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How to Upload and Optimize YouTube Videos for SEO Here are tips for making sure you've uploaded your videos correctly and that viewers can find them.

By Michael Miller

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This is the fourth in a six-part series on how your business can get started on YouTube. In this installment, we examine how to upload your videos and optimize them for search.

After you've produced a video for your business, the next step is to upload it to your branded YouTube page. This is a relatively simple process, although you do need to provide accompanying text to both describe the content and enable users to find the video.

Approach uploading and describing a video just as you would in creating ads. You have to write a compelling headline and a "why to buy" and "how to buy" description. Then select the best keywords to get your video noticed in searches.

This isn't a job to do at the last minute. You should be thinking of this text-based content while you're planning the video. Here are four steps to uploading video to YouTube and optimizing it for search:

1. Upload the video.
The easiest part of creating a video for YouTube is uploading it to the site. YouTube accepts videos in almost all video file formats, but double check that yours is among those that it approves. Also make sure that your video is less than 15 minutes long since YouTube generally won't accept longer videos.

Then, log into your company's YouTube account and click the Upload button at the top of any page. On the following page, click Select Files to upload your video. You'll be notified when the process is complete and the video is ready for viewing.

2. Add a title and description.
While the video is being uploaded, you will be prompted to provide a title and short description. This is the information people see when they search for videos and view your video.

The title should be concise and catchy like an advertising headline. The description should provide enough information for people to decide whether they want to commit to viewing your video.

The description is where you also include the details viewers will need to ask for more information or purchase what you're selling. That means such contact information as your website address, toll-free telephone number, email address and postal address.
Although subtlety is important in the video itself, don't be shy about asking viewers to contact you about your product or service.

3. Add keywords for search.
Next, enter one or more tags for the video, separating each tag by a space. A tag is just another name for a keyword and is as important as any keyword on your website or in your online advertising.

A tag, which can be a single word or a phrase, should be keywords customers might use in search queries when they're looking for products or services like yours.

Optimizing the tags you apply to your videos is just like search engine optimization for your website. You can use Google's keyword tool to find the most effective keyword or keyword phrase. When you figure out the keywords they'll most likely search for, you have the most effective tags for your video.

You can use as many tags as necessary to capture all possible search words -- up to a total of 500 characters, that is. You should include tags for your company name and the topic of the video, along with other potential search terms. Enter first those tags that you think will drive the most traffic.

You also should include your most important tags in your video's title and description. If someone is searching for a particular word or phrase, he or she will most likely want to see that word or phrase when that person is reading about the video. Make sure you incorporate keywords into your description so they seem natural.

4. Choose a thumbnail image.
Once your video is processed, you can choose a thumbnail image that viewers will see in YouTube's search results, on your channel page and anywhere else your video appears. YouTube automatically grabs three images from different points in the video, and you need to pick the one you believe will attract the most clicks.

The best thumbnails are clear and have a dominant subject -- ideally a person's face or a close-up of the product you're selling. You also can stand out with a brightly colored or high contrast image.

The goal for all these elements -- the title, description, tags and thumbnail image -- is to get your video noticed and viewed by the greatest number of potential customers. If you put the necessary thinking and work into this process, you'll maximize your video's success.

Based in the Twin Cities area, Michael Miller is the author of YouTube for Business: Online Video Marketing For Any Business (Que Publishing, 2nd edition, 2011).

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