How to optimise your promotional videos on YouTube for more views and sales – seven tips

Written by Grace Gibbons, founder of video marketing company, Bounce Video.

So you’ve created your marketing video? It’s likely you’ll be popping it on YouTube.  But YouTube is not just a handy platform for hosting your videos and sharing them with your subscribers.  It’s also the second largest search engine after Google.  If you follow some simple steps to optimise your video, it will help it get found in other search engines. That means a completely free way of advertising your products or services.

Here are seven tips to optimise your YouTube videos:

1. Rename your video file title using a target key word

Even before you’ve uploaded your video, you need to rename the video file itself with a key word or phrase.  This is because google has no way of watching the video and uses the file name to recognise what it is.

For example for Bounce, our key phrase is ‘video production oxford’ so we would name our file accordingly:

Old file name, something like: ‘’

New file name: ‘’.

2. Use a ‘custom thumbnail’

A thumbnail is the main image the viewer sees when scrolling through videos on YouTube.  It’s like a book cover and sends an important message to the viewer.  Having the right thumbnail will encourage people to click on your video.

Youtube Video Optimisation

When you upload your video to YouTube, you will be given the option to use one of their autogenerated thumbnail images, but it’s really important that you upload your own custom designed one. YouTube reports that 90% of their best performing videos use a custom thumbnail.

The custom thumbnail should include a key image that represents the subject of the video.  Images including faces and people often work best.  You may also wish to add some text and/or a company logo.

Images need to be under 2MB,1280×720 pixels (16:9 ratio) and saved as jpg, gif, bmp, or png files.

A video production company should be able to design you a custom thumbnail but you can also make them yourself using free software like Canva.


3. Use a key phrase in your title

Just like your image, a strong title is key, not only for encouraging people to click, but also so your video is found in search engines.

You are allowed up 100 characters (including spaces) but it’s best to keep your title under 60 characters.  This ensures that none of it gets cut off in the search listings.

If you’ve created a promo for your company, you’ll want to include the name of your company but also a key search phrase for your product or service.

You should include the key phrase as close to the front of the title as possible.

For example for our showreel listing we put Video Production Company in Oxford: Bounce Video Showreel.

4. Add a description

Previous schools of thought suggested including key words in your YouTube description.  However, a recent study by Banklinko found no correlation between keyword optimised descriptions and rankings.

That said, it’s still a good idea to include a short summary, a call to action and a website link in your description.  Then people know how to find you.  You may also want to include your social media links.

YouTube Video Optimisation

5. Tag your video

Backlinko’s study did, however, find a correlation between key word video tags and rankings.  Here’s their guide on how to add video tags.

6. Add an SRT caption file

It’s a good idea to upload a caption file with your video.  Captions, also known as subtitles, are great for accessibility but they also help with search engine optimisation by highlighting important key words to Google.

There’s a function to allow YouTube to auto generate captions for you but they tend to be really inaccurate we suggest another method.  The website will transcribe your video for just $1 dollar a minute and their captions are accurate and also be easy to edit.  They’ll send you an SRT file to upload with your video.  Here’s how to do it:

7. Email your YouTube link to your mailing lists

Once you’ve uploaded and optimised your video, it’s time to launch it on YouTube. Getting some starting traction and views on your video will help Google take note of it and list it in the search rankings.  One way to do this is to send the YouTube link out to your mailing list.

Good luck with your video campaign launch and please comment below or contact us if you have any questions about YouTube video optimisation.

About the author

Bounce Video is run by BAFTA-winning former BBC Producer, Grace Gibbons, and specialises in businesses, charities and public sector organisations create compelling video content. You can find out more information about our video production packages here.