YouTube is the second-most-visited website and second most used search engine globally. Although YouTube has been around for eleven years, plenty of topical opportunities and first mover advantages still exist. For those reasons, rebooting my YouTube channel had been on my radar for a while. I created my channel in 2012 but left it inactive since I wasn’t in the online game. I considered working on it last year, but I decided to develop online courses full-time instead. Currently, developing my channel is a top three priority.
I’m a heavy Facebook user and believe that excluding Facebook from online marketing activities is a huge mistake. However, Facebook misses on one critical factor that YouTube offers everybody; the potential for video virality in the millions. Facebook, like Twitter and LinkedIn, is very much a post today, gone tomorrow platform. For instance, a popular post can attract a lot of engagement, but a day or two later it gets buried by more recent posts. On the other hand, the equivalent content uploaded to YouTube can sustain itself for much longer such as months and years. Video simply has more staying power and currency.
YouTube’s singular focus on video makes it more potent than Facebook which has an ecosystem of many moving parts. For example, Facebook pages, groups, profiles, videos, events, and so on. Also, YouTube in the context of Google search results is highly relevant which yields excellent opportunities for search engine optimization.
I like YouTube over marketplaces such as Udemy and Amazon because you have more control as a content creator which is an important aspect of influencing outcomes and revenues.
10 Tricks and Tips
I’m not a YouTube “expert” or whatever that means, but I do have a considerable amount of social media experience which I can lean on to build a successful channel. In fact, I’m attracting more views and subscribers faster than previous attempts based on these tips.
1) Add Channel or Cover Art
I see a lot of YouTubers waste what is arguably the most valuable real estate on a channel; their cover art. Your cover art provides an opportunity to define what your channel is about. Also, you can highlight your website to attract visitors. On the contrary, when you use a generic image or picture that doesn’t specify anything, you fail to position your channel to the viewer.
2) Add Channel Icon or Profile Picture
There’s no need to spell out this point. You should choose an appropriate and professional channel icon or profile picture–preferably a headshot–for your channel. Choose an image that will connect with your viewers.
3) Complete Your About Description
On your channel’s about tab, add a brief description about yourself or channel. For example, I added a short description regarding the topics I cover and two web addresses. Don’t leave this area blank because it’s another opportunity to inform channel visitors.
4) Add Links to Direct Traffic
Adding links on your about page will appear on the page and more importantly, just above the subscribe button as an overlay on your channel art. Anywhere from one to ten links is fine, but more than that can overwhelm a visitor. Before adding links, take the time to consider where you want to direct traffic and which digital assets you want viewers to discover. Additionally, the link title and URL don’t have to be the same. For instance, I inputted “Make Passive Income” as the link title for my book on Amazon.
5) Create a Custom URL
A couple of years ago, Google implemented eligibility requirements to get a custom URL. This was before my time when barriers to custom URLs didn’t exist. Nevertheless, the biggest eligibility hurdle is getting 100 subscribers, and this will happen for you in lockstep with uploading quality content consistently. The main stipulation to remember is that you will be limited to one change request, so spend ample time brainstorming what makes sense for you. I wanted youtube.com/user/ChadTennant, but it’s taken, so I decided on ChadTennantEVO instead.
Customizing your URL is important because it will impact search results. My chief concern was that “chadtennant” was a part of the URL string to improve search relevance when people search for me (which is the case).
6) Use Custom Thumbnail Images
Before you upload your first video, you should appreciate the impact custom thumbnails have compared to videos without. Custom thumbnails, if correctly designed, can destroy your competition in search results. However, many YouTubers use a generic thumbnail provided by YouTube, but this is a tremendous mistake. You want to stand out from the crowd, and well-conceived thumbnails help you to do that.
My thumbnail design strategy is very simple and includes large text, high contrast, and an image representing the topic covered. I’ve adopted a less is more approach because while using custom thumbnails are the method of choice, overdoing creative elements can yield lower click through rates (CTR).
If you don’t have basic design skills or are not interested in designing your thumbnails, you can outsource design activities to someone at Fiverr or Upwork.
7) Create a Channel Trailer for New Viewers
YouTube offers a slot for a channel trailer, and it’s in your best interest to take advantage of it. A trailer or promo video helps to set the stage and expectations regarding your channel. Moreover, it’s an opportunity to introduce yourself and start a relationship with the viewer. I recommend creating a talking head video of thirty seconds to two minutes consisting of:
- Who you are
- The channel’s focus or value proposition
- Topics you’ll cover
- Where viewers can learn more about you
- Your publishing schedule, e.g., every Wednesday (optional)
If your channel isn’t personal brand focused like mine, then explore what others in your category are using for their trailer videos for some ideas. Alternatively, instead of a trailer video, I occasionally feature a popular video that I want to be viewed.
8) Add Keywords to Your Channel
What’s your channel about from a keyword perspective? Google wants to know and this detail is usually missed by newbies. You can access this via Channel Settings > Advanced > Channel Keywords.
Begin with your main keywords followed by secondary keywords toward the end. These keywords, unlike the keywords and tags you use for your videos, require quotation marks like “passive income” or “online business”. Try to use a mix of specific and generic tags while aiming for less than two hundred characters.
9) Video Descriptions and Tags
Descriptions and tags for videos are critical to YouTube search results and viewers’ experiences. Descriptions are more art than science, so I can’t definitively tell you what is correct. However, including keywords in your descriptions will improve search relevance with the first one hundred and sixty characters being critical.
Video tags are vital to search optimization, and YouTube allows for five hundred characters. I typically use all five hundred characters with the first two hundred characters being critical. I use several tools to select keywords including Google’s keyword planner, SEM Rush, and VidIQ.
10) Use Tools to Gain an Advantage
There are many free tools and services to help YouTubers succeed, and you can read my list of twenty plus YouTube tools for more details.