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13 Key Elements Of Successful YouTube Videos

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13 Key Elements Of Successful YouTube Videos

YouTube is great for marketing, a fact that is supported by a ton of mind-blowing usage statistics.

These are some that really stand out:

  • 500 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute.
  • YouTube is the second most popular social networking site, with more than 2 billion monthly users. That’s one-third of the internet!
  • Viewers are 4x more likely to use YouTube vs. another platform to discover information about a brand, product, or service – meaning that there is a ready audience for your content.
  • Millennials also spend a lot of their time on YouTube. Among millennials, YouTube reaches more of the 18-34 demographic than any TV network.

How can you make the most of the YouTube opportunity?

It starts with a great video. Check out these 13 key components of a successful YouTube video.

1. Branded Intro Footage

The importance of branding in marketing can never be overemphasized. Branding helps build loyalty.

Including branded intro footage helps your loyal viewers to immediately recognize your work so they’ll stick with you and keep watching.

Additionally, such branding is important for ensuring that your viewers remember the video, which is especially handy when they need to refer someone to it.

Even though they might forget the actual content and the name of the video, remembering your branded footage will help direct viewers to your channel.

2. An Attention-Grabbing Intro

Did you know that about 20% of people will leave after the first 10 seconds of your YouTube video?

What’s even worse is that they might give you a thumbs down.

So, what do you do?

It is all about the intro.

After including your branded intro footage, convince the viewer to keep watching. Clearly explain what they are about to see, and how that is of benefit to them.

If you’re showing them how to solve a problem, personalize it so that they feel that you have also been affected. This builds trust, and the feeling that the solution is valuable.

3. Keep Titles And Opening Credits Short

As mentioned above, our attention spans are incredibly short. Nothing is worse than an extensive beginning to a video that drives lost interest.

Even worse, that long opener will discourage binge-watching. Who wants to watch that same long opener over and over again?

Over half of YouTube viewers will watch the entire video when it’s under one minute in length.

Instead, strive for a ~5-second opener that is punchy and straight to the point.

4. Build Trending Topics Into Your Video Content

Using trending topics is a tried and true method for successful link building and can also be applied to your video content.

Think seasonal, newsworthy, local, unique, movies, gaming, music, or even surprising topics, etc. These are all great fodder for trending topics to bake into your videos.

Not sure where to start? Give YouTube Trending (country-specific) or Popular on YouTube (global) a try.

Google Trends and even Twitter Trends are also great resources to discover trending topics to tie into your video content.

5. Background Music

Should you include background music? After all, people are only interested in what you’re saying.

However, thanks to technology, we get bored. Fast.

There’s nothing more boring than a dull YouTube video.

Including background music not only grabs attention instantly but sets the mood for the viewing session, establishing an emotional connection.

In addition, music drives the pace of the video, while a great soundtrack only gives viewers one more reason to share the video.

However, be careful of two things:

  • That the music evokes the desired emotions and aura.
  • That you are legally allowed to use the music in your video.

6. Being Clearly Audible

Unfortunately, a great intro and nice background music can’t help if you aren’t clearly audible.

Remember, the ultimate goal is for your audience to understand what you are putting across. If your video is just a pictorial illustration, then loud background music suffices.

On the other hand, if your video includes an oral presentation, make sure you can be heard above the background music.

7. Brevity

Well, maybe not that short. Still, that video has more than 11 million views.

With YouTube allowing users to search for videos based on duration, among other filters, we clearly can’t ignore the importance of video length in YouTube.

8. Customized Experiences

Tap into micro-moments. These are the times when people need to know, go, do, or buy something and turn to the closest device to help them achieve it.

Use data to give people what they want, when they want it.

This can take many forms. Consider establishing a connection between events on TV or the excitement around big moments in pop culture, politics, sports, tech, and more.

Another option is to leverage data to deliver personalized video content.

Google Trends, May 2021

To get started with this process:

  • Visit Google Trends to help validate the increasing demand or topic.
  • Learn what people are searching for and tailor your videos to fit into existing conversations. A keyword research tool can help you narrow in on the right keyword targets.
  • Next, this free Chrome plugin from vidIQ will provide you with valuable competitive data for current ads that are going viral, including tags, social shares, average watch time, velocity, and more.
  • Lastly, once the video is created, leverage YouTube Analytics to answer “who is actually watching” and “what they are truly interested in.”

9. A Call To Action

As mentioned earlier, YouTube viewers are short on time. After all, there is too much content to view in one day. They have jobs and lives (presumably).

Consequently, you need to be creative about how you include your call to action because your audience will increasingly disappear over the course of your video.

Engagement significantly drops off between two and three minutes. This means you should not place your CTA at the end, and that is particularly true for longer videos.

Instead, consider clickable annotations in the first few seconds of the video.

Bonus Tip: If you’re looking to grow your YouTube subscriber base, add the following parameter to your url: ?sub_confirmation=1.

Here’s an example: https://www.youtube.com/user/jonleeclark?sub_confirmation=1. You’ll get a nice little popup prompting the user to subscribe.

Here's an example of adding the following parameter to your url.Screenshot taken by author, May 2021

10: Add End Screens To Promote Your Videos, Channel, Or Website

While end screens can only be added to the last 20 seconds of a video, these useful graphics can be used to link out to everything from a website URL, YouTube channel, video playlist (such as another video in a series), or prompt a watcher to subscribe.

When creating a video, make sure you leave room, as the video ends, to add your end screen.

Ahrefs Video End Card.How to Learn SEO Fast and Effectively, Ahrefs, May 2021

11. Design Video Thumbnails YouTube Users Want To Click

Of all the items in this list, thumbnails have the greatest potential to make or break your YouTube success.

And the reason is simple.

Suggested videos tend to be the leading source of organic traffic on YouTube. In a sense, YouTube acts as an “endorser” of your content by suggesting it as something a watcher might also enjoy.

Thumbnails that drive clicks are more likely to feed the algorithm resulting in more clicks and so on.

Here are three simple best practices to keep in mind:

Don’t trick the user.

Ensure the thumbnail is relevant and delivers on the video’s title. If not, you risk having a lower watch time which will negatively impact the algorithm – the opposite of what we want.

Design thumbnails for smaller screens.

YouTube recommends 1280 x 720; however, most video consumption happens on a smaller screen.

Make sure your image will still stand out by playing with color saturation, cropping to a smaller area, or playing with the edges of the image.

Bonus Tip: Can’t decide on a thumbnail? Consider testing a handful of thumbnail options with a simple Adwords test. A small investment of $10-20/day will provide some insight into which thumbnail is generating the strongest VTR (view-through-rate).

Keep a consistent style, look, and feel.

I realize this is open-ended but some considerations for consistency include logo, common colors, shapes, consistent face, font, etc.

Over time, this consistency will increase video recognition during skimming; and, if they enjoy your content, they’ll be more likely to click. The folks over at Keywordtool.io do this well.

Consistent Youtube Brand.How to Find YouTube Trends (Tips to Grow Your Channel), Keyword Tool, May 2021

12: Build A “Guest Slot” For Other YouTubers

Perhaps the most common example of a “guest slot” is an interview.

But no matter how your structure it, collaborating with creators who already have an audience is a great way to build your own as it provides exposure to an audience that may otherwise never hear of you.

Look for creators that are already in your niche or who service an audience with similar interests. Social Blade is a tool that can help you find channels serving similar demographics and size of channel.

Be sure to feature your guest in a positive light and prominently so they’ll be more likely to cross-promote the video.

13. Give The Audience A Chance To Participate

It might seem odd if you’re not streaming live, but soliciting your audience to participate has its advantages.

For example, asking your viewers questions directly gives you opportunities to generate and provide responses to comments – further fueling the engagement algorithm.

Viewer feedback can also provide ideas for future content and the opportunities to build content around responses through ‘fan clips’ or idea shoutouts.

The Way Forward

To improve performance on YouTube, driving more traffic to your site and more revenue for your business, apply these best practices in your video creation process.

These tried and tested YouTube video elements are sure to contribute to your own video marketing success!

More Resources:


Featured Image: Alina Rosanova/Shutterstock

All screenshots taken by author, May 2021




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5 Questions Answered About The OpenAI Search Engine

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5 Questions Answered About The OpenAI Search Engine

It was reported that OpenAI is working on a search engine that would directly challenge Google. But details missing from the report raise questions about whether OpenAI is creating a standalone search engine or if there’s another reason for the announcement.

OpenAI Web Search Report

The report published on The Information relates that OpenAI is developing a Web Search product that will directly compete with Google. A key detail of the report is that it will be partly powered by Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. Apart from that there are no other details, including whether it will be a standalone search engine or be integrated within ChatGPT.

All reports note that it will be a direct challenge to Google so let’s start there.

1. Is OpenAI Mounting A Challenge To Google?

OpenAI is said to be using Bing search as part of the rumored search engine, a combination of a GPT-4 with Bing Search, plus something in the middle to coordinate between the two .

In that scenario, what OpenAI is not doing is developing its own search indexing technology, it’s using Bing.

What’s left then for OpenAI to do in order to create a search engine is to devise how the search interface interacts with GPT-4 and Bing.

And that’s a problem that Bing has already solved by using what it Microsoft calls an orchestration layer. Bing Chat uses retrieval-augmented generation (RAG) to improve answers by adding web search data to use as context for the answers that GPT-4 creates. For more information on how orchestration and RAG works watch the keynote at Microsoft Build 2023 event by Kevin Scott, Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft, at the 31:45 minute mark here).

If OpenAI is creating a challenge to Google Search, what exactly is left for OpenAI to do that Microsoft isn’t already doing with Bing Chat? Bing is an experienced and mature search technology, an expertise that OpenAI does not have.

Is OpenAI challenging Google? A more plausible answer is that Bing is challenging Google through OpenAI as a proxy.

2. Does OpenAI Have The Momentum To Challenge Google?

ChatGPT is the fastest growing app of all time, currently with about 180 million users, achieving in two months what took years for Facebook and Twitter.

Yet despite that head start Google’s lead is a steep hill for OpenAI to climb.  Consider that Google has approximately 3 to 4 billion users worldwide, absolutely dwarfing OpenAI’s 180 million.

Assuming that all 180 million OpenAI users performed an average of 4 searches per day, the daily number of searches could reach 720 million searches per day.

Statista estimates that there are 6.3 million searches on Google per minute which equals over 9 billion searches per day.

If OpenAI is to compete they’re going to have to offer a useful product with a compelling reason to use it. For example, Google and Apple have a captive audience on mobile device ecosystem that embeds them into the daily lives of their users, both at work and at home. It’s fairly apparent that it’s not enough to create a search engine to compete.

Realistically, how can OpenAI achieve that level of ubiquity and usefulness?

OpenAI is facing an uphill battle against not just Google but Microsoft and Apple, too. If we count Internet of Things apps and appliances then add Amazon to that list of competitors that already have a presence in billions of users daily lives.

OpenAI does not have the momentum to launch a search engine to compete against Google because it doesn’t have the ecosystem to support integration into users lives.

3. OpenAI Lacks Information Retrieval Expertise

Search is formally referred to as Information Retrieval (IR) in research papers and patents. No amount of searching in the Arxiv.org repository of research papers will surface papers authored by OpenAI researchers related to information retrieval. The same can be said for searching for information retrieval (IR) related patents. OpenAI’s list of research papers also lacks IR related studies.

It’s not that OpenAI is being secretive. OpenAI has a long history of publishing research papers about the technologies they’re developing. The research into IR does not exist. So if OpenAI is indeed planning on launching a challenge to Google, where is the smoke from that fire?

It’s a fair guess that search is not something OpenAI is developing right now. There are no signs that it is even flirting with building a search engine, there’s nothing there.

4. Is The OpenAI Search Engine A Microsoft Project?

There is substantial evidence that Microsoft is furiously researching how to use LLMs as a part of a search engine.

All of the following research papers are classified as belonging to the fields of Information Retrieval (aka search), Artificial Intelligence, and Natural Language Computing.

Here are few research papers just from 2024:

Enhancing human annotation: Leveraging large language models and efficient batch processing
This is about using AI for classifying search queries.

Structured Entity Extraction Using Large Language Models
This research paper discovers a way to extracting structured information from unstructured text (like webpages). It’s like turning a webpage (unstructured data) into a machine understandable format (structured data).

Improving Text Embeddings with Large Language Models (PDF version here)
This research paper discusses a way to get high-quality text embeddings that can be used for information retrieval (IR). Text embeddings is a reference to creating a representation of text in a way that can be used by algorithms to understand the semantic meanings and relationships between the words.

The above research paper explains the use:

“Text embeddings are vector representations of natural language that encode its semantic information. They are widely used in various natural language processing (NLP) tasks, such as information retrieval (IR), question answering…etc. In the field of IR, the first-stage retrieval often relies on text embeddings to efficiently recall a small set of candidate documents from a large-scale corpus using approximate nearest neighbor search techniques.”

There’s more research by Microsoft that relates to search, but these are the ones that are specifically related to search together with large language models (like GPT-4.5).

Following the trail of breadcrumbs leads directly to Microsoft as the technology powering any search engine that OpenAI is supposed to be planning… if that rumor is true.

5. Is Rumor Meant To Steal Spotlight From Gemini?

The rumor that OpenAI is launching a competing search engine was published on February 14th. The next day on February 15th Google announced the launch of Gemini 1.5, after announcing Gemini Advanced on February 8th.

Is it a coincidence that OpenAI’s announcement completely overshadowed the Gemini announcement the next day? The timing is incredible.

At this point the OpenAI search engine is just a rumor.

Featured Image by Shutterstock/rafapress

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Warning: Unpopular SEO writing opinion

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Warning: Unpopular SEO writing opinion

Unpopular opinion alert: Adding new blog posts may not help your site.

(No matter what that content marketing company told you.) 🙄

So many of my new clients — especially subject matter experts — don’t need new content (immediately).

They HAVE content — scads of it scattered across various platforms.

(Maybe that sounds familiar.)

What they DO need is someone to review their content and customer persona, pinpoint opportunities, and develop a baby-step approach to leveraging those older content assets.

Because there are always opportunities. 🔥

Before writing another word, ask…

  • Are you repurposing the content you have? Or are you writing it once and forgetting about it (which is so common)?
  • Is your customer/reader persona still accurate, or has your target audience changed post-COVID?
  • Do your sales pages showcase your benefits and speak to your customers’ pain points? Or are they flat and dull?
  • Does your content sound like YOU with a point of view? Or is there a massive disconnect between how you talk to clients and the words you use on your site?
  • When did you last take a peek at your old sales emails and email welcome sequences? Could updating those assets make you more money?
  • Isn’t it time to save time (and budget) and leverage your existing content?

If you need help untangling your content and messaging, let me know. I love creating content order out of chaos.

After all…

 

Warning Unpopular SEO writing opinion

 

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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Google Bans Impersonation In Ads

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Google Bans Impersonation In Ads

Google bans impersonation and false affiliation in ads, enforcing policy changes in March.

  • Google bans impersonation and false affiliation in ads.
  • Policy enforcement starts in March.
  • Violators will be banned from Google Ads.

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