It’s a question that both new and seasoned content creators face at some point: How do I increase the visibility of YouTube videos?
After all, you’re producing killer videos. You’ve invested in great equipment, captivating scripts, and professional editing.
On that end, you’ve done just about everything in your budget. But you’re still not getting the views or traction you’ve been hoping for.
So, how do you make your YouTube videos more visible?
This article looks at 7 key strategies you can use to give your videos a boost, ensure that viewers find them, and hook your audience.
Part One: Optimize Your Metadata
The first step to increase the visibility of your YouTube video is to make sure that they’re easy to find and look good in the search results.
You can do this by optimizing the video’s metadata.
This includes its title, description, tags, category, and thumbnail.
All this hands the YouTube algorithm more data to work with. A few of these also make your video more attractive to viewers when they see it.
Easier said than done? Let’s talk about a few of these in a little more depth.
Craft a Captivating Title
To start with, your title should be viewer-centric and to the point. Instead of being cryptic, let your audience know what they can expect in your content.
A tiny bit of clickbait does go a long way – but you will have to deliver on what you promise, or risk disappointing your audience.
Also, keep ’em snappy. Titles that don’t get cut off in searches are more attractive to viewers.
Plus, your title should include your SEO keywords – more on those in Part Two further down.
Tailor Your Description
Second, overhaul your video descriptions.
Officially, the length limit is 5,000 characters – but only the first one or two lines of text will actually be automatically displayed. To get more information, viewers will have to click on “show more”.
Consequently, you should start off with the most important information. This also means that you don’t have to write a whole essay down there (though you can, of course). And again – include your keywords.
For something else that you can do with the video description, we’ll talk about chapters and key moments in a bit.
Use Appropriate Tags and Categories
Next up, #tags help both YouTube’s users and its algorithm figure out what your video is about, and understand its context.
They also make your video more likely to appear alongside similar, popular content.
YouTube also introduced hashtag landing pages a little while ago. When you click on a hashtag, you get forwarded to a landing page that contains videos that use the hashtag in question.
If you put hashtags on your video, it gets an extra chance on appearing on one of those.
Tag generators can help you quickly get a bunch of ideas to tag your video with. But: You shouldn’t just copy them over uncritically.
The key is to only include relevant tags. Simply adding popular, but unrelated tags might get you penalties rather than more views.
Even just using too many of them makes them useless – and may even get your video penalized.
Similarly, video categories help the platform group your videos with related content. This increases the chances of your target audience finding them.
You can choose which category you want your video to appear in under its advanced settings.
Be careful, though. You’ll need to do some research first to see what’s the best match, and what competition is like in every category you might be thinking of.
Set Custom Thumbnails
Finally, design and set your own thumbnails rather than going with YouTube’s auto-generated ones. If you want to give your thumbnails some extra pep, you can use online design tools like Canva, Adobe Spark, or Fotor.
Many video creators outsource the task to a thumbnail design service. It’s not terribly expensive, but can save you a lot of time while giving you professional results.
It pays off: 90% of the best-performing videos on the platform have custom thumbnails.
YouTube recommends using images with a 16:9 ratio (1280×720 pixels). You can use .jpg, .gif, .bmp, or .png files smaller than 2 MB.
Some useful video content management tools – TubeBuddy, for instance – also include fast thumbnail creation features.
Part Two: Harness YouTube SEO and Keyword Research
YouTube isn’t just a video platform – it’s also a search engine. The second largest after Google, in fact.
That means you need to keep search engine optimization (SEO) in mind when creating your content.
In 2022, YouTube SEO is a complex, multi-faceted topic, and there are plenty of in-depth guides out there if you really want to dive into it.
Here are the absolute basics you need to know to increase the visibility of your YouTube videos in the long run.
Base Your Content on Keyword Research
In Part One, we’ve mentioned that your videos’ metadata should include keywords. They are crucial for YouTube SEO.
What are keywords, though?
Basically, keywords are the words and phrases that your target viewers search for. They capture where their interest lies.
To catch that interest, you need to find keywords that are popular in your niche. Then, you can produce content that meets your audience’s demand. If you don’t, you’re missing out on a chance to grow your channel.
To identify good video keywords, you can use YouTube’s autocomplete function, scan your competitors’ clips, or use keyword research tools, such as AnswerThePublic, Ahrefs, BuzzSumo, or SEMrush.
You can then turn these into an entire content strategy.
Take Advantage of Timestamps and Key Moments
Search for just about anything on Google, and some top results will be YouTube videos. And in those videos, Google will often have highlighted certain key moments.
While Google’s algorithm does automatically detect key moments, setting them yourself is better. This way, you can make sure that everything is indexed properly, and – again – with the right keywords.
Check out our key moments guide on how to do this.
If you’ve seen videos with auto-generated captions, you know that they don’t always come out right – especially when speakers have a non-standard accent.
Another instance where auto-captions are often hit-or-miss: the names of people, brands, or products. Subtitles let people know what you’re talking about, even with the sound off!
Uploading your own transcripts lets you make sure that everything is correct, and that your keywords appear prominently.
Plus, you can also add transcripts in other languages. That way, you’ll increase the visibility of your YouTube videos for a multilingual or international audience.
For example, adding Spanish captions can give you bonus points with 38 million potential viewers in the US alone.
If you’ve shot using a good YouTube script, you’ll have half the work for transcripts done already.
Conclusion: Increase the Visibility of YouTube Videos with Optimized Metadata and SEO
Making sure that your content appears in searches and recommendations isn’t easy.
To increase the visibility of YouTube videos sustainably, you have to systematically optimize metadata, and weave SEO into your content strategy.
The good news? If you consistently check these boxes, nothing stands in the way of your videos gaining traction and going viral.
The most important metadata for your video are its title, thumbnail, hashtags, and the video description – especially the first few words of it. Other metadata that help YouTube’s algorithm are transcripts and categories.
Transcripts don’t just clarify how everything and everyone you mention is spelled, they also make it easier for YouTube to find out what your video is about in general. Plus, custom transcripts can easily add foreign language visibility.
A keyword is simply a word or phrase somebody might search for. If YouTube finds that same keyword in one of your videos, it’s that much more likely to get served up. That’s why it makes sense to include relevant niche keywords in your content.