Did you know that video content accounts for over 74% of all online traffic? And over five billion YouTube videos are watched every single day. If you did, then you’ve probably already started leveraging video for your business. If you haven’t, let me be the one to tell you that video is crucial and an important content tool for growing your audience. Here’s everything you’ll need to know, from creating a YouTube channel, to optimizing and customizing your channel, to uploading videos.

optimize your YouTube channel

Let’s start with the basics: In order to share, create, and comment on YouTube content, you first need a Google account.

Step 1. Sign into Google Account

Don’t have a Google Account?

Go to youtube.com and click “sign in.” It’s located in the upper right-hand corner.

You’ll then be redirected to a Google sign-in page.

Click “more options” then “create account.”

From there, follow the steps to create a Google account.

Already have a Google Account?

Go to youtube.com and click “sign in.” You’ll be taken to the same Google page I mention above. If you have multiple Google accounts, be sure you select the one that you want associated with a YouTube channel.

Step 2. Optimize your YouTube channel with brand details.

Now that you’ve set up and signed into your YouTube account, you can create a channel. Click your user icon in the upper right-hand corner. Then select “Settings” on the drop-down menu that appears. From there, navigate to Account Overview, under “Additional Features.” Click “Create a new channel.” Enter your Brand Account name. This can be whatever you want but pick something that reflects the brand the channel represents. For the sake of consistent branding, pick a name and stick with it.

You can verify your account via text message or phone call. Enter the code that you receive and voila, your brand account is verified. Now, you’ll be taken to your channel Dashboard and it’s time to start customizing.

Step 3. Customize your channel with detail and visuals.

The first customization element is all the descriptive details. Under “Customize channel” (found on your channel dashboard), find the gear icon and click “Advanced.” Enter all the basic information about your channel. Choose the country, add in keywords that describe what the channel is about. On this page, you can link to your AdWords account and add your Google Analytics property tracking ID. Select whether you want advertisements to be shown alongside your videos. Enable channel recommendations so YouTube recommends your channel to people outside of your active audience. Don’t forget to check your privacy settings and set sharing preferences.

Next, go back to your channel customization dashboard and click the “About” tab. Add a description that incorporates relevant keywords. Fill in contact info details, links to your website and social media accounts. Have a newsletter you want people to sign up for? Or maybe a campain page? Link to it in this section.

Now for the visual element. Create a responsive banner that matches the various UX dimensions (desktop, mobile, etc.). This can be tricky! Your channel art – the banner/header image that appears towards the top of your channel – reflects your personality so don’t use a boring stock photo. Upload your channel icon as well. This should be a square, high-res image. Don’t cover the image with too much text because you want it to be recognizable and look good at smaller resolutions.

Step 4. Upload your great videos and optimize them for search.

Your channel is up-to-date and looking good; you’ve optimized it and done everything you can to boost views and build a loyal following. Now you need to create some videos. Above, you optimized for discoverability, now you’ll optimize your videos for search. Giving them concise and compelling titles is important, yes, but there’s more you can do.

Write powerful descriptions. The character limit is 1000 but YouTube displays only the first 100 characters or so, so be sure to put the most important information in the first several lines. Write a lot of text describing your video’s topics; YouTube and Google can’t watch you videos themselves so the more text they have to work with, the more they know about the content, and the more they can rank your content confidently for your keywords. Long, keyword-rich descriptions are good!

Add in tags. Tags let viewers know what your video is about and help them find your videos when they’re searching on YouTube. They also indicate to YouTube what your content is and allows it to link your video with similar ones, thus increasing your video content’s reach. Be careful not to use misleading tags as Google may penalize you if you’re phishing for views. Stick with using popular keywords associated with your industry. (These may be the same or similar to the keywords you added for your channel.)

Create video thumbnails. If your account is verified, you can add custom thumbnails for your uploads. Custom thumbnails should be as large as possible; YouTube recommends a resolution of 1280×720. If you can use a 16:9 aspect ratio, that’s best, as it’s more frequently used in YouTube previews.

Optimize around video keywords. Certain keywords tend to have video results on the first page of SERP. Check your keywords against Google to see if video results appear.

And, my last piece of advice is to encourage subscribing and linking in your descriptions as well as in your videos themselves (or in your end screen).

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YouTube is a crowded platform. Its algorithm considers many factors for ranking videos in search and the suggested videos stream. If you want your video content to see more traffic (duh!) ensure you’re following video SEO best practices and have optimized both your channel and your videos. Leveraging factors such as keywords and tags will help drive more traffic to your videos – and then your website.

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