's how to write a YouTube description for both a YouTube channel description and a YouTube video description. Starting a YouTube channel can be a daunting experience, but mastering essential SEO skills like this really gives you a fighting chance of having your videos perform far better. YouTube descriptions may seem like a very simple factor, but don't overlook them. Putting in some time and energy to get them right will always pay off.
The best part about this is that once you have nailed your copy, you can go ahead and save it as a YouTube description template. That way, whenever you upload a new video, you can import your saved copy and save some time - particularly with the various links you may wish to share.
Josh Edwards is an accomplished filmmaker, industry writing veteran, storyteller based in Indonesia (by way of the UK), and industry writer in the Blade Ronner Media Writing Collective. He's passionate about travel and documents adventures and stories through his films.