If you’re after more YouTube views, the good news is that they’re definitely out there for the taking. Despite the explosive, relentless growth of TikTok, Youtube is still a major draw for content creators, both because the audience is huge and because YouTube’s algorithm does a great job of filtering and feeding content to individual users.
The downside to this video behemoth is just that: It’s so huge that there’s no guarantee that anyone actually watches your video. That’s why you have to get savvy with framing and marketing your video content.
How to get your video seen on YouTube
Here are some important things to consider before you really start racking up views on YouTube.
- Find your personal brand. You’ll do better on YouTube (i.e. get more video views) if the site can more easily identify your niche. As a creative exercise, this is also a good way to create high quality content, since it’ll help you focus on a particular lane rather than rambling straight to camera (unless that’s your brand, no judgement). There are tons of things you can do to hone your brand. Consider coming up with a consistent color palette and visual style, using repeatable video formats, and doing some competitive research to find out what similar creators are doing and what you can borrow — or do differently.
- Do your homework. To show up in search results and boost your video rankings, you need to incorporate the language your audience is using to look for content in YouTube searches.. That means getting familiar with tools like Google Trends and Keyword Planner to figure out which words are most associated with your topic area. After all, YouTube is essentially a search engine, and that means your YouTube SEO game has to be strong.
- Make your copy pop. As essential as SEO is in getting the platform to surface your content, nobody is going to click on a video with a title that’s essentially just a string of target keywords. Your video titles and video descriptions should incorporate keywords while also getting potential viewers intrigued and excited. Use a little artistry to tease something exciting or provocative, or ask a question your audience can’t help investigating.
- Invest in your thumbnails. In addition to the video title, the thumbnail is the first exposure potential viewers will have to your video, so it should look good! Don’t just pull in a random screen grab. Instead, create custom thumbnails with bright, appealing imagery. Throw some copy on there that plays off your title in a fun way — but don’t make it too text-heavy. Your thumbnail doesn’t need to be a work of art, it just needs to grab some eyeballs.
- Frontload your videos. One easy way to boost your watch time is to jump right into the action. You know those episodes of TV that start with an insane, high-octane moment and then flash back 24 hours? That’s the general idea. If you start with what’s most interesting, people will stick around even if the video has some slow parts, because they know there’s something big in store later on.
- Create playlists. Playlists on YouTube are great for two reasons. First, playlists set up a viewing scenario where your videos will play automatically one after another, meaning you don’t have to worry about getting your viewer to go back to your page. Second, the algorithm likes them, pure and simple. Make sure the theme of your playlist is compelling and you may find that it becomes a view-generating machine.
- Make the most of Youtube’s push features. You can (and should!) link out to other videos on your channel directly from your video. There are two ways to do this. The first is by using in-video cards. They’re kind of like pop-up ads, but it’s totally possible to do them in a way that’s unobtrusive and organic, rather than spammy. For example, if you make a passing reference to a topic you cover more in another video, a quick card in the corner can invite viewers to learn more. The second method is the end screen, a quick still at the end of your video into which you can embed links to other videos on your page. Think of the end screen as part of your brand: If you jazz it up and make it about what your channel has to offer, you have a much better shot of keeping a viewer’s eyeballs on you.
- Cross-promote. YouTube isn’t the whole world. In fact, there’s a whole social media universe out there for you to put at your disposal. If you already have significant followings on Instagram or Twitter, don’t forget to promote your YouTube presence there to let all of your fans know about all the other content you have for them.
Even if you do all of the above, be prepared for your channel to take a little time to catch on. Build your social networks within the platform; comment on like-minded creators’ content and really immerse yourself in the YouTube ecosystem. Most of all, don’t go into this kind of endeavor with the idea of getting rich and famous immediately, if at all. The first step should be having fun and expressing yourself in a medium that you enjoy. Everything else is icing on the cake.
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