Optimizing A YouTube Channel

In our last post we took a closer look at Video Annotations. Now it's time to take a closer look at YouTube Channel Optimization.

YouTube Channel Optimization

Strategy Overview

  • Create a cohesive and compelling channel experience that will turn first time visitors into long-term subscribers.

Why It Works

  • A well-organized channel page and robust channel metadata will make your channel a richer destination for both current and potential subscribers.

How To Do It

  • Optimize channel branding and metadata, create organizational sections and playlists, and produce a channel trailer.

Effect

  • Channel Views, Channel Discovery, Subscribers, Views, Watch Time.

Strategy Details

Channels appear on YouTube more often and in more varied placements than ever before. Optimize your channel for placement in search, related channels, browse channels and the feed so you’ll engage current and potential subscribers across YouTube.

YouTube Channel Name

  • Your channel name will appear across the site in search, suggested channel and channel browse placements.
  • Your channel name is distinct from your channel URL; the name can be edited from the channel page.
  • Pick a channel name that is short, memorable and gives your audience an idea of what your channel is about.

YouTube Channel Description

  • The first few sentences of your channel description appear most frequently across the site so highlight your most important content upfront.
  • Accurately describe your channel.
  • Use relevant keywords in the description.
  • Include your upload schedule, especially if you host multiple content types or series.
  • Example of a great description: VICE: "VICE specializes in exploring uncomfortable truths and going to places we don't belong. Now, thanks to YouTube, we have compressed two decades of our unique immersive approach to these subjects into delicious bite-size morsels. Herein you will find people talking frankly about their hatred and love for various things, general heresy, the only travel and news documentaries you'll want to watch, tons of exclusive new stuff, and probably a lot of cats. You're welcome."

YouTube Channel Icon

  • Upload a square, high-resolution (800px x 800px) image that is recognizable at smaller resolutions. This image will be your channel’s icon throughout the site.
  • Use text sparingly; it can be illegible at smaller resolutions.

YouTube Channel Art

  • Create customized, visually-compelling channel art. Use the channel art tool to choose how the image appears on desktop, mobile, and TV. Remember, busy images don’t scale well so try to keep the image simple, yet representative of your brand.
  • Channel art should reflect your channel’s personality. Make the audience feel like they’re connecting with a person or character and not just a brand.
  • Add website and social media links to the About tab. These links can also be exposed on your home tab and help tie your YouTube presence to the rest of your online brand.
  • Check how your channel looks in search, related channels and the channel browse page. Do your channel icon, channel name and channel art do a good job of describing your channel to potential fans?

Associate your official website with your YouTube channel.

The home tab of YouTube channel pages can display videos in two ways: through Browse or Feed. The Feed view broadcasts channel activity to your subscribers.

In Browse, subscribed and unsubscribed viewers see different versions of your channel. The unsubscribed view is your first opportunity to convince potential fans to subscribe. 

Subscribed View

  • Subscribed viewers see personalized recommendations of “What to Watch Next,” based on their viewing history. In the default view, subscribers will see videos they haven’t previously viewed.
  • Promoting a video with InVideo Programming will push that video to be the first “What to Watch Next” video for viewers who haven’t seen it yet.
  • If you have an event that is currently live streaming, this will be displayed in “What to Watch Next.”
  • Your most recent feed posts will appear on your channel page in the recent activity feed and on the Feed.

Unsubscribed View

  • Unsubscribed viewers will see your channel trailer first. Enable the channel trailer view and upload a channel trailer. The video will auto play, so this is your opportunity to let new visitors know what your channel is all about.
  • Keep your trailer short. You should be able to pitch your channel to a new viewer quickly.
  • Show, don’t tell. If you’re a comedy channel, make a funny promotional video. If you’re an extreme sports channel, incorporate a trick into your video. Your channel trailer is your elevator pitch to potential subscribers: How can you convince first-time viewers to subscribe?
  • Ask viewers to subscribe. Your trailer will also automatically have an end card when the video finishes, giving the audience an easy way to subscribe.
  • Select a trailer video that is viewable by anyone who can visit your channel page (i.e. not geo blocked or age gated). If a viewer is unable to watch your trailer then the module will not appear and they will only see your sections.

If the channel trailer view is not enabled, unsubscribed viewers will just see your sections. (See below.)

Sections

Sections function as the main organizational tool for channels. They are seen on your channel’s Browse page and can be comprised of videos, playlists, or channels. Sections can help viewers make sense of your content, dividing it by theme, genre, show, or talent.

Video Sections

  • A section that just contains videos can be created dynamically from a playlist or another grouping of videos, such as uploads or likes. These will update automatically as you adjust the playlist or grouping of videos.
  • Video sections will push viewers into a playlist watch page that will auto-play videos for a lean-back experience.
  • Video sections can be comprised of your own videos or videos curated from other channels.
  • Advanced playlist features such as in- and out-points will remain in place when a playlist is used as a section on the channel page.

Playlists Sections

  • Sections can also be composed of multiple playlists.
  • Playlist sections can help creators who already organize different shows into multiple playlists.
  • Clicking on a playlist from a section will put the viewer into the first video in that playlist experience.

Channel Sections

  • Creators can promote other channels through sections on the channel page.
  • Use this functionality to promote channels within your own network or be a tastemaker by promoting other content your viewers will love.

Sections Best Practices

  • Many viewers will only see your top section without scrolling. Make sure that you highlight your most relevant and exciting content at the top of the channel page.
  • You can curate entire sections from other channels by creating a section from a playlist owned by another channel. Any time the section is updated by the channel that originally created it, it will also dynamically change on the channel that is curating it. This is a great tool to cross-promote content across multiple channels.

To annotate to a section from a video, use the click-through link for the section from your channel page and input that URL as an annotation.

Featured Channels

  • Featured Channels are channels you choose to promote on your channel page.
  • If you’re promoting a large number of channels, rotate through the list using the "shuffle" feature. This ensures all your channels get visibility.

Related Channels

  • Related Channels are promoted channels populated by YouTube. Recommendations are based on channels that are similar to yours.
  • Disabling the Related Channels feature pulls your channel from being promoted in the Related Channels placement on other channels.

In our next post we'll take a closer look at Reaching All Audiences with closed captioning and the like.

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Post Script: This content originally appeared on the YouTube Playbook - We have included it here as part of this series because we believe it is relevant and adds value to this series, and this series adds value to the playbook. It is not intended to indicate that we are the original author of this specific part of the Video SEO Playbook.... So, yeah, Google please don't sue me. That'd be swell! Thanks.

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