Best Tips and Practices to Optimize Your YouTube Channel

June 01, 2022 Mihaela Lica Butler

Using YouTube as a business marketing channel - not just for Video Ads - may be a bright idea. Consider that 68% of YouTube users watch YouTube before making a purchase decision (Think with Google). So, no matter your niche, if your purpose is not to entertain but to gain leads and customers, you can use your YouTube channel creatively and influence the purchase decision.

Simply making a YouTube account and creating a channel is not enough to reach an audience. Like everything you do online, you must invest time and effort to succeed.

Websites need SEO to rank well in Google Search. Likewise, channels - and even independent YouTube videos - need optimization to reach app users, YouTube searchers, and users who prefer regular search engines.

Although we tend to think of YouTube as an entertainment platform, it is, in fact, the world's second-largest search engine. The only difference between Google Search and YouTube is that the latest focuses on, well... video. And Google owns YouTube. You will need YouTube SEO to run a successful channel.

To measure success, you should take into account the number of your subscribers, the popularity of your videos, and interactions (likes, dislikes, comments, and shares). Please consider that these are all ranking factors and count for your YouTube optimization strategy.

YouTube Ranking Factors Explained

Since Google owns YouTube, you can expect some similarities with the Google search engine ranking factors. However, YouTube has AI algorithms that determine how channels and videos rank.

"We make decisions and tweaks and updates to our recommendation and ranking algorithms all the time, multiple times a month, just to make it work better and better for our users," said YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan in an interview with The Verge. "But we have a set of core north star principles and metrics by which we govern that. And they are driven by things like viewer satisfaction, engagement from our viewers, the feedback that we get directly from our viewers in those little surveys that you see in the app on a regular basis," he added.

So, the YouTube ranking factors you should consider when you optimize your channel include:

  • Viewer satisfaction: user surveys and direct response metrics like shares, likes, dislikes, downloads, saves, and flags.
  • Viewer engagement: includes all the above plus watch time (or how long a user watches a video before moving on to another or leaving YouTube).
  • Video length: in YouTube's channel sense, the longer your videos, the better. Aim for something above ten minutes to rank higher. Of course, your video content must be relevant, entertaining, and persuasive.
  • The number of subscribers: the more, the merrier. YouTube channels with many subscribers are "authority channels" the platform trusts and prioritizes in rankings.

YouTube SEO Tips

Begin your YouTube SEO strategy with keyword research using a tool like Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, which can accurately estimate keyword volumes for YouTube. Once you have your keywords, you can apply some of the following tips to optimize your YouTube channel for maximum reach.

  • Add a keyword to your YouTube channel name. Your channel's name will act as a meta title for the YouTube page where it is displayed. Like optimizing titles for website pages, try to bring the keyword as close to the title's beginning. For example: "Channel name: title."
  • Add a compelling company description to your channel's about page. You can write anything you deem representative of your brand, including your corporate values and benefits for your clients. Note that the first 48 characters of the About page appear in YouTube search results, so you will want them to be catchy and to the point. It would help to include your primary keyword phrase at the beginning of the description.
  • Take advantage of the Advanced Settings feature in YouTube Studio and use the 100 characters available to add channel keywords and tags.
  • Create a compelling channel trailer. Keep it short: its purpose is to offer viewers an introduction to your channel, business, and services and to encourage them to subscribe.
  • Populate your channel with lengthy videos. Remember that length is a ranking factor and develop video content that is longer than 10 minutes. Hook your viewers with an interesting fact in the first 15 seconds to keep them interested and willing to watch longer.
  • Create playlists and categorize them using popular keywords. Playlists will likely help you increase viewing time because many users enjoy "play all" instead of worrying about what to play next.
  • YouTube's AI is capable of understanding sound - including voice and music. If you use your keywords while you talk, you optimize the audio content of your video.
  • Create keyword-rich captions, subtitles, and annotations - but avoid keyword-stuffing, which is a spammy optimization strategy. Your videos may require more work if you add subtitles, but they will look more professional than those that allow automatic captions. Accessibility (for hearing-disabled viewers) is a bonus that enhances the viewer experience on your channel.
  • Include your keyword in your video file name. Replace the random file name generated by the software you use to create your video with something more specific. Use the keywords that are the most relevant for your content.
  • Write attention-grabbing, keyword-focused video titles.
  • Write compelling video descriptions that include your keywords or keyword variations. Try to be creative and concise. Although YouTube allows descriptions of up to 5000 characters, everything over 100 characters will not show in search results. With this in mind, make the first sentence of your description count and include a call to action to inspire users to click and watch your video.
  • Go live: live videos tend to have a lot of engagement from viewers, especially if your channel has enough subscribers. You can even monetize your YouTube livestreams by running Google Ads. Of course, when you run ads, you risk alienating your viewers. So, use this moneymaking opportunity with caution. However, with live videos, you do not need to invest in post-production or spend precious hours of your business time editing. If you are a natural in front of the camera, you will appreciate this format.

These are just some essential tips and practices to optimize your YouTube channel. So, instead of a conclusion, we leave you with this: if you want an example of a properly optimized channel, look at YouTube Creators.