Haulix Advice: Optimizing Your YouTube Presence (Pt. 1)

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the first advice column of the month! It has been a couple weeks since we last touched on the world of YouTube, but after receiving a number of questions and suggestions in the last week we’ve decided to revisit the powerful video sharing platform once more. If there are any topics you would like to see covered in the months ahead, please do not hesitate to email james@haulix.com and share your thoughts.

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Last time we talked about YouTube we discussed the powerful influence its community can have on your career trajectory, and in order to leverage that to the best of your abilities you will need to make the most of each opportunity for reach optimization offered on the site. We hope to touch on each of those areas in the weeks ahead, starting this afternoon with a closer look at how metadata can make a world of difference in the success of your video campaigns.

Before we go any further it needs to be said that content is king when it comes to success online. Just as you can only lead a horse to water, but not force it to drink, you can only lead potential fans to your content. Making something they want to see is entirely up to you.

So, What is metadata?

Good question. I always hate when I’m trying to learn something online and the person writing the content doesn’t take the time to explain the lingo. Metadata means ‘data about data,’ or for our purposes ‘information about your video content,’ and it greatly improves the quality of said content. Especially with video, where its content (descriptions of what’s seen and happening) are not directly understandable by a computer, metadata allows for efficient search terms to be created.

When it comes to YouTube, metadata makes up the title, descriptions and tags of your videos. Inserting descriptive information about your video into these areas will impact how your clip ranks on both YouTube and Google. What follows are a few quick tips about making the most of these sections on your content:

1. Correctly (and descriptively) title your video. Always.

It may seem like this is starting off a little too obvious, but I’ve lost count of how many time an indie artist has linked me to video content that is simply a song title or worse, a series of numbers followed by the original video extension (PROTIP: no one shares something titled ‘929592.avi’). Be creative, and do your best to develop a concise, descriptive title that uses phrases people would search if hoping to find your video. As an example, if you’re releasing a new video for your single, something long the lines of ‘[band name] – [song title] (music video)’ would be a good idea. This ensures people searching any combination of your name, song title, and the term ‘music video’ will be directed towards your content.

There are people who use YouTube as a music discovery engine, and descriptive titles will give you a better chance of being spotted by people not specifically searching for your band.

2. Never take the video description for granted.

You may think your art speaks for itself, but that is never the case when audio and video files interact with computers. Leveraging the space allotted for a video description on your content’s unique page will undoubtedly help raise your overall visibility. Describe the content, including the lyrics when applicable (music videos), and always be sure to let people know where they should go to learn more about your band. An example of a great video description, courtesy of our friends at Digital Tour Bus, can be found below:

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Fans and unfamiliar music listeners who enjoy your content will want to know more about your band and future efforts. This space offers you the opportunity to immediately give them everything they need to know, while promoting future engagement on additional channels.

3. Add accurate tags to your videos.

YouTube’s tagging feature allows users to highlight key words and phrases that are relevant to the content of the clip, but do not necessarily fit in the title. For bands, this is a goldmine of opportunity to leverage the search habits of hungry music fans. If not handled correctly however, it can also make you look like a fool. The only content that should go into this section are terms and phrases relevant to your music and the content contained in the video. Trying to piggyback on popular/trendy phrasing like ‘cute cats’ or ‘harlem shake’ will get you nowhere.

For proper optimization, use ten to twenty tags per video when editing this section. Phrases tend to work better than single terms, but you should use whatever is comfortable and relevant to you. Highlight your genre (once or twice – be specific), song title, band name, album title, etc.

REMEMBER: Metadata is only one piece to the grand puzzle that is YouTube and Google ranking. Properly optimizing these sections of new video uploads helps get your videos discovered by a relevant audience more likely to watch your video. The more your video is watched in a short amount of time, the higher it will rank for a variety of key phrases related to its subject.

There will be additional chapters to this study later this month, so make sure you check back often for updates. You can stay up-to-date on the go by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.