Updated August 2021.
As the most-viewed website in the world, YouTube is an ideal platform for startups and small businesses looking to improve their reach across audiences.
If you aren’t already—you can and should be utilizing this video platform as part of your digital marketing efforts. However, getting started on YouTube is no small feat. From outlining content ideas to filming, creating, and editing videos, to writing accurate, informative descriptions and titles—YouTube video marketing covers a lot of ground. You want people to see the videos you create – especially after all that work. However, content on YouTube is largely subject to the will of the platform’s algorithm. CNet said it best in the title of this piece on YouTube’s algorithm, “YouTube’s AI is the puppet master over most of what you watch”.
Fortunately, there are a few tricks of the trade that enable you to work smarter – not harder – when it comes to improving organic audience reach via YouTube. Here’s how you can work YouTube’s algorithm to improve organic reach:
Best Practices for Increasing YouTube Performance
SEO, SEO, SEO: Keywords & Metadata
We cannot say it enough—SEO matters, especially when it comes to improving organic reach on YouTube. Do your keyword research to make sure you’re using the specific words and phrases your target audience is searching for. Then, optimize, optimize, optimize! Include these terms in your keywords, titles, descriptions, tags and captions—but don’t overdo it. In other words, don’t try to jam pack as many keywords as you can fit into the title of your YouTube video at the risk of losing a sense of fluidity. (PS – There are tons of online tools you can use to help find the unique terms and phrases being searched for in your market. We often recommend Moz, SEMrush and the Google Keyword Planner in Google Ads Manager.)
Optimize Real Estate
When crafting copy (aka text) to use for your YouTube title and description, it’s important to know that although YouTube allows 100-characters for titles and 5,000 characters for descriptions, only the first 70 characters of your title and the first few lines of your description will be readily available for viewing upon a search. Therefore, you’ll want to use the most relevant keywords/phrases in the beginning of your titles and descriptions to really grab user attention.
Optimize your closed captions by uploading self-made subtitles. This allows users to watch videos without audio— therefore assisting those with accessibility needs. Creating and uploading your own subtitles ensures that your closed captions are precise and accurate.
Grab & Hold User Attention
The first few seconds of any YouTube video can make or break your attrition rates. Make sure your video description accurately describes the content users will experience when they watch the first few seconds of your video. Also, be sure those first few seconds give the user reason to continue watching your video with an attention-grabbing hook. This extends watch time and therefore increases your score according to YouTube’s algorithm.
“The End”? NEVER!
Never end a YouTube video without directing users to some other content on your channel. User watermarks, cards, and end screens to direct viewers towards other videos or playlists you have to offer. This pleases the portion of the YouTube algorithm that has to do with engagement.
Subscribe to Thrive
According to YouTube’s algorithm, your rankings automatically improve with every new viewer that clicks that red “Subscribe” button. Dedicate a portion of your video to asking users to subscribe to your content—especially immediately after you provide them with something of value.
Utilize YouTube’s “Playlist” feature to curate continuous content that stretches across a series of videos. This will help attract viewers to your channel, as well as help keep them on it. Two things that help satisfy the YouTube algorithm.
Don’t be shy about promoting your YouTube Channel across your social media platforms, on your website, and in your marketing emails. It’s free advertisement— and anything free is good!
Use YouTube Analytics!
Last but certainly not least, take a deep dive into your YouTube analytics to learn which aspects of your YouTube marketing strategy are and are not working— so you can do more of what is appealing to your audience, and less of what isn’t.
Like What You Learned Here?
Shameless plug alert: Check out the TTG YouTube Channel for expert insights and tutorials on all things digital marketing— and be sure to subscribe while you’re there! If you are ready to dive deeper than bite sized snippets, take a look at these on-demand training sessions too.