The Fundamentals of a Great YouTube Video Description

YouTube isn’t new. I don’t need to tell you that. It was a revolutionary video sharing platform for the masses well before Google acquired it, effectively cannibalizing the now defunct Google Video platform. A big difference that has emerged these last couple of years, however, is the accessibility of high quality video — both as consumers and as creators — for the general public. Anyone can shoot a full HD (or even a 4K) video these days using their smartphones.

You can invest in more expensive equipment, to be sure, improving both your picture and audio quality. You can get terrific video editing software to really up your production value and you can add in all sorts of effects to really capture the attention of your audience. That’s the thing: you still need an audience. That’s why it’s so critically important that you pay attention to how you write a YouTube video description.

The video description effectively serves two main purposes. First, it can provide the viewer with valuable information to supplement the video itself. Second, it can really help the YouTube algorithm determine what your video is about, what search terms it should rank for (if any at all), and what audience may be most interested in it. The question, then, is what should you include in your video description text. Let’s go over some of the basics.

Your Website Link

there are a number of different approaches to how you might want to do this. For me, I put the URL of my website front and center, even before the actual description text itself. This maximizes branding and exposure. You can see this in place with all my vlogs, like this one where I indulged in the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival.

A Video Description

This is probably going to sound ridiculously obvious, but it needs to be stated. Your YouTube video description needs a video description! It doesn’t need to fully spell out everything that is happening in the video (nor should it), but it should give the viewer some idea of what to expect. This also helps the YouTube search engine determine the subject matter.

Relevant Links

It may or may not always be the case that you have some supplementary material to go along with your YouTube video. When you do have something, though, you should definitely link to it in the video description. In the case of my vlog, I wrote up a quick blog post to go with it and that link is clearly provided in the description.

Similarly, I listed the locations where I went for the hot chocolate festival. This is a “value add” for the viewer, in case he or she wants to go to these places too. This inclusion was not sponsored in any way and I was under no obligation, but at the end of the day, content is king and you want to provide as much value for your audience as possible.

Music Licenses and Other Information

Don’t get caught using unlicensed music in your video. You could get a strike against your account, your video might be blocked in certain countries (especially Germany for some reason), or you might get outright banned from YouTube altogether. If you find royalty-free music that you can use in your video, that’s great. Just make sure you give credit where credit is due.

Social Links

Someone who is watching your video in YouTube and has taken the added step of expanding your video description is likely pretty interested in what else you’re doing and where they can find more information. Make it as easy as possible for them to find you.

Here’s the video description for the unboxing video I did for the Linksys Velop mesh Wi-Fi system on MEGATechNews. You’ll notice that the corresponding Twitter and Facebook links for MTN are provided right here. You’ll also notice that we didn’t simply use an “@username” format, so that the links would be easily clickable. Make it as easy as possible!

Affiliate Links

I’ve written before about how you can make money on YouTube. Relying solely on the AdSense revenue from the in-video ads leaves a lot of potential cash on the table. One opportunity you should definitely take advantage of is with affiliate links. Amazon Associates is one of the easiest if you feature physical products in your videos.

So, in the case of this router unboxing, I included the Amazon links (both Canada and the US) for where someone can buy the Linksys Velop. Similarly, if you get questions about the gear you use in your videos, many successful YouTubers also include a “gear I use” section in their video descriptions for that purpose.

Updated Information

Your YouTube video description does not need to be a static piece of text. It can adapt and adjust as the circumstances change. Maybe the same question keeps getting asked in the comments or you get a specific request come up again and again. You can address this in the description and tell people the answer is on the way.

In the case of my Velop unboxing, the original description said the full written review was “coming soon.” After I finished writing the review and publishing it on the site, I updated the video description with a link to the article. People who watch the video are probably interested in that material too and this keeps them within our branding loop.

Be Creative

The sky is the limit for what you can do with the video descriptions on YouTube. It’s true that the overwhelming majority of viewers will never expand the text, but there’s a huge opportunity among those who do. They’ve already demonstrated their increased interest in your material and this is your chance to cash in (and keep them around and engaged).

And remember to take advantage of YouTube cards and end screens too!

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