Tips & TricksThe Ultimate Guide to YouTube Optimization

Among millions of people uploading videos on YouTube every day, what gives you the edge in becoming the most sought after brand on YouTube?

For most YouTubers, creating and uploading content is easier than the distribution of their video content. So how can one optimize his/her YouTube channel to reach a larger audience? What are the steps to follow to publish a powerful and famous video?

Here’s our take on how to create your own popular and talked-about YouTube channel:

1.Work on Your Channel Branding and Design

Begin with your YouTube channel’s page . This is the place where users are taken to when they want to see the most recent videos uploaded by you, the type of videos you like, and the video you want to feature.

Take time to brand your YouTube page. Upload a background image and add a great looking logo. No one wants to see a boring default page. Also, ensure that name you’ve chosen for the account resonates with your brand and is compelling for the viewers.

By customizing the channel page, you create an indelible original space for yourself on YouTube. Here are two essential features of a YouTube channel:

1.1. Channel Icon

YouTube allows you to set up your own custom channel icon and channel art. Channel Icon is the square image that appears at the top left part of your channel’s page. It also appears at the bottom right corner of all your videos. It is like your calling card and that’s why you should choose the image that best represents you.

According to YouTube, “Your icon visually represents your channel everywhere across Google and YouTube, so ensure that it looks good, large and small.”

1.2. Channel Art

Your channel’s art is the header image that is found at the top of your channel. This is the place where your audience can find information about who you are and what your channel is all about. You can customize and create your own banners for your channel on YouTube!

A great website that can assist you in creating artwork for your YouTube channel’s background is Canva. Remember to follow YouTube’s image size guidelines and Channel Art Template which you can find here.

The image below for the Vsauce channel illustrates both the channel icon and the channel art:

vsauce channel youtube

2. Optimize Your Videos for More Views

No matter how hard you try to promote or distribute your video, it all depends on how interesting and entertaining the content is.

A video that entertains and informs is always valued and shared. Not just YouTube but a lot of other sites might share your content if it is interesting. Remember, quality attracts quantity.

Here are some important components of a successful video content strategy.

2.1. Metadata

Metadata consists of all possible information related to your video, like the title, descriptions and tags. If the keyword that is being searched for is apt for your video, then the traffic is automatically directed towards your work. Let us shift our focus to the individual components of metadata:

  1. Title: Try to condense your content into your title. But don’t go for highly descriptive titles. It should be as brief as possible without compromising on the overall gist of the video. Do not forget to utilize subtitles and closed captions. Use key phrases and Vidooly’s YouTube Keyword Suggestion tool to decipher which keyword is likely to draw more traffic to your video. Focus on the words that appear on the first page when you use Google search for videos. These are known as video keywords. This not only helps in diverting the audience searching on YouTube but also those who search on Google.
  1. Video Description: The description of a video also plays an important role in the searchability of a video. Try to incorporate link(s) to your site at the beginning part of the description. Include keywords in the first 25 words and try to ensure that the description is not less than 250 words. Google Trends is another tool that can help you find the right keywords for your video.
  1. Tags: Adding tags to the video is another way of utilizing the keywords that could not be assimilated in the video description or title. Create phrases that describe the video and also aim at reproducing the keywords.
  2. Video Upload: After working on your video content and the aforementioned features for your video. Add to it the following essential SEO characteristics:
    – Incorporate the keyword in your video’s file-name.
    – The title should not be less than five words including the keyword. Try to put your keyword as the first word that increases the chances of your video to appear more frequently during search.
    – Don’t forget to add video tags.

Related read: Why meta data is important for your YouTube channel?

3. Create Unified Thumbnails

Thumbnails play a crucial role in enticing a user to click on your video. Think of thumbnails as the cover of a book. So, when you create a thumbnail, consider three target points of the viewer- eyes, emotion, and excitement.

  • The eyes are important because the visual elements are the first things that viewers notice.
  • Next come emotions so as to be able to build an affinity with the viewers.
  • Then comes excitement; to entice viewers into clicking on links and learning more.

youtube video thumbnails

Unified thumbnails attract more attention due to a pattern created which viewers can recognize and relate to. You can use a recurring color pattern, logo, or outline to make them stand out.

4. Use Annotations Intelligently

Annotations function like hyperlinks within your video. You can use them for specific calls-to-action and higher viewer engagement. If you have an associated website, they can drive clicks to your website.

Here are few tips on using annotations:

  • Use annotations only for the length of time needed to read them. Beyond that they become a annoying.
  • Keep the annotation size small to avoid covering too much of the video space.
  • Avoid using vibrant colors for your annotations. This will only distract the viewers and create a feeling of clutter. It is always best to use transparent, semi-transparent, gray, white, or black as the fill color.
  • The best locations to put your annotations are at the top corners of the video area. They can also be placed on the top and side borders of the video.
  • Use as few annotations as possible in a video at any given point of time. It is best to not show more than two annotations at a time.
  • Keep your annotations as short as possible to enable viewers to read them at a glance and get back to watching the video.

Related read: Your Quick Start Guide To Youtube Cards and Annotations

5. Create Playlists to Group Similar Videos

Your related videos can be predicted for the next view automatically if it is a part of a playlist. This helps your video views significantly and keeps the audience engaged.

Try to group similar videos in a single playlist. Refer to keywords when you title your playlists.

Make use of the 5000 word description that YouTube provides, use keywords in your playlist description so that your target audience can reach your videos.

youtube playlists

Playlists are the primary way to organize your videos on YouTube and comprise a core part of your channel and video optimization.

They serve three primary roles when it comes to optimizing your YouTube presence.

  • Playlists enable you to organize your videos to auto-play altogether. This helps in increasing watch time of the channel, driving more views to the videos and also improve engagement for all the videos in the playlist.
  • It assists YouTube to understand the relevance among various videos in the process.
  • Playlists have the ability to rank and gain visibility on their own. They are like the category pages on your website. You can utilize them to target specific search terms with your playlist title and description to rank in YouTube Search.

Use playlists when you have a series of videos that can be watched in an order, or they can be a set of videos that forms a broader theme.

6. Drive Engagement with Calls-To-Action

youtube cta
image Courtesy: Brafton

CTAs allow you to redirect your audience to your website or blog. You can make use of simple screens that can be added at the end of the video or during the course of the video.

CTAs can serve 3 purposes:

  • To get people to view your other videos
  • Drive engagement and sharing increasing the visibility
  • To direct your viewers to other content you have on other websites.

7. Promote and Cross Promote Your Videos

Don’t just focus on producing great content, promote it too. Share your videos on your blog, Q and A websites like Quora, Yahoo! Answers, etc. Do not spam your video on walls and blog posts, but suggest them as answers to people who can find it useful. Search for questions that generate your video demand and then suggest your video as a solution.

8. Work on User Experience

Better user experience signals on your YouTube channel and video help improve the visibility of your videos on YouTube. YouTube recommendation engines look for:

  • Comments: Keep a tab on how people respond to your video. If they comment, they watch.
  • Subscribes: The number of subscribers to your channel determines your future viewership and appreciation.
  • Retention: The rate at which the previous users return to watch your video is the retention capacity of your video.
  • Share: If they share it, they are definitely enjoying it.
  • Favorite: If your audience keep you in their favorite list or “watch later” list, your video is gaining momentum.
  • Thumbs up/down: They like it or dislike it.

The crucial part in generating better user signals is to create well-thought of video content that can be useful and entertaining. Without engaging content, optimizing user experience will lead you nowhere. So make sure that your content is worth your audience’s time.

Final Takeaway

Remember, optimization goes beyond using a tool or tactic. It starts out with figuring what you want to do and who you want to entertain/help. Optimizing for views and visibility is as important as optimizing for users.  Remember – User engagement is your definite sign of success on the YouTube platform.

Mansi Mendiratta

Storyteller on weekends, Content Catalyst on workdays. Books, Biopics, SEO, Yoga, & guffaws are my thing. Plus, my poetries rarely rhyme -.-

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