Did you know that YouTube is the No. 2 most used search engine on the Internet? It’s true! Think about the times you need to fix a leaky faucet, or bake a cake, or want to listen to a song you just can’t get out of your head. While some might still Google that (is Google a verb?), most of us – especially 18 to 34 year olds – are using YouTube to find a video rather than a regular search.
In August 2012, more than 138 million unique U.S. viewers were watching content on YouTube, streaming 17.6 billion videos. While Netflix boasts the most watch time per viewer (10 hours, 25 minutes), YouTube is second with four hours and 43 minutes. (Nielsen)
Convinced yet to start a YouTube channel? Or, maybe you already have one and aren’t getting the results you want. Here are some tips that are easy to employ and will help you increase your viewership.
1. Give them something they can use.
Unless you’re in the cute kittens playing piano business, don’t expect your video to go viral. Instead, focus on targeting an audience with a specific need by creating a video about something that you could probably blog about as well:
• How-to videos
• Frequently asked questions
• Expert interviews
• Screen video captures
• Slide shows
2. Make it easy to find.
Finding your video in YouTube is one thing, but finding it elsewhere is another. In search engines like Google and Bing, the video results usually appear on the first page of results. To ensure your video tops your competition, focus on these three areas:
• Title: Include targeted keywords in the first few words of your title. Add a colon after your initial keywords and rephrase the title.
• Description: Start your description with a full URL and be as descriptive as possible. Include as many keywords as you can, as this will help drive more viewers to your specific type of content.
• Tags: Include any and all keywords and any related keywords in the tags field.
3. Make your channel a destination.
We can’t express enough how important branding is, especially in an environment like YouTube. If your channel focuses on car repair, you need to be able to standout from the numerous other car repair channels out there:
• Customize your channel: The more branded and customized your channel looks, the more credible it will appear. Create a custom background and match the colors to your branded color scheme.
• “Player View” impacts visibility: Autoplay can sometimes be annoying, but it gets the job done. Selecting Player View instead of Grid View allows you to feature one big video on your channel, which you can set to autoplay. Total views of a video have a positive impact on your visibility, so always keep your featured video set to autoplay.
• Feature your best content in a playlist: You can generate playlists with any video on YouTube, but try creating one with your most popular videos, or ones that best reflect your products, services and brand. This will allow you to organize and showcase your best work.
4. Build subscribers with annotations.
Producing a three-video series for a how-to project? Add an annotation to your videos that include clickable calls to action. They can be set to appear for any length of time and can link to other videos, playlists or channels. They can also allow a viewer to subscribe to your channel.
5. Keep your subscribers and friends informed.
Make good use of the “Post Bulletin” tab at the top of your channel by creating bulletins that link back to your video. Bulletins appear on the home pages of your subscribers and friends. This is an easy and effective way to draw traffic to your video.
6. Advertise on YouTube.
Just like with Google AdWords, you can bid on the keywords that people are searching for and get an ad above the search results. Instead of a text ad, however, it’s a video thumbnail and a link to your video.
Once your video is submitted as a promoted video on your YouTube channel, you can run a clickable call to action (CTA) ad that lets viewers click from your video to a website.
7. Spread the social media wealth.
Before it became the online video haven that it is, YouTube was (and still is) a social media platform. Make your video more shareable by spreading it out among your other social media sites.
• Blog: If you have a blog site, use it every time you post a new video. Keep your title keyword-rich and fill your post with complementary content…not to mention an embedded version of your video (it will count toward your YouTube total views). Not only will this get your video to your blog subscribers, but will also help in the long run with your video’s SEO. Sharing buttons make it easier for your subscribers and other readers to share your content.
• Twitter: No more getting around it. More and more people are using Twitter, so Tweet that video!
• StumbleUpon: A social bookmarking site that refers new followers to your website based on interests? Yes, please!
8. Review your analytics
Regularly check your YouTube Insights to get a perspective on who is watching your video, where they’re watching and for how long. It also lets you know how they discovered your video and where they clicked. Be sure to check the comment board/likes on your most-watched videos to get a better idea of what type of content gets the most positive feedback from your target audience.
To sum it all up, having great content is the name of the game, but there are plenty of other tools at your disposal. Explore YouTube’s options, get to know them and how they work, and employ them in your overall strategy. If you do it right, you’ll see an increase in your viewership for sure.