When you think of YouTube as a platform, you likely think about things like cat videos, memes, trending challenges, and sports. For years, it’s been that entertainment platform you go to when you want to laugh, learn something new without having to read, or watch an old movie that you literally can’t find on any streaming service.
But then again, there’s one more thing that comes to mind when we think of YouTube: influencers. And then we find ourselves down a rabbit hole of product reviews, suggestions by channel creators who are actually trusted by their audiences, etc.
It’s no wonder brands scramble to try and work with the more popular influencers. One solid review from them is all you need to see a vast increase in traffic, even if it’s just for a while. Of course, no one is saying you can’t continue to work with influencers, obtaining more approval on an ongoing basis. Doing so could boost your numbers quite a bit, maybe even permanently.
But what if I told you that you don’t actually need influencers to boost your videos? Sure, influencers help. We know that. But what everyone fails to mention is that there’s a level cap on what they can do for you when your own content isn’t up to par. You’d just be making their job harder.
No, instead, let’s focus on the basics first. With this guide your own YouTube content will improve in quality, design, and views. It will be polished, complete, intriguing, and exciting―all on its own.
We’ll go over the ins and outs of what makes YouTube content worthy of more attention than you’ve probably ever gotten on any of your content.
And that way, if you do decide you want to work with influencers, you won’t be wasting their time, or effort. Your content will be easily marketable, all on its own, even without them. Imagine the sales boost!
Let’s get started.
Start With That Thumbnail
It may seem pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people just don’t seem to care about what their thumbnail looks like. But that’s basically the start of it all. It’s people’s first impression of your content. Without investing time and energy making it look good, no one is going to want to click into it.
Or to put it more bluntly: if that’s the level of quality you invest in something so small, what’s your content going to be like?
Take a page out of PR, and consider how you come across, mainly how you’ve come across before. Think about the Facebook ads you’ve created in the past. Surely, some of them have been high engagement, super popular, well-liked. Look through those and think “This is what it takes.” Chances are those ads could be altered and used as thumbnails. Or even just their layout and format!
It’s a start.
Change The Date
Just because your video was uploaded in 2015, it doesn’t mean you can’t update the year on the video title and thumbnail. In fact, you should, but only on content that is evergreen.
The content continues to be relevant long past its publication.
The advice, tips, and overall point of the content is applicable, even years later.
It’s sustainable and lasting.
That automatically rules out any news articles, statistical information, seasonal topics, trends, etc. All of that would eventually run its course, and you’d be lying if you were to update any dates on it. In the end, even if you did, your content would come across as old and unhelpful.
You don’t want that backlash.
Instead, choose the right content to update, and change that year on the title, thumbnail and description for them. And remember, just because you can continue to use old, sustainable content, it doesn’t mean you can’t update it whenever you want, add more content, or even remove some. Make a few changes every year or so, and you’re good to go.
Use Those Keywords
Sometimes, it’s as simple as adding keywords to your profile. Those keywords should go hand in hand with the content that you upload, but also elevate your channel overall. And that means doing some keyword research.
Start by going to Creator Studio, then clicking on your channel. Select Advanced and then add relevant keywords next to “Channel keywords.” Add in branded keywords, like your company name, or even your personal name, then add in other keywords that reflect what you’re trying to be a thought leader in.
Remember, Keyword Planner is your friend. Use it whenever you’re in doubt about a keyword.
Optimizing The Keywords
Once you’ve gotten your feet wet with keywords, it’s time to dive a little deeper with them.
The Keywords Everywhere Chrome extension is a good place to start. It will show the number of searches per month below the search bar, essentially letting you know what your competition looks like.
Another extension is vidIQ, which will do the same thing as Keywords Everywhere, but for different keywords. More specifically, it focuses on YouTube video keywords, and optimization, essentially telling you when too many people are ranking for those words on YouTube, and when another certain keyword is a viable option.
If you need a crash course on what to look for, and how to go about keyword researching, here it is:
Type in the word your video is about, the word you’re trying to rank for.
Take a look at the videos on the first page of results and decide if there’s a high view to subscriber ratio. If there is one, it means there’s high search volume, and low supply, which means you’d have a good time ranking for it.
If the ratio is low, then it means there’s oversaturation of content, and not as much demand, which means you should find something else to upload.
Finally, just because demand seems to be there, it doesn’t mean you should rush. Take a look at what is ranking higher within that group/niche. For instance if you type in “crafts,” you’ll find that people are looking for how-to videos, help on how to sell crafty creations, and gift ideas. But they don’t care about you, the face behind the crafting shop. Founder intro videos wouldn’t fall within the realm of interesting for this group, so skip on that.
But don’t stop there. Try out a few keywords and see what sticks. Ideally, you want to get a few of these keywords, good options, to optimize your videos with. If your videos get enough views, especially from high quality visitors, the platform itself will push your video out to more viewers, thus boosting your content even more.
Optimize Headlines and Descriptions
Here’s a super easy one: your SEO gets a boost each time you add keywords to the beginning of the video title. That means if you’re trying to rank for “2019 SEO,” you could try using a title like “2019 SEO: 20 Tactics to Grow Your Business In the New Year.”
It’s really that simple. And each time you do it, the needle moves ever so slightly in your favor more and more.
As for descriptions, remember that the more optimized it is, the better your overall ranking, so it’s very important to include your keywords within the first 25 words. Make the description a solid 250 words, maybe more, but not by much. And make sure to include your keywords, the best ones, at least 2-4 more times.
What this does is essentially tell Google what you’re trying to rank for. It tells the search engine what your content is about, and what kind of audience you’re trying to reach. That way YouTube and Google are more informed, and know where to place you within searches.
It may sound counterproductive, but adding timestamps so people know exactly where within your video to find the content they’re looking for is a fantastic idea.
I’ll tell you why: you’re meeting their needs, and you’re letting them know what your video is all about, through and through, no strings attached. It’s like lending a helping hand, really. You’re helping out people who are in a rush, and need certain information ASAP. And that reflects on you in a positive way.
But it also comes across very confidently. You know your content is good, so good that you can add timestamps and know that people will still watch more of it than what they originally got there for. Because what if you added in other information that they would actually benefit from, but never thought to search for?
Plus, think about it this way: most of us skip around in videos anyway. By adding in a timestamp, you’re really cutting back the time they spend trying to find what they’re looking for, but you’re not trying to stop them from skipping around, because that would be futile.
Instead, you’re encouraging it. You’re letting them know that there’s plenty of meaty points within the video that they may be interested in. And if not them, then surely their audience, or friends.
Rethink Your Intro
Remember what I said about first impressions? Your thumbnail is basically what people see first, and judge you by. It’s what helps them decide whether your content is worth clicking on, or not.
But once you get past that gate, there’s another―the introduction. And it’s just as, if not more, important than the thumbnail.
You see, your introduction can be anything you want it to be, from animations, to music, to a montage of your creative space, or views of your product from different angles, or even being used.
But there are a few things to keep in mind:
If it’s too long, people get impatient, because we live in a very on-demand society.
If it’s too boring, or cheezy, it sets the wrong tone for your video.
If it’s too showy, but the content is more low-key, then it doesn’t really match up.
So, avoid making these mistakes. Instead, opt for 10 seconds or less for an intro, and make it match the video content in energy. If you’re more laid back, and introverted, have a very clean-cut intro. Minimal in style, with music that matches.
You can use any of these tools to quickly make an intro you can keep using for the rest of your content.
Rethink Your Outro
You want to make people gasp, smile, laugh, and feel understood. You want them to walk away from your video having learned something new, or found a solution to a problem that’s been plaguing them for far too long.
And obviously, that means your content has to be up to par. But your intro, and the actual video content aren’t the only important aspects of your video. After all, without tying a neat bow on it all, you’re just creating something great, without adding in a call to action.
And that’s a wasted opportunity.
For a compelling outro, you need to add a subscribe image, which a lot of the time is your YouTube profile picture, and an annotation that leads people to another one of your videos.
So, go to Video Manager, click on videos, and select the one you want to edit. From there, click End Screen & Annotations. Add one within the last 15-30 seconds of your video, so it’s not desperate, but still gets the message across.
To add in the subscribing options, click Add Element, then hit Subscribe to get your channel image on the video. If you want another video to be played, click on Video or Playlist and select your Most Recent Upload or Best for Viewer.
Ask Current Fans to Subscribe
Yep, current fans. You know, the people who watch your content, but for one reason or another, don’t subscribe. Everyone has them, they are everywhere!
Well, ask them to subscribe. For instance, if you have a very popular video, at the end of it, go ahead and let them know you want them to subscribe. “I’ve received a lot of comments and questions about this video, with people saying they got a lot out of it, so if you feel the same way, remember to hit that subscribe button!”
Another option is to send out a channel link to your current fan base. You can do this over email, or even social media. But whatever you do, don’t use the regular channel URL. Add a?sub_confirmation=1 to the end of it, so that when people click into it, they’ll see a pop-up to subscribe.
Get More Subscriptions
Subscriptions are the end-goal on YouTube. You want as many subscribers as you can possibly have. That way, all of those people get notified whenever you post new content, which means thousands, or even millions of views for you. Especially if it all spreads through word of mouth.
And it’s not enough to ask fans to subscribe. You want everyone, as many people as possible, to hit that subscribe button.
Speaking of which, did you know that you don’t have to rely on the comments section to remind people to subscribe? You can actually place a watermark on your video. If you wanted to, you could place the YouTube subscribe image on the bottom corner, so it’s constantly reminding people, without being obnoxious.
If you’re interested in trying this out, head to Creator Studio once again, and click on channel, then Branding. From there, up,load a subscribe watermark, which you can get from here.
Google Search Optimization
Google likes to make high quality, relevant content, easy to find. They like to rank it up higher and higher on search results, as long as it has what it takes.
But there are a few categories that work better than others, simply because they’re the most searched. These categories are as follows:
Reviews, such as product or service reviews.
Tutorials, including setting up software, using a product, etc.
How-to videos, including how to make anything, how to fix anything, or even how to save time and money doing x, y, and z.
Anything fitness or sports related, simply because of the sheer popularity of those topics.
And of course, funny videos, because people want to laugh.
This means that if you have content that is on-brand, and relevant to your audience, you’re on the right path. But, if it falls within one of these categories, then you’re really winning at YouTube marketing.
Now, you can optimize based on YouTube keywords, which we’ve touched on previously. But you should also be optimizing for Google search results.
Start with the keywords that work on YouTube first, and plug those into Google. Which ones have videos? And if they do have videos, how many? Is it oversaturated?
You don’t want to rank for a keyword that only gets 20 searches per month.
Again, it’s Keyword Planner time here. Login to your AdWords account, click on tools, then Keyword Planner. Then identify the keyword phrase that gets anywhere between 500 and 1,000 searches per month. This will largely depend on your niche. If you’re in fitness, you’re looking at 1,000, but if you’re more crafty, it will probably be a little less.
If you can get your video to rank in Google, then that’s a boost for your YouTube content. Along with organic YouTube results, that’s some good traffic, all of which can lead to a boost on your website.
Say Keywords In the Video
So, here’s a useful fact: YouTube uses an advanced transcription for videos that allows them to know if your content is related to the subject you claim it’s about. It will match up your video’s headline, description and keywords, to the content itself.
Which means whenever you say the keywords in the video, it knows.
When you say them, you’re ranked, and when you don’t, you’re not. Plain and simple. If you aren’t saying your own keywords, then it assumes you’re busy talking about something else, which means it’s not very… relevant. The whole point!
The only issue with this, however, is that you kind of have to say those keywords a lot, because the transcription isn’t the best of all time. Just make sure to sprinkle it in where it actually makes sense. Make it sound as organic as possible.
If it sounds hard to do, that’s because it’s tricky. The good news is that you should be writing your scripts anyway, so this is just a goal for that script.
And remember, as pointed out earlier, you should always start off the video with keywords anyway, so that should also be helpful.
Promote The Videos
It’s nice depending on keywords and organic traffic to get views. It’s also nice that YouTube will give your content a nice boost if it’s good enough.
But there’s more good news: you can be your own traffic generator too.
Ideally, you should be using your social media platforms to promote your video content. You could even use Quora. And your blog.
Just know now though: Facebook and LinkedIn will no longer be good sources to use for promotion. They don’t like it whenever you promote other platforms on theirs, which means they penalize people’s content, essentially sabotage it so it doesn’t really show up.
Instead, use Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, your blog (Wordpress, Weebly, Squarespace, doesn’t matter), Quora, and maybe even Pinterest, assuming your content is about a popular niche on that platform (crafts, weddings, home decor, etc.).
It’s also worth noting that whenever you use your blog, or Quora, you should be answering some related questions. Like maybe you interviewed an industry leader with a lot to say, so when someone on Quora or your blog asks something that the leader answered already in your video, you can reply with that link ready to go. It sends traffic that way, and proves that you’re putting out content that they care about.
Now, of course, that means if you’re using Quora, you can find good questions to answer. Relevant ones that allow you to link to your blog, to your YouTube videos, to your landing pages. All good things.
But what makes a good question?
Look for ones that meet your ideal keywords. Simply go to your Ads Manager, scroll to Primary Targeting, and select Question Targeting. It will prompt you to select a keyword, and when you do, it shows all of the questions with the number of weekly views. That way you’ll know if you’re simply wasting your time with it, and need to select another keyword.
Analyze How People “Watch”
I’ve said it many times before in a lot of my posts: context reigns king. Now, usually when I state that, I’m referring to being careful where you post your content. For instance, posting infographics on Instagram doesn’t really generate good results, but they do well on Tumblr. Your content should be great, but also published on the platform that will best appreciate it.
Well, that’s not how I’m using it this time. When I say context reigns king here, I’m referring to the context of how people consume your content.
For instance, when you post a video interview, people can technically just… hear it. They don’t need to watch it, because they won’t actually miss anything. All the information they want is there, in audio form, which means they can open up another tab and continue working on something else, while listening to your video.
On the other hand, if your video is a tutorial of some kind, then people have to see it. They need to see the steps, and how it’s done, in order to both learn and be able to replicate it for themselves later.
Knowing the context here, as in which videos they will actually watch, and which they will play in the background, allows you to optimize things accordingly.
Maybe put less attention into video cuts for the interview, and refocus it on the sound quality instead. Or maybe invest in more camera closeups and cuts to keep them watching if you’re doing a how-to video.
But again, you kind of need to sit there and really think about how people will likely consume this content. If you’re uploading music, they will open up another tab. That’s just a fact. If you’re showing off the spring collection of your clothing line, they need to see that, not just hear about it. Use your logic to determine whether you need to pay extra attention to the sound, or the visuals.
If you need a little help, remember that you can go to YouTube Studio, click on any video, and then check out the analytics for it. It will show you which videos contribute to your subscriber growth (which type of videos you should be making more of), and it will determine your audience retention ratio and percentage.
Hook Your Audience
“Want to know how to create your very own blanket? Well, this is a very easy task, but it requires plenty of attention to detail to keep track of each step, so unless you watch this whole video, you won’t be able to make one!”
That is a hook. Note, the “unless you watch this whole video” part, that’s instilling a sense of urgency, of importance. It’s saying “Hey, this is a task that requires plenty of attention to detail, work, and patience, so you can’t just skip around and assume you know how to make a blanket.”
It’s both doing them a favor, and also helping you retain an audience. This helps your video rank better, which is always the end goal, right?
Now, if you’re not very comfortable saying it, you can opt to show it. For instance, you can use an image of the best clip of the video as a thumbnail. Or better still, you can use a snippet of the best clip in the beginning, so when people watch the video, they are greeted by something either funny, or shocking. It will play into people’s curiosity, getting them to stay for the duration of the video, because…
If this is what they can expect to see later in the video, then surely there’s more awesome content to be had somewhere else.
And if this is the content they’ll see, they probably want the context in order to better appreciate it. They don’t want to just watch something potentially intriguing, without knowing what’s going on. People don’t like being out of the loop!
YouTube marketing is something that takes quite a bit of time and effort, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it becomes easier to manage. There’s a lot you can continuously do with your content, like optimizing keywords, and adding them into your headlines and descriptions. You can also optimize the visuals, or the sound quality, depending on how people consume the content. You could even check out which types of videos have most contributed to your subscriber count.
But let’s not sugar coat it: although the steps themselves make sense, and are relatively easy to accomplish, chances are you’ll need to be patient. Being YouTube famous doesn’t happen overnight, and it certainly doesn’t happen for most.
The best you can possibly do is to keep your head down, and keep putting out amazing content that you optimize each and every time. Eventually, you’ll gather a following.
If you’re still unsure about how to best approach YouTube as a whole, or about how much time this will all take, let it be known now that this is basically a job in and of itself. You should be making videos as much as you’re writing blog posts.
Sounds difficult, doesn’t it? That’s why many entrepreneurs hire outside help, either freelancers, or consultants, whom help guide them in the right direction, and establish actionable goals to meet within certain timeframes.
It may help to look into these options, if you’re already feeling the pressure of time.
So, which of these tactics have you never thought of doing? Why do you think that is?
Let me know in the comments below, I love hearing from you!