YouTube Channels are an often neglected child of the social media industry. They are mostly used as an enabler for videos to be posted to the more widely-used channels like Facebook and Twitter. If this sounds like your YouTube Channel, consider a few facts:
- YouTube videos are 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of Google results than a text page
- YouTube is the second largest search engine in the U.S.
- As of February 2011, visitors were spending around 2.9 billion hours on YouTube per month
When you look at the facts, YouTube optimization makes a whole lot of sense. To get you started, here is a great video series that covers everything you need to know about YouTube SEO.
- Start Building Content: You should be creating a portfolio of content on YouTube. Plan to build in video with your normal campaigns. But video production is so costly, right? Wrong. All you need is iMovie and an iPhone to start creating content. If that’s too much to handle you can try one of the many screen share tools, an online slideshow creator, or a text-to-video service like xtranormal.
- Keep It Relevant: As you begin creating content, ask yourself this question: “Will this be useful in three months?” If the answer is no, it’s unlikely that your video has real replay value. Try to create content that will be relevant in the future… think long shelf life.
- Do Your Research: Before you begin making videos, do some keyword research using YouTube’s keyword tool. This will give you an idea of which videos will be successful. As an example, if you search “NBA” in Google, you’ll get results on players, news, and game scores, etc. If you search “NBA” in YouTube, many of the top videos will be about dunks, brawls, and highlights. This is a clue that a dunk compilation will likely do much better than a player profile video.
- Competitive Research: Do a normal YouTube search for some videos that are similar to the content you want to create. What is already working? What do people seem to like? What is most popular?
- Optimize Metadata for Video Search: Your metadata can help you appear in searches and gain traffic, but your content has to be good to experience true success (surprise). However, a well optimized video can help your visibility. Optimize your video title, tags, description, and category to appear in searches. Remember, YouTube search works differently than normal search engine results. If you need some clues, go back to your competitive and keyword research and see which video titles are performing the best. There is a great explanation of metadata here.
- Thumbnails: YouTube thumbnails are automatically chosen near the 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 marks. As you create content, plan to have something visually interesting happening at one of these points. Most people will only have a choice between these three thumbnails, so pick the most visually interesting one. In the case that you are a YouTube partner, you can upload whatever thumbnail image you would like.
- Leverage Existing Networks: The obvious thing to do is promote your videos on your website, email newsletter, and social networks. Take advantage of any platform where you have the ability to post a video.
- YouTube Promoted Videos: YouTube promoted video ads allow you to target your videos to specific keywords and pay for views. As a bonus, when you run promoted video ads, YouTube allows you to create a call-to-action link on your video, which can be used to drive traffic to another site. There is a great tutorial on how to do this here.
- Annotations: Use annotations on your other popular videos to drive traffic to newer videos. This can easily be done through the YouTube Annotations tool.
- Link building: In many cases, over 40% of views on your videos will come from sites outside of YouTube. Create a plan to reach out to bloggers and other sites, and build embeds of your YouTube videos.
- Channel Design: Spend some time on your YouTube channel. A blank YouTube channel is much like a blank Facebook page. Create a color scheme, upload a background, and organize your playlists, subscriptions and other modules.
- Moderation and Response: Keep a close watch on the comments that happen on your videos and your channel. Be sure to answer questions and respond to comments quickly. Treat these folks like you would treat visitors to your other social pages.
- Engage Fans: Videos with more ratings and comments will appear higher in YouTube search results. Within your content, you should encourage fans to rate, comment, and subscribe to your channel.