Tips for Video Search Engine Optimization on YouTube

Uploading a video to your YouTube Channel is pretty easy; it’s what you do with the video once it’s part of your site that influences how much visibility it gets.

YouTube works as a typical search engine regarding listing results. The search algorithm checks the title, the description, the tags, the number of views, the links and ratings of the video. Therefore you should focus to the above factors to make sure that you have fully optimized your videos and get high rankings not only on YouTube but also on Google. Note that even though YouTube is about video . . . search engines don’t look at video files; they look at the content that surrounds them. It’s the written word that determines your Search Engine Ranking.

As part of your marketing strategy identify the key words or phrases that you want to have identified with your college or university. Think about it like this: these are the words that you hope people will use to find your college on YouTube.

  1. Use key words in your title. While cute or funny titles seem like they would attract views, it’s better to be descriptive than clever. The title of your YouTube video becomes its meta tag and it is also the most important piece of information that search engines have about your video.
  2. Write your description with SEO in mind. Use key words and descriptive phrases when you describe your video. After the title, it’s the most important information for search engines. It can be helpful to include a URL in your description especially if you are driving viewers to a specific program or event. Put that URL first.
  3. If you need input on key words, YouTube has a Keyword suggestion tool that can help you identify the words YouTube viewers are searching on (keep in mind that video searches are often different than web searches):
  4. Make those first 27 characters count. This how many characters you have for key word placement before the ellipsis when the description is truncated. That’s why you should put the URL first.
  5. Fill out the “tags” with key words about the specific video and your channel. Aim for at least 5-7 relevant words or phrases. Tags associate your video with other videos that use the same tags so when people watch a different video, your video will get highlighted as a “related” video and garner more views. Tags work best when they are written in a logical order – the way someone might type into a search box, so think through your strategy before putting them in randomly.
  6. Take advantage of annotations and captions to link to other videos or drive people to your related social media tools (like Facebook).
  7. Don’t forget to fill out the location for your videos. Part of YouTube’s analytics is geographic and you will get more information if your location is identified.
  8. Encourage embedding, don’t restrict it. When someone embeds your video on their site it counts as an inbound link and boosts that video’s rating in search engine results.
  9. Encourage viewers to rate your videos. Higher ratings and more comments indicate that videos are better/more interesting. Use Facebook and Twitter to encourage your viewers to rate your videos and leave comments.

Are writing mills ruining the freelance market?

Think you could make a living as a freelance writer? Think again.

According to a recent article in the LA Times, Freelance Writings Unfortunate New Model, the proliferation of free (and almost free) content available is driving down the market value of good quality writing. will pay $15 for articles about the outdoors. wants 500-word pieces on health for $30, or less. In this mix, the 16 cents a word offered by Green Business Quarterly ends up sounding almost bounteous, amounting to more than $100 per submission.

Just out of curiosity, I looked at and to see whether this was a universal trend. It is. Look at some of these examples:

  • I am looking for 25 inspiring health articles for web content on my smoothie site. Each article should be between 500-600 words in length and keywords will be supplied for use in each article. Budget: Less than $500. Time to deliver after bid is accepted: 1 week. There are 19 bids for that project.
  • Looking for someone to write 10-20 articles per month on a variety of topics. Looking to build a long term relationship.  Articles must have a minimum of 5 paragraphs with 5 paragraphs being ideal. Budget: Less than $500
  • We are looking for native English speakers and professional writers to write for us 400 to 500 words business articles for up to $5 per one article (including posting the articles to: [obscured] Or [obscured] ). We need around 25 articles per month about business plans, business investors, business entrepreneurs and start up companies news topics.

Wow, $5 for 500 words. I suspect that Dickens was paid better than that. For $5/article, I’d rather write content for my own blog and hope to attract advertising dollars.

Another article, this time in Wired Magazine, also discusses the phenomenon of mass production. The Answer Factory: Demand Media and the Fast, Disposable and Profitable as Hell Media Model talks about the approach of Demand Media to content — which is to publish 4,000 articles and videos PER day!

The company’s ambitions are so enormous as to be almost surreal: to predict any question anyone might ask and generate an answer that will show up at the top of Google’s search results. To get there, Demand is using an army of Muñoz- Donosos to feverishly crank out articles and videos. They shoot slapdash instructional videos with titles like “How To Draw a Greek Helmet” and “Dog Whistle Training Techniques.” They write guides about lunch meat safety and nonprofit administration. They pump out an endless stream of bulleted lists and tutorials about the most esoteric of subjects.

Demand Media uses an algorithm to fine tune it’s content strategy. The result may not be memorable, but it is geared toward SEO.

The algorithm is fed inputs from three sources: Search terms (popular terms from more than 100 sources comprising 2 billion searches a day), The ad market (a snapshot of which keywords are sought after and how much they are fetching), and The competition (what’s online already and where a term ranks in search results).

Approved headlines get fed into a password-protected section of Demand’s Web site called Demand Studios, where any Demand freelancer can see what jobs are available. It’s the online equivalent of day laborers waiting in front of Home Depot. Writers can typically select 10 articles at a time; videographers can hoard 40. Nearly every freelancer scrambles to load their assignment queue with titles they can produce quickly and with the least amount of effort — because pay for individual stories is so lousy, only a high-speed, high-volume approach will work. The average writer earns $15 per article for pieces that top out at a few hundred words, and the average filmmaker about $20 per clip, paid weekly via PayPal. Demand also offers revenue sharing on some articles, though it can take months to reach even $15 in such payments. Other freelancers sign up for the chance to copyedit ($2.50 an article), fact-check ($1 an article), approve the quality of a film (25 to 50 cents a video), transcribe ($1 to $2 per video), or offer up their expertise to be quoted or filmed (free). Title proofers get 8 cents a headline.

I had breakfast with an editor of a trade publication earlier this week and he confirmed the trend. His budget for hiring freelancers has been cut to the bone. He depends on articles that are written (or submitted) by his readers. Most of them still employ PR professionals to write the articles for them, but even then he tells me that standards are slipping as they seek to pay less for their content, too.

I see two problems in the current model of paying less for content: First, the pricing scheme devalues writing as a professional skill. The low fees are attracting aspiring writers who are trying to build their portfolios or pick up some extra cash. Professional writers and editors, many of whom have been in this business for decades, are appalled by this development.

The second problem is that the quality of the writing and the quality of the content is spiraling downward as fast as the fees. Just look at Here is a site where the writers are paid according to how well their articles are rated and how much the site pulls in through Google Adsense. The problem is, most of the articles I’ve read give bad or inaccurate advice!

So, what are writers to do? I believe there are still niche areas where the quality of content is valued. Mostly these are technical topics where the people paying for the content are committed to accuracy and recognize and value the benefits that good writing can deliver. I also believe that the best companies still understand that good writing is something that is worth paying for. Let’s only hope that they spread the word!

Writing Press Releases that are Optimized for Search Engines

The press release is the most ubiquitous part of any public relations campaign. Short, direct and inexpensive, when done well they serve as a catalyst that can catapult a product or topic to national prominence. Even when budgets are tight companies should take advantage of the reach that press releases offer to get their news out to customers and prospects. The key is to differentiate your press release from the thousands that are issued each day.

When I first started in PR my boss used typeset the releases to make them look more professional than our competitors. These days typesetting is not enough to set you apart from the crowd.

Press releases now are sent out online and often are published on online news sources. They are the most effective viral marketing strategy available today because they encourage people to pass along your content and publish it.

To get the most exposure for your release it’s important to optimize them for search engines. By building your press releases to take advantage web distribution and online publishing not only will you reach more people, but you will also be able to track the success of your efforts by measuring the number of people who “click through” your embedded links into your Web site or other destination.

So how does it work?

Use links. Links on key words or concepts allow readers to learn more about things that interest them. It allows them to peel away layers of the onion and get into the nitty gritty.  In many releases that I see the only link is to the home page of the company’s web site. Keep in mind that you want information to be only 2-3 clicks deep from the person browsing your site. Don’t make them search!

Write key words into your release. If you know how people search for information on your product or service make sure that those words are included in your release. If you’re not sure what the key words are, you can use a free key word search engine such as Google Key Words. Even better, if you have access to your Web site statistics, look to see how people searched for your company Web site. For optimum results put a key word in your heading, a key word in any subhead, a key word in any anchor text and include key words in the first 250 words of your release. How many key words should be included? Pick the top three to five words or phrases. Don’t over use key words or your release will start to look like spam.

Embed photos and/or video in your release. Media rich releases garner more attention plus you can use key words in your “alt text” to attract more attention.

Use Web-based metrics to track your success. Web site analytics programs (even free ones like Google Analytics) allow you to track your referral sources. That’s where your hypertext links come in: you can track how many visitors to your site come from the specific links on your press releases. This information gives you valuable data about what your customers and prospects find newsworthy.

The success of your efforts will be apparent in the quality and quantity of the inbound traffic generated from your release. If you want a way to evaluate the potential success of your press release, there’s a free news release grader from Hubspot.  Run your release through that and see how you do!