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Optimization and annotations in YouTube (Part 2)

By Tracy Wood

As shared earlier in Don't ignore the second largest search engine: YouTube (Part 1), YouTube definitely has its pros that make it a go-to for social media exposure and driving traffic to your website. But that’s only the first step. In this article, we’ll cover optimization and making sure your videos have a call to action.


Go viral! Much like other social media sites, YouTube uses algorithms to measure performance. For each video, Google looks at the number of views, likes/dislikes, comments, shares and engagement. In most cases, more is better, unless it’s dislikes. The more likes, views, and shares your video has, the higher it will be ranked. Most important is the amount of time a viewer spends on your video. If you lose your viewer after 10 seconds, your video will never go viral. Incorporate common elements in viral videos to keep the viewer's attention! These metrics are very important and YouTube Insight will help you see where you’re succeeding and where you need help. Here’s a great article on YouTube Insight.

Include a URL in your description. The goal of optimizing your videos is to increase your “rank” on YouTube’s or Google’s search results, or both! Even though this URL won’t help search-engine rankings, by including a URL in your description (which YouTube automatically makes clickable), you should get direct click-through traffic from it and ideally mentions in blogs and other media outlets. These inbound links are included in metrics, which will increase the likelihood of going viral.

Spiders are smarter than you think! YouTube search-engine optimization spiders can “see” what you’re saying by creating a machine transcription of the audio, making your dialogue indexable. But, don’t let the spiders use your dialogue to control your search ranking. When you upload a video to YouTube, be sure to optimize the title, description and tags (keywords). What you call your video, the words you use in your description and the tags you assign make a big difference in rankings.

  • Titles: For good titles and descriptions, remember to use words that you’re trying to gain rank with – for example, United Methodist, Advent, Lent, Bible study, etc. An example of a bad title would be: “Sermon on 12/23/11 at FUMC”. A good example of a title is: “Story of Advent and Jesus’ birth at First United Methodist Church, Campbellsville, MA, by Rev. Harold Pennybaker.”

  • Descriptions: Much like titles, include as much information as possible, such as the Scripture used, the specific Bible study you’re highlighting, the name of the song your choir is singing, etc. Here is where you can also include the URL of your church’s website.

  • Tags: More is always better! Use a copious number of tags, including every conceivable word associated with your content. Separate each tag with a comma and don’t waste space with throwaway words like “and” or “to." However, remember that your tag list is capped at 120 characters, so choose wisely.


A. Closed captions – YouTube uses speech-recognition technology which automatically detects the beginning and end of each line spoken and matches it to the audio on your video. Gone are the days where you would spend hours adding closed captions. Now, it’s as simple as uploading the script, and like magic, the captions will appear in sync with the video.

B. Historical and specialized YouTube channel – Uploading one video will not catapult your channel to the top of rankings. YouTube recognizes channels with authoritative videos on similar topics, rather than a channel with one video on each of 15 different topics. In short, choose your niche and upload videos that relate to your expertise. Also, avoid posting irrelevant videos. You may like the video of your pastor singing Rod Stewart at the Christmas karaoke party, but let’s be honest. Is it really that interesting for outsiders? Get a second opinion. If it is good or if it’s so bad that it actually has legitimate entertainment value, then post on a relevant channel designed for fun.

C. High definition is the only option! We’re in the midst of the most amazing times for technology. Uploading videos in standard “low” definition is a definite no-no. Aim for 1080P videos whenever possible, but don’t go below 720P. If you can’t get 720, don’t upload the video. “Pixelated” videos create a bad impression.


You’ve seen the “pop up banner” that appears on some YouTube videos. Some say “check out my other videos” and others mention “click for more information.” These pop ups are known as “Annotations.” Learn how to set up YouTube Annotation and watch this annotation video tutorial.

If you want to create or edit a call-to-action overlay for your church’s existing ad campaign, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to your account at:

  2. Click Account at the top of your dashboard.

  3. Click Uploaded Videos under My Videos.

  4. Click Edit next to any video.

  5. Fill in all required fields under Call-to-Action Overlay.

  6. When you're done making all changes to your video, click Save Changes.

On a final note, the more optimized videos you have on YouTube, the more opportunities you have to increase your channel’s rank. Don’t put all your ranking hopes on one video. Upload a variety of videos to get a feel for what your audience likes and dislikes.