Nearly one-third of all internet users are on YouTube. That is a massive amount of people! Most marketers and online video publishers use YouTube in some form or fashion, yet there are simple best practices that brands seem to ignore when it comes to their own YouTube channel.
As YouTube grows, so does the need to optimize content in order for it to reach a target audience. We spend a lot of money and time on our video strategies; take a little time to make sure your message gets distributed to the right people.
With this in mind, I’ve put together a list of some the easiest and most effective things brands can do to optimize their YouTube channel and content
Fill in the Blanks: YouTube’s algorithms are always evolving, but watch time is a huge part of how your videos get ranked in search results. Having strong metadata helps increase your overall watch time because it keeps viewers on your channel longer.
Many marketers only enter tags and titles for the videos they upload, but what you should really do is insert this metadata for the entire channel. Metadata helps users find your content when they’re searching for keywords that align with your channel.
You can find this field by navigating to YouTube settings, then selecting View Additional Features. (Image 1). On the left-hand side of the page, select Advanced. (Image 2). Here, enter important keywords that relate to your channel, rather than trying to jam all these into the About section.
Video publishers should take the time to populate this area and update it regularly. All of these tactics play into how your channel gets ranked.
Find the Right Time for Using Annotations and Cards: YouTube analytics are some of the best free metrics offered by any social media platform. It is extremely important to review these analytics and use them to refine your YouTube content strategy. One of my favorite tips that I offer brands is to take a deep look at the retention rate on videos. Analyze the point where viewers drop off in each video. (Image 3)
This point and time is a good indication of where to insert a card or annotation in your videos. This will ensure that your viewers are exposed to the card or annotation you’ve created. These interactive features can be powerful if used at the right place and time.
Additionally, publishers can go back to their past content and reposition cards and annotations to appear right before those drop-off peaks occur. This helps marketers get more out of their YouTube calls-to-action.
Turn Watermark Logos Into a Subscribe Button: If you’re not familiar with how to add watermarks to your video, check out this article for instructions. While this is a great tool for adding company branding to YouTube videos, it can also go a step further.
Rather than simply adding your logo, add some “Subscribe” or “Click Here” text and something visual to encourage viewers to click. When viewers click this logo/button, they are taken to a page where they’re prompted to subscribe to your YouTube channel.
Choose the option to have this watermark display throughout the entire length of your video. Adding the extra copy or visuals helps turn viewers into subscribers. (Image 4 and 5)
Use Tracking Links: One of the best ways to send viewers from your YouTube channel to a website, landing page, or other destination is by using hyperlinks in your video descriptions. Simply inserting http:// in front of a web address turns a URL into a hyperlink.
Using your actual web URLs are fine, but marketers can get better measurements with tracking links from Bit.Ly or Google URL Shortener. Create separate tracking links for different videos, campaigns, or series. That way, you can compare and see which videos are sending people back to your site.
This can help answer many of the ROI questions organizations raise when it comes to YouTube strategy. It can also help publishers determine if their video strategy isn’t meeting conversion goals and needs to change.
Build an Interactive End-Card: One of the mottos we live by at our agency is that video content needs to be produced with the end platform in mind. When it comes to YouTube, most marketers have two main goals: Gaining subscribers and having viewers watch more videos.
One way you can accomplish both is by building an interactive end-card for your videos. This is a screen or graphic that viewers will see, typically at the end of a video. There are several tutorials out there explaining how to build one, but the main takeaway is that you want to think about your end-card’s call-to-action at the beginning of the production process.
If you know that a version of your video is going to end up on YouTube, think about how to convert viewers into subscribers or how to encourage them to watch more of your YouTube channel content.
This can be done with a talent pointing on screen, a voice-over, visual graphics, or a combination of things. The examples below show different end-cards from YouTubers. These were built in the post-production phase, before the videos were uploaded. (Image 6, 7 and 8).
Keep in mind that less is more with end-cards. While you can promote countless things, it’s better to leave your audience with only a few choices rather than overwhelming them with too much.
Once you have the look you want, make these buttons/windows interactive with annotations and cards in the YouTube Creator Studio. Keep in mind that cards work on mobile devices, while annotations do not at the time of this writing. If you have a majority mobile audience, cards are your best option.
Whichever interactive features you choose, research how they work before building your end-cards. Not only do end-cards give your videos a branded look, but they also provide your audience with a clickable call-to-action.
Remember, videos get rewarded with higher YouTube search rankings when you have a dedicated audience that spends more time on your channel. End cards are great tool to help make this happen!