How YouTube videos become successful

The platform is both a search engine and a community. A look at the most important success factors.

How YouTube videos become successful

YouTube continues to be the number one platform in terms of long-term video reach. But the question is: How do you reach as many viewers as possible? There are essentially three ways:

  1. The videos appear at or near the top of a search result. YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. Google itself lists YouTube videos for matching searches as well.
  2. YouTube recommends them to users as the next suitable video. This is displayed at the end of previous videos, in the sidebar or on the homepage.
  3. They are shown as new videos to your channel’s subscribers.

Some preparatory work is required to make sure your videos are displayed here. Let’s look at this in detail:

Step 1: Research the keywords and topics

The first step is to find out what topics your target group is looking for in video form. Then it depends on which concrete question or which interest comes up particularly frequently within this subject area. And finally, it is a matter of researching the appropriate keywords. All these points would each be worth a separate article and go beyond the scope of this one. Buffer’s success story provides several useful tips in this regard.

The most important keywords should ultimately appear in the title, in the description and of course in the keywords.

Step 2: Analyze the competition

If a topic has already been extensively covered, you may well be wasting your time. Are there already one, two or more well-made videos about your topic that have many views? If so, you should either tackle a whole new topic, be more specific, offer a different perspective or change the type of video.

Step 3: Define the type of video

Tests and comparisons, instructions or explanatory videos are in high demand on YouTube. But there are numerous other formats. The type and scope of the videos depends entirely on the target group. The general recommendation that videos should not be longer than 2:30 minutes is nonsense. After all, averages like this do not account for what makes the most successful videos or what your target group prefers. As it turns out, long videos are actually well liked on YouTube.

Step 4: Promote interaction

YouTube looks at how much engagement your videos generate. Those who get a lot of likes and comments therefore have an advantage. How many minutes viewers spend watching the videos is also important.

Your videos should keep users active on the site as well, because that’s the only way YouTube makes its money. Tip: playlists for topics and questions can encourage users to watch more videos.

If these values are right, your video will be listed higher in the search and recommended by YouTube as the next video.

Step 5: Turn viewers into subscribers

Even if a video reaches a lot of viewers, it won’t necessarily ensure long-term success. To do this, you have to gain subscribers for your own channel.

One good practice consists of actively referring to the subscription in your videos. The basics also have to be right. In other words, users need to know at a glance why they should subscribe to your channel. Ideally you should explain what your channel is about, what viewers can expect there, as well as what you publish when and how often. The channel video, for example, is the perfect place for this. The information could also be included in the channel’s cover image. And last but not least, your videos and playlists should also reflect this.

Further optimizations

There are more elements that contribute to success or failure on YouTube. For example, you should always create a preview image for each video. Not surprisingly, faces work best for this. Both the title and the beginning of the description should be appealing and motivate viewers to click on it. After all, these are the three elements that appear in search results.

The bottom line

As is often the case, a clear concept is helpful, which you communicate clearly and then consistently pursue. There are certainly channels that have disregarded such advice and yet still achieve success. After all, there are no laws. Nonetheless, it can be helpful to stick to these basic guidelines.