YouTube video descriptions are perhaps one of the most criminally under-used tools available to YouTubers, so if you are one of the YouTubers who doesn’t take full advantage of their video descriptions—don’t worry, you’ve got a lot of company.
However, we do need to fix this.
YouTube video descriptions are important for a range of reasons, from searchability to usability. From information to promotion. In this post, we’re going to cover all of the things you can—and in some cases, should—do with your YouTube description. So, whether you’ve been wondering how to write a YouTube description, or you’ve never much cared before, this article is for you. Let’s get into it.
Let’s start with the basics. When you write your description for a YouTube video, you should make sure it is actually descriptive of what the video is about. If a viewer takes the time to look at the description, you don’t want to leave a sour taste in their mouth by not giving them what they want out of it.
Or worse; giving them a description that is not accurate.
Be sure to make smart use of the fold. When your description is displayed, by default there will be a couple of lines and then a “see more” link. You want to make intelligent use of those first couple of lines, because viewers aren’t always going to click that “see more” link.
Get the basics of your description across as quickly and succinctly as possible. If the viewer is hoping for something specific from your video and is checking the description to save time, you should make sure they get the required information. If they don’t, they might just leave. And, if you are promoting something in your description, try and entice the viewer to click that “see more” link.
Write Searchable Descriptions
Descriptions are not just for the viewers, of course, they are also for the search engines. At the moment, search engines can’t (or don’t) search the actual content of videos when delivering their results, so you are forced to rely on well-written titles and descriptions to drive that organic search traffic to your content.
Do a little keyword research on your video’s topic, and try to find keywords that are low-competition while not being completely dead. The idea is to avoid competing with the biggest players in the niche while still using keywords that people will be searching for.
Be sure not to overstuff your descriptions with keywords, though. They should still read naturally and be of value to the person reading it.
It’s not as commonly known as it probably should be, but YouTube allows users to search by hashtag, just like all the other social media platforms. Likewise, YouTubers can use hashtags in their descriptions to ensure that their videos become part of those hashtag searches.
There is no hard rule on picking hashtags. It is not like keywords—where lower competition is better—because almost by definition, a low competition hashtag is worthless. Hashtags are a function of trend, and if it’s not trending, it almost doesn’t exist.
Instead, focus on finding the most relevant hashtags to your content. You may also be using hashtags to coincide with an event of some kind.
If you have things to promote—another channel, a book, a course, etc—be sure to put all the links in your description. There are only so many plugs you can squeeze into a video before your viewers start to get annoyed about it. And it’s really not that many.
Your description is a different kettle of fish altogether, however. If a viewer is looking at your description, it’s because they’ve made a special effort to come down there and view it. As long as you’ve covered the basics and provided an accurate and informative description of the content, they won’t mind seeing a few links to things you’re promoting.
If you are linking out to things under an affiliate referral system, such as linking to a product you featured through an Amazon Affiliates link, make sure you disclose that in your description. Viewers often don’t mind affiliate links, but they don’t like you being sneaky about it.
On a related note, you should also try and slide some links out to any YouTubers you might have collaborated with, or perhaps clipped in your video. It’s good to maintain positive relationships with other YouTubers where possible.
Chapters are a relatively recent feature on YouTube, but an incredibly useful one. If your video can be broken up into distinct sections in any meaningful way, we would strongly suggest adding chapters.
Adding chapters is easy enough. Note that you must have at least three chapters, and your video needs to be at least 10 seconds long. You add chapters by heading to your video description, and creating a list of timestamps, with the first one being 0:00. So it could look something like this;
1:23 Chapter One
3:45 Chapter Two
When implemented, the play progress bar of your video will be broken up into sections corresponding with your timestamps, and when the viewer hovers over a section, it will show a label saying the name you have given it.
Make it Entertaining
Last—but certainly not least—make it entertaining. Always remember that the content you put here is ultimately designed for human eyeballs, and humans get bored very easily.
This becomes even more important if there are promotional things in your description. It would be a shame to miss out on an affiliate referral because a viewer gave up before getting to the part where your referral links are.
Descriptions are far more important than many YouTubers give them credit for, and that importance goes beyond just having something that a potential viewer can read. For evergreen content, a well-written description can ensure that organic views keep rolling in long after the algorithm has moved on. Descriptions can generate significant additional revenue with promotional links.
Now go, and write your descriptions well!
Top 5 Tools To Get You Started on YouTube
Very quickly before you go here are 5 amazing tools I have used every day to grow my YouTube channel from 0 to 30K subscribers in the last 12 months that I could not live without.
1. VidIQ helps boost my views and get found in search
I almost exclusively switched to VidIQ from a rival in 2020.
2. Adobe Creative Suite helps me craft amazing looking thumbnails and eye-catching videos
I have been making youtube videos on and off since 2013.
When I first started I threw things together in Window Movie Maker, cringed at how it looked but thought “that’s the best I can do so it’ll have to do”.
I soon realized the move time you put into your editing and the more engaging your thumbnails are the more views you will get and the more people will trust you enough to subscribe.
That is why I took the plunge and invested in my editing and design process with Adobe Creative Suite. They offer a WIDE range of tools to help make amazing videos, simple to use tools for overlays, graphics, one click tools to fix your audio and the very powerful Photoshop graphics program to make eye-catching thumbnails.
Best of all you can get a free trial for 30 days on their website, a discount if you are a student and if you are a regular human being it starts from as little as £9 per month if you want to commit to a plan.
3. Rev.com helps people read my videos
You can’t always listen to a video.
Maybe you’re on a bus, a train or sat in a living room with a 5 year old singing baby shark on loop… for HOURS. Or, you are trying to make as little noise as possible while your new born is FINALLY sleeping.
This is where Rev can help you or your audience consume your content on the go, in silence or in a language not native to the video.
Rev.com can help you translate your videos, transcribe your videos, add subtitles and even convert those subtitles into other languages – all from just $1.50 per minute.
A GREAT way to find an audience and keep them hooked no matter where they are watching your content.
4. PlaceIT can help you STAND OUT on YouTube
I SUCK at making anything flashy or arty.
I have every intention in the world to make something that looks cool but im about as artistic as a dropped ice-cream cone on the web windy day.
That is why I could not live on YouTube without someone like PlaceIT. They offer custom YouTube Banners, Avatars, YouTube Video Intros and YouTube End Screen Templates that are easy to edit with simple click, upload wizard to help you make amazing professional graphics in minutes.
Best of all, some of their templates are FREE! or you can pay a small fee if you want to go for their slightly more premium designs (pst – I always used the free ones).
5. StoryBlocks helps me add amazing video b-roll cutaways
I mainly make tutorials and talking head videos.
And in this modern world this can be a little boring if you don’t see something funky every once in a while.
I try with overlays, jump cuts and being funny but my secret weapon is b-roll overlay content.
I can talk about skydiving, food, money, kids, cats – ANYTHING I WANT – with a quick search on the StoryBlocks website I can find a great looking clip to overlay on my videos, keeping them entertained and watching for longer.
They have a wide library of videos, graphics, images and even a video maker tool and it wont break the bank with plans starting from as little as £8.25 ($9) per month.