Why Use YouTube?
Need help deciding if YouTube is right for your business?
In short, it is.
But if you're the kind that likes to have a list of reasons before taking action, then I just so happen to have a list of why your business should be using YouTube as part of your marketing mix.
YouTube is one of the largest search engines in the world, second only to Google. Each day there are well over a billion searches performed on this video platform. There's a strong likelihood that your ideal customers are part of those.
YouTube videos can rank in Google as well. So, plan it right and you can get rankings in both YouTube AND Google, capturing views and interested search traffic from both sources.
YouTube Videos Rank Better
YouTube is owned by Google. Perhaps that is why over 80% of the videos that rank in the top ten for video-related searches in Google are from YouTube, as opposed to other video platforms, embeds on websites or natively hosted video.
When visiting your site from your YouTube videos, people are much more qualified as a lead or potential buyer because they have already decided they like what you do by watching your video(s).
So, it's decided then? You're going to stake your claim (nod to YouTube great Brian G. Johnson) on YouTube and begin attracting your ideal customer via YouTube?
Then how do you begin?
Start by familiarizing yourself with the following best practices checklist. It will put you in the right frame of mind to research, create & promote solid videos that actually reach your target viewer.
YouTube Upload Checklist
Create an Engaging Video
I don't claim to know what's most engaging to your business's audience, but here are 9 hot tips from my buddy Brian G Johnson on creating a winning YouTube video structure that are guaranteed to tempt YouTube's algorithms to put you in front of more viewers.
1. Choose KWs that Show Specific Intent
The more you understand what a viewer wants, the more likely you'll create a video that keeps them engaged for the duration of the video. Ex: Instead of DIY Halloween Costume, target DIY Pirate Costume for Boys.
2. Hook the Viewer with the Promise
You HAVE to start your video with what the viewer wants if you want to keep them watching. Your video may be about YouTube Video Tags, but what those viewers really want is more views, so "You can absolutely get more views by using the right YouTube Tags on your videos." Start with what they're going to get out of your video. [15 sec max]
3. Branded Channel Intro
People don't care about your channel intro, so lead off with the hook and then roll your intro. [5 sec max]. Having your value proposition (if short) here too makes lots of sense. Brian Dean does a great job of this here.
4. Value Proposition w/ Subscribe Invite
Replace the underlined text in the following sentence with the answer to the question, "What makes your channel awesome? If you're new here, get more leads for your business for free by clicking subscribe and then the bell icon and you won't miss anything." Keep it short and to the point about why people should subscribe. This CTA simply plants the seed for later subscribe invitations and attaches it to the benefit of doing so.
5. Stimulating Video Delivery
Structure your video with bullet points or steps to keep people moving along and continuing watching. You can also encourage retention by saying things like "upcoming step that will help you get more subscribers," and "glad you made it this far by step 8 is a BIG DEAL," or by throwing in cultural references that you know your target audience will appreciate. Add stats if you have them to prove your points.
6. Subscriber Lower Third
Between 90 seconds to 2 minutes prompt the viewer again to subscribe.
7. Make it Easy to Comment
Embrace the community element of YouTube by asking simple questions that viewers can easily answer. Ex: Do you like ____ or ____? Let me know in the comments below. It's also like an ice breaker for new viewers to get them to engage.
8. End with Value Prop
DO NOT end with words like Thanks for watching or To recap. This will trigger people to leave your video, because you're telling them it's over. Instead, restate your initial value proposition and end with the call to subscribe (and click on the bell icon). Leave with the why. You can give them a little more at this point about how you plan on delivering on your value prop.
9. Ritual View Handoff
Tell the viewers what to watch next (another video of yours). Like the hook you started with above, state the benefit they'll get when watching the video you're inviting them to watch. Put that video with your verbal CTA in an end card so following through on your invite is simple and seamless. The next video should also somehow connect to the value the viewer is trying to get from the current video they just watched.
Create a Clickable Title
If your video's worth watching, then it's worth spending a good amount of time in keyword/title research to entice the click with an intriguing title. Your first goal in YouTube is to get the click and this in part happens with a good title.
Keyword Research: Use keywords that your audience is searching for and make sure your video delivers on the promise of that keyword. The most basic way to check this is typing your keyword into the YouTube search bar. If it auto populates in the dropdown, people are searching for it. You can also try using a tool like KeywordTool.io or Ahrefs' Keyword Explorer.
If the stakes are high and you're able, split test your video titles with Ads and use the one that gets the most clicks.
Keyword Placement: Keywords used at the beginning of the title hold more weight than keywords at the end, so put your most important keywords up front.
Make Safe, Clickable Thumbnails
Safe: Upload image to Google Cloud Vision and check for Safe Search. If your video enters restricted mode, you WILL lose almost all your traffic.
Correct Size: Ensure that your thumbnail shows up crisp and clear on all devices by publishing a high resolution version. Google recommends your image to be 1280 x 720 pixels, with a minimum width of 640 pixels. A ratio of 16:9 is ideal as it's used most often in YouTube players and previews.
Showcase People: Having a person in the thumbnail has been shown to get more clicks, specifically when you can see the whites of their eyes and also when they are displaying an emotion.
Channel Branding: Tie all your thumbnails together with the same branding style. Ideally all thumbnails will include your brand colors, possibly your logo as well as other easily identifiable icons/imagery of your brand.
Short Text: Shortening the benefit of your video into punchy text to overlay on the thumbnail can give your video the added boost it needs to stand out in search results and garner the click.
Strategically Add Tags
Tags help YouTube determine how relevant your video is for any given search query as well as how relevant it is to other videos.
The goal with your tag strategy is to own more of the suggested video spots on each of your videos. If you create videos with good viewer retention then the following tag strategy can help you show up more in search and own those coveted suggested video spots.
Tag Research: You want to use tags that are keywords that both directly represent what your video is about and that people are looking for. While looking at what other creators are using in their top performing videos is best practice, simply copying those tags won't do the trick here. Make sure to research all potential tags.
Three Sets: For each video you want to have three sets of tags:
- One set that you use for all your videos. These should be a subset of your channel tags and represent what all your videos are about. You can set these in your upload defaults.
- One set that you use for all videos in the same category
- One set that are unique to each video
Add a Keyword Rich Description
After your Thumbnail & Title, your video's description is the next most important factor in increasing your click through rate from YouTube search.
Increase CTR: Make sure that the first part, specifically the first 2 lines or roughly 100 characters, is enticing and shares why someone should watch your video over the others.
Include Keywords: Work keywords used in the video into a cohesive description that entices viewers to watch. Think of this as a mini blog post. 300 words is usually sufficient, but you can add more if you're on a roll. Test it out!
Invite to Subscribe: Add a link for viewers to subscribe. Add "?sub_confirmation=1" to the end of your channel URL for higher subscribe conversions. You could even use a url shortener to track clicks on these links.
Display CTAs: Whether or not your video has a verbal CTA to opt-in for some sort of bonus or value add, make sure to do it here. Instead of asking them to "subscribe to our newsletter" simply tell them to go to the link for their free gift. Make the call to action enticing, stating the benefit to the viewer. Sell the free.
Pitch Relevant videos: If you have other videos that could help someone learn more about what you just presented in the video, add a link to them here. You get bonus points for adding links to the videos inside a playlist.
List Your Social Accounts: You may consider listing other ways for people to connect with your business. Some people may just be visiting YouTube while Instagram is their platform of choice. You can let them know you're there. Keep in mind however that YouTube prizes keeping people on YouTube as much as possible, so you'll have to weigh the importance of getting another Facebook like or having better YouTube rankings.
Include Video Assets: If you mention any resources or data in the video, link to them in the description.
Credit Other Channels: If you collaborated with other video creators, make sure to link over to their channels.
Set Upload Defaults: You can add the basics that you'll use in each video to your upload defaults so that's set for all future videos.
Add an End Screen
Those who stick around to the end of your video are highly interested (assuming they didn't push play and then head to the restroom), so take advantage of that with a custom endscreen and clear CTAs.
Make it Custom: While it is possible to add an endscreen to existing videos, you'll want to design your video with these in mind.
Use Verbal CTAs: While your endscreens can simply display the CTAs listed above, creating a custom endscreen where you directly invite viewers to take action increases those who will.
Link to Videos: Directing the viewer to a related video of yours builds their affinity with your channel and they'll be more likely to see your videos suggested to them in the future. YouTube prizes watch time over just about any other stat.
When your video keeps viewers watching longer and then keeps them on YouTube after it's over, that video will get promoted more by YouTube. This means higher rankings in YouTube search, better placement in suggested videos and more visibility in browse.
Pro Tip: Link to your own video playlist on your endscreen and all the next up videos will be your own.
Invite to Subscribe: Add a subscribe button (at the very least) on your endscreen to increase those who will be more likely to be alerted to new videos. Subscribers will often have higher retention rates on your videos and be more inclined to interact with them by liking, commenting and sharing (all signals to YouTube that they should show it to more people).
Additionally, be sure to visually and/or verbally ask viewers to "click the bell" to be notified of when you post new videos.
Offsite CTAs: For most videos the goal should be to keep people watching, but don't be afraid to invite your watchers to go to your site to see more information in an associated blog post, download a free report or tool, or even to signup for a free account to try your services.
If you're creating solid videos that inform and entertain your audience, these kinds of CTA should feel natural and be welcomed.
Good End Screen Examples:
How to make an end screen (template included)
Upload Accurate Closed Captions
Captions are how YouTube can tell the actual content of a video. Unfortunately YouTube's auto captions aren't so accurate. So be sure to take the time to fix the auto captions or upload your own. If you need help, here's a video to show you how.
Add Info Cards
Add Info Cards in order to provide relevant external information to your video - a related video of yours or your website, etc. Think of it as linking in a blog post to an article that goes more in depth on the topic you're mentioning. It's even best practice to call out this resource in the video.
Promote! Promote! Promote!
If a video is worth creating, it's worth promoting. Some spend double the amount of time promoting a video as they do creating it.
As soon as you publish, be ready to drive as much traffic to the video as possible. During a video's initial 24 hours YouTube is taking notes on it's performance. If it does well, YouTube will begin recommending it more through their search & discovery system.
Consider each of the following ways to get your video in front of more people and add ways of your own to build your own promotion schedule for each video you publish. Not all of these tactics will apply for every video, but use what works.
- Send email to your subscribers
- Add to relevant Playlists
- Revisit older videos and add as an end card where appropriate
- Add to YouTube descriptions of relevant videos
- Direct message or email leaders in the industry
- Paid promotion
- Share in Facebook, LinkedIn groups
- Post in relevant Forums
- Pin to relevant Pinterest group boards you're a part of
- Add to Featured Content widget
- Reach out to influencers to promote
- If this video was a collaboration, alert those involved
- Leave comments (and links) on other people's videos
- Promote on social media accounts
- Build out several social posts targeting different benefits of the video and share over the next week
- Create a dedicated post/page on own website and embed
- Submit to relevant sub Reddits
- Contact 3rd party websites to embed
- Answer relevant questions on Quora with an embed/link to your video
If you're just beginning, you're bound to have questions after reading this. I'd be happy to answer those questions. Connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know how I can help.
Now that you've learned about best practices on Youtube, how about learning ways to navigate more efficiently on Youtube using Youtube Hotkeys? You're sure to learn hacks to improve your Youtube experience.
Ryan Mendenhall is an SEO Manager at Big Leap in Lehi, UT where he uses data driven strategies to drive meaningful SEO results for his clients. He loves to geek out on Google Sheets -- by using formulas & functions to tease out insights from data sets, & by creating templates to automate & simplify common SEO tasks & processes. He also blogs about SEO at MendenhallCreative.com.