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Most growth on YouTube comes from the algorithm promoting your videos to new audiences, find out how you can optimise your videos for this to give them every chance of success.

YouTube is the world’s 2nd largest search engine. People around the globe watch a total of 1 billion hours of YouTube videos a day. Interestingly, over 85% of music video viewing on YouTube happens in the foreground. 

Therefore, when a video is optimised properly, YouTube’s algorithm recommends it to people who would actually be interested in your video.

In this article, we’ll be exploring how the YouTube algorithm works in 2021 and the best ways to drive more views to your latest music video.

YouTube’s algorithm in 2021

In 2021, YouTube’s algorithm has been developed in such a way that it’s able to find the right video for the right viewer and encourage them to keep on watching videos. Most subscriber growth on YouTube comes from the algorithm promoting your videos to new audiences and it promotes videos that get people to stay on the platform longer.

The algorithm refers to three different discovery systems: YouTube’s homepage, its search, and suggested videos. Homepage and suggested videos are the top sources of traffic. 

How does YouTube start showing your video to people? It usually depends on the viewer’s existing preference and their history, your video’s success, and a mix of external factors – including niche market and target audience. 

How can I optimise my videos so that I get more views on YouTube?

Title

When naming your music video, you should:

  1. Put the most recognisable element at the very front e.g. the artist name
  2. Categorise the video e.g. (official visualiser), (radio edit), (official audio), (album version), (lyrics video), (official music video) etc.
  3. Stick to a consistent naming pattern across your channel. 

Tags

Tags tell the YouTube algorithm what your video is all about. This leads the algorithm to recommend it to viewers who want to watch videos like yours. Identify the main keywords using SEO marketing tools such as Google Adwords, SEMRush and Google Trends.

Once you’ve identified the keywords:

  • Add some of them in the video description (especially in the first two lines above the fold). 
  • Add 31-40 branded and unbranded keywords as video and channel tags
  • Insert 2-3 keywords in the video file name.

Description

Your description is an important touchpoint: it showcases what you’re all about to potential fans. It’s an ideal promo platform for upcoming shows and material.

In your music video description, you should always include:

  • The credits
  • A quote about the song and the music video
  • Links to other social media and streaming platforms
  • CTA to your current promotion 
  • Links to other music video and content
  • 3-5 hashtags for maximum optimisation

End cards

End cards enable you to feature other music videos and content in the last 15-20 seconds of your video. You can promote 4 elements and these should encourage your new audience to explore more of your content. Great end card assets include music videos, interviews, live performances and a Subscribe now CTA. 

Retention rate and average view duration

As we’ve said previously the YouTube algorithm is optimised to keep viewers on the platform as long as possible, therefore videos that are more frequently watched till the end cause viewer to stay on the platform longer, therefore YouTube’s algorithm treats that as a signal of quality and promotes it further.

In the case of a music video, this means creating something that grabs the viewers attention quickly and holds it for the duration of the video, rewarding engaging and innovative visuals. If you are posting non-music content you should explicitly say what the viewer is going to see and tease why they should watch until the end.

Another important algorithmic metric is average view duration, if a viewer watches another of your videos in the same session this is another positive sign for YouTube. So why not test out multi-part video series and see if that draws more traction.

Thumbnails

Your thumbnail should encourage people to click on your video. To maximise your music video’s appeal, you should add a custom thumbnail that keeps your channel’s visual style consistent. Else, choose the most interesting shot from your music video that forces people to stop in their tracks and click on it. 

You can delve even further into optimising this by testing it on your fans, many big YouTubers go to great lengths to optimise their thumbnails and they do it by testing them with their audiences on Instagram or Twitter first. It’s easy to do make a poll and ask them to vote for their favourite before using it on YouTube. The more engaging they are, the higher your click-through rate (CTR) and a high CTR keeps users on YouTube longer (so the algorithm will push it further).

Cross-platform promotion

Views that don’t come directly via YouTube’s algorithm still add to your view count. You can increase your view count by running YouTube ads, promoting your video on social media, embedding the video on your website and collaborating with YouTubers that are willing to promote your video. After all, the algorithm only considers how a video performs in context, and not from where it’s getting all the views. 

Final notes

Before posting your next music video, you should ensure that it has:

  • A catchy and descriptive title
  • A comprehensive description
  • 31-40 tags
  • End cards
  • An attention-grabbing thumbnail
  • Cross-platform visibility
  • Retention rate and average view duration

It is worth remembering that these optimisation tips cannot help content that doesn’t resonate with an audience or reach some subjective definition of “good” rack up thousands (or millions) of views. So make sure you’re putting your best foot forward and offer as much value as possible.

Photo by Szabo Viktor on Unsplash

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