YouTube Video Titles: Should You Change Them for SEO?

YouTube Video Titles: Should You Change Them for SEO?
July 20, 2012

Sometimes, even minor tweaks to your YouTube video titles can make a major difference.

It’s no secret that SEO is just as important for video as it is with any other part of your online content strategy. (And with the value YouTube has in Google search, this should be a no-brainer anyway.)

Still, with all the talk these days about optimizing your new content, you don’t hear nearly as much about the importance of re-optimizing your older content. In other words, just because some videos aren’t performing as well as you’d like doesn’t mean you should just sit back and let them fade away into the YouTube oblivion. By going back and re-optimizing underperforming content for SEO, you can add new value to your existing videos in very little time.

As I’ve written before, since YouTube videos generally have very little text indexed in search, the titles of your videos are the single most important thing to get right when it comes to SEO. YouTube is especially ideal for title-focused optimization, since all page URLs are dynamically generated. (What I mean is, you don’t have to worry about a changed title creating inconsistencies with the original titles/phrases in more common search-friendly URLs.)

Earlier this month, Mark Robertson of ReelSEO blogged about seven tips for optimizing videos for search and social, each of which work great for both new and old videos alike. With Mark’s tips in mind, here are a few additional considerations for going back and re-optimizing older YouTube video titles:

#1. Only tweak underperforming content. It’s important to target the videos that are doing poorly. If you have other older videos that are driving a good amount of views and traffic, just leave them alone. The last thing you want to do is make a tweak for SEO and inadvertently hurt the value of an already effective video.

#2. Keep new titles consistent with the video’s content. The ReelSEO post talks about this too, but this is extremely important when re-optimizing older video titles. Sure, keywords and SEO are important, but be careful not to change the title in a way that no longer describes what the video is actually about.

#3. Keep your keywords near the front of your titles. It seems like the SEO world is sort of split on the real value of this technique. That said, I’ve personally found that front-loaded content titles generally perform much better in search. That’s why the whole “Keyword: Explanation” title formula is so popular with online content.

#4. Keep an eye on spelling and grammar. As you may have noticed, a lot of titles in YouTube are just atrocious. Poor spelling, uneven capitalization, and abbreviated words (like “u” instead of “you”) are literally everywhere. This is fine for user-submitted videos of kittens doing summersaults, but for marketing purposes, it will just make your company look sloppy. Make sure none of your older videos have issues like these; if they do, clean them up.

#5. Monitor your results. If you’re going to take the time to re-optimize your videos, you might as well track your results to see if your changes had a positive impact. Comparing traffic/views before and after your tweaks will give you a better idea of what works and what doesn’t – experience that can be used going forward with your next batch of marketing videos.

Those are just a few best practices to keep in mind, but remember that while quality titles are extremely important for video SEO, there are still other things you can do to make your content more effective on YouTube. For example, make sure all of your older videos also include well-written descriptions with links going back to appropriate company webpages, and take a look at YouTube’s video annotation features to make your content even more engaging.

Image credit: bloomua /

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