How to Optimize Your YouTube Channel

YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google (who also own YouTube!), but people do not put the same effort into optimising their presence on the platform compared to Google.  

Videos are a great way of informing people about your brand, and they engage the senses more than static posts.  While static posts can be overlooked or forgotten, videos capture viewers’ attention and foster potent emotional responses. People are compelled to want to share, comment on, and enjoy them.  

Video content has a high conversion rate and is becoming more and more popular, making it the preferred marketing medium. Every day, more than 122 million people use YouTube, and 1 billion hours of content are viewed worldwide. In addition, almost 70% of YouTube users use the platform to research potential purchases.  

Your aim with YouTube should be to make your content more bingeable. Set up your channel in a manner where people can see everything at a glance, and use compelling titles and thumbnails. (It works – ask David Dobrik.)  

Look at streaming platforms for inspiration, like Netflix or Amazon Prime – they have their content so neatly organised that it encourages viewers to continue watching. You finish one movie, and another one pops up based on your interests. Remember that if someone is willing to watch one of your videos, it’s likely that they will want to watch more. So, make it accessible for them.

In the vast pool of viewers on YouTube, how can you make yourself visible? Below are a few tips and tricks that will help you catch people’s eyes more easily. 

1. Research

Before you start optimising your channel, have a look around at your competition and try to understand their channel structure. What are they doing well which you can also use for your benefit? What are they not doing well which you can do better? While it’s beneficial to look at what others are doing, don’t copy anyone.    

2. Keywords in Your Channel Name

Many people work very hard at coming up with interesting video titles with the correct keywords in them, but they often forget to add keywords into their channel name. To catch people’s attention in your niche, you must have a relevant keyword in your channel name. For example, rather than naming your channel “Sarah Smith”, try naming it Digital Marketer Sarah”, “Books Reviews by Sarah”, “Dancer Sarah”, and so on, based on your industry and content. This will give your channel an extra boost. It will also make it easier for viewers to understand what kind of content they can expect from you at a glance.  

3. Get Your Metadata Right

Google’s advice for conquering YouTube is to make your titles, tags, and video descriptions work for you. Metadata gives YouTube more information about your videos, so it plays a very important role in the optimisation of your channel.  

  • Title: The amount of text you can use for video titles is very limited. YouTube titles can be no more than 100 characters long, but in many cases, titles longer than 70 characters are truncated in search results – so, consider the limit to be 70 characters. You have to keep your titles short and snappy while conveying what the video involves.  
  • Channel and video descriptions: You can experiment more with your descriptions than your titles, but remember to always include important details about your business towards the end.  You can use a maximum of 5,000 characters in the description area, but it’s a good idea to keep the first line of your description relatively short because only the first 157 characters will be shown as a snippet in search results. 
  • Tags: These are like the hashtags of the YouTube world – they help people find your content and help bots understand what type of content you make so that they can categorise your videos. You can use tag generators to make your life easier.  

4. Channel Trailer – A Peak into Your Channel

How often do you watch a movie without knowing what it’s about? Production houses spend millions of dollars making the perfect trailer that will compel people to watch their movies. On YouTube, you have to do the same (without spending millions of dollars, of course). Also note that YouTube does not run ads on channel trailers (the exception is if your video has been claimed by a third party, so be careful to only use copyright-free content). 

Here are some tips for your trailer:  

  • What is your channel about? Give a brief introduction to what viewers can expect. 
  • Tell your viewers how often you upload to your channel i.e., “New Videos every Saturday at 12 PM BST”. 
  • Show your personality  
  • Make sure your trailer is branded appropriately and all your other videos are consistent with that branding 
  • Talk about your wins and show your audience that you have authority in your field. Give them a reason to follow your advice, and remember to be authentic.   
  • Keep the length at a maximum of two minutes 
  • Don’t commit the sin of being boring – you have two minutes so make it count.  
  • Don’t be too formal – keep it fun and casual.  

Making a channel trailer might feel like hassle but remember, it’s essential for the growth of your subscriber base and your business.

5. Featured Section

Optimising the layout of your channel makes it easier for everyone to access your videos. Rather than lumping videos into one big grid, YouTube gives channel owners the option to design their own feed, and you can create different versions for new subscribers and returning viewers.  For new subscribers, you want to your channel trailer to be featured so that they are intrigued and want to subscribe. For returning subscribers, you want to boost videos with low engagement, so I would suggest adding a video that is not doing very well so that it gets the push required. (Don’t worry – YouTube will not show viewers the videos that they have already watched.)  

To change your featured video: 

  1. Sign into YouTube Studio. 
  2. From the left hand menu, select Customisation and then Layout. 
  3. Under the Video spotlight, click “add” and select your channel trailer for new subscribers. For returning viewers, select whatever video you desire them to watch.  
  4. Click Publish. 

6. Channel Experience

The most important aspect of your channel is its branding, which is often called the channel experience. If you want longevity on YouTube, you have to provide viewers with a good channel experience. For example, WatchMojo uses a strict template for the videos they post, which helps them stay consistent while building their personal brand. Once you watch their video, you cannot forget the iconic introduction where they say “WatchMojo”, and the same goes for the channel Cocomelon. Here are a few things that you should look into if you want to create the perfect channel experience: 

  • Channel Name: You can name your channel literally anything but that doesn’t mean you should. Be very selective about the name you choose. I recommend selecting a catchy channel name that fits your brand identity and is brief (and remember to include keywords). Ensure that the name is the best possible representation of your brand.  
     
  • Channel Icon: The icon must make a strong impression on the audience. The icon is displayed everywhere i.e., on the watch page, the image will appear next to each of your videos. It is like a logo and will eventually become your identity on YouTube, so make sure you choose wisely. Use a square, high-resolution image which is easily identifiable.  
     
  • Channel Art: Also known as a banner image, this image helps you provide more information about your channel, so make good use of it. Include links to your business in the ‘About’ tab (on the right hand side of the banner) to help link your YouTube channel to your other platforms.  

7. Think Like a Viewer

You are creating videos for a particular viewer, and you have to keep them in mind with every little thing that you do. Ask yourself – is this the kind of content they would like to see? Don’t work on the basis of what you think will work but with what you know will work based on solid data. Also, remember that to become successful on YouTube, you have to be consistent, and you cannot leave your viewers uninformed – for example, if you need a break or there are delays in production, let them know what to expect. If you can, give them a behind the scenes view of how you produce videos, as this can be very exciting. Ultimately, be transparent and open with your audience as they are the ones who decide your future on the platform. They should be the most important factor in every decision you make regarding your channel.  

Video is one of the best ways to communicate with your audience directly and give them an authentic glimpse of what you, your business, or your clients are up to, in addition to being entertaining. There is a lot of competition on YouTube, so you must ensure that you are doing every little thing you can to improve your chances of success. 

The process of creating videos and keeping up with a tight upload schedule is not easy, and I would recommend getting all the help you can. Click here to see how my team and I can help.

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