It’s crazy to think that just 10 years ago, YouTube didn’t even exist. Now, it’s the largest video-sharing website in the world, with over 300 HOURS of video content uploaded every MINUTE.
Needless to clarify, there are a crap ton of videos floating through the site. There are even more that are searchable through Google or other search engine sites.
So how does one (let’s say, an artist, oh, I don’t know, like a dancer??) who wants to share their choreography with the world wide web, go about being “searchable“? Well, you gotta “optimize” your content! This is called “Search Engine Optimization,” or SEO. Marketing 101, y’all~
Whether it’s a high-budget concept video, class footage, or a lil garage freestyle- I’m sure it’s not your first priority to get a million views. Your aim is simply to share. (At least, it should be..) But while you’re at it, why not land a few more eyeballs on your channel? A few simple steps can go a long way in growing your audience and viewership.
Here are some mistakes a lot of us make that actually hinder that growth, and a few tips & tricks to use instead.
Mistake #1: Using Your Twitter Handle in the Video Title
Not that this is going to necessarily make or break your SEO success, but there’s simply no reason to. If your YouTube is synced to your twitter account, a lot of activity from it (including being playlisted/shared/favorited) will automatically send that info over.
As a title should be efficient and succinct, your @username takes away the chance for better, more relevant words to be included instead. Basically, to be “searchable,” think of how you would look for a particular video, what you would type into your search bar. An artist’s twitter username is probably not your first option. So in a way, it may actually handicap your SEO.
An exception to this is if you were to include the song artist’s twitter username. This way, when the video gets shared across different platforms, it’ll send an alert to that artist’s account. This can work in your favor, if they discover it and enjoy the idea of people dancing to their music (@KyleDion, RT me so I know it’s real<3), OR it can screw you over by making it more flaggable due to copyright. Music copyright is a confusing and complicated topic that demands a whole ‘nother article (or dozens), but the possibility of getting your video taken down is absolutely heartwrenching. For that reason, I’d advise to err on the side of not using it.
In all, it may seem very “modern” to put @yourusername in my video titles, but it makes more sense to use Your Actual Name. Handles are a hip trend that don’t serve much purpose. If you put both your name and your handle, now that’s just extra.
If you see a dance video with @username in the title, just try comparing searching their name vs their @username to see the difference and you’ll see what I mean.
Mistake #2: Using A Vaguely Named Title
Again, think of how you would search for a specific video. Or a video that you remember a few details about. What would you type in the search bar?
Probably something along the lines of [Choreographer McTexture] [TMSI] [Steezy Modern]  [Snowglobe Perspective]
When it comes to titles, and you don’t already have a million subscribers, make it straightforward rather than abstract or punny. These elements all narrow down someone’s search, from the huge funnel of “DANCE!” to that exact video you’re looking for. So make sure your title has all or most of these elements:
WHO [Choreographer McTexture] – Your name, obviously. Or, @yourusername if you want to ignore #1…
WHAT [TMSI] – A lot of people remember what series of workshops a certain piece was from, or want to browse through all the pieces that were taught in that workshop.
TEAM [Steezy Modern] – Credits are a huge identifier. It’s less useful on Instagram bios and more in video titles tbh.
WHEN  – Maybe not as important, as the published date of the video will show it, but it’s an extra piece of info.
WHERE [Snowglobe Perspective] – Studios are taking on a larger role to collaborate with dancers and teams to host workshops. Or, if it has a distinct/memorable look (i.e., mL, Snowglobe, Culture Shock SD), people will remember that visually and search for the studio.
If it’s a concept video, it’s good to put the title of the video, along with the song, artist’s name, and your name + “choreography.”
Mistake #3: Not Writing A Description
All right. So. YouTube allows for up to 5,000 characters to be used in each video description.. yet I see so many 1-liners in the boxes! “Was feelin’ this song. Enjoy!”
Of course it’s fine to keep it short and sweet. But the description box is a huge opportunity to plug in some keywords that make your video more searchable. Relevant words that allude to anything in Mistake #2 are great, or even try to get more in depth. Just write about your experience.
General description box guidelines:
Include your keyword in the first 25 words, and at least 3-4 times in the rest
Make the entire description at least 250-words
Also, since I said in #1 that the title is not the best place to include your twitter handle, do it here. Have a list of allllllll your social media accounts that you’d like to publicize, and HYPERLINK THAT ISH. People are NOT going to manually type in your username to reach your account. It’s 99.9999% more likely (made-up statistic but you know, emphasis!!!) to find you on other social channels if you make it easier for them. Like this:
Tags are plural and non-plural sensitive. So [steezy video] and [steezy videos] will yield different results. The key is to use BOTH!
+ There’s also a section for video credits that YouTube has recently incorporated. You can use this to “tag” the choreographers, dancers, editors, etc in the video.
Mistake #5: Not Using Use A Custom Thumbnail Image
As a makeup tutorial video addict, a good thumbnail image of a pretty girl, no matter how crappy I know the tutorial will be, ALWAYS GETS ME to click on it. That’s the power of visuals, people. Thumbnails are basically tiny posters that can help attract views with just a little bit of extra work.
You can use Photoshop, Illustrator, or even just PicMonkey online- whatever you can work with. Just take a related image and include either the video title, or bits of relevant or compelling descriptions. Or just use the image itself. Sometimes you get lucky but ask yourself “Would I click on this…”
Upon some research, I found some qualities of successful thumbnail images:
The image is clear, in focus
close-ups of faces (maybe less so for dance videos)
well-framed, good composition
accurately represents the content
Here’s a more in-depth how-to video to reference.
Mistake #6: Not Annotating Your Videos
This is huge! It does take an extra step within YouTube itself, but it is really the best way to keep viewers on you. Annotate your videos with strong call-to-actions within your content, whether the click takes you to another video, a social channel, your website, anything to keep viewers engaged with your other work!
For example, here is the template of one of our videos from TMSI a few months ago:
Watch it in action here:
I want to reiterate that the number of views/likes/shares any video has is not indicative of its success or quality. There are so many amazing artists who do not do (or care about) the whole YouTube scene- they just create and share. I love that. Do you boo.
But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with becoming a little more savvy with marketing technology. For those of you who want to learn to adopt a marketing mindset, more power to you! I hope these 6 mistakes and tips helped you, or even inspired you to look more into the science of digital marketing. After all, the world is evolving, as is the nature of how art is shared and received. And our community deserves to be seen!
There are a lot of other things that we can do to make our videos more searchable, clickable, and watchable. Got any tips? Comment below to share with us!