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YouTube tips and tricks

Posted by on Friday, September 12, 2014 in Info.

When having your videos uploaded to the university’s YouTube channel, it’s important to include descriptive titles, good tags and a helpful description. Remember, these will not only help your videos be found on YouTube, but everywhere else too: YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine. So write with search engine optimization in mind:

Example of an interesting title; click to enlarge


  • Keep it brief and descriptive (100 characters max.)
  • Don’t include your school or department in the title; that’s valuable real estate that can be saved for the description
  • Include keywords that people might use when searching for your topic
  • Make it interesting – would you want to click on this video if you came across it?


A helpful description that contains searchable keywords


  • Be concise. Only the first paragraph shows up under your video (before you have to “click for more”) so use it wisely
  • You can add a lengthier description after that if needed
  • Include the speaker’s name, the topic of their talk, the date the video was recorded and helpful keywords
  • By default, all videos uploaded to the Vanderbilt YouTube channel include links to Vanderbilt’s social media. You should also include links specific to your video: more information about the research, a link to your playlist, your school or department’s website, ways to donate, etc.


Examples of compelling thumbnails

  • YouTube will choose a thumbnail for you, so this is optional
  • YouTube doesn’t always choose the most flattering thumbnail, so creating your own is recommended
  • Choose a strong, clear image that pops: close up of a face, compelling images, bright colors. Think about how they will look on the Suggested Videos screen that appears after your video has played
  • You can use either a screen grab from your video, or a related photo
  • Send high res images, 640px x 360px minimum
  • Try to use an image that complements your video’s Title


Keywords that are both general and specific

  • YouTube uses these keywords to serve your video to new viewers, so keep them both specific to the video and general to the topic
  • Use between six and 10 keywords
  • Try to include keywords from your Title in your Tags
  • Think about how people search, and what keywords they might use
  • “Vanderbilt University” is always a tag, as default


  • In addition to assisting viewers with hearing loss or who speak a different language, transcripts also help your videos reach a larger audience through keywords
  • Because transcribing a lecture is not always feasible, this step is optional
  • Providing a transcript for a produced piece, however, is recommended, as the script already exists
  • To create a transcript, save the file as plain text (.txt)
  • Use brackets to denote background sounds, e.g. [music]
  • Use >> to denote a change in speaker

If you have any questions about Vanderbilt’s YouTube channel, please contact us at

Thanks to YouTube’s Creator Hub for the food for thought!

To have your video uploaded to the Vanderbilt channel, please fill out this form.

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