Understanding The YouTube Creator Playbook Part 1: Metadata and Titles

Back in November, YouTube released an updated “Creator Playbook,” which essentially detailed every tip and trick creators could use to improve their channels. Although the playbook was thoroughly constructed, very few creators jumped for joy over its arrival.

The playbook was simply too difficult to get through for most creators.  When embarking on a career in digital video, the last thing any filmmaker wants to do is read about “Annotations,” “Thumbnail Optimization” and “Metadata.” These are things every creator should know about, but for most people, sitting down and actually studying them is too reminiscent of cramming for a test.

If you are a creator who wanted to understand the Creator Playbook but just couldn’t wrap you head around it, some good news is on the horizon. It may be divine providence or it may be because we are trying to figure out what the hell this playbook is all about, but starting today, NMR will be breaking down the toughest, most head-scratching portions of the Creator Playbook.

Playbook01 Understanding The YouTube Creator Playbook Part 1: Metadata and Titles

Let’s kick things off with the “Metadata” portion.

Metadata, within the context of YouTube, is a video’s way of being catalogued. Tags, title and description all make up the metadata of any given video, which help said video show up in search results and suggested feeds. If you want your videos showing up consistently and often, correct metadata practices are crucial.

The first component of great metadata is a video’s title.

The Playbook’s first tip is “Make it compelling.” This is extremely important so we’ll go into further detail here.

We can’t talk about “compelling” titles without talking about YouTube’s golden child, Ray William Johnson. RWJ has perfected the simple yet attractive title, which are showcased in his weekly videos. His standard titles are stated as simple facts that leave the viewer wanting more.


Take a recent upload with the title “Terrorist Baby” for example. The information is laid out for viewers but is still ambiguous enough to draw people in. Make your titles concise but also intriguing.

The second step in creating a compelling title according to YouTube is  “Offer keywords first, branding at the end.” For an impactful example of this we can look at YouTube gamer commentator and Minecraft master Captainsparklez.

Entering “Minecraft” into YouTube’s search, Captainsparklez holds the top two search results with Minecraft-themed videos. By including the keyword “Minecraft” at the beginning of every video, the game commentator is increasing his chances of showing up in results exponentially. Literally, almost every one of Captainsparklez 710 videos begins with the word “Minecraft.” Lead with what people are searching for and end with what the video is all about.

Finally, YouTube suggests choosing titles that will lead to “strong watch-time.” This is a tough one, but looking to popular creators, we can see how it is done.

Past NMR featured guest Olga Kay has labeled many of her videos with titles that promise a result to viewers. Her video “Watch How I Got Drunk” explains to her audience that, well, this video will end with her possibly getting drunk. People are going to stick around to see that even if it takes watching the whole thing. That dear reader is the very definition of strong watch-time.


This wraps up part one of our YouTube Creator Playbook run down. But, for more YouTube branding tutorials, check out “5 Creative Ways to Use Annotation on Your YouTube Videos.”

Rock On!

NewMediaRockstars is an online publication whose mission is to empower, inspire, and promote the independent new media community.