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Write smart YouTube descriptions that drive you results [Tips and examples]


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YouTube descriptions are not mandatory. Many video publishers actually leave them blank.

Usually, these are channels that have already built an audience so it is less important for them. However, if you are trying to grow your viewers and subscribers, a good, keyword optimised description can have a big impact on if and how YouTube suggests your video to new viewers. 

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The YouTube description is where you can better inform the search engines and users just what exactly your video is about. This will help increase the click-through rate and thus the views, as users will know what to expect in your video. 

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Entice users above the fold with your YouTube descriptions. Make the benefit of watching your video obvious. Optimise them correctly for the YouTube search engine as you would with a normal SEO meta description with quality and keyword-rich descriptions. 

Use your main topic and target keyword 2-3 times through the description and then write around related keywords. Make sure that your description is 100% unique for each and every video that you upload to YouTube. 

Brian Dean, Backlinko.com

“An optimised description helps you show up in the suggested videos sidebar, which is a significant source of views for most channels.”

Brian Dean, Backlinko.com

You should look to have at least 1,200 characters, but optimally 4,000 characters. YouTube allows up to 5,000 characters (about 800 words) in total.
Keep in mind that only the first 200 characters are displayed on the video page and users must click SHOW MORE to read the rest. The first line of your video description is also what also appears under your video in search results, so you want to get straight to the point if you want people to click on it. 

According to YouTube’s Creator Academy, you can also use hashtags (#YourKeyword) in your video description. YouTube descriptions help viewers to find your video when they search for a specific hashtag. Stick to 15 hashtags or less, or YouTube will ignore them altogether. 

youtube video SEO description - Example

Need all the ranking factors to get more views and subscribers on YouTube? Download the full guide below.

Add time stamps

Something that helps both YouTube understand your video and makes it easier for your viewers to navigate is adding timestamps to your description. They are very easy to create and they work in both video descriptions and in comments.

YouTube Video SEO Description Timestamps

Simply create a time with a colon in the number. For example:


When you publish your video, YouTube turns that into a link so when you click 1:45 it brings you to the point one minute 45 seconds in the video.
This is also an opportunity to add your keywords to your description AND be useful to viewers.

Don’t forget your call to action (CTA) 

You have done all the hard work in preparing the video and optimising the text. Don’t forget the action you want viewers to take. Provide links mentioned in the YouTube descriptions and add a clear call to action that you want the viewer to take after watching your content.

YouTube video descriptions – FAQ

Q: Can I use the transcript of the video as a description? Will it be recognized as duplicate content for SEO?

Yes and No.
Yes, you can use the video transcript in your video description. In fact, it is encouraged. The transcription tools from YouTube and Google are good but not perfect so they only ever get a partial understanding of what your video is about. Creating and editing your own transcript ensures that YouTube and Google has a complete understanding of your content and shows it in relevant searches.

No, your description will not be recognised as duplicate content IF your video description is the only place you have placed this text. If you are also embedding the video on your website it is recommended that you rewrite the description into new text content.

Q: Should I add my website link in the video description?

Yes. This is often your call to action. What do you want viewers to do after they view your video. Where do you want them to go? Include a link to your website directly beneath the first line of your description. this ensures your link does not appear in the rich snippet in Google search results (unless you want it there). But it does appear before the “Show more” section in the video description.

Q: How do I add a website link in my YouTube descriptions?

Simply paste your URL into the description. Ensure you include the full URL into your description, including the “http” or “https” at the start. YouTube will automatically turn the text into a URL when you publish the video.

Q: Should I add a subscribe link to my description?

Again this depends on your call to action. What is the purpose of your video?
If it is to send viewers to a website to complete a transaction or sign up for something then maybe leave out the second link to subscribe. The more links or calls to action you ask of a viewer, the less likely they are to do any of them.

However, if your goal is to grow views and subscribers then absolutely add a subscribe link.
To add a subscribe link, copy and paste your channel home page URL, then add this bit of text to the end of it:


Sor for example, if your YouTube page URL is “https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1uzLViFBO2r1uKm7gPG8TQ”, then the updated URL becomes:


When people click on the links it will trigger an automatic pop-up asking to subscribe to your channel.
This only works on desktop browsers but it still brings users to your channel home.

Download 9 ways to get more views, subscribers and action on your YouTube videos

Getting more views and subscribers on YouTube is all about understanding what the YouTube algorithm and what users are looking for. Thankfully, YouTube has a wide variety of factors in its algorithm to decide which videos are the best and to make visible in its search results.

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