How to Grow Your YouTube Channel in 2021

How to Grow Your YouTube Channel in 2021

Brian Dean

by Brian Dean · Updated Mar. 27, 2020

How to Grow Your YouTube Channel

Today I’m going to show you how to grow your YouTube channel in 2021.

This is the same step-by-step process that I used to grow my channel to 390,000 subscribers:

Backlinko – YouTube subscribers

And in this guide you’re going to learn exactly how to get more views and subscribers.

Let’s dive right in.

Step #1: Find Untapped Video Keywords

When it comes to YouTube, video keyword research is SUPER important.

Choose the RIGHT keywords?

Your videos rocket to the top of YouTube.

Choose the WRONG keywords?

Your videos get buried in the search results.

For example, one of the videos from my channel ranks #1 in YouTube for “YouTube Views”.

Backlinko ranks first for "YouTube views"

And largely thanks to that #1 ranking, that video generates 117k views every month.

Video analytics – Total views

With that, here’s how to find keywords for YouTube.

1. First, create a list of “Seed Keywords”

Seed Keywords are terms that describe super broad topics.

For example, if you were in the digital marketing space, your Seed Keywords would be things like:

  • Social Media
  • LinkedIn Marketing
  • Facebook Page
  • Content Marketing

And if you ran a fitness site, your Seed Keyword list would look like this:

  • Fat Loss
  • Kettlebell Workout
  • Paleo Diet
  • Cardio Workout

See how that works? These are broad topics that you can create videos about.

Now, to be clear:

You’re not going to optimize your videos around any of these terms (they’re too competitive).

But a list of Seed Keywords is SUPER helpful for the next step.

Speaking of…

2. Next, Pop Your Seed Keywords Into YouTube Search

Now it’s time to turn a seed keyword into dozens of long tail keywords.

How?

YouTube Suggest.

This works just like Google.

Pop a Seed Keyword into YouTube…

…and check out the keywords that YouTube suggests.

YouTube suggests – Long keywords

If you want to scale this process, head over to KeywordTool.io.

Keyword Tool – Kettlebell

When you enter a seed keyword into this tool, it’ll spit out hundreds of terms from YouTube Suggest.

Keyword Tool – Kettlebell results

At this point, you should have a bunch of long tail keywords.

Question is: which keywords should you pick?

That’s what step #3 is all about…

3. Finally, It’s Time For YouTube Competition Analysis

Just like with Google, you want to optimize your videos around keywords that:

a) Get lots of searches

and

b) Aren’t super competitive

How do you find these magical keywords?

An awesome Chrome extension called TubeBuddy.

TubeBuddy tool

(VidIQ also works well)

This tool shows you stats for each keyword right in the search results:

TubeBuddy results

That way, you know whether or not a keyword is too competitive…

TubeBuddy competition stats

…BEFORE you make your video.

Pretty cool.

OK, so you found a keyword. Nice!

Now it’s time for the fun stuff: creating your video.

Step #2: Create Videos Optimized For “Watch Time”

YouTube’s #1 goal is to keep people on YouTube.

(After all, the more time people spend on YouTube, the more money they make from ads)

And that’s why YouTube’s algorithm puts so much emphasis on Watch Time.

Never heard of Watch Time? Here’s a simple explanation:

WT

Watch Time

noun

Definition

The total time spent watching a YouTube video since it went live.

Simple.

And here’s what that report looks like in YouTube Analytics:

YouTube studio – Watch time

As you might expect, YouTube LOVES videos that rack up lots of Watch Time.

In fact, YouTube has gone on the record saying that:

“Watch time is measured in cumulative minutes watched, and each video uploaded – as well as every channel on YouTube – is “ranked” by watch time. Channels and videos with higher watch times are likely to show up higher in search results and recommendations.”

– YouTube Creator Academy

In short: the more time people spend watching your video, the higher it will rank.

The question is:

HOW do you create videos that keep people watching?

Let’s find out…

1. Publish LONG videos

I don’t care what the “experts” say.

Long videos perform better than short videos.

And there’s data to back this up. We conducted the largest YouTube ranking factors study ever (we analyzed over a million YouTube videos).

What did we find?

That longer videos tend to outrank short videos.

YouTube video length

And this data confirms what I’ve seen with my own two eyes.

Back in the day, I only published short videos like this:

Short video example

And that’s one of the main reasons that my videos were practically invisible on YouTube.

Today? I focus on packing as much value as I can into a single video.

Which means that my new videos tend to be at least 10 minutes:

YouTube video length

And because my videos are so long, they rack lots of Total Watch Time automatically.

2. Cut out the fluff from your intros

According to YouTube, the first 15 seconds of your video is KEY.

The first 15 seconds of your video is key

In other words, your intro needs to grab your viewer by the eyeballs.

(And you have 15 seconds to do it)

Back in the day, my video intros had A LOT of background info.

For example:

Here’s an intro from one of my early videos (before I knew what I was doing):

Now check out this fluff-free intro from one of my latest videos:

See the difference?

Again:

My intro previews exactly what you’re gonna learn. No background. No fluff.

And that effective intro is one of the reasons that this video racked up over 143k of watch time minutes in 30 days:

YouTube – Total watch time

As you can see, your video’s intro is really important.

But there’s another GREAT way to increase Watch Time that I haven’t mentioned yet.

Which leads us to…

3. Incorporate “Pattern Interrupts” into your videos.

Want people to watch your video all the way to the end?

Use Pattern Interrupts.

Seriously. They work insanely well.

In fact, Pattern Interrupts are one of the main reasons that my Audience Retention tends to be so high:

YouTube average view duration

So: what are Pattern Interrupts?

PI

Pattern Interrupts

noun

Pattern Interrupts are elements in your video that are different than the rest of your video (they literally "interrupt" the "pattern").

Pattern Interrupts can be things like:
  • On-screen graphics
  • Animations
  • New background or setting
  • B rolls
  • Different camera angles
  • Sound effects
  • Bulleted List
  • And more

How about an example…

My old YouTube videos didn’t use ANY Pattern Interrupts:

As you can see, this video is super static.

It uses pretty much the same exact shot the entire time.

(The video also lacks visuals, cuts to different shots… or anything else to break up the pattern)

Flash forward to today, and it’s Pattern Interrupts galore.

My videos use tons of B rolls:

You’ve got on-screen graphics and animations that explain key concepts.

And it should come as no surprise that these changes helped push my average view duration up to a very solid 4 minutes, 55 seconds.

4. Script Every Line

This is a biggie.

Unless you’re one of those people that drops the mic at the end of every conversation, you need to script out your videos.

(Or at least follow a detailed outline)

In the early days of my channel, I’d would fire up the camera and start talking:

(There’s also the issue of my hair. And my shirt. But that’s another story 🙂 )

Sure, I knew the general points I wanted to cover.

But I didn’t have a script. And that made it hard for people to follow along with my tips.

Today, I know better. That’s why I outline and script my videos before I shoot.

In case you’re curious, here’s what one of my scripts look like:

Typed out video script

Because I script every single line in advance, my delivery is super crisp.

(Which keeps people watching)

Step #3: Optimize Your YouTube Videos

You already know that YouTube SEO is important.

So let’s dive right into the steps.

1. Keyword-optimized your video title

Here’s the deal:

Keyword-optimized video titles aren’t as important as they used to be.

In fact, our YouTube ranking factors study found a weak relationship between keyword-rich titles and rankings:

Exact match title

That said, using a keyword in your title DOES help (a little). So I recommend doing it.

For example, one of my videos is targeting the keyword “SEO tips”.

So I make sure to use that exact term in my title.

Target keyword in video title

2. Write titles designed to maximize CTR

Unlike Google, YouTube has confirmed that they use click-through-rate as a ranking signal.

In fact, a YouTube research paper states that, when it comes to recommending videos to users:

“To evaluate recommendation quality we use a combination of different metrics. The primary metrics we consider include click through rate (CTR), long CTR (only counting clicks that led to watches of a substantial fraction of the video)…”

– The YouTube video recommendation system,
Research Gate

Put another way:

The more people click on your video, the more YouTube will promote it.

YouTube will promote videos that more people click on

The question is: HOW do you do it?

You want to write titles that have a clear benefit…

Optimize title for CTR

…without resorting to clickbait.

Avoid clickbait

3. Write keyword-rich, SEO-friendly video descriptions

Most video descriptions on YouTube are REALLY short:

Short YouTube video description

According to YouTube, short descriptions like this really hurt your video SEO.

In fact, they officially recommend long descriptions:

“Write full descriptions: up to one to two paragraphs.

Some creators only put their social media links in the description, potentially missing out on a lot of extra views.”

– YouTube Creator Academy

Which is why I write in-depth descriptions for every video that I upload to my channel.

Detailed YouTube video description

4. Optimize your video tags

It’s no secret that YouTube tags are HUGE for SEO.

But how do you optimize them, exactly?

  • Use 2-3 tags that include your target keyword… and close variations.

    Use 2 to 3 keywords for video tags

  • Add 2 tags that describe your video’s topic using words that aren’t in your main keyword.

    Add 2 more non-keyword video tags

  • Add 1-2 tags that represent your high-level industry or vertical.

    Add 1 to 2 more industry keywords to video tags

For example, check out this video from my channel that’s optimized around the keyword “link building”.

A handful of my keywords are either my actual keyword or long tail versions of that term.

Video keyword tags

Others are other ways of describing my video’s topic.

Video topic description tags

And three of them give YouTube context about my video’s broad, overall category.

Video category tags

Step #4: Use Thumbnails That Stand Out

YouTube reports that “90% of the best performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails.” That’s LEGIT.)

YouTube reports – 90 percent of best performing videos have custom thumbnails

How do you create eye-catching Youtube thumbnails?

Here are two quick tips that are working really well right now.

First, use lots of contrast.

You want the colors in your thumbnail to clash as much as possible.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

BrightSide – Video thumbnail example

See how all of the different colors in the thumbnail stand out?

In fact, they even add tiny borders between text and objects to increase this contrast.

BrightSide – Video thumbnail details

Second, use colors that stand out on YouTube.

As you know, the YouTube platform is mostly red, white and black.

Youtube brand colors

So to stand out, you want to use colors that aren’t red, white and black in your thumbnails.

Use non-YouTube colors to stand out

Step #5: Create (and Promote) Optimized Playlists

Playlists are an underrated way to get more views (and subscribers).

Why?

Playlists dramatically increase your “Session Time”.

Session Time is the amount of time someone spends on YouTube after they start watching your video.

And Session Time is a ranking factor that YouTube cares about… A LOT.

In fact, YouTube says this about Session Time:

“Your channel also gets a boost when people watch anything anywhere in YouTube after watching your content.

…and when you make content that makes people watch more from your channel, then you’re helping us out.”

– YouTube Creator Academy

For example, let’s say someone starts watching a video from your channel.

And right after they’re done, they close their browser.

User closes browser after watching video

Your video is causing people to LEAVE YouTube. So they’re going to demote that video.

On the other hand:

Let’s say someone starts watching your video. And after they’re done, they watch another video.

User watches another video after watching a video

This time, your video is KEEPING people on YouTube. So they’re going to promote it.

And that’s where playlists come in…

When someone’s done watching a video in a playlist, it automatically plays another video.

Videos in a playlist will auto play after watching a video

In other words, playlists automatically improve your Session Time.

That’s why I curate my videos into playlists…

Backlinko – YouTube channel playlists

…and show them off on my channel page.

Playlists on channel home page

Step #6: Promote Videos To Your Audience

You already know that YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine.

But that doesn’t mean you can just upload a bunch of optimized videos and expect to rank.

Just like with blog content, you need to give your YouTube videos a little “push” to get going.

That push can include sharing clips of your video on social media.

Share video on Twitter

Sending an announcement to your email list.

YouTube video – Announcement email

Or even promoting your videos using email outreach.

If your video is optimized for Watch Time, that initial push is all you need to get going. YouTube will pretty much take care of the rest.

That said:

No amount of promotion can make up for a bad video.

For example, a few years ago I published this video.

SEO strategy video

Because I promoted that video on social media and to our email subscribers, that video got a view spike in the first few days.

View spike on first few days after publishing

Unfortunately, that video wasn’t all that great (at least according to folks on YouTube).

Which is why that video barely gets any views today.

Video analytics showing few views

So yeah, promoting your YouTube videos is a key part of growing your channel. But it only works long-term if you have awesome video content in the first place.

Step #7: Turn Viewers Into Subscribers

The steps that I outlined so far should help you get more views.

But views is only one part of growing your YouTube channel.

The other part? Getting more subscribers.

One of the best ways to get more subscribers is to add a subscribe button to your End Screen.

Here’s an example from my channel.

Backlinko – Subscribe button at end of video

Obviously, only a small fraction of viewers will make it all the way to the end of your video.

But those people that DO watch your entire video are super primed to subscribe.

People that watch your video are primed to subscribe

And that End Screen button makes it easy for them to subscribe to your channel.

Bonus Step: Rank Videos in Google Search

Ranking your YouTube videos in Google is a GREAT way to get more views.

In fact, 34.6% of my “External” views come from Google search.

The majority of external traffic from Google search

And the best way to rank your videos in Google?

Target keywords that already have a video section in the SERPs.

As an example, the keyword “video SEO” has a video section.

Video SEO – SERP video results

When you see a video section, you know that Google wants to show people video results for that term.

And if your video performs well enough on YouTube, Google may start to show your video in the SERPs.

For example, one of my YouTube videos ranks in the top 3 of YouTube for “ “How to get more views on YouTube”.

YouTube SERP – How to get more views on YouTube

That same video also ranks in Google for that keyword.

Google SERP – How to get more views on YouTube

Pretty cool.

What Did You Think?

I hope this new post showed you how to grow your YouTube channel.

Now I’d like to hear from you:

What’s your #1 takeaway from today’s post?

Or maybe you have a question.

Either way, let me know by leaving a quick comment below.

I’ll be around to personally reply to comments and questions that come in.

207 Comments

  1. Wow, this is great.

    I’ve run lots of tests w/ YouTube and video marketing in the past, but they’ve usually fell flat. I see now it’s because, while I thought I had a strategy, it didn’t really fall in line with what naturally works.

    -We didn’t optimize for keywords tubebuddy looks amazing btw! Gonna try that out).
    -We didn’t optimize for watch time (in fact, we always though short = better).

    So next time I take a crack at it, I’m gonna look at it similar to how I look at creating any web content.

    That actually makes me wonder what the scope of YouTube SEO will look like in the future. General web SEO seems pretty flooded w/ products (pretty darn good products too) for keywords, content optimization, etc. Doesn’t seem like there’s many aimed at YouTube. If it’s such a big search engine, I’d expect that to change though

    Thanks for a great post brian!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Alex.

      I had the same experience when I first launched my YouTube channel. I optimized for keywords, but I pretty much plucked them out of thin air. And my videos were super short.

      Over time, I figured out what actually worked for rankings in YouTube. As it turned out, it was similar to Google SEO: create awesome, comprehensive content. And optimize that content around keywords that people search for.

      (Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that. But that’s the foundation)

      1. The part that boggles my mind is how much time is spent on all of this. The content, the video itself, the graphic design for the thumbnails, the “blog” post description, this blog post, etc. etc. etc. How did you find time to help him out even? Wow!

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Hey Timothy, That’s what it takes to stand out these days. There’s SO MUCH content out there. To stand out you really have to bring it.

      1. Colin Mieczkowski Avatar Colin Mieczkowskisays:

        Hey Brian, these are some excellent and refreshing tips (the same ol’ tips that YouTube wants to give you never work)! Thanks so much for presenting us with it!

        I have a gaming YouTube channel (as do millions of others) which is aimed heavily towards sports games but also has some non-sports game content as well.

        I noticed that on a recent video I uploaded about Everybody’s Golf, it received a substantially low amount of views (well under 20 views). This is while using a custom thumbnail, proper keywords (I think), etc.

        The weird thing is, this is occurring with most of my latest videos. In the past, I would on average get 100’s of views and have at least 10 videos with well over 1,000 views, so I feel a little confused by this.

        Why do you think this is, Brian? Are there certain things within your tips that I am missing? By the way, I’m definitely bookmarking this page! Thanks again!

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Hey Colin, I was originally going to say that it might be a fluke. But considering that it’s affecting your last 10 videos, there might be something there. What’s your channel? I’ll take a quick look.

        1. Hey Ghost Panda!

          I took a look at your channel, your videos that used to receive thousand of views are VERY old. Youtuber was easier (less competition) and the videos have had time to get more views.

          Do like Brian said, niche down… A LOT. I was a youtuber gamer a long time ago, what worked well for me was:

          Tutorials (make sure to chose a game where people search for tutorials and the market isn’t saturated).

          New Games (this one is hard, you can’t chose AAA games usually – there are exception – chose a niche/indie new game which has some hype but isn’t big enough to be taken by big youtubers)

    1. Kendal Avatar Kendalsays:

      Hey Brian, I have to say this is the most unique advice I’ve read since I’ve been doing my research on YouTube’s algorithms. Me and my boyfriend recently started a channel, trying to get in on the “couples niche”… definitely competitive. Would you consider this as it’s own niche or can it be narrowed down even more? I’m having a tough time coming up with unique videos that won’t drown in with the rest. Any tips? Thank you for the great post!

      YouTube: Kam Productions

  2. Kelsey Avatar Kelseysays:

    Is there a tool that checks search volume on Youtube? I’m very interested in this, but I’m not sure people are searching for my company’s niche on Youtube. There are a lot of Chrome plugins to search keywords on Google

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Kelsey, VidIQ and TubeBuddy both have search volume estimates. In my experience, YouTube search volume data isn’t as accurate as what you get from most Google keyword research tools. But it’s better than nothing.

      1. Which tool is your #1 top tool that gives the best Keyword research data having to do with volume/competition (that can be used for youtube as well)? Hrefs or SEM rush?

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Neither of those tools give you YT data. For that, I’d go with TubeBuddy or VidIQ.

  3. Brian, Thanks for putting this great resource together I have struggled with having success on Youtube, I usually have no problem getting my single property listings found on google for property address but have had little luck on YouTube Search. I am going to be sure to put these tips into action!

    Thanks for ALL you do!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Brandon.

      That’s common for sure. I struggled A LOT when I was first starting out. But if you’ve had success on Google, then you have a good shot at succeeding on YouTube too.

  4. Sanjeev Tiwari Avatar Sanjeev Tiwarisays:

    This article was so informative. I am going to create a new Youtube Channel right now. love your efforts. Keep updating the readers of Backlinko with such good posts!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      No problem, Sanjeev

  5. Derek Avatar Dereksays:

    Hey Brian,

    Great article, and very insightful on how to start racking up some serious Youtube views.

    A quick fix in the article, however. Looks like this might be missing a “was” or “is” after “intro.” “And that effective intro one of the reasons that this video racked up over 143k of watch time minutes in 30 days:”

    Thanks again for the great information, you have some of the most helpful SEO tips on the web!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Glad you liked it, Derek.

      And thanks for the typo heads up. Fixed!

  6. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for another great article. This is something i will definitely try out. I have been doing same mistake as many by creating short video without really looking at keywords.

    Thanks again.

    Serge

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Serge. There’s definitely a place for short videos. But as you saw, longer videos work really well for ranking in YouTube.

  7. Awesome case study, Brian.

    Here lot of images at end of this article are not working perfectly please fix them.
    Either way, I’m in love with you and BACKLINKO.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Glad you liked the case study, Arjit.

      Which images weren’t working for you?

  8. Thank you for the revelations. It is encouraging to learn that YouTube traffic depends less on the number of videos published and more on keywords, Watch Time, and Pattern Interrupts. I had been under the impression that a run time of three minutes was the “sweet spot” for YouTube video length, so I am surprised to read here that longer videos (like ten minutes) are popular.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Anthony.

      Totally: on YouTube it’s quality >>>> quantity. Which is great for people like me and you who aren’t full time YouTubers. We don’t need to spend 40 hours/week creating videos.

      1. Kristina Avatar Kristinasays:

        Hi Brian,

        Thanks for such a helpful article! I recently started a channel for kids. I have read online the YouTube academy section for kids channels, but curious to hear if you have any specific advice for channels that are geared towards kids?

        Also, my channel name is Sunny Days. Would you advise that I change it to Sunny Days for Kids so it’s clear what the channel is about?

        Thank you!!
        Kristina

  9. John Rafferty Avatar John Raffertysays:

    Hi Brian

    This all sounds very useful and I can see how you would see benefits if the correct methods were applied but (and I realise I might get flamed for asking this) how would these methods be applied to a gaming channel ?

    Much the same or a completely different strategy altogether ?

    Either way, I’m going to bookmark this for constant reference. Good job!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey John,

      All good dude. You won’t get flamed for asking a question 🙂

      And it’s a good one.

      The only thing that might be different is your intro. Unless you’re doing “how to” gaming videos, it might not make sense to start your videos off with: “In today’s video you’re going to see my play Fortnite”.

      But, in my opinion, 90%+ of the strategies here apply to gaming channels: keyword research, longer videos, audience retention, watch time etc.

      Does that make sense?

  10. Thanks, Brian!

    Your tips helped me grow from 10k to over 100k in about 6 months.

    Love reading these case studies from other successful creators! 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Jeff.

      WOW. I didn’t realize you packed up 90k subs in 6 months. That’s amazing.

      Guys: I HIGHLY recommend checking out Jeff’s channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/goodfinancialcents/

      If you watch some of his latest videos you’ll get an idea of how a GREAT YouTube video is structured.

  11. Heenay Avatar Heenaysays:

    First, thanks for this super-helpful and comprehensive guide, Brian.

    Everything was laid out so clearly and it was such a pleasure to read (I notice you use Pattern Interrupts in your blog posts as well, with visuals, bold lettering, bullet-points, etc).

    Even though I don’t use YouTube for marketing, I have clients who do, and the information you provided was gold.

    I especially appreciate the info on optimizing for Watch Time, long, keyword-rich video descriptions, and creating playlists (I had no clue about this, but it makes so much sense!)

    Thanks again for all your amazing work!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Heenay.

      That’s true: it also helps to use Pattern Interrupts in blog posts too. Otherwise it’s just a big wall o’ text.

      Anyway, glad you enjoyed the case study and learned some new stuff!

      1. Heenay Avatar Heenaysays:

        Ditto about the blog posts.

        And I agree with Chris below; this post is really well-timed.

        Thanks again for all your hard work.

  12. I found your post really timely Brian as I’ve just started thinking about how I can start incorporating more videos into my business as well.

    I liked your tip about writing a script, which I think would be very useful for me. But are you reading from your script as you shoot the video live from like a teleprompter? Or are you just going over it beforehand? I’m curious about that part of your process.

    Thanks!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Chris.

      Good question. I actually practice the video a few times beforehand. Then I have my laptop next to me with the script open in a Google Doc. I read the line to myself. Then look up and read it to the camera. Rinse and repeat 200-ish times per video 🙂

      1. Leslie Avatar Lesliesays:

        I was also wondering about how you retain the script in mind while doing the video. I only rarely do video & find it hard to memorize the script.

        If you keep looking down at your laptop for the next line, I assume you edit out all those moments? How do you avoid having choppy video? thank you.

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Exactly, Leslie. It’s all chopped up and put back together. The final video does actually come out choppy…but in a good way 🙂

  13. Great case study, Brian; packed with useful tips.

    How would you rank a song writer youtube channel?

    You don’t have any generic keywords, only song names. Would love some advice on that. Thanks

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Amit, great question.

      That’s tricky. Do you mean cover songs or original songs?

      1. Amit Adler Avatar Amit Adlersays:

        Let’s say 90% originals, 10% covers

  14. John Rafferty Avatar John Raffertysays:

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the quick response.

    I can certainly see how some of the above can be applied to my situation, especially the audience retention, watch time and thumbnail sections.

    Perhaps in that case a better question would be to ask which sections would NOT be applicable to a gaming channel ?

    What would you say would be included in the 10%, so to speak ?

    Thanks again

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      No problem. Like I said, intros stand out as something that should probably be a lot different. And you probably wouldn’t want to script out your videos. I think that might literally be the entire 10%.

  15. Steve Walker Avatar Steve Walkersays:

    Brian,

    Is it helpful to provide a word by word transcription of the video. Would You Tube tank that for keywords?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Steve, yes that can definitely help. YouTube does it’s own transcription automatically, but it’s not 100% accurate.

  16. John Rafferty Avatar John Raffertysays:

    Apologies for the double post !!

  17. Hey Brian,

    Great article!

    I was looking for such article from a long. Is there any tool to make animated youtube videos?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      No problem. There are tools out there, but I don’t have much experience with animations.

  18. Another great article from you, rule of the house :). I am following you for quite some time. Within this article and others, you mentioned about that Youtube is using CTR as search metric. However, if you carefully ready the citation about, it says “watch a substantial fraction of…”. Therefore, if videos are too long you will never reach a ‘substantial fraction’ watched out the of whole video, and you will lose in terms of ranking due to low CTR. Which would be the proper video length? in order to obtain maximum impact of CTR on video rankings.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Luca,

      Good question. That’s YouTube’s way of preventing clickbait from getting lots of views. A few years ago, clickbait was KILLING IT on YouTube. So instead of just CTR, they also see how long people spend on your video. The longer, the better.

      Is that what you meant?

  19. Dude as always – outstanding content here and real actionable tips. That “watch video and close browser” = bad and “watch video and watch another one of my videos” = great is an amazing tip, I never thought of that before, so including a line about “like this video? watch my other video which goes deep into X” to videos must really pay off?

    Question for you in general: how much does the actual content structure of the video impact the ranking?

    I am guessing a HUGE amount right? That watch time is crucial, you MUST keep them watching throughout most of the video to rank better.

    You must have some tricks up your sleeve to make them do that?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Dmitry!

      Yes, exactly: including links to other videos in your end screen helps that a lot. I just use the text “next video”, but you can also use audio over the end screen that asks people to watch another video (a lot of YouTubers do this).

      To answer your question: absolutely. The structure of your content is huge. I didn’t have room to cover it here, but it’s important to have a structure that keeps things moving along. Otherwise, as you said, people will stop watching and click away (which is NOT good).

  20. Brian, thank you for these we tips! You’ve again given us a wealth of information! I have a channel based on metal guitar techniques, tutorials and anything related (I also do a ‘Metal and Beer’ series that posts every Friday night). I have a decent fan base and they’re seemingly hardcore, but dude, I struggle tremendously with getting subscribers and substantial views. I’m going to read this again and re-read it. and start making some changes!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Jason. If you’ve already built a fan base, you’re on the right track. It means you’re creating content that resonates with people (which is the hardest part).

      Once you have that down, it’s a matter of optimizing your videos for search and Suggested Video. Once you do, that… kaboom!

  21. Steve Stay Avatar Steve Staysays:

    Great info—thank you! If seo and keyword analysis wasn’t originally done, would you recommend going back through already-published videos and changing the titles, descriptions and keywords?

  22. I can’t help but to keep saying Wow Wow to myself!

    This is an amazing long great SEO tips for YouTube. You really do well here Brian especially with the real life Examples:)

    I had a question, does “keywordtool” list out suggestion or the keywords being search on Google?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thank you, Tunde. Yes, keywordtool also generates suggestions from Google search.

  23. Thank you Brian, another awesome read.

    After youtube stopped putting annotations, am finding it hard to get people click on cards and be on my site.

    What would you recommend for bringing youtube visitors to website?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Goldy. That’s true. The key is creating something in your card that’s like an opt-in bribe (a free report, ebook, checklist etc.). As you’ve seen, cards aren’t as eye-catching as annotations (and you can’t do as much with them). So its important to have something that pushes people to click on the card.

  24. Brian Peters Avatar Brian Peterssays:

    Thank you again for all of the incredible YouTube advice, Brian. Our channel continues to grow using all of the tactics and strategies outlined in this post. Couldn’t have done it without you 🙂

    If anyone ever has any questions, I’m more than happy to help!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Brian.

      But I have to give serious props to YOU for implementing everything. You did an amazing job with the videos you put out. And you added some cool twists that I hadn’t heard of before (like creating the seed keyword list and popping each one into YT Suggest). So I also learned a lot along the way.

  25. Ustin Avatar Ustinsays:

    Hi, Brian! I use all of the mentioned methods from this article on different Youtube channels (mine & clients).

    Sometimes it works, and sometimes it don’t.

    Following this formula doesn’t guarantee success at all.

    Without external traffic (free or paid) in the first 48 hours you have only 10% to succeed.

    Especially on new channels with less than 100-1000 subscribers.

    So you should update on this, because in my tests this is number #1 step of success.

    All mentioned in article + traffic.

    The more real & active subscribers the channel has, the higher is the possibility of organic reach 😉

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Ustin,

      That’s true: there’s no guarantee of success using this or any other formula. But it definitely increases your chances vs. posting random videos and hoping for the best 🙂

  26. Hey Brian. Nice case study. I learned a lot.
    And I think you’ve become a true expert on YouTube.
    Recently I listened to the podcast you did with Noah Kagan, and you mentioned that you took several courses to completely master YouTube.
    I think that is the ideal approach to learning anything and I know I will do the same when the time comes.
    However, I have a problem.
    I am very shy in front of the camera and English is not my native language (I have a thick accent); So it’s a perfect combination for making me a nervous wreck:)
    My question for you:
    I noticed you are very confident in front of the camera.
    Did you have a teacher who taught you:
    How to stand,
    How to breathe,
    Where to look,
    What words to stress,
    When to speak slowly/fast,
    How to gesticulate.

    You get the point.

    I ask because I know I’ll need that training. I am not that charismatic (because I’m shy).
    But I can change and I want to change!
    Hey, thank you for your reply, and keep up the good work!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      I’m glad you learned some cool new stuff from the case study.

      To answer your question: it came from A LOT of trial and error. The most important part is to practice speaking in the mirror, in front of other people and in front of the camera.

      In fact, I remember the first time I spoke in front of a group. I was SHAKING.

      But that helped me get more comfortable with speaking in front of a group. I was also nervous in front of a camera the first time (I’m definitely NOT a “natural”). But over time, from hours and hours of filming, I eventually got pretty comfortable. Hope that helps.

  27. Top notch stuff, as per usual. I love case studies. Especially from successful companies. Great read, Brian. Keep smashing it.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Gareth. I appreciate your support.

  28. Great article as always Brian! I love your work and have learned so much from you. I have two online business at home that my partner and I run and we have this joke at home. We call you the SEO king. Anyways, I have some small questions I am hoping you can answer.
    1. Is it better or worse to put your keyword in the front? Example: Keyword: attract love (1.Attract Love Now: 5 easy steps or 2. 5 easy steps to attract love now! )
    2. I noticed that I am ranking on the first page for a lot of my videos for only the keyword in the video none of the tags. How can I change this?
    Appreciate you taking out the time to read this!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Apollonia. Happy to help.

      1. In my experience, putting your keyword in the front of your title helps a little.
      2. Not sure what you mean. Do you mean that you say the keyword in the video? But that keyword isn’t a tag?

      1. Matt Avatar Mattsays:

        I think she’s saying that she’s ranking for her keyword in the title of the video, but not for any of her tags.

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          That could be, Matt. If so, that’s normal. The video title carries a lot more weight with YouTube’s algorithm than tags.

  29. Hello Brian,
    Thank you so much for this blog post. We are still struggling with our channel. Hopefully with the help of your tips, we can increase our subscribers and views. I’m glad I found your website. I think I will implement that pattern interrupt and scripts. If you can check out our channel and give us some tips I would really appreciate it, I know you must be very busy.
    Thanks again!
    – smashkidstv momster

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Momster. I just briefly checked out your channel and it looks great.

      My only suggestion would be to add more pattern interrupts to your videos (camera angle changes, etc.).

      1. Thanks for the fast response, I just started implemeting keyword seo on our videos when I found your website last week and now you’ve given me another great advice. I will implement it on our next video. Keep the blog posts coming, they’re very helpful. Thank you!

  30. Wow Brian, I thought I knew quite some stuff about youtube but keyword optimized tags was new to me. Thanks!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Pete. Yup, tags can make a small but significant difference.

  31. Excellent article. As mostly a YouTube fan, I can see how channels I follow successfully do all of the above. I’m struggling to figure out how I’d talk about what I do without boring people to tears and how to integrate it into my current marketing strategy without taking away too much from my actual work.
    But you’ve definitely helped me see how I would start with the best foot forward and that’s greatly appreciated!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Ariana. What is your channel about?

  32. Exceptional Post Brian! (on Hero Formula) it’s very actionable and easy to use:)
    Keep the extraordinary content coming…

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Kaushal. More cool stuff on the way.

  33. This is certainly really good information. The issue that I often have so this – you get a lot of views but do a lot of views actually translate into sales?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      David, it depends on a lot of factors (like how well your YouTube viewers align with your target customer, your CTA to get them back to your site etc.). But in my experience, yes, views directly lead to more sales.

  34. Awesome man , I was exactly looking for it , thank you

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Raju

  35. Hey Brian,

    Thanks so much for this post.

    I love YouTube. I really do. It’s fantastic for a content creator like me who is 100x better at speaking than writing.

    I started an educational YouTube channel about CBD oil 1 year ago. It was monetized with affiliate links in every video description box.

    I got my channel to 6K+ subs before YouTube terminated my channel without any explanation. I tried everything I could to get an answer from them on why they killed my channel. I could never get any answer beyond “spam” or “inciting violence / drug use”.

    None of my videos ever encouraged violence or drug use. I never spoke about recreational drug use — only therapeutic use of the supplement, CBD oil, which is not used for its psychoactive effect like marijuana.

    On top of that, there are way bigger channels than mine on YT which specifically promote recreational use of marijuana.

    I have to admit – I first thought they kicked me off b/c I used your earlier mentioned tactic of using your competitors channel name in your tags. I thought maybe YT considered this SPAM? I still have no idea…

    The first ban happened in January of this year. About a month ago, my channel reappeared out of nowhere. But it didn’t last. Two weeks later, YT killed it again.

    To add salt to the wound, I am now getting email spammed by them. For some reason, I get 50+ automatic generated emails a day notifying my my channel has been terminated. So weird.

    Brain, do you have any insight on this? I would really like to be able to use YT to grow my online business but this volatile atmosphere makes it really, really hard.

    Thanks!

    ~ Vadim

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Vadim,

      Sorry to hear about that dude. I don’t have a ton of experience with channel terminations. But I’ve heard of plenty of cases where YouTube was wrong about shutting down a channel while leaving others alone that are clearly worse.

  36. The depth of this highly informative article is incredible. It’s solid information that, if implemented, creates success stories for people who might otherwise struggle for years. I can’t say enough positive things about Brian’s helpful articles. I recommend and share them as often as I can. Thank you, Brian!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Erik. That’s the goal of these case studies: to help people avoid common mistakes and to learn what actually works.

  37. Crazy results!

    It’s so funny how people take YouTube for granted. I know you talk about YouTube a lot and it is a great strategy, but not enough people take it seriously when it is one of the most popular sites in the world.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Neil, I’m 100% with you on that. YouTube always seems to be something people are going to start “next year”. But like you said, it’s the #2nd most popular site in the world right now. So it’s time to start taking it seriously.

  38. wow. Pattern Interrupts. this is great. i suspected this was true but i didn’t have a way to describe or explain it. For example my slide decks typically have 140 slides in them, changing every 12 seconds or so. I know this does better than just having 10 slides and changing every 12 minutes. But your explanation makes perfect sense.

    Also, this blog post follows this rule. when i scroll down, i see text, then image, then call-out, etc. (as opposed to just boring text, all the time) it’s so great!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Larry, definitely. Pattern Interrupts also applies to presentation (and as you pointed out) blog posts too!

      I don’t have much experience with podcasting, but I imagine Pattern Interrupts can help keep people’s attention there too.

  39. Is there more value or benefit for YouTube SEO to doing a live YouTube broadcast rather than uploading a video?

    Love your content so much, Brian! Thanks for this post.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, John. From what I’ve seen, YouTube Live broadcasts can help you get more views early on (because the live video gets promoted while it’s live). But over time, uploaded videos tend to do better (mostly because you can edit them, add graphics etc.)

  40. If you miss the mark on a video SEO, can you pull it down, tweak it and then re-upload it? You’d think that would be a fix for the “48 hour clock”

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Julie, I wouldn’t even reupload it actually. I’d just change the metadata so it’s SEO-optimized.

  41. What do you think of posting transcription of video in the description?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      I actually prefer to write a unique description and upload a transcript to YouTube as captions.

  42. Great post as always, and targeted 🙂 It’s so much info that a “non-Youtube” guy like me have problems getting all details right 😀 But at least I get some main points stuck in my brain.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Tonny. That’s good, actually. The details help, but they’re not so important when you’re first starting out. Over time you can start doing the detailed stuff.

  43. Brian, I know it is pretty important to keep people on youtube, but one thing that I have employed is even though i lead people OFF of youtube to join my mailing list, nearly every email in my autoresponder sends them BACK to youtube starting a new session.

    I think this is helpful and can balance out the negative effects, driving new viewers off of youtube, but bringing old viewers back over and over again.

    Do you think constantly bringing people back like that helps counteract driving them off in the first place?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Chris, good question. I’d say yes, sending people back to YouTube helps your channel get more “Session Starts” (which YouTube also likes). That’s a smart way to help balance out a low session time.

  44. Great post, Brian.
    This is the type of information I wish I had when I was starting out a year ago. Someone above mentioned that they have a music channel, and I’m interested how to best implement your advice since I have a channel that posts music instrumentals-beats. It’s an extremely competitive section of YouTube and very difficult to rank in. So can the high search volume, low competition key words be used as my video tags? It seems to me that using similar tags as popular videos has only helped me get buried in the search results.
    Keep up the good work, this is by far the most in depth, practical advice I’ve found.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Ember, happy to help.

      To answer your question: it depends on how people find your type of music on YouTube. If they search for it, then you want to go with low competition keywords. But if most people find your content from Suggested Video, then you might want to optimize around competitive keywords (that way, you show up next to other popular videos).

  45. Brian, thank you for sharing your insight and knowledge. I have a small e-commerce start up and new to SEO however you have an exceptional talent and translating complex information into easy to understand and digest knowledge. Thank you

    Hulusi

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Hulusi

  46. ncredible publication, we have forgotten a bit our YouTube channel, it’s time to take it up again. Thank you Brian

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome guys

  47. Great post – thanks for posting it!

    Yes, using power words and testing headlines IS key. Great point.

    The title/headline should be compelling so people think, “oh, I don’t want to miss out on something” and then they click. Like you said, this moves videos up in rankings. This works for pages on Google as well.

    Throw in power words to achieve that effect but, of course, make sure you follow through with what you promise – or even under promise and over-deliver if you want some shares. Make “share-worthy” content!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Tony.

      And that’s an important point you made there. YouTube is VERY hard on clickbait titles. If lots of people click, but don’t watch, they’ll bury your videos. So, as you said, it’s important to deliver with your video content.

  48. I found this absolutely amazing! Such useful tips. I do a few of them already but will definitely implement all of them.

    I spend so long creating videos that are engaging, different angles, broll etc.
    I’ve got great feedback from them but I can’t get them to get lots of views. A couple hundred at best!

    I think it’s the keywords that I need to improve but I’m not sure.
    Do you have any sort of youtube course or something, really looking to grow my channel.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Shimmy, happy to help. Yup, in some cases keywords are the problem. YouTube themselves emphasize that the right keywords can make or break your video’s success. So I’d look at that as a possibility. I do have a YT course. It’s called First Page Videos.

  49. Great post! Signed up for tube buddy because of this and can definitely see how that will help me pick better keywords etc. Thank you Brian!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Rick. Awesome!

  50. Awesome tips and so many insights – thanks so much for sharing this info!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Tracey. Glad you liked it.

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