With over a billion unique visits (200 million rise in 2 years) and over 6 billion hours of video watched per month (almost an hour for every person on Earth), it’s fair to say that YouTube has an audience.
Can my SME Afford to Invest Time into YouTube?
Since its inception in 2007 (Yup, you heard right. YouTube is only 8 years old!) The world’s second largest search engine now has more than a million content creators earning money directly from their content.
There is also over a million advertisers, mostly small businesses, using YouTube’s hyper targeted ads to showcase their products and services to their audience.
Whilst advertising on YouTube is, as the statistics suggest, a great avenue of investment for small businesses, this guide focuses on how your business can create and optimise your own great content to reap the rewards.
YouTube rewards channels that gain a certain number of subscribers with special plaques
…but we know that as a part of a small business, there’s more important things than a shiny golden play button.
Good quality, well optimised videos will drive traffic, increase leads/conversions and lead to a strong ROI. You already knew that but did you realise that 73% of consumers are more likely to purchase from you after they watch a video.
Here is what you/your client’s business should be creating to make the most out of YouTube:
- Helpful how-to’s and illustrative animations that engage your audience and provide use.
- Product or service demonstrations and client testimonials that build trust.
- Industry news and entertainment that boosts brand awareness.
Video can work for both B2B and B2C – Don’t fall into the trap of believing video content is only for B2C websites; using video for a B2B website is just as important.
Forbes insight, in association with Google, found that 52% of senior executives watch work related videos on YouTube at least once a week and like information in a mixture of text and videos (e.g. YouTube for testimonials).
Additionally, video was found to drive executives down the purchase path with 65% visiting a producer’s website and 39% making an enquiry over the phone after consuming their content.
Optimising for YouTube Search
Creating entertaining, useful and insightful videos is one thing, but as YouTube state in their own Optimisation Guidelines – “To help your videos and channel succeed on the platform, you’ve got to optimise them.”
Where your video ranks in YouTube’s search results is based on a variety of factors such as:
Video relevance – This is the measurement of how relevant the video is to the users search query in YouTube video search. This is determined through the Meta data (video title, description and tags) of your video.
The trustworthiness and authority of the video owner – Determined by the total channel views, YouTube membership age, the total number of subscribers and the total number of views.
Video popularity – This is determined by the number of video embeds on other websites, links to the video, views, social media shares, email shares, number of comments and the video rating.
Remember, YouTube doesn’t use backlinks in its algorithm therefore they put a lot of weight into user experience. Subscriptions and ‘likes’ are two of the main way the search engine ranks videos; if you don’t ask for it you usually don’t get it!
Steps to follow:
Keyword research is vital.
The YouTube keyword tool has been discontinued, but you can still use Google Display Planner’s AdWords tool. Just enter the keywords that are relevant to your video and click “Get Ad Group Ideas” and set filters ‘Ad formats and sizes’ to ‘Video’.
Optimising your channel is the bread and butter of having a successful YouTube account. With a little bit of housekeeping you will make current and potential subscribers feel engaged and entertained in your content as well as boosting channel discovery and viewership.
Channel name and description. Whilst your channel name is editable, bear in mind that brand continuity across YouTube is of paramount importance. Although it may be taken, try and get your business’ name and tie it in with your channel URL.
Just like with your videos, the description of your channel should explain clearly what your videos are about, what they provide to the use and who they are aimed at all whilst including relevant keywords.
A succinct list of video upload times will also benefit subscribers as routinely releases encourage return visitors.
Channels with hi-resolution (800px x 800px) icons and custom channel headers receive far more clicks than bland or irrelevant imagery.
Remember that your audience will view your page on a variety of devices and your incredibly detailed profile pic may look like a blurry smudge on someone’s iPhone.
Pro Tip: Your website URL and Social Media profiles (that you should have already added to your about section!) can be revealed in your channel homepage for increased exposure.
On your ‘Videos’ tab you can create playlists to organise videos into different topics.
Its good practice to highlight your best content at the top of the page as users will often not scroll down and instead click the first playlist they see. You can even curate videos posted by other users or your own videos on a separate channel as to cross-promote.
Also, subscribed users see your channel differently to unsubscribed viewers. For example, upon landing on your channel a subscribed viewer will be instantly greeted with a ‘what to watch next’ video whereas an un-subscribed user will see a channel trailer.
Try logging in with a different Google+ account and see how your channel looks as both types of user.
This is vital.
The title of your video should be as descriptive of the content as possible, include relevant keywords that you wish it to rank for and feature a relevant and enticing thumbnail.
If your video is part of a series then label each episode accordingly and don’t forget to add your branding. Just like the titles of web pages in Google, make sure your video title is concise (max 70 chars) so as to fit in the character limit.
You should be aware that updating a title can have dramatic effects on rankings and views even for old content.
Below is a great example:
The description of your video can be optimised too. We recommend writing an extensive description and including every keyword that you want to rank for within it. Of course, make it natural and beneficial for the user but bear in mind that only the first couple of sentences will appear in search results.
Feel free to add links such as ‘subscribe’ and ‘similar videos’ within the description too. Tags are still crucial for getting found on YouTube results pages. Make sure they’re relevant and descriptive. Spamming tags will only harm your rankings.
Annotations are clickable text boxes that appear on screen during videos with the aim of increasing either:
Essentially, annotations are another set of call to actions aside from the ones that we recommend you put in your video description. The added benefit of annotations is that they are far more visible and harder to miss. Many producers currently use annotations to prompt viewers to:
- Like the video
- Subscribe to their channel
- Answer a specific question in the comments section to boost engagement
- Watch other videos by the producer
- Visit the producer’s website
- Visit the producer’s social media channels
Do not: Obstruct the content
Putting too many annotations or placing them in obstructive places will simply confuse your audience and cause them to exit.
Go ahead and start using annotations at the start and beginning of a video but make sure your initial one opens the link in a new window. Why direct visitors away from the original video if they’ve only just begun watching? Save that until the end.
Broaden your horizons. Taking the time that is needed to add captions to your videos is worth the effort. Whether it’s adding captions for the deaf/ hard of hearing or translating for non-English speakers, the community expansion and user engagement that it provides is considerable.
Why limit the reach of your great content? Captions not only open up your videos to a whole new audience, they also add crawlable metadata allowing your site to be ranked even better in YouTube.
If your video is providing genuinely interesting, entertaining or useful content then it’s worth outreaching to websites and influencers in your industry.
YouTube content doesn’t have to be solely entertaining to go viral. Make it genuinely informational and useful for viewers and there’s a chance that popular websites and producers, will share your videos to their large audience of niche viewers.
Asides from outreach, a good promotional technique is to take to online communities and forums and sharing your content on relative threads, especially if it is valuable. Naturally, if you’re only on such forums to self-promote, you will be quickly ignored or ousted by users.
As previously mentioned, this blog focuses on how to create and optimise content for YouTube rather than how you can advertise. However, the power of paid advertisements as a promotional method must be mentioned.
YouTube ads appear before videos, at the side of videos and in search results. They are available on both desktop and mobile and like many forms of online marketing, they are highly targeted and only cost you as the advertiser when they are viewed.
Pro Tip: We don’t recommend YouTube advertisements as an initial promotional method for your online video content.
There is more than enough optimisation tips in this article for any small business in a niche market to start raking in the views. Couple that with a bit of free promotion and the warm leads should start flowing just as fast.
If you’re part of a small business, you will know that measuring and analysing performance is an integral part of your online success.
Whether it’s Google Analytics to measure performance of your site or online tools like Sprout Social to measure social media engagement, you need analytics to reveal actionable insights so you can improve content and expand reach.
Luckily for you, YouTube has its own analytics software (aptly named YouTube Analytics) Exciting right!?
Well, if you consider that ‘YA’ allows you to see your most popular videos, know where about on the internet your traffic is directing from, where in the world they are located, what makes them watch/bounce and much more, then yes! It is very exciting.
Delve deeper and you can analyse which videos are making your audience convert from casual viewers into subscribers, how exactly your audience are interacting with each video and which annotations are working the best.
YouTube in 2015 is big money. Individual content creators aren’t just quitting their day jobs, in some cases they are making upwards of $1,000,000 per year. Dismiss YouTube as a resource of inane videos and a channel not fit for corporates at your own risk.
Your audience are searching for answers to their questions and often prefer a video tutorial over a standard blog post; which are also ten a penny these days.
Invest the time it takes to create quality video content and it will no doubt eclipse your competitor’s lengthy wall of text blogs and drive laser-targeted traffic to your site.
- Begin with keyword research to understand what your audience are looking for
- Optimise your channel to get found easier in YouTube’s search results
- Optimise Metadata to increase clicks on your videos
- Include annotations to encourage your viewers to interact further with your content
- Promote your content on relevant, niche forums and by outreaching to influencers in your field
- Analyse everything! Find out what works and what doesn’t then do it better
Come back and thank me when your site traffic goes through the roof! 😉