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YouTube Summary Impacts Ranking and Click Throughs

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YouTube quality strategy

A carefully written YouTube summary makes an important difference in video rankings and how often people click to see the video.

YouTube summaries appear in search results to the right of the video image and below both the title and the source.

For example, a video produced by this company had a summary that looked like this in search results:

“The best time to visit the Caribbean for vacation depends on avoiding the annual hurricane season. * Please SUBSCRIBE to see …”

Note four characteristics about the summary:

  1. It has a total of 125 characters.
  2. YouTube cuts off the end with ellipses.
  3. The first sentence is a description. The second sentence, which is cut off, is a pitch to viewers to subscribe to the channel.
  4. The two sentences are actually two separate paragraphs that YouTube has merged together.

The fact that YouTube cut off the second sentence in the middle of it led this company to re-write the beginning of the description. The end result is a better summary.

What is a YouTube Summary?

The YouTube summary is an abstract of the full-length video description. So it is not a separate piece of content.

YouTube simply grabs the first 125 characters of the description to use for the summary. It doesn’t matter how many sentences or paragraphs are in the first 125 characters.

So the quality of the first sentence in the description is critical. The summary has two benefits for video publishers:

  1. It impacts search results along with the title, much in the same way that a title and meta description from websites impact results in Google search.
  2. It impacts whether or not a searcher will read critical keywords and phrases that may lead to a click and video view.

Both of these benefits make it worthwhile for video publishers to pay attention to what they write in a YouTube video summary. Surprisingly, a search in the Google Ads keyword tools shows that few people look for information about the summary. They are overlooking an important YouTube tip that will increase their views.

There is one downside to the video summary. The type is small and the font color is gray, both of which make the summary hard to read.

How to Write a YouTube Summary

If YouTube creates the summary abstract from the description, it benefits publishers to write the first 125 characters of the description as a standalone summary.

The description of the example above begins this way:

“The best time to visit the Caribbean for vacation depends on avoiding the annual hurricane season.

“* Please SUBSCRIBE to see more new videos! *”

The first sentence and paragraph has three search-friendly long-tail keyword phrases: “best time to visit”, “Caribbean vacation” and “hurricane season”.

The second sentence and paragraph is a pitch asking viewers to subscribe to the channel. It’s good to have on the description, but it doesn’t belong in the summary if a better summary has more keywords.

For the sake of the summary, the first sentence could be longer and force the first part of the subscribe pitch out of the summary. But it also would push down the subscribe pitch for people who view the full description.

SEO-Friendly Keywords

Either way, publishers should use search-friendly keywords in the first few sentences of the description to increase video rankings in search results. As always, they should be relevant and reflect the actual content of the video rather than trying to manipulate results.

Those same keywords in the summary will entice viewers to click. Consider the alternative from this actual live summary:

“Please Remember to Subscribe! ? ? Follow me on Twitter: ? Facebook: …”

How will that summary entice searchers to click into the video? The answer is, not easily. A competing video on the same topic with a well-written summary is more likely to attract a click. In a word, it communicates “relevance”.

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