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A billion is a number most of us can’t even begin to perceive. And yet that is the number of unique users YouTube gets on a monthly basis. It’s a statistic that is impossible to ignore from a marketing point of view. YouTube’s potential audience might be massive but getting your videos to stand out from the crowd is just as hard as getting your website to rank above the competition in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). And as we all know this is no mean feat in any relatively competitive sector.
There are however some steps that you can take though to ensure that your content stands a fighting chance of getting in front of as many relevant eyes as it possibly can. Good video SEO is as essential to optimising your videos on YouTube as it is to optimising your site on Google (in fact with Google now owning YouTube proper video SEO has the additional benefit of boosting your video’s exposure in the SERPs).
It all starts with the creation of your YouTube channel though. This is the home of all your content and without it you’re not going to get anywhere. Sure your videos might get seen but that’s not enough when you’re trying to build your brand and encourage genuine customers to your services or products.
Below are my essential YouTube channel dos and don’ts (with a few tips on good video SEO practice thrown in for good measure):
YouTube Channel Dos –
Think about keywords
It’s important to begin think of both your YouTube channel, and the videos you put on it, as you would your website when it comes to optimisation. YouTube is a search engine just like Google (the second biggest on the web in fact) and as such good choice of keywords is essential if you’re going to be pulling in views from relevant searches.
Use interesting thumbnails to entice clicks
Seems like such a simple one but it’s something that gets neglected again and again. Getting your videos to rank in YouTube’s search results page is one thing but getting people clicking on them is another. Use a still from your video that either sums up the essence of your video in a single frame or leaves people wanting to know more.
Always write a decent length video description
This is another neglected area of video optimisation on YouTube and can really make the difference to YouTube’s algorithm seeing your content as relevant or not. Good keyword distribution is essential here but as with on-page website optimisation don’t keyword stuff and write readable copy; remember humans will be reading this as well as search engines.
Use your chosen keyword to name the filename
Simple rule but really does help with optimising your videos.
Plan structure your channel with a YouTube audience in mind
Your YouTube channel is not going to attract the same kind of people that your website attracts. People browse YouTube in a far less structured way than they browse the net, where they’re usually looking for something in particular. Your average YouTube viewer just wants to be entertained. So first and foremost your YouTube channel needs to showcase your most entertaining content. Get someone gripped with a few knockout videos and you’re going to start leaving an impression and build a genuine following.
Do use relevant and timely content
We know it’s tempting to stick that hugely successful marketing video with 10k views you made three years ago at the top of your YouTube channel for everyone to see, but it’s important to know that people as well as good brands move on. What was relevant then might not be relevant now so plug the content that talks about your brand in the now. Make sure you’re constantly keeping this content up to date as well. No one likes to revisit a YouTube channel six months down the line and find nothing’s been added.
Use YouTube’s Analytics suite
Understanding and analysing the success of your YouTube channel and the videos on it is almost as important as setting the whole thing up in the first place, as it now only allows you to see what videos are doing well but how people are discovering your content as well as when viewers tend to switch off. This kind of insight can not only inform on how you structure your channel but what videos are doing well and how you can make your videos better. YouTube’s analytics suite has all the tools you’ll need on this front.
YouTube Channel Don’ts
Don’t rely on it delivering you high CTR
It’s a commonly misunderstood function of YouTube marketing that it’s all about delivering referral traffic to your website. With YouTube click through rates for marketers usually a paltry 1% it’s best to forget this straight away. Creating videos about your brand and about your products or services and hosting them on their own dedicated channel is more like creating a website of its own. You want people to visit your channel to find out what’s new with your company and build brand awareness. Do this right and your website traffic will eventually grow naturally.
Don’t use it as a place to store every video you’ve ever made
As tempting as it is to put all of your wonderful video content on your channel, if you’ve got a lot of content then this is often a bad idea. Your YouTube channel should function like a distinct and separate website that showcases the best and most relevant videos about your company. As we’ve already mentioned you need to think about your ideal YouTube viewer. People who have found your website may want to browse your archive of old technical videos about your products but your ideal YouTube viewer probably won’t.
Mix up your corporate and consumer content
Another classic mistake. Many companies seem to forget the difference between content aimed at a corporate audience and that aimed at your potential customers. These videos should be kept distinct from each other by placing them in different categories on your channel or, ideally if there are enough of them, in separate channels entirely.
Don’t order by popularity or recent activity
Structuring your YouTube channel is about giving your viewers what they want. Whilst your latest amazing video advert should definitely get pride of place above your other content, this isn’t because it’s more recent or popular than anything else, it’s because of its appeal to your viewers. As we’ve stated over and over in this guide, your YouTube channel is as much about your audience as it is about your company. Get them hooked on your content and the enquiries and sales will come naturally.
Article Contribution by: Jon Mowat is a former BBC Documentary Filmmaker and Managing Director of Hurricane Media, a video marketing and production company based in Bristol, England.