YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world after Google itself, and caters to 2 billion monthly users. This makes it the second most-preferred platform for watching among 18-34 year olds, with 70% of views determined by YouTube’s own recommendation algorithm. Sure, not everyone has the need to start a YouTube channel, but the numbers are pretty compelling if you want to get your brand in front of that audience.
While search priority can be divided into two basic factors, engagement and SEO, there is a lot that goes into the YouTube algorithm to push videos in front of viewers. Understanding these needs can put into place a strong strategy for your channel, and help determine what videos should be created and shared for maximum return.
Your audience & competition
One of the first things for any advertising platform is to define your audience. Although YouTube is no different in this aspect, because it is a social platform the landscape of competition can vary.
Take for example a food brand. While they may be competing against other food brands during a TV commercial or magazine ad, on YouTube their videos are competing against thousands of professional cooks and at-home makers who are all vying for more viewers and subscribers. Researching and understanding every type of competitor for your business can help you understand what content is already out there, and what part of that engages your audience the best.
Analyzing ranking & engagement
As we mentioned earlier, ranking can really come down to two things: engagement and SEO. YouTube wants to give fresh, exciting content to viewers that they’ll want to watch, and using a complex algorithm is how it is determined. While views is the top determination for their algorithm, followed by likes and subscribers, every element can play a part. Here is a breakdown of things to consider:
- Individual videos: While video views is the number one factor, YouTube also takes into account likes/dislikes, comments, video duration and estimated watch time.
- Full channel: Other factors include overall channel views, average views per day (channel and video), subscribers and channel comments.
- Keywords: Research should be done to ensure the best keyword match and amount for titles, descriptions and tags.
- Length: Length of any copy areas, including descriptions, tags and titles for channels and videos can also play a role in determining ranking.
- Power in numbers: The number of domain links, embedded links, channel videos and days since publication are all accounted for in YouTube’s algorithm.
Increasing subscribers & views
While video views are the most important factor for YouTube, for new players in the game other things need to stay in focus to get that viewership up.
Things like paid media, contests, website embeds, links from other social platforms or partnerships can all help push viewers to your videos without YouTube’s algorithm helping out. Once on your channel or video, it’s good to crosslink to your other content with end cards and thumbnails; or simply asking viewers to comment, like and subscribe can increase viewership organically.
Another important aspect is to stay engaged as a brand, to really build a community with your viewers. Viewers and subscribers will notice if you’re always asking for comments but never giving responses in return.
Here are some questions to ask to keep engagement top of mind:
- Do we have a face for these videos?
- Are we communicating with our audience/asking for feedback in comments?
- Do we ask viewers to like/subscribe?
- Are we talking about future content to get subscribers coming back?
- Have we found partnerships with other channels/influencers?
- Are we consistent with content/showing things subscribers want?
Nurturing engagement requires developing a community of loyal return visitors, meaning that strategy and questioning should be constantly reassess. Top YouTubers don’t stay at the top without keeping attune to their audience needs, analyzing their channel and video analytics, and making changes as needed. Keeping on top of these things will help your brand presence grow on YouTube, keep subscribers engaged, and help the platform share your content with new audience members.