According to Socialbakers, 4 in 5 millennials view video content when researching a purchase decision. No wonder video marketing is on the rise; every marketer I talk with has it as one of their primary focuses as they plan for 2018.
While Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and even LinkedIn are rolling out video features, nothing beats YouTube, where we spend a billion hours every day watching videos. If you want to leverage the power of the world’s second largest search engine and grow your YouTube channel in 2018, read on.
I sat down with Syed Balkhi, a renowned online marketer famous for his work on the conversion software, OptinMonster. Syed is also the founder of a popular edutainment website and YouTube channel, List25, which has over 2.2 million subscribers and his videos have been viewed over 550 million times.
Since starting the site in 2011, he has only appeared in a total of 3 videos. Instead of being the face of the brand, he works behind the scenes, guiding his team’s YouTube optimization strategy, to maximize views and channel growth.
I asked him to share his top 8 optimization tips for growing a YouTube channel in 2018.
1. Create videos based on a single topic / keyword
While it sounds obvious, you’d be surprised how many people completely ignore this basic principle. Similar to a blog post, when you’re planning your video, you need to identify the keywords that you want to target.
You can use tools like KeywordTool.io to see the most searched keywords in your niche.
The reason why it’s important to pick a keyword before you create your video is because it allows you to better plan your content. You can search your keyword in YouTube to see what kinds of videos are ranking highly, and what makes them stand out.
In your research phase, your goal is to create the most comprehensive video about your chosen topic. According to Balkhi, the ideal video length is around 8 – 12 minutes long.
The other reason why you need to pick your keyword before recording the video is so you can incorporate it in your video script. Having your keyword repeated multiple times in your audio script helps your ranking on YouTube search. Because YouTube automatically attempts to add closed captions, we know the algorithm technically can read through your entire audio script – and likely uses it as a factor when calculating relevance for a given keyword search.
2. Optimize your title and description
YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. If you want to have your videos rank highly, you need to properly optimize your video title and description.
Your title needs to be catchy, but it also needs to contain the keywords that you want to rank for. “One of the things we have found is that placing our keywords at the beginning of our video title helps boost our ranking,” says Balkhi. “Same goes for your video description. Often, people don’t do a good enough job in writing their description. You need to treat your video description like a summary blog post that you would write if you were to embed this video on your site.”
Balkhi advises that you should add your keywords in the first two sentences, but not try to game the system. Stuffing keywords in your description can get your channel penalized, just as stuffing keywords in content on a website can trigger a Penguin or Panda penalty.
Writing an outline or transcript of your video content in the description of the video can go a long way in helping boost your video’s rankings.
Last but not least, make sure that you’re adding relevant tags to each of your videos. Balkhi recommends using a tool like TubeBuddy for tag recommendation.
3. Win the CTR battle with great thumbnails
Similar to how text-based content works, videos with catchy a thumbnail and title often tend to rank higher even if they don’t have the best content.
The secret is similar to Google search: these videos win the click-through-rate (CTR) battle. In other words, Google seems to be calculating CTR as a ranking factor, which has been a subject of much debate in the SEO industry lately.
“In our experience, the best way to get maximum click-through rate, aside from a catchy title, is to use an attention-grabbing thumbnail. Some examples of catchy thumbnails that I have seen work include thumbnails with large text, highlighted / magnified areas, arrows pointing towards something in the image, and things that are just completely unexpected or unusual,” says Balkhi.
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