YouTube Publishing Checklist

After you’ve produced a great piece of content, you want as many people as possible to see it. That’s where optimization comes in. The following tips will help people discover and engage with your videos.

METADATA

In just a few minutes, you can make easy adjustments to your titles, tags and descriptions that will help YouTube index your content—and help you show up in search results and suggested videos.

  • Descriptive title: Be sure to use descriptive words at the beginning of your title and keep titles concise. Move branding words (like the name of your department or class) and episode numbers to the end of the title.
  • Description: Get an accurate description of your video in the first few sentences—that’s what will appear in search results. Also, make sure you use some keywords in your description.
  • Channel link: Providing a link to your channel in the description helps drive visitors to your channel page.
  • Playlist link: Including a link to a playlist in your description encourages viewers to stick around longer and try some of your other videos. Create playlists by thinking, “If I was a viewer and loved this video, what other videos on this channel would I love?”
  • Subscribe link: Fans are more likely to subscribe to your channel if you personally suggest it to them through your video description.
  • Social media links: Adding links to your social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) in your description gives fans another way to interact with you.
  • Tags: Make sure your title, description and tags share some keywords to improve searchability. Using a set of standard tags for your channel each time you upload will help with your search engine rankings, too. The standard tags should apply to most of the content you produce. For example, you can tag all videos with “Duke University.”

ANNOTATIONS

Annotations are clickable links and comments overlaid on your YouTube video. They take a little time to master, but they can drive viewers to more content, increase engagement on your videos and earn you more subscribers.

  • Link to other videos: Be sure to link to at least one other video of yours. You may want to link to related content, other videos in your series or playlists. By having an annotation link to a playlist you are increasing your chances of viewers watching a series of your content. If a viewer watches a playlist, you can get 10 views for the price of one!
  • Make a subscribe button: Viewers are more likely to subscribe to you if you personally suggest it to them through annotations.
  • Set links to open in a new window: By setting your annotation links to open in a new window, you can allow your viewers to come back to your video and hit the Play button again, right where they left off.

MORE TO CONSIDER

There are other things you can do to make your videos more shareable and widely useable.

  • Captioning: By having captions you can reach viewers with hearing loss or those who are watching while at work. You can either use YouTube’s auto-captioning service or write your own captions. (Your own captions are better, but take more time.) Captions also act as additional metadata, which helps your video show up in more places on YouTube.
  • Allow comments and ratings: Allowing “likes” can help your video spread because other YouTube users can share which videos they’ve liked. Comments are a way for your viewers to interact with your videos and can increase engagement.
  • Use the Education tab: You can enter lecturer information, course material and learning objectives if appropriate for your video.

Want more information and a deeper look at YouTube best practices? Check out the YouTube Creator Playbook.