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How To Give Your Video A Title That Attracts Viewers AND The Search Engines

Today I received the latest newsletter from Marcus Sheridan aka The Sales Lion.  In his latest newsletter Marcus talks about bloggers who are struggling to get traffic to their articles – and a common problems that Marcus finds is people who are writing credible content with poor headlines.

And this ties in really nicely – and with a large dollop of synchronicity – with some Video Consulting I’m doing at the moment with a friend of mine.

Here’s the skinny: my friend Mark has started a website called Learn How To Garden.  Mark is (a) not computer literate and (b) dyslexic. So written posts are not his forte.

And he’s embraced video in a way that’s surprised and delighted me – in 5 months he’s managed to get over 60 videos uploaded to his YouTube channel and embedded on his website.

So he’s done really well – mostly.  I did an audit of his YouTube channel/Website last week and there’s one big problem with his videos that if he fixes I’m pretty sure will result in a massive improvement in terms of traffic, subscribers, etc.

You probably won’t be surprised when I tell you that his video titles are letting his video marketing efforts down – his titles are poor and too generic.

So What’s Wrong With Generic Titles?

The problem with generic titles is two fold:

  1. A generic title doesn’t tell the search engines what the video is about
  2. A generic title doesn’t tell a potential viewer what the video is about.

Let me give you an example from Mark’s site:

This video is called: Ten Minute Gadener – Winter Greens – How To Plant and Grow Fantastic Broccoli And…”

Now YouTube has a display limit…so the last word is cut off (it’s actually Cauliflower).  So that doesn’t help if any potential viewers interested in Cauliflower can’t actually see the keyword in the headline.

Plus the title doesn’t perform the two functions that every video title should perform.

What Are The Two Functions That Every Video Title Must Perform?

The two functions that every video title should perform are:

  1. Have a keyword goal in them
  2. Attract viewers

And that’s it.  It’s relatively simple and definitely not rocket science.  And if you get it right, you’ll find you’re getting more views on your videos.

Let’s take a closer look.

Function #1 – Keyword Goal

You can read more about Keyword Goals over at Marcus’s blog:


To summarize a post that should be essential reading, a ‘keyword goal’ is an SEO Phrase that you incorporate into your title.

This phrase helps tell YouTube, Google and the other search engines what your video is about.  And helps it get returned in searches by potential viewers who are looking for the kind of information that your video is providing.

There are many ‘goo-roos’ who tell that a good way to find keywords for your keyword goals is by using keyword tools (like Google’s AdWord Keyword Tool).  Personally I prefer to find out exactly what my target audience are interested in by asking them directly (a target profile interview), or by monitoring their conversations (twitter and/or forums).

Always try and use the language that your target audience uses when they go to the search engines to find out information.  That way your relevant video will be attached to a title that includes relevant keywords.

(As you’ll see in a moment you can also ‘layer’ in keywords and have more than one keyword goal with a title).

Function #2 – Attract Viewers

When people are searching for information in the search engines, they’ll get a string of results.  What they will click on first will often depend on the title.

Now writing headlines/titles is beyond the scope of this post but I’ll link to some good headline resources that can be adapted to video titles.  But the best way (IMO) to create a title that attracts viewers and clicks is to give it either a ‘how to’ quotient or a ‘why’ quotient.

So for my bass guitar website I use tutorial marketing – and all my videos are detailed song tutorials.  So a typical title will be something like: How To Play Bass Guitar To (insert song title/band).

So if someone is searching for a tutorial on how to play a specific song on bass, and they come across a video of mine with that title plus their song choice they will have a good idea what to expect from the video.  And there’s a good chance they’ll click on my video.

(Just as an aside, if you examine that title for keywords you’ll find the following: ‘how to play bass;’ ‘bass guitar;’ ‘song name;’ ‘band name;’ and sometimes I get the phrase Beginners Lesson or Beginners Bass Lesson in there too!)

Let’s Apply This To Mark’s Video

Let’s go back to Mark’s video and see if we can retitle it.  Here’s the current title again:


Now the important facts here are that the video is aimed at folks who want to learn more about gardening, and that the keywords we currently have are: ‘winter greens;’ ‘broccoli’ and ‘cauliflower.’

So a title that IMO does a better job of communicating the keyword goals and being more attractive to potential visitors is:

“How To Grow Winter Greens – Broccoli and Cauliflower.”

There’s another 60 videos for Mark to look at and change – it will be interesting checking out his analytics on his YouTube channel to see what difference this makes to his metrics.


A great resource on helping you write headlines and titles is Sean D’Souza’s “Why Do Headlines Fail?” report.  You’ll have to opt-in to get it – but it’s well worth it.

You can do so here:


Your Shout?

If you’ve got any thoughts on titles for videos, please don’t hesitate to share them in the comments below.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Henri September 12, 2012, 8:03 pm

    This is cool stuff, Paul.

    I’m just getting into video myself. Starting with screencasts/tutorials, and then perhaps putting my mug up there as well.

    Exciting times ahead.

    • Paul Wolfe September 13, 2012, 7:31 am

      Hey Henri

      You already know I’m a big fan of video right? Done well – and done consistently – they can really set you apart from your competition. And can do great things for your business.

      Good luck on your journey!


      • Henri September 13, 2012, 7:42 am

        You ever thought about branding yourself as the tutorial video marketing guy?

        “Building online business … one tutorial video at a time.” ;)

        • Paul Wolfe September 13, 2012, 7:59 am

          Hey Henri

          Back in 2007 Copyblogger ran an article on Tutorial Marketing….and there’s a guy called Tony Clark who is connected to Copyblogger, and he ran an article on it too.

          And the term never ‘caught on’ and it got lumped under the general umbrella term of ‘content marketing.’ But the term resonated with me. And I’ve always thought of my bass guitar videos as ‘tutorial videos.’

          It’s definitely something that I should write about – it’s just about the best way of combining making videos with displaying your expertise on a topic and attracting potential subscribers/buyers.

          Thanks for reminding me!


          • Henri September 13, 2012, 8:00 am

            I would be extremely interested, since this is what I’m learning right now.

            So if you need a target profile to interview, let me know.

  • Ryan Hanley September 12, 2012, 9:27 pm


    Working headlines in the words of the client/prospects/searchers you’re trying to reach is probably the most crucial piece to the puzzle.

    In the insurance world there is SO MUCH lingo… If you talk only in technical insurance terms no one will find because consumers use a completely different vernacular than insurance professionals…

    Great stuff!

    Ryan H.

    • Paul Wolfe September 13, 2012, 7:30 am


      Great example! That’s the curse of knowledge in action again – people who are assuming their target audience has the same understanding of terms as they have.

      There’s a post here on Da Spoon about Target Profile interviews…(written by my good buddy Marina who kicks butt! she’s some kind of freaking super hero or something….) – that’s the best way IMO to find out what your target audience are looking for, what terms they are using, and where the gaps in their knowledge is.

      Thanks for stopping by.


      • Marina Brito September 18, 2012, 9:53 pm

        A super hero? No, not really… but thanks for the boost in confidence. ;)

        • Paul_Wolfe September 18, 2012, 10:10 pm

          You always inspire me with what you do and deal with. True story.

  • Trisha Cupra September 13, 2012, 1:54 am

    I was intrigued about the 10-minute part, so I found out what it meant on his About page. For me, the ‘only investing 10 minutes a day’ is super-appealing. So, “How To Grow Winter Greens – Broccoli and Cauliflower in 10 minutes a day” or “Grow Broccoli & Cauliflower in only 10 minutes a day” or “How to grow Broccoli & Cauliflower in 10mins/day” (whatever fits) would greatly increase my chances of watching it.

    • Paul Wolfe September 13, 2012, 7:28 am


      I understand what you’re saying. When he got started, Mark was going to ‘brand’ his videos as the 10 Minute Gardener. And have ‘episodes.’ And indeed who Mark is primarily targeting are urban gardeners who have small plots of lands and are busy and have only 10 minutes or so a day to do gardening stuff.

      But personally I think he should do the ’10 Minute Gardener’ branding AFTER people have found him….because it’s a lot of YouTube Real Estate to take up using the phrase ’10 MINUTE GARDENER’ at the start of his title.

      IMO he’ll be better off using keyword goals in his title – and then when he embeds on his blog he could refer to it as 10 Minute Gardener Episode 643 or whatever.

      (again it comes down to the kind of words that target audience would actually use in searching – the concept of doing just 10 minutes a day is appealing to people, but they’re unlikely to actually use that concept in search engine searches).


      • Trisha Cupra September 13, 2012, 8:19 am

        I agree with you about being found via keywords, but the 10 minute part is what would then make me choose to look at his video over all the others. :)

  • Trisha Cupra September 13, 2012, 2:00 am

    He might also want to get his videos transcribed, and use the transcriptions for video descriptions.

    • Tony C September 20, 2012, 9:28 am

      As you know, YT does provide a software generated transcription for most videos on it’s site. It’s not perfect though and sometimes can be very humourous.

      I’ve just watched one of Marks videos on there and it does have the transcription but not always quite what he’s saying. If the Two Ronnies were still around on TV then it would have made for a very funny sketch.

      For the benefit of anyone else reading this comment, Just press the transcription button below the video to see what I mean.

  • Sean D'Souza September 13, 2012, 4:31 am

    Thanks for the link to Psychotactics, Paul :)

    • Paul Wolfe September 16, 2012, 4:04 pm

      Ha ha – I had to fish you out from the spam folder for some reason! (Maybe the ‘psycho’ part of psychotactics!). Don’t mention it – it’s a good resource and a good start for people wanting to know how to write better headlines. And what’s applicable to headlines is also applicable to video titles too.

      Thanks for dropping by.

  • Sean D'Souza September 16, 2012, 4:49 pm

    Hmmm. Not sure why that happened. :)

  • Bhavesh September 18, 2012, 5:46 am

    it really a important post for me, i will help me lot, thanks for sharing such a helpful post……!!!!!

  • Tony C September 20, 2012, 8:34 am

    Hi Paul
    Trisha mentioned transcripts for the videos and I’ve replied to her comment letting her know that You Tube does software transcription but pretty badly at the moment.

    I’ve only recently been following you so I don’t know if you have written about this before but did you know that the video owner can edit the video transcriptions. Essentially this is to allow the creator to put the wording right that their software gets wrong.

    However, it is perfectly possible to replace some of the wording with a few essential keywords in there as YT does use the early part of these translations in it’s search apparently. Just make sure that the timings are not altered and you will be ok.



  • Sauna Sauna September 25, 2012, 1:47 pm

    I think you summed that up pretty well. Good luck with your videos, everybody!

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