So, you create YouTube videos. Great idea. Done right YouTube videos can be one of the best ways to promote a product, build your brand, establish yourself as an authority on some of your favorite subjects or just make a little extra cash.
The opportunity to do all of the above is certainly there. Although YouTube is now nearly fifteen years old – and has more than a few almost viable competitors in the video space in 2019 – it is still the granddaddy of video sites and the place most people – from all over the world and across almost every popular dynamic – head when they are looking for something interesting to watch.
How big is it still? Here are some facts to consider (accurate as of the time of writing and the numbers are YouTube’s own)
- Total Number of Monthly Active YouTube Users:
- Total Number of Daily Active YouTube Users:
- YouTube TV Paying Subscribers:
- Number of Videos Shared to Date:
- Number of Users Creating Content Shared to Date:
- Average Viewing Session
40 minutes, up 50% year-over-year
- Number of Videos Watched Per Day
- Number of mobile YouTube views per day:
- Number of Videos uploaded per minute:
There is, as you can see, a huge audience just waiting to be tapped. In theory that is. Knowing all of this is very frustrating if the views on your own videos struggle to make it past double digits. So naturally you want more views on YouTube. For free. But how? Here are some pointers to get you started.
Ask People to Subscribe
That sounds very simplistic doesn’t it? And yet you would be surprised by just how many content creators on YouTube don’t actually bother to do it. They create videos that have fantastic information, are really entertaining and informative but then forget to make it clear to the audience that there is more of the same to come and so they should subscribe to be notified as soon as it does.
Once people subscribe, they can choose to be notified every time you upload new content and this will bring you instant views every time you release a new video. Add a call to action at the end of your video asking users to subscribe to your channel. And include a link in your video description that makes it easy for them to do so.
Use Playlists To Keep Those Eyeballs on Your Videos
According to YouTube’s own numbers s “top-performing brands on YouTube build and promote twice as many playlists as the bottom 25%.”
That’s because those top-performing brands understand the magic of auto-play. It’s much harder to pull yourself out of the YouTube rabbit hole when the videos just keep playing. Users might not actually be motivated enough to keep watching if they have to click play every few minutes, but if the ‘hits keep coming’ the chances are very good that they will just keep going. When you have a little more time head to one of our favourite YouTube entertainment channels – Watch Mojo UK – and we can almost guarantee that you’ll be there for a while. As soon as one video stops the next one starts. And people are often there for hours.
So, how do you create a playlist? Here’s a video that explains it very simply:
TLDW? Here’s the quick explanation:
- Navigate to the first video you want to include in the playlist.
- Click Add to.
- Select an existing playlist, or choose Create a new playlist (and then name that playlist).
- Choose your playlist’s privacy setting. Since you’re aiming for YouTube views, you’ll likely want to keep it Public.
- Click Create.
Ten minutes, tops, and provided you are creating good content this will almost certainly increase your views on YouTube.
Make Use of YouTube Cards and End Screens
The card and end screen functionalities on YouTube offer you another way to get your viewers watching more of your videos while also helping them get more familiar with your brand every time they do.
Cards are those pop ups you see in the body of the video itself. This video explains how to add them.
Since at this point your focus is getting more YouTube views for free, you will probably get most mileage out of a channel card that just links to the rest of your videos. However you could use a video or playlist card to point viewers to specific related videos that it would make sense for them to watch next.
Making end screens for your videos is almost as simple as adding cards. Here’s how it’s done:
- From your YouTube account, click the Creator Studio link under your account icon.
- Click Video Manager > Videos.
- Click Edit on the video you want to add the end screen to, then click End screen.
- Choose whether to copy an existing end screen, create one using a YouTube template, or create one from scratch using the Add element option.
- When you’re happy with your selections, click Save.
Make Your Video Titles and Descriptions Search AND User Friendly
Before you can get new eyeballs on your videos they actually have to be able to find them, which means your YouTube SEO has to be on point. However, those efforts have to cover two slightly different ‘audiences’; YouTube’s search bots and actual human viewers.
YouTube SEO is actually a discipline all unto itself, and there’s a lot to learn (which is why you might want a YouTube SEO specialist to help you at first) But here are some of the basics:
When you are writing your descriptions and titles try out your potential keyword ideas in the YouTube search box itself. As the autocomplete populates you may get ideas for related terms you hadn’t thought of. Or even ideas for new videos (score) You can also click on a few of the videos that show up for keywords right now to get an idea of your current competition.
Where can you find high potential keywords? Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends are both potentially great sources of them, but do not include anything that isn’t relevant to your video’s content just because it’s a high volume keyword. YouTube knows that ‘trick’ and they will eventually penalise you for it.
As we mentioned, you have to keep your users in mind too. According to YouTube “Titles that perform best are often those that tell a story.” Search bots are not interested in stories but humans are, so you have to figure out a way to achieve this balance. Within 60 characters, to ensure that your full description is displayed in search.
Thumbnail Images Count
Most people just don’t read when they are online, they scan instead. And when they are scanning their way through the search results of a list of videos they might want to watch they are far more likely to click on the one that has an interesting/eye catching thumbnail image to draw them in.
YouTube will, of course, auto-generate a thumbnail but why let them? Take control of the first impression you want to make and upload a custom image. Make sure that image complements both the subject matter of your video and your brand.
Your custom thumbnail should be 1280 x 720 pixels and less than 2 MB in size, in JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG format. And you probably want to know how to add one, so here’s a video that explains that:
Optimize Your Channel
Almost as important as optimizing each video you create is optimizing your channel. Yet SO many people just do not bother to do that. YouTube’s top performing creators do though, and since your ambition is to get more views and actually become one of them it is something that you should be doing as well.
Visuals are important here of course. You need to take the time to create a great channel icon, one that helps accurately portray your brand and your content, especially as this icon will be used by both YouTube and Google Search. It also needs to be an 800X800 image that will also display well at 98×98 pixels. A tall order perhaps, but there are a lot of tools and tips in the YouTube Creator Academy that can help.
Then there is the channel description. You have up to 1,000 characters to create a compelling brand pitch for your YouTube channel, letting viewers know why they should care about the videos you’re posting, what you have to offer, and how often they can expect to see new content. It’s not much, but take the time to make it count.
If you are up for a little more work you can even choose to create a channel trailer. We’ll let this video explain this (and as you watch, learn, this lady has a lot of views and subscribers!)
Understand the Way the YouTube Algorithm Works
‘A search and discovery system’ is the way that YouTube officially describes its algorithm. This is what determines which videos are seen first in a user’s search results, in the suggested videos tabs and in those trending streams.
The algorithm has an awful lot to do with watch time. Primarily this refers to how much time someone spends watching your videos, measured in cumulative minutes watched. According to YouTube itself, “each video uploaded—as well as every channel on YouTube—is ‘ranked’ by watch time.”
But “watch time” is not as simple as it sounds. Yes, it includes the actual time people spend watching your videos. But channels also earn “watch time credits” for driving viewers to watch videos on other channels.
This means that YouTube is more likely to showcase your videos when people spend more time watching your videos, and when they spend more time watching videos by other users that you refer them to. It’s complex stuff sometimes, and working with a Youtube marketing specialist can help you, but getting a better grasp on what you have to do to please YouTube – versus pleasing Google – is something it pays to do.
Take the Time to Go Through Your YouTube Analytics
One of the biggest keys to the success of any marketing strategy – on or offline – is to continuously test, track and tweak according to watch you learn as you go. And this is where analytics come in.
YouTube itself offers a pretty robust analytics panel that will tell you a lot of what you need to know. It lets you know which of your videos performs the best, how engaged your viewers really are and, to a certain extent, just who those people actually are.
These are all things that you not only need to pay attention to in order to increase the views on your current videos but also to act as a guide when creating future content. Once you know who is watching, and what seems to be resonating with them the most you can make a point of creating even more of the same kinds of content to keep them coming back for more.
Promote Your YouTube Video to the Outside World
Finally, it’s important that you promote your YouTube videos to the outside world to draw them over to you channel to watch (and hopefully keep watching) your content. Embed them on your website, share them on your social channels, include them in your emails (even in your email signatures)
All of these tips should help you increase the number of views your YouTube videos get and, for the most part, are free. There is one thing that has to be noted here though. As is the case for anything else in the world of content creation all the tips, tricks and hacks in the world aren’t much use if the content isn’t good.
Take the time to learn from others, to test and tweak and invest what you need to to ensure that what you are creating is good, not just a thirty second filler you are using to try and ‘increase your visibility online’.