Engaging and quality content is key for any successful YouTube channel.

promote youtube videos viewers have a very short attention span; one Microsoft study suggests that our attention span shortened from 12 seconds to 8 seconds just in 2015!

And YouTube knows this. So, it relies on user experience data like…

Watch time: the total amount of time people have spent watching your video.
Average views per viewer: how many times a viewer watches your videos on average.
Audience retention, which includes:
Average view duration: average minutes watched per view for a selected video and date range.
Average percentage viewed: average percentage of a video your audience watches per view.
Click-through rate (CTR): percentage of thumbnail impressions that turned into views.
Engagement metrics: likes, dislikes, comments
…to help them decide which content is the most engaging and worth promoting. The better those metrics are, the more engaging (and worth watching!) your content is.

The YouTube algorithm is designed to keep people using their platform. And research suggests the algorithm will reward channels that help them reach that goal.

Simply put:

YouTube will reward you with better exposure if it knows your videos can keep people engaged and on the platform for longer.

To do this, you need to give your viewers a reason to keep watching very early on in the video.

There are a number of ways you can create engaging content, for ease of reference I’ll split them up in two ways:

Technical: the way you set up your camera.
Verbal: the way you perform on camera.
Let’s go through each of them individually…

The quality of your videos matters, it gives the viewer a sense of legitimacy from your content and creates a better user experience.

The technical aspects of video creation can be intimidating, but there are a few simple things you can do to improve the quality of your videos:

Improve your sound quality by investing in a professional microphone.
Boost your video quality by choosing the right video format.
Generate closed captions and subtitles for differently-abled viewers.
Adjust your camera angles (eg. zoom in or out).
Once you have your technical specification on point you’ll need to also make sure that the way you present on camera is attention-grabbing and engaging.

You can do this by:

Quickly explaining the point of the video
Creating a video “hook”
Alluding to upcoming points (“In just a few minutes we’ll talk about [X], but first…”)
Using rhetorical devices to keep people interested (“But wait, there’s more!)
Adding cutaways to relevant content (nobody wants to watch a talking head).
In this video you can see that all of these verbal and technical pointers are used:

2. Niche Down Your Channel’s Topic
There’s an old marketing saying: “The riches are in the niches”.

If you want to get more views on YouTube and attract a more targeted audience (ie: people who will watch your videos and subscribe to your channel) you need a clear content niche.

If you’re currently trying to create videos for everybody, they’re going to end up reaching nobody. Audiences don’t want a generalist, they want a specialist!

You need to get clear on the common theme that ties all of your videos together. This sets an expectation of what the videos you upload will be about for your target audience.

For example:

Do you help people solve a specific problem?
Do you create entertaining videos around a particular topic?
Do your videos appeal to a specific group of people?
The more niche you can make your topic, the more interested people that want or need your content you’ll find, as there’s less competition in that space!

For example, if we drill down the topic “baking”, you might get:

Baking (a huge topic)
Vegan baking (a slightly smaller topic, but still lots of competition)
Gluten-free vegan baking (a more targeted niche)
Gluten-free vegan baking for health and fitness (a really targeted niche)
There will be fewer people at each stage of the drill-down, but the needs of that audience become much clearer.

How to find your content niche is a little beyond the scope of this article. But, we do have an entire guide to help you drill down and find the right niche for you! Click below to find out more.

Niche content
Uscreen logo
Is Your Video Content Niche Enough?
Read this Article
3. Add “Pattern Interrupts” To Keep People Watching For Longer
YouTube loves it when people watch your videos right to the end. As you’ll learn in tactic 12, they put a high priority on “audience retention”.

If you can keep a high percentage of people watching your content, they’re going to prioritize your videos over others, and send more traffic your way.

Better still:

You don’t need everybody to watch all of your videos to get results. You just need to aim for around 50% of your viewers watching at least 50% of your video!

Research suggests that, if you can do this, YouTube’s algorithm will favor your content and suggest it for more search results or on a subscriber’s “Home” feed.

One of the best ways to increase the percentage of your videos your audience watches is by using what YouTubers call Pattern Interrupts.

Pattern interrupts are small and unexpected breaks or changes in your video, that cause the viewer to have to re-engage with it.

The best way to explain this is to show an example.

Take a look at this video from Mr.Beast. You can see how he uses pattern interrupts – such as changing the camera angle or zooming in – to break up the standard talking-head video structure.

Pattern interrupts can take on many forms, like:
Strategically placed B-roll
Audio snippets
Anything that is relevant to your video’s subject and will keep audiences engaged!

If you want to learn more about how you can make better YouTube videos, check out our full guide on how to make a killer YouTube video.

4. Conduct Keyword Research For YouTube SEO
YouTube is the world’s largest video search engine. It’s basically Google for video content!

If you want to get more views on YouTube, you need to make sure your videos are optimized to show up for the specific terms people are searching for.

How do you do this?

By conducting keyword research.

Keywords are words or phrases that users are searching for. You know, things like:

How to tie a tie
Espresso machine reviews
Fluffy pancake recipes
You need to target the most relevant keywords for your content when you tag, describe, and title your videos. This tells YouTube’s search algorithm what your videos are about!

The first step in conducting keyword research is understanding the problem that your video is solving. You need to get into the mind of your potential viewer.

There are several tools you can use to see what keywords your potential viewer is going to search. The first one is YouTube itself.

Let’s say you’re looking to create a video on the topic: how to make pancakes. You can type that into the search bar and see what keywords YouTube suggests.


You can use an asterisk (*) as a wildcard to replace any word in your search query to see the most popular variation of the keyword search.

keyword research youtube pancake example
For this search, I replaced the main verb with an asterisk to see what searchers use. In this case, they use ‘make pancakes’ not ‘cook pancakes.’

But, you can also use the asterisk to suggest different variations of your keyword, like here:

pancakes keyword research youtube
Once you’ve searched for different variations of the keyword – in my case, ‘pancakes’ – you can compile a list of the most common or popular searches.

For me, the most popular searches seem to be:

How to make pancakes.
How to make fluffy pancakes.
And, how to make banana pancakes.
From this search you’ve learned 3 things: people want pancakes, they want them fluffy, and they want them healthy. (Where do I sign up?)

If you want more specific insights, you can also use other free and premium tools like Keywords Everywhere and TubeBuddy to help you.

These tools provide metrics like search volume and competitiveness to help you decide which keywords to use.

Below, you can see I’ve used TubeBuddy to verify which keywords have a moderate to high search volume and low competition:

how to make pancakes keyword search tubebuddy
pancake recipe keyword search tubebuddy
how to make fluffy pancakes keyword search tubebuddy
If you’re a smaller channel, I recommend you start with long-tail keywords – ones with more words and specific statements – as they tend to have lower competition from other channels.

That will make it easier for you to rank right now. And, as your channel grows, you can begin to target more competitive keywords.

5. Conduct Keyword Research For Google SEO
Another way to gain more views on YouTube is to optimize for Google. Yeah, you read that right!

According to searchmetrics Google’s video carousel appears for 67% of searches on desktops and 54% on mobile. Of those searches, Youtube dominates the video search market share by over 90%!

how to make pancakes google video carousel
That means there’s a lot of people looking for videos like yours, and Google is actively trying to send them your way!

Better still…

You can increase your chances of ranking without putting in too much extra effort.

Like in the Keyword Search For YouTube SEO section, you can use Google’s search bar and see which suggested keywords will help you to rank.

how to make pancakes google search suggestions
You need to verify that your list of Google keywords overlaps with the YouTube list.

In this case, “how to make pancakes” and how to make fluffy pancakes’ are popular searches that appear on both YouTube and Google.

You can then use Google’s nifty oopen-sourcepen source search trends tool to see which variation of keywords has a good amount of interest.

keyword search pancakes google search trends
You can also filter the search trends by YouTube search results:

pancake keyword search youtube filter google search trends
You can see here that the key phrases ‘how to make pancakes’ and ‘pancake recipe’ are the most popular searches. But these keywords also have high competition. This means that they are harder to rank for!

That’s why we recommend that you go for the long-tail keywords with a decent amount of searches but lower competition.

6. Create Catchy Keyword-Driven Video Titles
Now you’ve got your keywords, it’s time to use them!

Titles are the first text your audience sees when they come across your videos.

That’s why you need to ensure your headlines…

are relevant to what your target audience is searching
accurately describe what’s in the video
contain the keyword you’re trying to rank for
are short and sweet
don’t contain clickbait
…to give them the best chance of ranking.

In fact, research shows longer titles can underperform when it comes to ranking on YouTube, it’s best to keep your titles under 50 characters.

Going back to our favorite pancake example, you can see the impressive use of specific and broad keywords in this title.

how to make pancakes video title youtube
Recipes by Carina has 607K subscribers, a medium-sized channel when compared to the largest channels which have over 50M subscribers.

This specific video got 14 million views, well above the number of subscribers for the channel! The video also ranks on the first page of YouTube’s SERP and appears on Google’s video carousel.

7. Get More Clicks With Attention-Grabbing Thumbnails
Custom thumbnails can help you increase your click-through rates (CTR) from search results.

This is important because the more people who click your video, the more relevant YouTube will deem it for the search query.

Going back to our fluffy pancake example:

You can see that the thumbnail visually answers the searcher’s query. It’s a stack of fluffy pancakes that looks like what the searcher is probably trying to make:

how to make pancakes video title youtube
We recommend customizing your thumbnails rather than just using a still from your video. That way you can:

Include a relevant image that visually shows you’re answering the searcher’s query. Using an object, person, or both is usually a good idea.
Add keywords to explain further what the video is about, or to amplify the message.
Use a consistent color scheme across your channel which will help your audience visually differentiate your videos from other YouTube videos. Color schemes also attract the viewers’ attention. You can use contrasting or complementary colors on the color wheel. This will help make your videos stand out against YouTube’s grey background.
Take the thumbnails on our Uscreen YouTube channel:

uscreen youtube channel thumbnails example
You can see the consistent use of our brand color, blue, which stands out against YouTube’s grey background and strengthens Uscreen’s branding.

We’ve also used a mix of graphics, keywords, and faces with clear attention-grabbing expressions.

If you want to learn more about how to quickly and easily create thumbnails, you can check out this video:

8. Find Opportunities To Boost Your CTR
On the subject of click-through rates:

You can use TubeBuddy’s premium ‘Click Magnet’ tool that helps you get even more out of our thumbnails and titles.

It’ll suggest changes you can make, so you can tweak your titles and thumbnails in a way that will help you attract more attention and get a higher CTR.

Check out TubeBuddy’s video so you can learn more about the tool and how to use it:

9. Optimize Your Video Descriptions To Boost SEO And Keep People Watching
Video descriptions are super important.

They’re the perfect place to include the keyword variations you found earlier so you can give some extra juice to your YouTube SEO.

You can also include links and other relevant information that make watching videos more enjoyable and informative while keeping people on your channel.

Keep the description tightly focused on the video’s subject. Research shows that the optimal description length for ranking and view performance for a video ranges 300-400 words:

youtube video description example
You can follow this description template which generally works well:

Add an opening sentence that contains your keyword, along with a CTA to subscribe to your channel.
Have the first 50-100 words summarize and describe your video.
Write a passage that does not exceed 400 words to add context to the video
List relevant videos from your channel that you recommend.
You should also check out Youtube’s guide to writing smart and discoverable descriptions for more tips.

10. Add Timestamps To Connect Viewers With The Information They Need
If one thing is true about people on the internet, it’s this:

They want answers, and they want them fast.

Videos can make it hard to get quick answers because you have to watch it until the presenter gets to the point you want to know about. (Unlike a blog post where you can jump about.)

This can wreak havoc with those important watch-time metrics if people keep clicking away before they get to the meat of the video!

But there is a way to capture more attention and boost those important metrics. All you have to do is add timestamps to your videos!

There are clickable links in your video description that let users jump to a specific section or piece of information. Here’s how they look over on our Uscreen YouTube channel:

youtube video timestamps example
You can make the titles for each section as specific as you like (bonus point for keywords!) so viewers can skip right ahead to the information they want.

To create a timestamp, you need to type out the time in your description in this format: hh:mm:ss, which will automatically create a timestamp link.

For example:

You can then add a description between each timestamp to name the ‘chapters’ within your video.

To trigger the chapters feature, you need to include a 0:00 timestamp in your description and chapters need to be at least 10 seconds in length.

Another added benefit to using timestamps is that it increases your likelihood of appearing on Google’s key moments feature.

Google identifies key anchor points on a video and includes them as links on the Google search page.

google key moments example
You can check out a quick tutorial on how to add timestamps from Youtube’s free Creator Academy: