YouTube Optimization Tips (#smx #31C)

I’m in the Marketing Land track and the topic is YouTube optimization. This session is moderated by Greg Finn, (@gregfinn, Chief Marketing Officer, Cypress North) and there are three presenters sharing the stage this morning.

SMX East 2013 SponsorManny Rivas, Online Advertising Director, aimClear (@mannyrivas) is up first. His presentation is called “Tried and true tactics for becoming a YouTube Marketing Ninja.” (Note: To my surprise, this is actually the first time I’ve heard someone mention the word “ninja” in their presentation this week!)

B2B can be sexy, too says Manny!

The trick is to tell the story behind your not sexy B2B thingamagic/product/service. Dig deep to find what it engaging about your product and/or its history.

Some Factors That Can Help Your Videos Be Successful

Strategy! When approaching strategy, think:

  • What’s the purpose?
  • How does it fit with out marketing initiatives?
  • What are your goals/KPIs?

Are you testing your landing pages? Are you creating content that allows (and enables and inspires) people to take the next steps?

Do I have….

  • Great content that Entertains, Engages, Informs, Empowers
  • Target audience
  • A connected user base
  • Video content optimized for discoverability
  • A budget to seed engagement

As an example of engaging content, Manny shows us a video from the England Metropolitan Police department that shows a video that uses the “choose your own ending” annotation approach. (Check it out here if you’re interested: ___ Apparently there’s a problem with people stabbing each other with kitchen knives in England… who knew.)

Zappos has lots of good examples of informative YouTube content. In this example they even include the SKEW number in the YT title

Some Video Content Ideas

  • Thought leadership
  • Tutorials and How-Tos
  • Infographics
  • Branded yet catchy
  • Consider a thematic series

The amount of time people spend watching your videos is a part of the YouTube ranking algorithm.

Keep in mind that your audience shares on lots of channels; so, they might discover it on YouTube, but they may be talking about you in forums or on Twitter (etc.) YouTube engagement can be a great way for you to increase your clout in the “social sphere,” which can help improve you success in other SEM areas.

Long-term: It’s a good idea to devote time to building relationships with active forum users, bloggers and socially connected industry figures

Identify your users by mining comments. Identify users that are committed to creating content; identify what they are interested in and where they go.

Finding comments by vertical or interest:

Finding comments on YouTube

Organic Rollout Checklist

  • Submit to blogs for write ups
  • Seed with connected user base
  • Share in social
  • Share internally
  • Embed your videos on your site or blog

Ranking Factors for YouTube

Keep in mind your optimizing for YouTube AND for Google Universal Search.

YouTube Ranking Factors

ScrapeBox – Good Keyword Research Tool (for YouTube and for SEO in general, actually)

Call To Action Overlays
Drive users back to your site with a Call To Action (CTA) Overlays (51×51 image + title and body text that leads back to your site). Create these by creating an ad in Adwords for Video, target obscure keywords (no one will ever see this ad), then pause the ad.

YouTube CTA OVerlay


The moderator tells us Purna Virji (Senior Marketing Manager, Stroll — @purnavirji) is going to tell us how to pimp our YouTube channels. (From Ninjas to Pimping… it’s that kind of morning. Everyone’s talking about hangovers and what not.. yadda yadda yadda.)

Purna tells us she is really interested in talking about how to engage your visitors once they get to you, and how to strategically use YouTube analytics. She’s broken it down into four tips.

Tip One: Set a Strong Foundation with a Strong Channel Page

1. Create a Channel Name; keep it short and memorable; the channel name doesn’t have to be the same as your URL

2. Pick a channel icon that will be used across YouTube; make sure it’s a really good quality image that is clear in a variety of sized (sometimes the channel icon is very small and text doesn’t read well. Channel icon dimensions = 800x800px – avoid text because text doesn’t read well very small.

Why encourage YouTube subscribers


3. Video Metadata:
Title – make it compelling; use core keywords first; keep testing and tracing CTR
Metatag – create a set of standard tags; be specific and accurate; use keywords
Description – the first few sentences really count here; make sure you put the most important lines first

4. Thumbnail – think of this like your “marketing poster” or banner ad. The thumbnail should be custom for each video; faces are usually compelling and increase CTR; Thumbnail specs: 640px by 360px minimum; 16:9 aspect ratio. Make sure your thumbnail is directly. (NOTE: To clear up any confusion, YouTube recommends that video thumbnails have a resolution of 1280 x 720, and a minimum width of 640 px. Not a resolution of 640 x 360.)

YouTube Optimization Slide

How To: When you upload the video, there is a section that will ask you if you want to upload a custom thumbnail. It’s a newer feature, but it’s pretty straightforward.

5. Featured and related channels – You can choose to disable featured and related videos so the videos of others (ie: your competitors) don’t show up next to yours, but then your videos wont show up in the right column as a related video for others either. So you gain something, and you lose something.

Tip 2: Curate content for your subscribers

Why encourage YouTube subscribers

You can tailor your YouTube for subscribers and nonsubscribers. In other words, you can create a custom visual experience for your subscribers, and a totally different experience to entice not-yet (but potential!) subscribers.

Some Tips for Engaging YouTube Subscribers

  • Use 60-30-10 formula. 60% needs to be interesting, entertaining and informative. 10% should promote your brand.
  • Create playlists to engage
  • Be regular and consistent
  • Use Strategic CTAs
  • Community Management

Channel Trailer Tips

  • Think elevator pitch
  • Show, don’t tell
  • Use CTAS
  • Leverage special promotions


Clickable text overlays; link to other videos or social media. You can also link to your own web page or offer clarification that supplements the video.

Avoid the lower third of your video because this is where ads show up (and the ad may block the readability of your annotation.)

Repeat subscribe call to action at the end.

Tip 3 : Show your personality on your Channel page

JcPenny and Head and Shoulders do a really good job with this.

Don’t forget about your channel sections, and your channel description.

YouTube optimization channel sections

Tip 4: Channel Analytics

Google Analytics tie-in. You can actually connect GA to YouTube.

YouTube optimization Google Analytics tie in


Once you’re in Analytics check out…

1. Who are your users?
Do they match the target audience you want to go after?
Pull Demo and Geo location reports

2. Where are users finding your videos?
All traffic sources are not created equal. Look at average view duration, as well as subscriber-only data.

3. How much are you engaging users?
Low retention rate means low exposure in YT SERPs.

4. Why are viewers subscribing?
What are they watching? What’s engaging them?

5. How are Annotations performing?
Review CTR and close rates for all annotations. High close rates = they are not finding it useful. Use this metric to help you optimize the placement and language of your annotations.

YouTube Optimization checklist:

YouTube optimization checklist smx


Mat Siltala, President, Avalaunch Media (@Matt_Siltala) is up next. He says his presentation will be geared more toward tactics for smaller, local businesses. He notes that that doesn’t mean that big businesses can’t also benefit from these tips.

6 User Signals Google Likes To See

  1. Likes and Dislikes
    Comments (and likes and dislikes within comments)
    Matt notes that it doesn’t have to be something that is safe; sometimes a little controversy that gets people talking is good.
  2. Views (specifically, complete views)
    He emphasizes that complete views are important and recommends mentioning to people in your marketing that you want them to check out the entire video.
  4. Replies
    Remember, it’s all about doing what you can to engage and to get people engaged with your video.
  5. Subscribers

General Rules to Follow:

Keep videos as short as possible (30 seconds – 2 minutes works best)
In general, 2 minutes is the upper limit because we want those complete views to send strong YT ranking signals.

Two Short YouTube Case Studies

YouTube Case Study #1

The case study company is an exterminator; lots of people were searching for “do roaches eat toothpaste?” The company capitalized on this by dressing up like a roach and making entertaining videos where the roach goes into people’s houses and uses their toothbrushes.

YouTube optimization - case study 1


YouTube Case Study #2

This is a great example of a video that can make an impact and get thousands of views without being super produced. This video was shot with an iPhone and it’s just a guy offering information (10 things you need to know before you move to Phoenix).

A lot of times it can be easy to overthink it. You don’t always have to overthink it; just do it. Pick a pointed topic that is important to your target market than dig in. Your videos don’t (necessarily) have to be produce (or overproduced!)

YouTube optimization - Matt Case Study 2


Other YouTube Tips

Always make sure to share your physical address and phone number as well as your business name in your video. If you say them, they will be added to the transcript, and then indexed.

Use video testimonials! People read them and make decisions based on them.

Where do I find ideas for videos?

  • Local News Sites
  • Facebook Groups
  • Answer sits (like Quora, LinkedIn,
  • Topsy
  • Social Networks

Spotlight: Yelp Talk is great for data mining and information, says Matt!

Repurpose successful content into videos. (For an example of this watch: “Social media explained by cats”)

Make sure you’re using other social channels to drive views to your videos

Chelsea Adams Brooks is a long-distance cyclist, aspiring cob house builder, schema/analytics/algorithm obsessor, and a former senior content writer at Bruce Clay Inc.

See Chelsea's author page for links to connect on social media.

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5 Replies to “YouTube Optimization Tips (#smx #31C)”


Great article. Probably the best method I have found for ranking my channels and videos is having my channel featured by other channels with high page rank. This way I get high quality backlinks from within YouTube itself and those links are also dofollow backlinks.

By the way I think this is the reason why VEVO videos rank always on the top of the results. They always feature other VEVO channels, creating a strong web of high quality backlinks.

Great tips Chelsea that can help improve many Youtube profiles.
Interesting cases and question you mention in the article that makes you think about, the right way to handle your Youtube profile.

Thanks for sharing your tips!

Chelsea Adams

Glad you found the SMX session recap helpful, Kristian! I had a great time reporting the session; it’s always good to hear from people who have enjoyed reading it.

In case you read this article, point 4 talks about the Thumbnail image, it should be a 16:9 ratio not 16:0 as mentioned in the article. Good pixel size is 1280 x 720 (not the 640×360 mentioned which is the old format)… plus above in the slides, the Video Response is no longer part of YouTube (or is being phased out now)… so it is no longer a ranking factor.

Chelsea Adams

Hi, Ronnie!

Thanks for catching that 16:0 typo (it should be 16:9, as you pointed out. That 0 can be just a bit too close to the 9 when you’re typing like a mad banshee in a liveblog session…) And thanks for mentioning the 1280×720 resolution size; I think Purna meant the minimum WIDTH of the thumbnail image needs to be 640 pixels when she recommended 640×360 (as seen in the slide from the session below).

YouTube Video Thumbnail

See the YouTube Video thumbnails reference page for 1280×720 resolution and 640px width recommendation reference:

Hope you found the rest of the tips in the article useful! And please feel free to reach out to me, or directly to the presenter @PurnaVirji if you have other questions.



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