Technically, Youtube is the world's #2 search engine.
Millions of people search for videos every single day, and just as you can optimize a website for Google searches…
You can optimize your videos for Youtube's own internal search function.
In a 2016 academic paper, Youtube actually revealed how its search and discovery features work.
Ever since they made major changes back in 2012, it focuses on watch time, rather than clicks.
Using machine learning, their algorithms react to how people engage with videos.
Using this information, Hootsuite put together a small mini-guide for improving your organic reach on Youtube.
This involves optimizing your descriptions and titles, as well as encouraging your viewers to subscribe, and to watch more videos from your channel.
Here's their advice on how to reach more people through Youtube.
How to improve your organic reach on YouTube
Given what we know about how the YouTube algorithm works, what levers can you pull to improve your ranking and your organic reach on YouTube?
Tweak your YouTube SEO
Before you can improve your watch time and bump your videos’ ranking, you need to be found in the first place, especially when people search the site.
That takes some basic YouTube search engine optimization.
YouTube gives creators control over the key information its search engine relies on to understand what a specific video is about, including titles, descriptions, and tags.
Make sure the copy you use is compelling, to the point, and accurately conveys what the video is about—and what the viewer will gain or learn from watching it.
There’s no sense getting spammy with keyword stuffing:
If you fool people into clicking on your video and they bail after the first few minutes you’re only hurting your ranking.
Getting viewers to pick your videos
Once your video is presented to the users, the next step to improving your organic reach and ranking is to get them to click on the video.
That’s where creative and eye-catching thumbnails come in. Use an arresting image and text—but make sure it truly represents what’s in the video.
Keep them watching
Once someone clicks on a video, you need to keep them watching.
The longer you can keep them watching, the more the algorithm will surface your content. So do what you can to hook the viewer quickly by explaining the benefits of watching the video.
Also, experiment with tactics to convince them to watch all the way to the finish, perhaps by letting them know from the start about any special information you’ll be sharing at the end.
Get more loyal subscribers
Tubefilter says one element that may boost your ranking is view velocity—how many subscribers watch your video in the first couple of days after it’s published.
The more subscribers you have—and the more active they are—the better your chances at ranking higher than competing videos.
This is where working hard to boost your YouTube subscriber count can really pay off.
Build on the power of playlists
Anyone who’s lost a whole night (or weekend) to binge watching their favorite Netflix series knows the power of being served up natural followup as soon as you finish watching the first video.
Playlists drive higher content consumption, keeps subscribers hooked, and can boost your watch time. Instead of creating miscellaneous playlists, bundle videos targeted at the same audience.
Remember that you can get rewarded for session time even when a viewer moves on to someone else’s video.
So if you have a limited number of videos on one subject, experiment with adding videos from a non-competing source to your playlist.
Learn from YouTube analytics
YouTube provides detailed analytics that let you measure the performance of your videos, playlists, and channels.
Pay attention to which videos get the highest watch times and try to understand why they appeal to your audience.
As you get more familiar with which types of videos perform well, look at your history and start setting goals for watch time, views, and subscriber for the next month.
A single poor performing video can drag down the ranking of your entire channel, so don’t hold on to losing content. Refresh, redo, or replace the stragglers with better videos, based on what you can glean from YouTube analytics.
For more tips on promoting your YouTube channel and getting your videos seen by more people, check out our tips for promoting your YouTube channel.
You can learn more about how Youtube's search algorithms work over at Hootsuite.