4 YouTube Basics That Will Change Your Channel Forever

4 YouTube Basics That Will Change Your Channel Forever

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By James Houser

Have you checked your YouTube channel lately?

Let me guess, your views are from either yourself or those within your inner circle… am I right? Okay, maybe you are a bigger brand and you’re getting a few stragglers here and there, but let’s not be crazy and call this any sort of a success.

So, what makes a YouTube channel a success? Everyone will tell you great content is the key to success. But your content won’t be perceived as great if it can’t be found or people dismiss your content before giving it a chance.

In the rest of this article, I will show you, with examples, the YouTube basics for running a successful channel.

Let’s start with the easy, yet essential, stuff first.

1. Video titles

Every video needs a title, just like every website needs a title tag, or every story needs a headline. The title needs to be searchable both from a bot standpoint and from a user standpoint. One without the other just won’t work.

Consider it this way. If you make a click-worthy title that gets people to open your video but is not tied to the appropriate content, you are going to:

  1. Lose people fast (Google/YouTube values those videos/channels that attain longer viewership of each video)
  2. Annoy people (you may want to turn off those comments)

Both of which should not be your primary goal. On the other hand, if you were to keyword stuff a title, you may get top SERP (search engine results page) rankings but the end user may think the title doesn’t make sense so they don’t click on the title.

Here are a few things to consider when creating your video titles:

Maximum Length = 100 characters

  • Primary keyword should be placed towards the front of the title.
  • Consider including the year in the title if applicable and if people may be looking for current videos.

Example Video Title 1:

Primary Keyword: Rogue One Trailer

Video Content: The released trailer for Star Wars: Rogue One

Title: ROGUE ONE: A Star Wars Story TRAILER (2016)

Example Video Title 2:

Primary Keyword: Rogue One Leaked Trailer

Video Content: In-depth look at a leaked trailer from Star Wars: Rogue One

Title: ROGUE ONE LEAKED TRAILER 2 Breakdown! Darth Vader Details! A Star Wars Story Movie (2016)

2. Video description

Creating a thorough and accurate description of each video you create is as important as correctly crafting the title. YouTube allows enough space to achieve two important tasks:

  • Optimize your video for better rankings.
  • Drive viewers to your other properties (social, website, other videos, etc..).

I look at a lot of YouTube channels both for work and for pleasure, and you know what one of the easiest yet poorly implemented section is? That’s right, the video descriptions.

Below are a few things that I consider as must haves:

Maximum Length ~ 1000 words

  • Start with a brief summary of the video (think meta description length ~ 160).
  • Link to your subscriber opt-in and website (full HTML link structure – i.e. http://domain.com).
  • Provide longer video descriptions (200-300 words).
  • Add contact and social links.
  • Add additional reference links that were mentioned in the video.
  • Offer additional links to other channel videos that are similar in theme.
  • Consider separating sections via special characters (i.e.: ******* or ► ► ► ► ► ►).

Example Video Description:

Video Location: https://youtu.be/Ze2kpOZx_kU

Current Views: 4 Million

Example Video Description:

Video Location: https://youtu.be/cAOkvvM43pk

Current Views: 3 Million

3. Tags

All of these steps have the goal to help viewers find your content first. Tags are no exception. Correctly tagging your videos helps YouTube match viewer’s search queries with your content bringing your videos to the top of the search results.

Maximum Length = 500 characters

Things to consider when tagging:

  • Make sure to use as many of the 500 characters as possible. If you need help in determining additional tags, look for similar/competing videos (P.S. your competitors will hate this!).
  • You can find the tags being used via the source codes within the video URLs:
    • Step 1: Right Click on YouTube page for the video you want to inspect.
    • Step 2: Choose Inspect Source at the bottom of the drop-down menu.
    • Step 3: Click Cltr + F.
    • Step 4: Enter text video:tag.
    • Step 5: Use Tags.

Example tags:

Example source code (tag search):

4. Branded watermark

Putting your brand out there front and center is a great way to stay consistent with your branding efforts across multiple videos, while subtly reminding your audience who created the video.

Branded Watermarks will allow your viewers another way to subscribe to your channel. By hovering over a watermark, an unsubscribed viewer will be given the option to subscribe. If that viewer has already subscribed, they will not be given the option to subscribe again. Note: This only becomes an option on a desktop or laptop.

Here are the steps for including a branded watermark with your videos:

Step 1: Go to the Channel/Branding Menu

Step 2: Click on the “Add a watermark” button

Step 3: Upload a watermark image and click save

Step 4: Select watermark display time and click the “update” button

Example Branded Watermark:

Branded Watermark – Pre-Mouse Hover

Branded Watermark – Post-Mouse Hover (Unsubscribed User)

Here is a perfect example of how a Broadway discount ticketing site has blended their watermark to fit the look and feel of the original video without taking away from it. The hover animation also happens to bring the subscribe button to the forefront in contrasting colors.

Video Link: https://youtu.be/ModU0UmcnQw

Example Branded Watermark 2:

Branded Watermark – Pre-Mouse Hover

Branded Watermark – Post-Mouse Hover (Unsubscribed User)

Video Link: https://youtu.be/cAOkvvM43pk

For further information on branded watermarks see: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/6147757?hl=en

Moving forward

Acting on the YouTube basics advice I have made here is a great start to fully optimizing your videos. You should see your viewership rise by implementing these simple steps.

There are many more steps you can follow to optimize your videos even further, too many to list in this article. For a more fully developed list of YouTube video optimization techniques download the Reflexive Media YouTube Guide.

Guest author: James Houser is former Navy and proud father of two. He has a 5yr old son who is currently training to become a Jedi and a 2 and half year-old daughter who is already prepared to rule the galaxy as Darth Vader’s apprentice. When James isn’t building forts, or being used as a climbing gym by his kids, he enjoys all things SEO related, gaming, and listening to the Truth & Justice Podcast. Follow him @sifuhouser.

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