Video SEO is a hot topic at the moment. Many companies and video producers get into it. I think this is just partly what people are after, because “Video SEO” usually means “Get a Higher Rank on YouTube”. In case you didn’t know, YouTube is everything online. If you are not on YouTube, you’re nowhere. That’s not the main point of this article though. I’d like to write a few words on optimizing your video for more engagement and how to get people hooked on your message.

In my free book 10 Tips for Creating Engaging Product Videos I illustrate carefully how you can make more engaging videos in the production phase. Once the video is out, you can still do a lot of things.



YouTube Analytics does a lot for you. It’s basically Google Analytics for video. In its basic form it does everything important Google Analytics does for websites, but it is optimized for video and directly integrated with YouTube.

Once the video is out (and you posted everywhere about it!) and you get your first viewers you can view users by demographics. Where do most people come from to view your video? What sites link to your video? You can easily see whether a big site, like boingboing, has picked up on the video.

Increasing Conversion

More specific reports for YouTube are available under Engagement reports. Here you can see whether viewing your video has directly resulted in more subscribers, likes, and/or favorites. If it was your goal to get more subscribers with the video, and the subscriber count didn’t increase, then your video doesn’t convert. You may, in this case, go back to the drawing board and change your video slightly and upload it anew. Then check again if the subscriber count has increased.

There’s also a lot else you can do to get more subscribers. Annotations are a great way to get more subscribers easily. The video editor allows you to put an annotation on the video that directly allows viewers to subscribe to your channel or Google+ page. If you want more subscribers, tell your audience what you want from them; otherwise they won’t know.

Spot Weaknesses in Your Story

Do your viewers disconnect from your message? Find out under Audience retention. The nice feature here is that you can view one particular video and view engagement over time. It is very easy to see where people turn off.

This is an example of a weak retention span:

Viewers go down logarithmically. If you want engagement, you strive to have 100% of your viewers hooked during the entire video – ideally. Reality is not that way though. Some people will watch something else right from the beginning, or when they identify your video is supposed to be an ad, or some other reason. Whatever the case may be, getting 100% people engaged is too idealistic.

What this graph shows you however, is at what timeline position more users get engaged. Maybe you can see the (very) little hump right about the 3-minute mark in the graph above. The graph is from a screencast I did for Markdown for Keyboard Maestro (v2.2). An update screencast that was not supposed to create any engagement at all. Tinkering with Keyboard Maestro is something I do in my free time, because I enjoy it. The 2.2 update introduced new features for the Header macro. People who read the blog post for it, knew that one of the biggest changes was that macro. Keeping that in mind, it doesn’t surprise me at all that viewers got more engaged at 3:00. This is where I finally talk start talking about that macro. People came to watch this, not the yadda-yadda before it. (This should teach you a lesson!)

Other Experiments

I’m not quite sold on keywording a video just yet. It seems to me that a lot of the recommendations people give are more broscientific than anything else. Some recommend to put your three most important keywords right at the beginning of a video title, others say it is more important to put them in the description.

As I don’t have hard numbers on whether the one or the other is true, I cannot fully recommend either approach. What I do know, though, is that keywords are important.

The reason I can’t recommend putting keywords in the title is because they make it look ugly. I mean, really, does this look attractive to you:

Screencast, Video Production, Motion Graphics: The Most Beautiful App Demo You’ve Ever Seen

Instead I would prefer to go with “The Most Beautiful App Demo You’ve Ever Seen” and put the keywords in the description and the tags. Note that you can write timecodes in the description as well, these allows people to jump to specific positions in the video. They are written in the form:

0:30 The user interface
1:20 Editing blog posts

Also one of the reasons why I would recommend to use shorter video titles is: think of all the mobile devices out there. It is a fact that the majority of viewers right now surf YouTube on their mobile phones. There is not much space on these devices. The various YouTube apps need to shorten video titles either in landscape or portrait mode. This means the shorter your title is, the more chances you have of not getting your title truncated.

One last experiment: the thumbnail. Experiment with the thumbnail. This article is all about what you can do after a video has been published to optimize for engagement. A thumbnail is created very easily. You can just create 10 different versions and try them out. Which of them increases viewer count. Does one particular thumbnail result in more subscribers? Test out different thumbnails over a fixed amount of time. Each of them should have the same time to proof its worthiness. After every one had its chance, you can pick the one most people liked.

May your online efforts be fruitful!

Photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc