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5 YouTube Secrets No One’s Talking About

man holding video camera

Videos continue to soar in popularity because they’re more engaging and memorable than other types of content. Online users eat it up, plain and simple. And while other platforms have integrated video, YouTube continues to dominate the space, with users spending over one billion view hours daily. It’s no wonder why YouTube can help boost your online presence and business performance – if you know these tips, tricks, and YouTube secrets.

Here, we’ll uncover five YouTube secrets that can help you gain more viewers and more watch time, as well as grow your channel.

5 YouTube Secrets You Need to Know

1. Thumbnails Impact Your Click-Through Rate

Click-through rate is the number of people who actually click on your thumbnail out of all of those who see it. That’s why yours shouldn’t just be recognizable – they should stand out. It’s also why we don’t just care about impressions. We also care about clicks/conversions.

Rather than using the image that YouTube automatically generates — a screen capture from the video itself — make sure to create your own thumbnail. This is, by far, the best approach. In fact, 90% of the best-performing videos on the platform have custom thumbnails.

Don’t worry if you’re not a design expert. You don’t need to be. You can easily create attractive and engaging YouTube thumbnails using TubeBuddy or Canva (which easily integrates with e-clincher!).

When customizing your thumbnail, use vibrant images that reflect your video’s message or brand identity. (Hint: close-ups of faces that show emotions perform better.) Plain text doesn’t traditionally work well, so limit yours to approximately three to five words.

Always use bright and contrasting colors, large font sizes, and strong titles. Also, remember that people might be using different devices, so keep your thumbnails mobile-friendly. Viewers should be able to understand any words even when the thumbnails are just tiny squares on their smartphone screen.

Here’s an example.

megan grant youtube thumbnails

How do you know if your YouTube thumbnails are working or not? Simple. You should be checking on your YouTube analytics on a regular basis and looking at your click-through rates. A good click-through rate is 3-10%. So, for videos that have below 3%, try testing a different thumbnail and see if this helps.

2. The Retention Rate Tells You When You Lose People

Among many other valuable bits of information, YouTube’s analytics tell you your retention rate – the point at which viewers start to click off the video and leave your page. In short, it tells you when people start to get bored with your content and check out.

You should examine where you lose people in each video and look for any patterns. For instance, if you’re losing them within the first minute, your introduction might be too long. This means you’ll want to get to the point faster the next time so that you keep them hooked.

If you’re losing them more toward the middle, it could mean that they’re simply not finding your information valuable enough to stick around. Review your content to ensure that you’re giving them the exact information that they clicked on your video looking for.

You can also try using “teasers” to keep them engaged until the end. For instance, a few minutes in, you can say something like, “Be sure to stay until the end, because I’m going to tell you XYZ.”

While there’s really no optimal retention rate (some say it’s 10%, others 50%, and some about 60-70%), your goal is to keep this number as study as possible throughout the entirety of the video. Here’s a good example:

youtube video retention rate

Slight (slight!) dips at the beginning and end are normal, but everything in between should ideally be flat.

Here are some tips to keep in mind with your video and video script:

  • Start right away with a compelling hook.
  • Use effective keywords (we’ll dive into this in a minute).
  • Make it short and to the point until you find the right video length.
  • Use accurate titles and descriptions, not misleading clickbait. This will hurt the performance of your channel.
  • Keep viewers excited by giving snippets of what they’ll gain if they finish the video.

Bonus Tip: Adding YouTube cards at the point where users drop off can improve your retention rate. This is because even if people leave your video, they’re still land on your other content within your channel.

3. Optimize Each Video Like You Would a Blog

YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. And it’s owned by Google, so SEO really matters. This is one of many YouTube secrets that remain cleverly hidden. People forget that even though it’s not text-based content, keywords still matter.

Start with video keyword research to know which ones have low competition and high monthly search traffic. These are going to be the keywords that you have a better chance of ranking for. YouTube tools like TubeBuddy, vidIQ, and KeywordTool.io can help you find the most popular keywords in your niche.

Once you’ve selected your keywords, effectively use them when producing your script and video. Also, integrate these words into your title, URL, description, video tags, and subtitles. Be sure to use keywords naturally so as not to hurt your ranking. Just like with blog posts, we want to avoid keyword stuffing. This is bad news.

Similarly, create playlists to increase your session time. This refers to the time people stay on YouTube after watching your content. With playlists, not only are you guiding them to your other videos, but you’re also helping YouTube retain their audience more. FYI: YouTube will reward you for this.

Remember, implementing SEO best practices on your videos just as you would for your blog will help bring in more viewers, more watch time, and a bigger audience.

4. Remember User Intent

People only watch videos that give them solutions to their problems or provide entertainment. That’s why, just like on Google search, user intent is vital on YouTube. This tells you what viewers are looking for, so you can create content that meets their specific needs right when they need it.

One way to determine user intent is through comprehensive keyword research using the tools we’ve outlined above. Another strategy is to see what autocompletes your keywords on YouTube. This shows what popular related searches people are conducting, so you can drill down your topic to meet the user intent.

Here’s an example using the keyword/search term “home workout.” When you type this in, a dropdown box appears with related searches. These results aren’t random or a coincidence. Just like how Google works, YouTube is point-blank telling related terms that people are searching for.

This is valuable information, friends.

youtube autocomplete suggested searches for "home workout"

You’ll also want to pay attention to what your competition is doing. In this case, these are the videos that already have a carousel spot or otherwise rank high in Google, which means they satisfy user intent and perform well on YouTube.

home workout videos on page one of google

Google is putting these so front-and-center in search results because these videos are making users happy. They’re giving them what they want. And that‘s Google’s top priority: Give users what they want.

If your video content accomplishes that, you’re going to do very well online.

Note: These high-ranking results should only serve as your guide/inspiration. See what’s already working then go the extra mile. Do NOT copy. This will backfire. Besides, you don’t want to be as good as your competitors. You want to be better, right? (Right!)

5. The First 24 Hours After a Video is Published Are Crucial

The same goes for blogs. Google — and therefore YouTube — really care about how your content performs within the first day. This gives them a really good idea of how to rank you.

So, you should take care to promote the heck out of your video within those first 24 hours.

You can easily do this by sharing the video on your other social media channels. Additionally, you can write a blog that features the feature. Embed the video so that people can watch it without needing to leave the blog post. This still counts toward your views and watch time.

Actually, cross-promoting is something you should always be doing. Make sure that followers on other platforms know how to find you on YouTube by regularly sharing the link to your channel page.

You can also send out an email blast to all of your subscribers alerting them to your new content.

As always, don’t forget to ask for a thumbs up and for people to subscribe. Add this call-to-action and people will listen. But you have to flat-out ask them for what you want. Don’t assume they’ll just do it.

Just like your blogs, your videos also need a little push if you want to grow your channel. Remember, this is especially important on that first day. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t continue promoting it after that, because you absolutely should. Your rankings will fluctuate over time. Promote, promote, promote.

Finally, don’t forget to add a Subscribe button on your end screen. While not everyone will finish your video, those who do are the ones who are really interested and are most likely to subscribe.

The Bottom Line

With over 300 hours of video being uploaded on YouTube every minute, it can be challenging to remain competitive. You’ve got a lot of competition, the search results are saturated, and it can seem like an uphill battle.

But we’re going to give you the same advice we’d give you with blogging: Consistency is key. Quality matters. Regularly post valuable content, and you’ll enjoy the many benefits that YouTube has to offer.

With these five YouTube secrets revealed, you’re well on your way to gaining more viewers, more watch time, and growing your channel. But keep in mind that this will not be an overnight success story. Nor do you want it to be. We don’t want one video that makes it big and then… crickets. We want long-term success and consistent growth. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

You have to remain consistent with your efforts and focus on producing high-quality content. There are no magic tricks, no short-cuts, no overnight fixes. The brands that do it the right way are the ones who’ll finish on top. Hang in there.

Don’t forget that you can try e-clincher for free. We are your one-stop-shop for all things social media. Sign up today for your free trial and see what the fuss is all about.