How Buffer Grew Their YouTube Channel by 59% in 30 Days (Step-By-Step Case Study)

How Buffer Grew Their YouTube Channel by 59% in 30 Days (Step-By-Step Case Study)

Today you’re going to see how Buffer grew their YouTube channel by 59%.

(In 30 days)

The best part?

They didn’t need to publish a thousand videos to do it.

In fact, most of their growth came from FIVE videos.

And in this case study I’ll walk you through the step-by-step process that they used.

How I Helped Buffer Turn Their YouTube Channel Around

Last year, Buffer’s YouTube channel was struggling:

Buffer YouTube channel analytics

As Buffer’s digital marketing strategist, Brian Peters, put it:

“When I first joined Buffer, our YouTube channel was in maintenance mode. We were posting videos every once in a while, but we had no idea how to make them successful.”

On paper, Buffer was doing everything right:

  • They published videos on a consistent basis (just like the “experts” recommend)
  • Their videos were short (< 2 minutes)
  • They shared their videos on Facebook and Twitter

But nothing worked.

In fact, as Brian Peters told me:

“It got so bad that we began to wonder: is YouTube really worth our time?”

That’s when he gave me a call.

“Dude, our YouTube channel is struggling.”

“Here’s what to do…”

Keep reading to see what happened next.

Now, Let’s See The Results…

Since implementing my advice, Buffer’s subscriber growth increased by 59%:

Sub growth

Their monthly views shot up by 35%:

YouTube views

Watch time increased by 61%:

Total watch time

And for the first time, people started to like their videos…

…and leave comments:

Comments

You might be wondering:

“How did they do it?”.

Two words: YouTube SEO.

Buffer’s Secret Weapon: YouTube SEO

I probably don’t need to tell you that YouTube is HUGE… and growing fast.

In fact, YouTube is the 2nd most popular website online (Yup, even more popular than Facebook).

Top ten websites

And YouTube isn’t just a huge website, it’s a huge search engine.

So to succeed on YouTube, your videos need to rank. Period.

Actually, that’s the main reason that Buffer’s channel grew so quickly:

Their videos started to rank for popular keywords.

Keywords like…

“Social media marketing tips”:

Social marketing tips

“Facebook marketing tips”:

Facebook marketing tips

And “social media for small business”:

Social media for small business

And those first page rankings directly led to more views, subscribers, and traffic.

Or as Brian Peters put it:

“The biggest mental shift we made with our YouTube strategy was to stop looking at YouTube as a social media site. Instead, we started treating YouTube like a search engine (similar to Google).”

Now it’s time to show you exactly how Brian Peters implemented my advice…

…and got Buffer’s videos to rank in YouTube.

Step #1: Find Untapped Video Keywords

When it comes to YouTube, keywords are everything.

Choose the RIGHT keywords?

Your videos rocket to the top of YouTube.

Choose the WRONG keywords?

Your videos get buried in the search results.

It’s as simple as that.

Back in the day, Buffer didn’t spend much time on keyword research.

For example, here’s one of Buffer’s videos from last year:

Buffer video

Overall, this is a solid video. The content is helpful. And it looks professional.

So what’s the problem?

This video isn’t optimized around a keyword that people search for on YouTube.

And because of that, this video has struggled to get views:

Consistency

Contrast that video with this one that Brian recently made:

Buffer video

This video has racked up over 10k views:

Proven marketing tools

Yes, this video was created to maximize Audience Retention and Total Watch Time.

(More on that later)

For now, the important thing to keep in mind is: this video was optimized around the right keyword. 

And that’s the #1 reason that it did so well.

With That, Here’s Exactly How Buffer Does Video Keyword Research Today:

Here’s the process that Buffer uses to find untapped keywords on YouTube:

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

Seed Keywords are terms that describe super broad topics.

For example, Buffer’s Seed Keywords are 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, Brian Pops His Seed Keywords Into YouTube Search

Now it’s time to turn your seed keyword list 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 search

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

KeywordTool

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

Search volume

As you might have noticed, “social media marketing” has appeared twice in our searches. And it just so happens to be a PERFECT keyword for Buffer’s channel.

Boom! We have a keyword.

But is it the right keyword?

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?

Buffer uses a nifty Chrome extension called TubeBuddy.

TubeBuddy

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

How to rank for YouTube videos

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

…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”

Buffer’s YouTube channel made the same mistake that A LOT of channels make:

Creating videos NOT optimized for Watch Time.

I’ll explain…

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:

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…

How Buffer Boosted Their Average Watch Time By 61%

Here are 5 things that Buffer did to improve their Watch Time by 61%:

1. They published LONG videos

I don’t care what the “experts” say.

Long videos perform better than short videos.

(WAY better)

And the data backs this up. Last year 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

Before, Buffer would upload really short (1-2 minute) videos to YouTube.

Compare video length

These types of videos work well on Facebook and LinkedIn. But they DON’T work on YouTube.

And sure enough, when Brian started producing longer videos with lots of meaty content, they racked up a ton of views…

YouTube video length

…and started to rank for their target keywords:

Three examples

I’ve noticed the same thing happen with my own channel.

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

YouTube Backlinko

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 Backlinko

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

2. They cut out the fluff from their intros

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

YouTube official blog

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, Buffer’s intros had A LOT of background info.

For example, check out the intro from this video:

Video intro

Contrast that intro with one of Buffer’s recent videos:

Better intro length

See the difference?

The second intro quickly previews exactly what you’re going to learn from the video.

Let me show you another example…

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

Backlinko intro length

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

Better intro length

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:

Increased watch time

So yeah, 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. They Incorporated “Pattern Interrupts” Into Their 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:

Average percentage viewed

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
  • And more

How about an example…

Buffer’s old YouTube videos didn’t use ANY Pattern Interrupts:

Buffer video

This video is VERY static.

It uses 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 one of Buffer’s recent videos, and it’s Pattern Interrupts galore.

You have B rolls:

Buffer video

You’ve got on-screen graphics:

Buffer video

You even have Brian demonstrating some of the tips in real time:

Buffer video

And it should come as no surprise that these changes helped push their average view duration up to a very solid 2 minutes, 11 seconds.

(A 61% increase)

4. They Scripted 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 the Buffer blog, Brian P would fire up the camera and start talking:

Buffer unscripted video

Sure, Brian knew the general points he wanted to cover.

But he didn’t have a script. And that made it hard to follow along with Brian’s tips.

My early videos were the same way…

I’d hop in front of the camera without a script.

Which meant my videos were PACKED with meandering nonsense like this:

Backlinko video

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

Today, Brian and I know better. That’s why we both outline and script our videos before we shoot.

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

Backlinko script

Because we script our videos, our delivery is super crisp.

(Which keeps people watching)

5. Finally, Buffer analyzed what already worked

Yes, the 4 strategies I just shared with you are universal.

That said, every niche has its own wrinkles.

So before you finalize your script, see what’s already proven to work.

How?

It’s simple: watch the videos that rank in the top 3 for your target keyword.

Then, note what they all have in common.

For example, when you search for “social media marketing” in YouTube, these are the top 3 results:

Social media marketing

When I watch these 3 videos, I notice that they have a lot in common:

  • They all use LOTS of examples (like Gary V’s Instagram)
  • 2 out of the 3 videos are >10 minutes long (the #1 result is 22 minutes long)
  • All of the videos mention: live video, Instagram, “mobile first”, influencer marketing
  • 2 of the 3 videos emphasize that these tips are specifically for this year

Obviously, you want to incorporate these proven elements into your video.

In fact, that’s exactly what Brian did when he made a video about social media marketing:

Proven marketing tips

Let’s move on to…

Step #3: Optimize Your YouTube Videos

You already know why YouTube SEO is important.

So let’s dive right into the steps.

1. First, Buffer keyword-optimized their 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.

In fact, once Buffer started using keyword-rich titles like this…

Powerful Facebook marketing strategies

…their views increased.

Buffer YouTube views increase

2. Second, they wrote 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 ranking

And this is something that the Buffer team discovered firsthand.

“We found that the more folks you can get to click on and watch your video, the better it will generally rank.”

The question is: HOW do you do it?

Power Words.

What are Power Words? They’re words and phrases that push people to CLICK.

For example, you can see that Buffer uses a Power Word in this title…

Power words

…and this one too:

Power words

Want a few more examples of Power Words? Here you go:

PW

Power Words

noun

Words and phrases that push people to CLICK.

For example:

Awesome
Wow
Insane
Hack

Effective
Guide
Technique

Next up, we have…

3. They wrote keyword-rich, SEO-friendly video descriptions

Buffer’s old video descriptions were REALLY brief:

YouTube intro

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

Today, Brian P writes a full description for every video:

“We treat our video description as a mini blog post – giving users detailed information about what to expect.”

And here’s an example:

YouTube concise intro

4. Last up, Brian optimized his video tags

It’s no secret that keyword-optimized tags are a MUST.

But how do you optimize them, exactly?

Buffer uses a simple, 3-step process:

First, they use 3-5 tags that include their target keyword… and close variations.

For example, in Brian’s video about social media marketing he uses these tags:

YouTube tags

Next, Brian fires up TubeBuddy.

Specifically, he enters his target keyword into the “Tag Explorer” feature…

Tag explorer

…and uses any relevant tags that TubeBuddy pops out.

Tag summary

The third and final step is to spy on the tags that other videos use:

Tags

This last step is a big one.

Yes, using your competitor’s tags can help your search engine rankings.

But they’ll ALSO help you show up next to your competitors as a suggested video:

Up next

Bonus Step #1: Use Thumbnails
That Stand Out

Your video thumbnail is HUGE.

Unfortunately, Buffer’s videos used default thumbnails on most of their videos:

Bad YouTube covers

In my opinion, this is one of the main reasons that their videos struggled to get views.

(Yes, your thumbnail is that important: YouTube reports that “90% of the best performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails.” That’s LEGIT.)

That’s why Brian stepped up Buffer’s thumbnail game in a big way:

Good YouTube covers

See how much those new thumbnails stand out?

YouTube cover comparison

THAT’S how you want your thumbnails to look.

Bonus Step #2: 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.

YouTube bad ranking

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.

YouTube good ranking

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.

YouTube playlist ranking

In other words, playlists automatically improve your Session Time.

And that’s why Buffer curates their videos into playlists…

Buffer playlists

…and prominently shows them off on their channel page.

Buffer channel

Now It’s Your Turn…

And now I’d like to hear from you:

What’s your #1 takeaway from today’s case study?

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.

211 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. 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. 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.

      2. 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. 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 Brian, thanks for the reply. My channel is YouTube.com.com/ghostpanda33. I’ve had it for a while now. I blog/write mostly, but YouTube has been a fun platform for my gaming content. Thanks again, Brian.

          2. I just took a look. So your videos are really good.

            My one recommendation would be to niche down A LOT. So focus on one game, or genre or time period (80s, 90s, etc.). That can help your channel stand out from the other gaming channels on YouTube.

          3. OK, awesome, thanks Brian, I’ll take a note and give this a shot. I assume that niching down further could make keyword research easier and choosing the proper keywords for my videos. Thanks again!

        2. 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)

  2. 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. 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?

  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. 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. 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!

  5. 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. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. This is some great content, thank you for creating it!
    (Nice one prompting us to comment, good SEO there haha!)

    One thought I had whilst reading it concerned “Clickbait” video titles and thumbnails. Which I imagine are a decisive topic? In your example Buffer now makes frequent use of “8 Proven Tips to” titles which include a number and your “power word”. I imagine he’s not lying/baiting in the title, but those kinds of titles tend to have a bad reputation for hiding content that doesn’t really deliver on the promised title?

    Nevertheless, if these kinds of titles are the way to go, the real challenge for me personally is that the channel I manage posts extremely niche technical content with a “serious/professional” business tone. So “8 Awesome Ways to” titles probably aren’t appropriate for us, meaning we’ll miss out on clicks?

    Any advice for channels with rather niche audiences?

    Thanks for your work!

    1. You’re welcome, George.

      Good point there. I see clickbait as “purposely misleading or exaggerating”. And on YouTube, it actually does more harm than good. If someone clicks on a video, and it doesn’t deliver, people won’t watch it. Which means that YouTube will demote that video.

      To me, as long as there’s evidence behind the tips, using a word like “proven” doesn’t strike me as misleading.

      And in your case, I’d just skip that tip if you don’t want to turn off your target audience.

  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. 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.

  9. 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. 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! 🙂

  11. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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

  14. 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. 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. Brian,

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

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

    1. Awesome, Sam. You can definitely see a clear “before” and “after” with a lot of Buffer’s videos.

      And don’t forget to subscribe to their channel while you’re there 🙂

  16. 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. 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?

  17. 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. 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).

  18. 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. 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!

  19. 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?

  20. 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?

  21. 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. 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.

  22. 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. 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.

  23. 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. 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 🙂

      1. Hi Brian,

        Ustin has a nice point here. It becomes easier to grow organically on YouTube when you have good number of subscribers or followers, but how to grow in the initial days. Even if one creates high quality videos following all these tips, how would he/she be able to get that initial traction in first 48 hours?

        Buffer has already a good social influence, they can cross promote their new content to tens of thousands of people and get all sort of those factors – CTR, views, watch time, audience retention, users engagement, etc.

        Similarly, one of the core reason for your video success is: you email your newly published video link with a very catchy email newsletter. You send it and boom! 💥 It generates huge CTR for video URL (from just email newsletter only) – NOT to mention, you have a very targeted email list.

        But what about someone who is completely newbie with no followers.

        Do you have any tips or suggestions for making people watch your awesome content when you have no fan-following?

        1. Hey Rahul, that’s 100% true. It’s definitely easier to grow a channel if you have an existing following.

          But the principles and strategies are exactly the same. I’ve worked with new channels and the approach is the same: find keywords that people search for. Create awesome videos around those topics. Optimize them for SEO. Promote.

          The only difference is that instead of XX,XXX or X,XXX views, for anew channel, XXXX might be a win. So the scale is different, but the approach is the same.

  24. 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. 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.

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

  26. 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. 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!

  27. 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!

  28. 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. 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.

  29. 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. 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.

  30. Great post again, Brian.
    What you by “And that’s why Buffer curates their videos into playlists… “?
    Is that mean placing any of my videos on a playlist?
    And what about adding relevant vids from other channels, no only mine, to my playlists? Will that help as well?

    Many thanks, great reading your posts!

    1. Thanks Asi. GREAT question.

      Technically, adding videos from other channels will also boost your Session Time. But I prefer to use my own videos because, well, they’re my videos 🙂

      1. Thanks for the reply. Still not sure what you mean by “And that’s why Buffer curates their videos into playlists… “, can you pls explain?

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

  32. 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. 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.

  33. 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. 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.

    1. 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.)

  34. 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. 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.

  35. 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. 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.

  36. There were two things about this case study that really surprised me. The first being that longer videos do better than shorter videos with viewers. For me, if a video is say more than 10 minutes long, I almost always either look for a similar, but shorter video or I just scan through the video and watch the part(s) I’m interested in. I guess I’m more impatient than other viewers.

    The other surprising thing is that Buffer’s custom video thumbnails did better than the default ones. Sure, the default ones aren’t very exciting and they don’t show you what you’ll learn, but they’re still unique (I’m guessing no other channel has videos of Brian in them) and have a warm, inviting feel to them. While the custom ones look like the featured images you see a lot these days on YouTube channels and blog posts (ie. title of the video on top of a generic stock photo). Of course that’s just my opinion. As Darren Rowse (of Problogger) would say: find out what works for you and keep doing it until it doesn’t.

    1. Hey Matt, great points all around.

      To your point about longer content, it’s true that most videos that are >10 minutes aren’t worth watching (or you can find another shorter video with the same content). But if you can combine AMAZING content with long videos, you have a killer combo for ranking in YouTube.

      I hear you about the thumbnails. I also thought the default thumbnails looked good as well. But like you said, it’s important to ultimately go with what works.

  37. 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. 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).

  38. 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

  39. 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. 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.

  40. 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. 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.

  41. 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!

  42. Excellent article .Need to try using this .Will be letting you know.
    One Query.
    Any idea about what works better as video content?Vlog types with no voice over.With voice over or when we are talking to the audience like a class?

    1. It depends. If you’re trying to grow a vlog (as in daily updates about your life), that format works best. But if you’re teaching with how-to content, videos like Buffer makes is ideal.

  43. Great tutorial! I was struggling hard to know about youtube-SEO strategy. I am sure it will help us to get more views for my client.
    Best & easy explanation. I shared this post instantly on my LinkedIn page.
    Thank You

  44. Awesome stuff, Brian! I used to think that 1-2 minute videos were what I needed to make, but I’ll definitely try a few longer ones now. That, and all the other takeaways from your post of course 😉 Super useful! Thanks!

  45. Hi Brian,

    Great post as always. I read this post word-by-word and amazed with the stats. Youtube is the next big thing for marketers and would be the best channel to market any business.

    But that could only happen when you know how to do it right. This article is perfect way to learn YouTube SEO.

    Thanks,
    Umesh Singh

  46. Great insight, We are struggling with our videos and youtube channel too. Hard to get the right content for the right people. We try to tell people about their air passenger rights.

    I shared this post with my team and I hope we are going to do the same steps with some creativity 😉 I will share the results

    1. You’re welcome, Venu. Cool. In my experience, when it comes to video SEO, longer videos do WAY better than short videos.

  47. Hi Brian,
    thanks so much for this case study! I’m just getting started with my YT channel and I’m doing it the right way, aka following your advice from your own YT videos and from your blog posts. I’ll let you know how it goes.
    Thanks again.
    Anne

    1. Hey Anne, you’re welcome.

      And best of luck with your new channel. I wish I had this stuff when I was first starting out 🙂

  48. Hi Brian: another great post, thanks! Could I ask you a question about YouTube tags? I use TubeBuddy to help me choose the best tags for my videos. Would you say it’s important to get tags that are ranked 3+ in order to get the most video views? Or do you really have to go for the #1 ranked tag? I’d be grateful for your advice. Thanks – Nicky 🙂

  49. This has been a massive help to me, so thank you Brian.

    I used to do long introductions and provide a lot of background, and didn’t realise it was causing a low retention rate.

    When I followed your suggestion to make it short and snappy my retention rate increased and so did my overall watch time as a result.

    Also, I never realised that b-roll footage is a pattern interrupt – I’ve spent months wondering how to inject them into my videos, while failing to come up with the ‘shock and awe’ level ideas that I thought were needed.

    Thanks again,
    Mick

    1. Hey Mick, that’s awesome. Like I mentioned in the case study, my intros also had a ton of background info…and I lost people. That one change made a HUGE difference in my Watch Time and YouTube rankings.

  50. Hello Brian. This is the best guide on YouTube growing I have read till now. Now, I am confident and just looking forward to use it and be an expert youtuber. Wish me the luck. Haha. 🙂

    Thanks.

  51. Thank God I read this article, you are such a great man Brian, I recently created a YouTube channel and am looking forward to trying this tips. I have a question a bit diff from this topic… I run an entertainment blog over a year now and my earning has never reached $20. I have done all I know but seems there is smth am not doing right, my traffic is still sick BTW 100-150 visits a day and I have issues with my search console can you make few reccommendations please, I have spent much on the site and yet to receive any in return plz help out

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Sure.

      Not sure what’s happening there. It takes days to investigate something like that.

  52. It’s good case study, but when i checked their You tube page, it’s not big number there, i thought it may cross 100K, But it can grow like that. thanks for sharing insights.

  53. Super specific tips Brian Thanks for the all this proven tips (as you have mentioned the all the examples in the post). I really liked and can 100% relate to your tips.

  54. Hey Brian,

    That’s an awesome case study. The results are mind boggling, love to see the complete case study. Youtube is something we can never avoid when it comes to Digital Marketing. I completely agree that initial 15 seconds decide if the user will continue watching or just skip the video.

    Thanks for sharing the awesome post.

    Cheers,
    Shubhanshi

  55. Hi Brian, great and interesting post, as usual. Regarding Keywords, have you worked on optimize even old Buffer videos? In general, do you consider it useful or you think it’s better go on and work only on new contents?

  56. How do you add the B-Roll to Your Videos that Shows Computer screen and the Suqare/Rectangle Selection.

    Amazing Inspiring work..Brian..Much Love

  57. Hi Brian,

    Would love to add pattern interrupts to my videos… how? Do I need some kind of fancy program? Is it something I can do myself or do I need to hire a video editor to do it?

    Thanks!

    1. Hey Raffi, it doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. It can be as simple as changing the camera angle (as you shoot or in post production). Or adding graphics to a shot.

      1. Errr… I don’t have post production. I have a smartphone and that’s about it. 🙂
        How does one add graphics to a shot? Is there some (free?) program I can use to toss those in there?

  58. Hi Brian,

    This is awesome work. And thanks for sharing this case study with us. I’ve always loved Buffer’s content, including their YouTube videos, but often wondered why they received such less engagement. Once again, kudos to you for doing such a stellar job with the Buffer videos. Hopefully, they take your insights into consideration going forward as well and continue to create awesome content for their YT channel.

    Regards,
    Sandeep

    1. You’re welcome, Sandeep. I agree: Buffer’s videos were always excellent. And now they’re better optimized to rank (and get views).

  59. Brian this is 100% Fire 🔥. The most actionable tips I took out of this are to curate playlists, test long form content, & always use a custom thumbnail.

    I appreciate the links to the YouTube creator academy, I’ll spend some more time reading what they have to share as well.

    Cheers and good work Buffer team for implementing these powerful strategies.

    1. Thanks Luiz. I agree: Brian Peters and the rest of the Buffer team did an amazing job turning my advice into action.

  60. Hi Brian
    Great content and advice I really appreciate it and it’s such a help.
    I have a problem understanding the relationship between channels and videos and the way they rank.
    I did a test. I created 2 new channels, exactly the same name except on one I ended with 2018.
    One was for search term with 800k plus searches. The other ending in 2018 had approximately 7.5 million searches.
    I used the same video but slightly different wording in the description and tags in each channel. I added different thumbnails to each channel.
    Result after one day both new channels and videos.
    800k channel I ranked the channel with its icon at no 7 and the video at number 19.
    7.5 million channel I ranked the channel at number 17 and the video was at number 49.
    Both videos had 2 views both mine.
    Do you know why the channel ranks so high but the videos don’t.
    Both channels and videos have exactly the same name in their respective niche. Any advice would be appreciated.
    Kind regards Alan

    1. Hey Alan, thanks for sharing that man. I always love to hear how experiments turn out.

      My take is that because the two videos were exactly the same, YouTube demoted them. Or it could be that the channel was better optimized than the video. It’s a little hard to say without seeing all the details.

  61. Hey Brian, thanks for this case study. A quick non-related query. How many comments you recommend to be allowed per post/page without page breakers or “Read Older Comments” kind of buttons.

  62. There’s something I don’t understand about Google’s logic for Youtube video length.

    As a search engine, people want to find information, products, and services quickly and with long videos finding this information is slow and tedious.

    Maybe I’m different, but why would people choose longer videos unless they are entertainment videos?

    thanks,
    John

    1. Good question, John. It depends on the topic. If you want to learn how to do something that takes 30 seconds, you definitely want a 30 second video. But for most topics (like how to grow a blog, how to get bigger biceps etc.) it takes a longer video to get the job done.

  63. Thanks Brian! This is a great case study that really makes sense. I love case studies like this that have steps on what happened and results so I can modify and replicate to suit the business I work for. I work for an employment and training company and our videos are mostly Good News Stories with businesses and employees being interviewed. It seems quite hard to match up what we do with the Buffer example. We often prompt our interviewees to provide advice and feedback but it really is quite different content to what you and buffer do. Do you think it would be worthwhile to expand our video content to include more how to / tips / advice style videos similar to the buffer channel and your channel?

    1. Hey Megan, I’d definitely test out how-to content. You can even distill some of the “top 10” points from each interview into a how-to style video.

  64. Brian,

    Solid info…as usual.

    Just as motivation for some new(er) YouTubers out there…you really can get a channel rolling with some decent views by implementing proper KW research and somewhat engaging content.

    I released my first two videos on YouTube 3 years ago – one of them I did proper KW research on and to date it has 18k views (slowly died off the past year or two)

    The second video I did ZERO kw research and just took a shot in the dark at what I thought would be good content. To date, it has only 200 views.

    Last year, I decided to try my hand at the game again and released two videos with proper KW research. Competitive terms (2mil+ results), and still managed to rank page 1-2ish for both.

    One of them reached 26k views in a little over a year and the other is at 20k in 10 months.

    So, with only 4 videos on the channel I still managed about 60k views.

    I’ve now realized that everything is heading towards video and I am getting serious about releasing content in a strategic way, and actually ask for the subs, likes, etc (something I NEVER did before)

    I’ve consumed your content in the shadows for a few years now, and always benefited big time.

    You the man, Brian.

    1. Awesome, Brandon! Thanks for sharing.

      My experience has been exactly the same. When I first got started on YouTube, I saw it as a place where videos go viral. So I didn’t optimize my videos at all. Now I see YouTube for what it really is: a discovery platform and search engine (like Google).

  65. Hey Really cool stuff thanks Brian! I have had my eye on focusing on video for ranking as the lead part of my agency for a while now and I think you have just helped make that decision concrete.
    Regards
    Ian

  66. Hi Brian,

    This is an excellent post with great tips that I have seen mentioned in other guides, plus some I’ve not see before.

    I have a question about Tubebuddy and VidIQ. Some say using these can lead to account suspension and no appeal because they contravene YouTube’s Terms of Use due to the fact that they place more load on the YT servers than a human could normally do.

    Others say this is nonsense. What’s your opinion?

    I used to use VidIQ but removed it as I didn’t want to risk account suspension.

    1. I’ve never heard that before, Ben. Considering they’re both YouTube certified, I doubt that’s true.

  67. Hi, Brian. What’s up? Glad to see your post about growing Youtube channel.

    But it’s a matter of sorrow that, My YT channel is also terminated because of using Google Adwords campaign. We promoted blog videos but somehow Google Adword didn’t accept these types of videos. So, we got terminated.

    Do you have any suggestion about that, Brian?

  68. hi Brian. thanks for the research otherwise it becomes too difficult to stay motivated. Growing subs is seeming really tough in the beginning. specially in a niche which is extremely technical like mechanical engineering (in my case).

  69. Hi Brian,
    I am a Graphic Designer in Essex, a small county in UK.
    Your content is brilliant. I really love your emphasis on quality over quantity! It’s clear the amount of hard work that goes into all your content. From your work, I’ve been able to rank no. 1 for my main KWs. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    I’m sure you already know it, but your work is massively appreciated.
    Many Thanks,
    Ellie

  70. I was looking for a tutorial on this. I’ve been thinking of ways of putting up more video content. Thanks so much! I will be using it for my new blog.

  71. Amazing post, Brian!

    Your SEO techniques are particularly practical.

    Our YouTube channel somewhat resembles the initial state of Backlinko and Buffer.

    Now, however, I hope that your tips on video keywords, length, thumbnails, and playlists will boost our YouTube channel development.

    To this end, I have a few questions:

    1. Since Google and YouTube are related and the former often lists the latter, does it make sense to search for keywords in Google? Specifically, is it worth finding high-volume keywords in the Google Keyword Planner to use them in YouTube videos?

    2. Which of your YouTube SEO technique(s) would be most useful for professions with low search volumes, e.g., business (corporate) law, including company incorporation, bank account opening, and trademark registration?

    Thanks a lot!

  72. This post was helpful, I have around 100 subscribers at the moment, putting in some efforts in growing my channel. What keyword research tool do you recommend for YouTube (content and tags)? Will Google Keyword Planner do the trick? Thanks

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