The YouTube algorithm has one goal — to get the right videos in front of the right audience. And, with over 500 hours of video content uploaded to YouTube every minute, some videos are expected to perform better than others.
For advisors, navigating the algorithm feels like another complicated step to create video content.
To help make the process easier, we’ve broken down the exact steps you can follow to optimize your videos for YouTube’s algorithm.
You’ll learn to:
So, if this is your first step into video marketing, or you’ve been making videos for a while, you’re in the right place.
How Does the YouTube Algorithm Work?
Like most other social channels, YouTube wants to attract visitors and keep them on their site. It’s how they make money after all.
For that reason, YouTube’s algorithm is designed to provide relevant, high-performing video content to provide a returning user base.
So before we optimize your videos, let’s look at the factors that influence the algorithm:
With so much video content available, YouTube’s algorithm wants to make sure it’s providing the right content. It does this by looking at video metadata, like titles, descriptions and tags to get more context.
A video may be relevant, but that doesn’t mean it will perform well. Overall user engagement comes into play, things like views, comments, likes, etc.
Optimizing your videos for the YouTube algorithm means addressing relevancy and performance. Luckily, YouTube’s analytics can help guide the way. Let’s look at YouTube’s analytics page to see what YouTube measures for success, then look at some ways to improve these metrics.
How To Find Your YouTube Analytics
Your YouTube Analytics is located within your YouTube Studio. Here’s how you can locate your YouTube Analytics:
- Navigate to YouTube.
- Make sure you’re logged into your YouTube account. Once you are, click your account logo in the upper-left and select YouTube Studio.
- You will now be at your YouTube Studio Dashboard. Navigate to the left-side menu and click Analytics.
- Here you will find 4 tabs. Each tab provides detailed information about your channel and videos.
Your analytics is broken down into 3 larger categories — Reach, Engagement and Audience. The metrics under each category show how well your channel is performing, as well as some potential improvements.
The following tips will help improve your analytics and appeal to the YouTube Algorithm.
How to Master the YouTube Algorithm for Higher Rankings
1. Hone Your Channel’s Message
Consider what makes your channel unique. You may fall into a category, but what about your videos are different from others?
Start with your firm’s values and story. Both will help your channel stand out from others. Once you’ve determined what makes your channel unique, there are two main locations you can highlight it.
The first location is your main channel video. This can be a video describing what your channel offers or spotlights your most recent or high-performing video. Here’s Twenty Over Ten’s main channel video:
The second is your channel banner. It’s one of the first things people will see and should tell readers two things — what does your channel offer and how is it unique? Here’s the channel banner for Twenty over Ten’s YouTube Channel:
2. Perform Keyword Research
Keywords impact every step in video creation. They help determine your title, write a script and description, and decide the right tags. The keywords you choose impact how YouTube categorizes your videos.
There are three ways to determine the right keywords for your video. Use these to search for terms related to your topic, and list at least 3 for each video you create.
- YouTube’s suggested searches. These are the terms that appear in the search bar beneath your current search. Make sure to look at the videos that also come up under this search, to get more context on the type of content tied to this keyword.
- Google Trends. You can use this to see how popular a term might be. Keywords perform differently on YouTube compared to Google, so make sure to set the search for “YouTube Search” before deciding a keyword.
- Google Search. Google search will sometimes provide YouTube videos. If a video shows up on the results page, especially near the top, then the keyword is great for external searches and traffic.
Try to also select specific keywords. The more specific the keyword, the less competition you’ll have.
Beyond including keywords in all of your written material, make sure to also include them in your YouTube video’s tags. This section provides a perfect space to include the keywords you’re targeting. As an example, here is the tags section for one of our videos:
3. Create CTR Boosting Thumbnails
Thumbnails are important for YouTube search and the recommended sidebar.
In terms of analytics, thumbnails help improve your click-through rate, which indicates to the algorithm that users are interested in your content.
Thumbnails that improve click-through-rate follow 3 simple rules:
- They contain a person.
- Include a large, eye-catching title.
- Are emotive and dynamic.
Here are a few examples:
4. Create Short and Long Videos
The YouTube algorithm measures both average watch time and total watch time. To improve channel performance, you’ll want a mix of long and short videos. Longer videos will provide overall watch time to your channel, while shorter videos will make it easier to sustain viewer engagement.
Both metrics are measured in the Engagement section of your YouTube analytics:
So, once you’ve released a video, make sure to watch it in its entirety.
5. Post Consistently
How often you post will depend on the performance of your channel. For example, we noticed better video performance when we posted content once a week, rather than twice.
The result was an increase in channel subscriptions:
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create more or less content. Instead, create a schedule that emphasizes quantity, while prioritizing quality. Quantity will provide an opportunity to grow your channel, while quality will ensure the algorithm recommends your video.
It should also be noted that subscribers are an indication that viewers are enjoying your content. But, subscribers do not affect your video’s performance unless they watch the video.
6. Use Effective Titles
Use your keyword research to determine what sort of video title you want to use. Once you’ve chosen your keywords, make sure to use as much of your title space as you can to make it easy to search for your video.
You will also want to include your chosen keywords in your video script. Including them here provides YouTube with more context to help your videos get in front of your audience.
For example, check out this video from our channel that appears in the top results for “financial advisor marketing” on YouTube:
7. Take Advantage of Your Description
Like your titles, use as much of your description space as possible. You can include a variety of things in the description space.
Here are some things you can include:
- A summary of your video. Naturally, your description should include a video summary. Make sure to include the keywords you’re targeting here.
- Links to other resources. You can include a link to your website or other videos.
- Social media links. Include your social media to increase followers.
- Chapters and timestamps: Videos can be separated into chapters. Each chapter can be labeled to help SEO. This is best for longer videos, and here’s how you can do it.
- Transcript. YouTube has trouble understanding voice in videos. Text can help resolve this, and a transcript will provide the most context.
- Hashtags. More on this later, but hashtags can help specify a video category. You’ll want to focus on no more than 3 related hashtags.
8. Keep an Eye On Your Video Timeline
YouTube tracks of audience retention, showing you how often viewers are engaged with your content. The first 30 seconds of your video are incredibly important, as views are only counted at 30 seconds and beyond. You’ll want to catch your audience’s attention during that time.
You can do that by cutting right to the core of your message. Don’t provide elongated intros.
You can also improve audience retention by examining spikes in engagement for specific videos. For example, let’s look at this video and its corresponding engagement from our channel.
Here’s the video:
What we’re looking for in this timeline is spikes and dips in engagement. These points indicate what our audience is interested in (and what they’re not interested in). By examining these locations in the video timeline we can see what sort of content our viewers find helpful.
9. Encourage Viewer Engagement
Viewer engagement includes comments, likes and new subscriptions. Asking for each of these in your video is a good approach.
You can also help increase engagement by actually engaging. Like and reply to viewer comments, open your comment section with a pinned question from you, etc.
You can also ask viewers to set up your channel for alerts, pushing your content to them whenever you post something new.
10. Add Cards and End Screens
Cards and end screens improve the click-through rate (CTR) of your videos. Cards typically appear at any point in your video. They can lead to similar content, like a link in a blog post, and appear as an “i” icon in a video. Here’s what a card window looks like when clicked:
End screens appear near the end of your video. Like cards, they lead viewers to other content, but only after they’ve watched the current video. Cards are far more minimal, while end screens provide the advantage of displaying your entire thumbnail. Here’s what an end screen look like this in the same video as above:
Including both of these in your videos can improve the views and view time of your other content.
Wrapping Things Up
Using the tips above along with your YouTube Analytics will not guarantee channel growth. Instead, it will provide you with the tools you need to improve your channel’s overall performance to achieve higher rankings. With that in mind, the success of your channel will always come down to the quality of your content. If you provide engaging and educational videos, then you’re on the right track.
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About The Author
Stuart is a Content Marketing Specialist at Twenty Over Ten and enjoys creating content that both entertains and educates. A Game Designer at heart, he can be found pursuing one of his many hobbies during his free time.