YouTube growth hacking is a sure way to expand your channel fast and without spending too much money. Unfortunately, just high-quality content is not enough to ensure your popularity and earnings. It is crucial to use growth hacking and play YouTube's algorithm the way it should be played. Others are already doing it, so you’d be falling behind.
Despite new trends and changes in the algorithm, essential growth hacking tips remain the same and will help your YouTube channel grow and receive the audience it deserves. Below we have compiled the twenty most important tactics to grow your YouTube channel.
1. Upload quality content
It all starts with your content. It must be engaging, informative and of good quality, but finding the correct approach is up to you. Pitch your idea to friends and family, show them early versions of your videos and gather as much feedback as possible. Here are some general tips to get you started:
- Know your niche. Whether you will be commenting on political events, reacting to cat videos or showing DIY tips - you need to be knowledgeable about the subject matter and other creators in the field.
- Know your audience. You won't succeed while creating videos for a generic audience because one does not exist. Create content for a specific audience and fine-tune videos to their taste.
- Define your brand. You need to stand out from the rest of the creators in your niche. Create a logo, use catchphrases, and sounds that will be (over time) associated with your YouTube channel.
- Post periodically. Prepare videos ahead of time and post them when your audience is most likely to watch them. Don't worry if you are behind schedule sometimes. Just make sure to keep some consistency.
- Use hooks. The first 10 - 15 seconds of your video are the most important. Make the viewer interested from the start, so he watches the video till the end.
- Use video cuts. No one has time to sit through awkward pauses. Besides, video cuts allow you to optimize your videos to be of the needed length for your audience and YouTube algorithm (6-8 minutes).
- Include timestamps. If you create a longer video, break it into parts using timestamps. Not only will it be easier for viewers to navigate, but using correct keywords with timestamps might also benefit your visibility.
2. End with a call to action
If you want likes and subscriptions, you can simply ask! It is an effective method of YouTube growth hacking implemented by almost everyone. Just don’t go over the top with your pleas and find creative ways that align with your overall message. Promise viewers more future value if they subscribe.
The best time to do this is at the end screen of your videos. Consider adding a clickable image which would subscribe viewers to your YouTube channel instantly. After all, viewers that sit through the end have likely enjoyed your content. Otherwise, they would have stopped watching it already.
Another reason is that good Youtube videos always end with a call to action (CTA), whether it is a recommendation to view another of your videos, subscribe or both. The whole video should lead to the end screen, which helps viewers perform the needed action immediately.
3. Engage your audience
YouTube's algorithm promotes videos that have an active community. One of the best ways to encourage users to participate is to engage with them as a creator. Luckily, there are many ways you can interact with your audience.
One of the easiest YouTube growth hacks is to like and respond to the comments below your videos. It will take time if you want to keep up with discussions, but if it gets attention, it is worth the effort.
Commenting on videos of other YouTubers can be beneficial too, but you shouldn't be promoting yourself straightforwardly. No one likes someone who keeps spamming their own channel.
Creating polls is another growth hacking method to increase user engagement. Here are a few ideas: ask for what content viewers would like to see next on the channel or their opinion on some matters already covered. Try to look at it creatively and use the information you get in future videos.
Live streaming is another growth hack that’s popular with some YouTubers. A whole subgenre of such content is thriving, and it isn't only gaming content. It can be Q&A sessions, live tutorials, commentaries or anything else you would do on your YouTube channel.
If a live stream is successful, snippets can later be edited and used for more content. A prerequisite for a successful live stream is proper promotion. Announce them in your videos and posts with the exact date of the live stream.
4. Use watermarks and info cards
More options to subscribe to a YouTube Channel means the viewers are more likely to do so. One of the most effective growth hacks is to use watermarks - small clickable pictures in the lower corner.
Watermarks give viewers an easy way to subscribe. Usually, watermarks are YouTube channel logos, but a simple subscribe button can work too.
Info cards (or annotations) can serve a similar purpose to your other videos. They are located in the upper right corner and, when pressed on, can link to other videos or playlists. Just be cautious with this tool, as it can damage viewer retention when used recklessly.
5. Create a good title
The title is one of the main things people look for before playing any YouTube video. So it is your way to fight for a click on a search results page or among suggested videos. Your resources are limited, though, as the title cannot exceed a hundred characters.
Good titles are even shorter, as creating a catchy and compelling name is easier in around 50 - 70 characters. But the aesthetic look is only a part of the formula. Another reason to create shorter titles is because of the mobile growth hacking. Longer titles might not be as effective on small screens.
Youtube's search algorithm considers the title when ranking channels or videos on the results page. So it is a good idea to apply some search engine optimization (SEO) practices and add keywords to your title. When thinking about topics for your videos, look for keywords you want to rank for and create the title accordingly.
6. Optimize thumbnails
Thumbnails can be even more important than titles for YouTube growth hacking. The most common advice is to make them represent and tease what's inside the video. Attract attention with flashy colors and keywords from your title. Using the same design throughout your YouTube channel can make the thumbnail a mini ad for you.
While it does require some visual creativity, simple and free tools like GIMP or various online YouTube thumbnail creators will do the trick. Just ensure that everything you design is in high resolution and can fit all screen sizes the way you intended.
A thumbnail that overpromises or shows something that won't appear in the video might be beneficial in the short run. However, people who don't find what they are looking for are unlikely to become subscribers and long-time viewers. It’s better to keep the thumbnails aligned to the video's content.
7. Optimize descriptions
On the surface, descriptions are only an additional section of your video with some information. But descriptions go hand-in-hand with titles when it comes to Youtube growth hacking. It can accomplish a similar function as the title does, just with more space for keywords.
The first 25 - 30 words of the video description are crucial to how Youtube search will rank your video so it is where your main keywords should go. Besides, without expanding the description, only three lines of text are visible, which is about thirty words.
You should also include the main keywords you target in the description at least a few times. Additionally, you can add other keywords that aren’t directly related to the video but relate to the topic or your channel. Finally, adding links to other videos on your YouTube channel is a great way to improve your link-building.
Descriptions, titles, and thumbnails can be updated even if you uploaded the video long ago. It’s beneficial for cases when the topic is time-sensitive, but the content remains relevant. For example, a video about the top browsers for 2021 might still be relevant, so you can just change the date.
8. Make playlists
Another way of YouTube growth hacking is to organize your videos into playlists. It will increase your views organically as it’s easier for viewers to continue watching your videos when they are a part of a series. YouTube’s algorithm also prefers such videos as they tend to increase visitors' session time.
Playlists can also help with growth hacking SEO. Just like with a video, the playlist can have a title and a description, which can include your targeted keywords. Some of them may overlap with the keywords of your videos, but generally, playlists should aim for an overarching topic.
9. Use only relevant keywords
If you want to be effective at YouTube growth hacking, you must pick your keywords carefully. Keyword research is the practice of finding search terms that people are entering to search engines. YouTube is a search engine too, so the same applies.
Start by creating a seed keywords list - a set of broad topics that you can develop into more specific keywords. For example, if you aim to create a channel about bicycles, your seed keywords could be "urban cycling", "mountain biking", and similar.
These keywords are too broad and competitive, but they will give you some idea of where to start. Keywords of 2-3 words length are optimal as single-word keywords are too general. Long-tailed ones (4 and more words) can be used as well, but with specificity comes a reduction in overall traffic.
Researching keywords can be difficult without the proper tools. A good start is to enter keywords into the YouTube search or Google as your viewers would. However, such an approach would not provide you with the necessary keyword volume data and other metrics.
Finding relevant keywords without good data leaves you reliant on luck. Free keyword research tools are a good start for bringing you the needed data conveniently. Make sure that your video creation process goes hand-in-hand and that you actually pronounce the keywords in videos.
A huge risk when optimizing for keywords is to lose your balance and make everything just about them. Remember, you are creating content for people that is also optimized for keywords and not the other way around.
10. Name uploaded video files correctly
One of the most simple yet often overlooked YouTube growth hacks is to use keywords in the video file you upload. Even if it is more convenient for you to use some random phrase when editing, rename the file before uploading.
It will tell Google what keywords to focus on in your video and can increase your video's visibility. The best strategy is to use the video's full title as the video file's name. While it might not be something with tremendous impact, it should be done and takes only a couple of minutes.
11. Build backlinks
Backlink building is a growth hacking technique in SEO. Backlinks are hyperlinks directing visitors from one website to another. More links from trusted websites mean better chances of ranking high on the search engine results page of sites like Google or Bing.
Your Youtube channel works the same way, so you should aim to increase the number of websites linking to your videos online. Create a website or a blog for your channel and publish your videos there. You can also embed videos so visitors can watch them without leaving your webpage.
A good start is to research the backlinking strategy of your competitors. Once you find the sources where they post their backlinks, you can post links to your YouTube videos there too. There are various free backlink checkers, such as this one, to help you with this task.
12. Promote on other social media platforms
Having a presence on other social media sites can impact your YouTube channel positively. It is a source of backlinks since you will share your videos there yourself. If you succeed in your efforts at social media marketing, others will start sharing the videos too.
Presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms not only helps with backlinks, however. They can enable you to reach and gather a wider audience. It is especially true if you will produce some extra content there. Then you can direct viewers to your YouTube channel.
Participating in small private groups will allow you to rally your community and interact with it more closely. If you get more popular, such groups can later be moved to platforms like Patreon for monetizing content.
13. Answer questions online
Another great YouTube growth hack for increasing traffic and building backlinks is to promote your videos by answering questions online. It is especially effective if you have an informational Youtube channel. Create an account on websites like Quora and Reddit or look for online forums relevant to your niche to find questions you can answer.
Once there are questions that can be answered with a video, provide a brief explanation and a link to your YouTube channel. Follow a few simple rules: try to fit into the communities, don't spam and don't make it obvious that you are promoting your channel.
14. Collaborate with other YouTubers
Collaborating with other creators is one of the best YouTube growth hacks. It exposes your channel to an existing community while also helping your SEO efforts. There are at least three approaches you can take:
- The easiest collaborations are mutual subscriptions. Subscribe to other YouTubers who have a similar audience and ask them to subscribe to your channel. Unfortunately, it isn’t likely to be very effective for growth hacking.
- A more effective strategy is to ask popular YouTubers to mention your channel. If they like your content, they might even do it for free. Most of the time, however, they will ask for something in exchange.
- The best way to collaborate is to co-host a YouTube video together. It brings the best chances of going viral. Just make sure the collaborator is as popular as you and that audiences are similar.
15. Track Youtube analytics
The YouTube Studio dashboard is a powerful tool for growth hacking. It provides most of the statistics you need to track your progress and find action points for your future videos. There is no better way to know which YouTube growth hacking methods are working and worth your time than tracking statistics.
- Watch time. Shows the total number of minutes viewers spend watching. It can tell a lot about how the quality of your videos changes.
- Impressions click-through rate. Measures how often viewers watch a video after seeing the thumbnail and title.
- Average view duration. Calculated by dividing the total watch time and the number of views. An excellent average view duration is around sixty percent.
- Audience retention. The percentage of viewers who watched the video till the end. Fifty percent retention for a five-minute video is normal. But the shorter the video, the better retention should be your aim.
- Audience engagement. Measured in comments, shares and likes. More audience interactions with the video mean more suggestions by the algorithm.
- Unique viewers. Those who watch your videos more than once, but only count as one.
- Traffic source. Shows how your viewers found your videos. Monitor it to measure which YouTube marketing campaigns work.
Most of the statistics and functionalities of the YouTube Studio dashboard are available on phones. So there’s no inconvenience in monitoring everything on the go. Besides monitoring, a great way to use these metrics is to run some A/B tests with titles, thumbnails or even different versions of the same video.
16. Automate your Youtube channel
YouTube automation lowers the manual labor you have to put in while managing multiple accounts for growth hacking. Automation tools use bots - software designed to perform repetitive tasks without human intervention. They can increase various user engagement metrics and help post or create content.
We can categorize automation tools into two broad groups:
- Automation software can help with tasks such as SEO, YouTube analytics, commenting, liking, posting and others.
- Growth tools downright sell user engagement metrics - likes, views, comments and subscriptions.
While the first type aims to save time on demanding tasks, the second one can provide you with exponential growth for a small investment. You can also achieve growth hacking goals by using YouTube view bots – automated software that you will have to set up on your own to increase user engagement metrics.
Unfortunately, some use automation tools for vicious purposes, such as spamming and spreading misinformation. Most social media sites, including Youtube, tend to ban creators that use bots. To avoid such trouble, use quality proxies, especially if you manage multiple accounts.
There is a large variety of different automation tools, and finding the right one can be a headache. Check out our entry on the five best Youtube automation tools and save yourself from the hassle.
17. Optimize YouTube Video Ads
There are two YouTube growth hacks to implement with video ads. One is to promote your own videos on YouTube. Skippable ads are the best option as they ensure only interested audiences arrive to your videos. Since you only pay for the clicks, such YouTube marketing campaigns provide the best return for investment.
Another growth hack related to YouTube video ads is video demonetization. If you have just started, it’s best to demonetize your videos, so viewers would have a better experience while watching your content. It might seem tempting to monetize right away, but a better strategy is to build a dedicated audience first.
18. Optimize videos for Google search
A lot of growth hacking can be done in Google search as videos can rank there too. Making your YouTube videos eligible for Google search is easy - you only have to upload them publicly. Occupying a high-ranking spot is where it gets tricky.
Videos most often appear when users enter informational search queries. These queries cover broad topics as the intention is to get some information. The user is not looking to make a purchase or for a specific website.
If your video can answer the question and provide relevant information, it will appear as one of the answers. Here are some informational queries where videos are most likely to be the answer:
- Sports - "Correct way to do a push-up"; "Throwing 3-pointers".
- “How to” questions - "How to bake a pizza"; "How to install RAM?".
- Reviews - "MacBook Pro 13 review"; "Is Cyberpunk 2077 worth it?".
- Tutorials - "Changing a tire"; "Correctly applying eyeshadow".
There are many more search queries providing a huge potential for growth hacking. It is even possible to find keywords that do not have ranking YouTube videos but definitely should. Be sure to search Google before creating videos and take all the opportunities you can get.
Having a video is not enough - you also need keywords in the video's title and description. Another action is to use timestamps for creating key moments in your video. It helps Google find the relevant parts and provides you with yet another opportunity to use keywords.
If YouTubes subtitle generator is having trouble transcribing your speech (as is often with specialized vocabularies), you should upload subtitles yourself. It will ensure that the search engine picks up every keyword.
Lastly, you should build some backlinks to your video for Google to recognize it as authoritative. The same SEO growth hacking rules apply to videos as to all other content in this regard.
19. Use Ads on Google
First, you need to link your Google Ads account to your YouTube channel. You can find the option in your Google ads account settings under the Advanced Settings tab. It will allow you to view the metrics of your YouTube channel in the Google account and target needed demographics and locations.
Promoting with ads on Google is likely to be a great growth hacking method. However, it is not a practice that can be recommended for everyone. Companies with branded YouTube channels benefit from such exposure more. Small creators should be more careful as ads might bring costly views that aren't converting to subscribers.
20. Use additional tools and sources
There are many tools that can boost your productivity and increase your reaction to changing trends. A common mistake of new Youtubers is not using the right tools, so it is worth adding as one of the Youtube growth hacks. Here are some free must-have tools and sources.
The Youtube audio library is a catalog of copyright-free sounds and music for you to use in your YouTube videos. It can be accessed on YouTube studio and here.
Screen recording software is crucial for tutorials. Although most operating systems these days have in-built screen recorders, they lack some necessary functions for Youtube. OBS Studio is a versatile open-source alternative.
URL shortening is something you will use often when sharing YouTube videos online. Long URLs look bad and untrustworthy. TinyURL has a decent free plan to solve this issue.
The tips for YouTube growth hacking might look overwhelming. But you should keep in mind that successful YouTube marketing will take time. Results appear only later, and you will need to experiment till you find a growth hacking approach that works for you.
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Usually, quality content, keyword optimisation and some automation bring the best results. Stay persistent, and success will follow.