The YouTube descriptions box is an incredible asset for creators. It’s a feature that allows you to give further context and information about your video, both to viewers and YouTube.
While there are plenty of tricks and tips to ranking highly on YouTube, including eye-catching custom thumbnails and click-worthy titles, the description is one of the most overlooked aspects of optimization. Master the art of writing great video descriptions, and you’ll give yourself a head start. In this guide, we will show you how to do just that.
11 Tips for Writing the Most Effective YouTube Descriptions
This post will focus on the video description rather than the channel description (i.e., the About Page). While the channel description does not have to be updated so often, you’ll need to optimize the video description for every video you publish. Let’s get into the tips:
#1 Get the Word Count Right
While writing just the bare minimum in the description is an easy habit to pick up, the truth is that the best video descriptions have an average word count of 200 words or more.
/#2 Do the Keyword Research
As a YouTuber, a vital key to success is identifying relevant keywords and phrases that best describe our video content. That way, you’re giving YouTube the information it needs to return a video of yours when a viewer searches for content using specific words and phrases that you’ve optimized for.
Read more on how to smash YouTube keyword research with TubeBuddy to ensure you’re giving yourself the best chance to rank.
#3 Place Your Target Keywords Up Front
Look at any of the best-performing videos on Google and YouTube search, and you’ll notice a pattern. The video descriptions are generally optimized for the keywords the creator aims to rank for.
As a rule of thumb, sprinkle that keyword among the text and aim to include it in your first or second sentence of the description.
This is known as ‘Above the Fold,’ a fancy name for the copy visible to viewers without them having to click on the ‘Show More’ button.
In the example below, both the video title and the description for “YouTube Keyword Research – You’re Doing it WRONG!” have been optimized for the word ‘Keyword Research.’ It’s the focus of the video and a term that TubeBuddy wants to rank highly for on the platform.
#4 Research Related Keywords
In addition to your main keyword, try to find two or three other terms that are related to that primary term to help you rank higher. Viewers may be searching for a related term that you can still rank for.
Using our description as an example again, our main keyword focus is “Keyword Research,” but we’ve also included “YouTube Keywords” and “Keyword Explorer.” This reinforces the content’s focus and allows it to be found in Search for related phrases and terms.
Regarding the number of keywords you include, aim for around two or three references throughout the description. Don’t be tempted to keyword stuff, though. The YouTube Algorithm won’t be fooled into ranking you any higher.
#5 Accuracy and Authenticity are Key
Another massive no-no, along with keyword stuffing, is to add information to the description which isn’t totally accurate. You’ll only disappoint the viewer, and they’ll bounce much sooner than is good for your watch time.
Also, ensure your spelling and punctuation are on point. This is important because YouTube needs to index the words in which to rank, and if the words and terms are misspelled, it’s not going to rank properly (unless a viewer is searching for the typo).
#6 Keep Your Description on Brand for Your Channel
Just so your description is more effective for your audience, try to keep it conversational but on-brand.
Every YouTube channel has a ‘voice,’ the same voice you would use in your videos. Reflect that tone in the description too.
#7 Ensure YouTube Description Content is Unique
If your description content is relatively similar or identical to other video descriptions, this can harm your ranking. This can be very common if you’re just using a sentence or two for your description, and it’s very similar to your other descriptions. While Default Uploads (see below) take the hard work out of including the information you want to include each time, aim for at least a few sentences that are unique to that video.
#8 Nail Your Default Uploads
Default Uploads is a YouTube feature applied to all of your videos. You can choose defaults (on desktop only) for your videos’ privacy setting, category, tags, comments, language, and titles and descriptions. Here’s an example of the current Default Uploads we use for TubeBuddy videos. As you can see, it includes an explanation of what TubeBuddy is and links out to other TubeBuddy resources and our social channels.
If you’re a TubeBuddy user, you can create multiple Default Upload profiles for each type of video you make. If you have a TubeBuddy Pro, Star, Legend, or Enterprise license, you also get the option to edit these defaults in bulk, using our unique find and replace tool.
It’s a huge time saver for creators and having multiple profiles isn’t currently available on YouTube, so sign up to TubeBuddy today to take advantage of this incredible tool.
#9 Use Your Hashtags
YouTube Hashtags allow creators to make the word or phrase clickable, so users can easily search for related videos tagged with the hashtag. It also allows the creator to connect their videos with other content that shares the same hashtag. They are also another great way to help YouTube understand what you’re video is about. You get three per description, so make sure you take advantage of this feature.
In the example below, you can see the creator has used his hashtag allocation to confirm his video is about Los Angeles as well as travel trips:
#10 Disclose All Sponsorship or Brand Deals
In the U.S., YouTube videos based on, or including, sponsorship deals must abide by the FTC and YouTube’s legal guidelines.
To comply with these guidelines, YouTubers must disclose which brands they are working with when posting sponsored content. If a creator has received a free gift, is tied into a brand deal, or includes some kind of product placement in their content, they need to clearly disclose it to their viewers within the video’s description. Read the FTC’s handy guide to disclosing sponsored content.
Many creators also include a disclaimer in their YouTube description if it is unclear whether their video has been sponsored. In this video, the creator reviews Charlotte Tilbury products but clarifies that the cosmetics company doesn’t sponsor the video.
#11 A/B Test Your YouTube Descriptions
If you’re on the TubeBuddy Legend Plan, you can easily perform A/B tests on any of your YouTube descriptions to identify what’s working for you. The data opens up a world of new insights that will inform you how your descriptions resonate with viewers. Follow along with our guide to split-testing YouTube descriptions (and titles)
If you aren’t optimizing your YouTube description, now is the best time to start. We hope our guide has given you some tips to get you started for making the most out of this awesome feature.
Carla Marshall is the Content Marketing Manager at TubeBuddy. She has 10+ years of experience in video marketing, social media management, content marketing, DRM, & SEO