Best Practices

How to Optimize Your YouTube Channel and Videos

15 June, 2016
7 min read
Veronika Vebere

Keywords and relevance decide the ranking of your web pages in Google. Unsurprisingly, the same applies to all content, including video and especially YouTube videos.

Keep in mind though, that even if you know every white hat SEO trick, it won't help if your content isn't up to scratch.

User experience is also important, it must be a delight to interact with your brand, not a disappointment.

So, if you are looking for a way to optimize your YouTube channel and create the best YouTube content out there, then this article is for you. 

Auditing has become an integral part of any content marketing strategy.

And with increasing importance of visual content, we have audited our own accounts and seen growth on our successful YouTube channel and social media platforms. 

We have developed some useful guidelines that we think will help you to optimize your video for social media, with a focus on YouTube.

Guidelines for how to optimize YouTube channel

1. Get your branding consistent

Why is branding your channel important for your YouTube strategy?

Aligning your video branding with that of your company creates a consistent experience for your audience. When existing and potential customers visit your YouTube channel, they need to feel that it is part of a greater whole.

Beyond just one YouTube video, everything on your YouTube channel should have a flow and fit in with your branding.

To help you with this, YouTube already offers free branding features. You can customize your channel background, upload custom thumbnails and link to other social networks. 

If tech brands can do it, you can do it too.

Customize your channel art

A custom background is an easy way to communicate that this is the official YouTube channel for your brand. It needs to be simple, high quality and highlight what you do best. 

The recommended image size is currently 2560 x 1440 px. (source:YouTube Help)

Sendible’s YouTube channel art.

Showcase your social channels

It’s important to list your active social media profiles and update them frequently for social proof.

This increases your credibility and exposure as segments of your audience may have differing preferred networks.

Check the bottom right corner of your channel art, right above the Subscribe button.

Here, you can add links to the leading social networks including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and also your website.

In the About section you can describe your business and highlight how you provide a better solution than competitors. Make sure it is short and descriptive.

Customise the layout of your channel

Once you have verified your YouTube channel, you will be able to create a custom layout for your channel.

You can set it up so that new visitors see the channel trailer while returning subscribers see suggested content instead.

It is also possible to customize sections on your channel to highlight specific themes and playlists. Not only is this handy if you have a lot of videos, it also encourages viewers to watch more content.

Update your YouTube channel trailer (or create one) with a YouTube video

A trailer is your chance to introduce yourself and your business, and explain the benefits of subscription.

And just like at the movies, a good trailer can make the viewers want to see more.

YouTube trailers appear at the top of the channel for new visitors and can help drive subscriptions.

If you don't have one, or it hasn't been updated in the last 5 years, it’s time to get a new one.

There are some simple tips from YouTube on how to create a good channel trailer:

  • Assume the viewer has never heard of you
  • Keep it short
  • Hook your viewers in the first few seconds
  • Show, don’t tell
  • Ask viewers to subscribe in your video and with annotation

Custom thumbnails

Thumbnails convey the subject of the video and attract potential viewers to click-through. Using the cinema analogy - they are like the movie’s poster.

YouTube has a thumbnail algorithm, which means that there’s one for every video you upload. But with millions of videos to choose from, you will need a way to differentiate your brand.

To put things in perspective, over 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and their average length is 4 minutes and 20 seconds. So, in the time it took you read this far, another 15,000 videos have been uploaded.

There are a number of ways to create custom thumbnails that stand out.

Use action shots, branded images with text, specific color themes for each video type (that's us!). But the main takeaway is to keep them consistent.

Action shots in thumbnail from Mark Rober’s YouTube channel


On the technical side, always remember to use optimized images.

It’s likely that your videos will be viewed on different devices, so always bear in mind the smartphone and tablet users.

Optimized thumbnails have a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, are under 2 MB and have a recognizable file format, e.g. .JPG or .PNG (source: YouTube Help).

2. Technical stuff that improves your YouTube Channel and YouTube search results

Why is your video’s metadata an important part of YouTube strategy?

Titles, descriptions and tags help YouTube and Google’s search algorithms identify the subject of your videos to rank them in their search results.

Optimizing your metadata helps your audience find videos more often, meaning more video views.

The more views your video gets in a short time period, the higher it will rank across the relevant key phrases.

Video Title

Write a descriptive title using key phrases that people would search to find your video.

Remember to be concise as any longer than 66 characters may be truncated in search.

Be as natural as possible, but do keep keyword search volumes in mind. Use a keyword finder tool to check for general trends (we use Google's Keyword Planner).

Video Description

Each video should have a 200-500 word description, summarizing the video (you have 5000 characters to play with).

Remember that only about 157 characters will display, so you must make them compelling enough for users to click the Show More button. YouTube video descriptions can be hard to master, but once you’ve developed a template, it gets much easier.

Always include strong call-to-actions and URLs for relevant pages on your website.

Your viewers will appreciate it if they can easily connect to the supporting information on your website and you will benefit from the extra traffic. Everybody wins.

Consider transcribing your video

Another nice addition to your content could be a transcript. Especially if your videos are long or have lots of takeaways.

In this way, your video content can be repurposed to create a blog post or even downloadable content.

Doing it manually can be time-consuming, so if you don't have any scripts already written, consider using a paid video transcription service.

Tag your YouTube videos

No doubt you will have keywords that didn’t fit naturally into your title or description.

Well, you can still make use of them by adding around five to seven as tags for your video.

Tags can just be a single word, but ideally you should try to use more phrases. Remember that they have to be relevant to the content of the video and help users to find it.

3. Stay on top of YouTube Analytics

For you to really know if your YouTube video campaigns are being effective, you need to be in tune with your YouTube analytics.

That is the key way to ensure your business YouTube channel is successful or not. Although you may think that you upload videos regularly and have relevant tags, the truth is that the true numbers will shine through on YouTube analytics.

You can view the following reports within the All, Videos, Shorts, and Live tabs:


The number of legitimate views on your content.

Watch time

The estimated amount of time that viewers watched your content.


The number of viewers who have subscribed to your channel.


The number of likes on your Shorts content. Learn how to find the number of likes on your videos and live streams.

Top Shorts

Your most popular Shorts.

Top videos and live streams

Your most popular videos and live streams.

Top remixed

Your content used to create Shorts.

Your audience

Your audience by age, gender and geography.

Channels that they watch

Your audience's online activity across other channels on YouTube.

Videos that they watch

Your audience's online activity outside of your channel.

By keeping track of how your Youtube videos are performing, you can keep track of how well your video content performs and whether you need to adapt anything on the way you're doing things in YouTube Studio.

You can also use Sendible' analytics to keep track of audience engagement and what posts are performing well.

The great part about using a scheduling tool's analytics is you can keep track of multiple social media platforms' performance at once.

4. Organize your videos by topic or theme into playlists

Just as you would organize your favorite songs, playlists help to group videos based on a common theme. It increases the likelihood that viewers will watch more than one video.

Not just because they are easier to find, but also because the videos will play automatically in the sequence you created.

You may like to use custom thumbnails to visually distinguish your playlists. Below is a wonderful example from Microsoft.

How to Optimize Your YouTube Channel and Videos youtube screenshot

Themed playlists done exceptionally well by Microsoft. Source: Microsoft's YouTube channel.


Playlists also help to define the subject of your videos for YouTube’s search algorithm. And they also rank in Google and YouTube searches, giving you yet another way to display your content.

Keep your playlist titles short and descriptive, then add a keyword focused description (up to 5,000 characters). Each playlist can have up to 200 videos and there are currently no limitations on the number of playlists users can create.

If you only want to share content with specific users (contest winners, influencers etc.) then you can make your playlist private, so only those with the link can access it.

Otherwise, always ensure that your privacy setting is set to public - you want your playlists to be found!

5. Focus on search engine optimization to help you rank 

YouTube is quite similar to Google in the sense that you need to focus on how to rank in YouTube search results and be a shining star in the YouTube algorithm. When creating videos for YouTube, you need to focus on good YouTube video SEO so your target audience can find your videos.

Simple touches like conducting in-depth keyword searches to see which words you should be targeting, saving the video titles with keywords, and having optimized YouTube videos are what can really make your videos stand out in the search bar.

Take a deep dive into the YouTube SEO tips in this article, and also on how search engine optimization can help your growth.

Bonus: Invest in YouTube advertising

If you feel like it's time to give your business a push that goes beyond organic reach, you should consider investing YouTube advertising. If you don't have much experience creating short, promotional videos, don't worry.

YouTube offers video creation templates that can help you create top-notch video content for the ads you want to run.

Plus, with the way YouTube advertising works, you don't need to have a huge budget. You can choose the length of the video you want to create an ad with and set a maximum budget in place for YouTube to spend. So, with a little bit of luck, some funds to pull from, and YouTube's algorithm, your brand could see some results.

Final thoughts on how to optimize YouTube videos and channel

Hopefully this article will help you get your video strategy in motion so your YouTube channel can see some serious growth.

By focusing on YouTube optimization and how you can reach YouTube success for your brand, you can reach a new level of digital marketing for success.

If you want to see how we at Sendible have placed these YouTube video content ideas and optimization into action, be sure to check out YouTube Channel and follow us for all our up and coming video content. Subscribe to us and you will be the first to see our new videos, thumbnails and playlists.