The Dos and Don’ts of Writing YouTube Video Descriptions

by Matthias Funk | | Category: YouTube Marketing

Did you know the description of your YouTube video is just as important as the video itself? It is…but do you know why? Because the YouTube description is the best way to control the searchability of your video and boost your video’s (and channel) SEO and YouTube rankings. How well you craft and design your YouTube descriptions, YouTube hashtags, and use your keywords, etc. will determine where your videos rank…or not.

What? You don’t know how to write a YouTube description?

No worries! That’s what we’re here for. So let’s get started!

We are going to start with the basics and walk you through the entire process. By the time you get to the end of this text, you will be a pro at writing YouTube descriptions that are intriguing… and ones that will have a positive effect on your SEO and YouTube rankings.

“Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” Warren Buffett

What Is a YouTube Video Description?

The YouTube video description provides a detailed overview of the video’s content.  What you put in the YouTube description box will help viewers understand what your video is about, as well as playing a major role in your YouTube SEO and rankings—but only if it’s done right.

Where Is the Description Box on YouTube?

On YouTube, the description box is underneath the video and below the line where you see the title, the number of views, likes, shares, etc. On mobile devices the description text is hidden by default. Just take this video of the Cute Life Hacks channel as an example:

youtube description on watch page desktop mobile

Both on desktop and on mobile the full description text gets displayed. On desktop you just have to click on the “Show more” link. On mobile you just have to click on the arrow icon next to the video title.

youtube description on watch page expand

Then, underneath the description box will be the comments about the video, if you have that feature enabled.

Parts of the description get displayed in search results as well, at least on desktop.

youtube description on desktop and mobile

Why Are YouTube Descriptions So Important?

YouTube descriptions are important because this is the space you will use to grab the viewer’s attention and tell them what your video is about. It’s also the place where you will enter your hashtags and keywords into the verbiage to help boost your SEO, YouTube rankings, and try to get more subscribers. The first three hashtags you enter will be automatically placed above the title so your viewers can click on them to watch other related videos.

How Do I Write the Text for a YouTube Video Description?

The best way to approach writing the text for your YouTube video description is to concentrate on writing it for people, not search engines. Yes, there are portions of the description where you will need to think about the SEO aspect of it; however, that should not be your main focus.

When writing the text for your YouTube video descriptions, you should include the following:

  • Relevant text describing your video, your channel, and your brand. This needs to be intriguing enough to get viewers interested enough to want to watch your video, comment on it, subscribe, and share it with others when they are done.
  • A well-crafted call-to-action (CTA) telling your viewers exactly what it is you want them to do after they’ve watched your video. For example: “Click Here Now for a Free Marketing Guide” or “Contact Us Today to Receive Three Free Lessons.”
  • Focus on the first three lines of your text. The first three lines are the most important because these are what is displayed without having to click the “Show More” link. So you need to make the best of this area by presenting your keywords, hashtags, and the text you choose (naturally) because you need to create enough interest so the user will want to watch your video and watch it all the way to the end.

What Links Should I Include in My YouTube Descriptions?

Every YouTube description you write should include the following links:

A Subscribe Link for Your Channel

Adding a YouTube subscribe link is easy. To create it you just have to make sure that your YouTube channel has its own ID (for example, the tubics YouTube channel ID is UCoSK_V3cwHyMNBTvzwfOELQ), then replace the channel ID in the following URL with yours.

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoSK_V3cwHyMNBTvzwfOELQ?sub_confirmation=1

If your channel has a custom channel URL and not a channel ID, your channel URL would have /user/ in it instead of /channel/), then format the URL slightly differently.

http://www.youtube.com/user/REPLACE_WITH_YOUR_NAME?sub_confirmation=1

If someone clicks on this link in your video description, they will be taken to your YouTube channel. If they are not already subscribed, they’ll see a pop-up asking them to subscribe.

Links to Specific Video Parts

Especially for longer videos, it’s often handy to link to a specific point in the video. Just add a time stamp to the end of the URL, something you can do manually or automatically. When the link is clicked and the video is opened on YouTube, it will start at the specific time you’ve decided. Read how to add these below.

Link to specific video part with timestamp

Links to Other Social Media Channels

Since YouTube most often is not your only channel to communicate with your audience you should also link to these channels: i.e. your other social media channels or your website.

youtube description links social media channels

Links to Related Videos, Playlists or Blog Posts

Many channels also link to other videos for SEO reasons. YouTube’s Creator Academy officially recommends linking to relevant playlists.

youtube description links related videos

Affiliate Links (if applicable)

affiliate links youtube description

It’s important to include the above-mentioned links so the user can click on them to find more information and/or make a purchase before or after watching your video.

Don’t forget to put the http:// or https:// prefix in front of all web addresses to make them clickable. If you just type www.your-domain.com it won’t be a clickable link.

What Tags/Keywords/Hashtags Should I Include in My YouTube Descriptions?

The tags, keywords, and hashtags are what YouTube uses to determine what your video is all about and how it determines your video’s ranking.

“YouTube is one of the largest search engines in the world. And writing descriptions with keywords can help viewers find your videos more easily through search.” YouTube Creator Academy

Your description should include the following:

  • Main keywords/tags (1-2) in the first sentence.
  • Keywords should be visible in the SERP snippet (we will talk about this in a moment).
  • Related keywords.
  • Related hashtags.

In addition, you should never type a string of keywords/tags in your description and avoid using irrelevant words. If you do, your video could be penalized or banned.

Why Is It So Important to Pay Attention to the SERP Snippet?

The SERP snippet is a few lines of data that are displayed as text on a search engine results page such as Google and YouTube.

Here are some of the YouTube best practices for how to make the most of the SERP snippet.

  • Your main keyword should be in the first sentence in the visible area (not where it can only be seen after clicking the Show More link).
  • Always place your call-to-action (CTA) in the first one or two sentences where it is visible before the text cuts off.
  • The easiest way to make sure your SERP snippet is perfect is to use a SERP preview tool.
Video Optimierung

Tubics’ YouTube SEO tool provides you with a SERP snippet preview, a real-time analysis of your description such as what is currently on there, what should be on there, and more.

How Many Characters of a YouTube Description Are Visible?

The number of characters of the YouTube description that are visible on a search results page will vary depending on the search engine you are using.

Here are the current number of visible characters of a description on the search results page for:

  • Google Search:  150 to 160 characters are visible, including the spaces.
  • YouTube Search: 138 characters are visible on desktop, including the spaces.
  • YouTube Watch Page: 5,000 characters are available for the description, but only the first few lines will be visible before having to click on the Show More link where the rest of the description can be read. On smartphones not even the first few lines get displayed, only the title is shown.

How Long Should a YouTube Description Be?

YouTube gives you 5,000 characters (about 800 words) for the description; therefore, you should use every bit of it, or at least make it as long as possible. Just remember to keep the text relevant to your video.

youtube description length

Also, be sure to include some hashtags and don’t forget to add your keywords at a rate of about 1-2%.

HOT TIP: Some people add the transcript of their video for the description and a link to the original transcript if the entire transcript doesn’t fit within the description box.

How Should I Design My YouTube Descriptions?

When designing your descriptions for the YouTube description box, you should try to find ways to make them stand out such as using ASCII characters and symbols like the arrow on both sides of a word or phrase. You can also structure paragraphs with separator lines. Anything you can do to make your text easier to read and your important information to stand out.

What Should I Avoid When Designing My YouTube Descriptions?

YouTube is very clear about what should be avoided when scripting your descriptions.

  • Special characters like <> because YouTube doesn’t want you to write HTML code in the description.
  • Copyright infringement.
  • Hashtags that violate the YouTube Community Guidelines
  • Anything else that violates the community guidelines.

What About the YouTube Algorithms?

YouTube, just like any other search engine, uses algorithms to determine the rankings of the videos on their site. The way they do that is by looking at patterns so it’s important that you use some text paragraphs across all your videos to increase the chances that one of your other videos will be suggested after the current video your viewer is watching has finished playing.

How to Write a YouTube Video Description Efficiently

After developing a few YouTube video descriptions, you will see how important it is to come up with efficient ways to complete this task.

Here are some ideas for making the process of writing YouTube video descriptions more efficient.

  • Use description templates (see example below).
  • Use the YouTube Upload Defaults feature. This feature will save you time because you can set your default information to use for future uploads.
  • Use the tubics YouTube description generator where you can have several “description templates” such as one text for every playlist.
  • Optimize older videos with bulk editing in YouTube.
  • Use the tubics Apply Template feature.
youtube default upload settings for description

Five Quick Tips for Creating a Compelling YouTube Video Description

1. Make the most of the first three lines because this is the only part of the description that will be visible.

2. Create timestamps if your video is on the longer side because this will make it easier for the user to navigate the video.  Timestamps get entered in the format hour:minute:seconds such as 00:01:06 for 1 minute and 6 seconds into the video.

Quick-Tip: YouTube Timestamp for better Navigation

3. Include links to relevant sources. If you mentioned any tools, products, services, or other resource information on your video, consider including a list of them in your video’s description to make it easier for your viewers to find and access them.

4. If you used someone else’s music or someone else’s video under the fair use act, make sure you give them credit by mentioning them in your video’s description and include a link to their YouTube channel, social media pages, etc.

5. Always include YouTube hashtags to make it easier for your viewers to seek out more information. And, craft your hashtags in an attention-grabbing way. Just make sure you keep them relevant to your video and always follow the YouTube community guidelines.

YouTube Video Description Example

Here is a YouTube description example taken directly from YouTube.

YouTube Keywords: How to do Keyword Research

Learn with Matthias how to do YouTube Keyword Research with tubics and get more views on YouTube. Learn more on Video SEO and sign up for free at https://www.tubics.com.

Our YouTube Keyword Research tool gives you YouTube keyword suggestions based on official search data provided by YouTube, Google, Bing, and AdWords. Unleash the power of unlimited keyword suggestions and search volumes!

Optimize your YouTube keywords, titles and descriptions with our real-time YouTube SEO content analysis. Our YouTube SEO keyword research tool checks if you use your focus keyword enough and in the right spots.

tubics’ free YouTube Keyword Research tool lets you define keyword templates for every single playlist or video series. Similar keywords are considered to positively affect traffic from YouTube Suggestions. This means that your channel’s videos can get suggested more often after your video is finished.

Our free YouTube Keyword Research tool features a simple traffic light system and helps suggest a few ‘best practice’ YouTube SEO techniques. Red means your YouTube SEO is terrible, orange means it’s OK, but could be improved and green means it’s great! For this system to work, you must set a focus keyword or phrase for each video. tubics will then check your content and gives you tips on how to improve YouTube SEO results.

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Get a free YouTube SEO analysis at https://www.tubics.com Visit our Help Center at https://help.tubics.com YouTube Keyword Tool Alternatives: https://www.tubics.com/blog/youtube-k…

#YoutubeKeywords #YoutubeSEO #YouTubeTagGenerator #YouTubeTagTool

YouTube Description Template

If you are going to be creating more than a few videos, you might consider designing a template for the description. This will help make sure you don’t forget anything, especially if you’re flying through the process because you have several videos to produce.

Here is an example of a YouTube description template.

Line 1: Text description
Line 2-3: 1st call to action
_________________________

Helpful text (video summary, transcript, etc.)
Keywords
Hashtags
Relevant links
2nd call to action
_________________________

Social media profile list
Website address
Contact information
_________________________

Credits for other peoples work

Summary

Here is a summary of everything we’ve learned.

  • The YouTube description is where you can tell people what your video is about and use specific elements to boost your YouTube SEO.
  • The location of the description box which is underneath the video and the title.
  • Why YouTube descriptions are important which is because this is the space you can use to grab a viewers attention and intrigue them enough to watch your video.
  • How to write a YouTube description which includes relevant text and a well-crafted call to action.
  • We gave you a list of links that should always be included in the description.
  • Tags/keywords and hashtags should always be included in the description.
  • The SERP snippet is important because it is the only part of the verbiage that will be visible.
  • Only 138 characters (including spaces) will be visible in a YouTube search.
  • YouTube gives you 5,000 characters to write your description.
  • Consider using ASCII characters and paragraph separator lines to help make your text easier to read and the important information stand out.
  • We gave you a list of what to avoid when writing your descriptions.
  • The YouTube algorithm looks for patterns so you should use text paragraphs across all your videos.
  • We gave you a list of things that would help you write your descriptions more efficiently.
  • We gave you a YouTube description example.
  • We gave you a YouTube description template.

Conclusion

The description of your YouTube video should never be an afterthought or something you just slap together just because YouTube is asking you to type something in that box. No! Designing your YouTube descriptions should be something you carefully weave together so you end up with the right balance of viewer interest, properly used hashtags, keywords, and other SEO boosters.