Learn best practices to drive viewership, optimize videos for organic discovery, and support more effective video campaigns on YouTube.
Help your audience find you
Every single YouTube channel has access to some very basic organic discovery tools. These give anyone who uploads a video the opportunity to tell YouTube what that video is about so it can be found more easily with search.
The information that users give YouTube about their videos is called metadata. Metadata is also used to associate videos with related keywords, fueling “related video” recommendations.
There’s a lot to know about metadata, so check out the helpful links in the sidebar. But here’s the basics:
- Your video’s thumbnail is its movie poster. It’s the book cover. Thumbnails require an art director’s eye for branding, and shouldn’t be an afterthought. These images should be clear at all sizes, even on a mobile phone screen — and that includes any text. Carefully consider and test thumbnails.
- Titles should tell a story. The ones that perform best are often front-loaded with highly-searched keywords that accurately describe your video. One technique is to ask a question or pose a challenge in the video’s title, and supply a solution with the video content.
- Use the description field to give additional information about your video and company. Remember this section is often truncated to just the first two lines, so be concise in that real estate! It’s also a good idea to include links and calls-to-action in your descriptions.
Employ truthful metadata to set audience expectations: accurately describe what’s in the video, and avoid off-topic keywords or misleading information. Some creators mistakenly think using dozens or hundreds of popular keywords can boost organic rank, but misleading viewers is far more likely to drive them away, or even result in penalties against a channel.
- Make the most of your metadata
- Write catchy titles
- Make video descriptions work for you
- Add closed captions and subtitles
See it in action
How people find videos on YouTubeOptimize your videos to make them discoverable and effective on YouTube. Joe Penna (aka MysteryGuitarMan) talks about metadata, plus some additional tricks and tips.
Avoid misleading metadataLearn what NOT to do when it comes to applying metadata to videos. Follow the advice in this video to increase your chances of being organically discovered, and decrease your channel’s risk of being in poor standing.
Drive more time on site
One unexpected strategy that can increase your overall standing on YouTube is to consciously and strategically drive watch time. Every single channel gets two important opportunities to do this.
Playlists are a series of videos that can be programmed to auto-play in a predetermined order; the fact that they will continue playing until told to stop can help drive session watch time. Build playlists in YouTube wherever possible, and whenever it makes sense. Share links to playlists in the same way you would link to videos. The top-performing brands on YouTube build and promote twice as many playlists as the bottom 25%.
Playlists have two important features: one is as a chapter or table of contents; they can function like a channel within a channel. Playlists are also shareable: rather than sharing just the link to one video, people can share the link to a playlist.
You might be familiar with annotations; cards are the next generation of that. You have five opportunities to incorporate cards per video. We like cards because the appearance and function of them are consistent; they look great on mobile, and they don’t interrupt the viewing experience.
Use info cards to link viewers to other videos on your channel, other channels you manage, or to partner videos.
See it in action