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Discovery optimisation tips

All videos uploaded to YouTube must comply with YouTube's Terms of Service and Community Guidelines. Some content that may be acceptable for YouTube may not be appropriate for Google advertising. Advertiser-friendly content guidelines provide additional guidance on how YouTube decides to serve ads on your content.

The goals of YouTube's search and discovery system are twofold: to help viewers find the videos that they want to watch, and to maximise long-term viewer engagement and satisfaction. You can use the tips below to optimise your videos for discovery.

Create descriptive and accurate titles and thumbnails

Your video thumbnail and title are the first thing that viewers see when your video is suggested to them. Use these tips to make engaging content:

  • Use compelling titles for your videos that accurately represent the content.
  • Create thumbnails that accurately represent your content. 
  • To reach a global audience, consider translating your titles, descriptions and captions by having your community add subtitles.

Avoid using misleading, clickbaity or sensational titles and thumbnails

While some creators can use these methods to drive clicks and watch time, viewer feedback and platform performance data show that these methods can turn potential new viewers away from your channel, and away from YouTube. 

Our goal is to help viewers find the videos that they want to watch and maximise long-term engagement and satisfaction. Misleading, clickbaity and sensational titles and thumbnails impact viewer satisfaction and engagement. Viewers can, and often do, report videos that are misleading, clickbaity and sensational. We look at these reports, as well as at a number of other signals from viewers, including: audience retention, likes and dislikes, and viewer feedback to help tune our recommendations. Videos are less likely to be recommended to new viewers if their titles and thumbnails are:

  • Deceiving or misleading: Misrepresents the content of the video.  
  • Shocking: Includes offensive or outrageous language.
  • Disgusting: Contains unpleasant or repulsive imagery.
  • Gratuitous violence: Unnecessarily promotes violence or abuse.
  • Indecent: Implies sexually suggestive or lewd conduct.
  • Loud: Uses ALL CAPS or !!!!! to overemphasise titles.

Example: Let's say that you have a video in which you share your opinions on a tragic event. You wouldn't want to feature offensive language in all caps as the title and description. Also, don't use a graphic image that is intended to shock or offend as your thumbnail. For more tips and examples, take a look at this Creator Academy lesson.

 

Keep viewers watching with video techniques

  • Be an effective editor: Create a compelling opening to your videos and then use programming, branding and packaging techniques to maintain and build interest throughout the video.
  • Build your subscriber base: Subscribers are your most loyal fans, and will be notified of new videos and playlists to watch.
  • Engage your audience: Involve your audience in your videos, encourage comments and interact with your viewers as part of the content.

Organise and programme your content

  • Build long watch time sessions for your content by organising and featuring content on your channel, including the use of series playlists.
  • Create a regular release schedule for your videos when uploading to encourage viewers to watch sets of videos over single videos. You can even schedule video publish time.

Use reports to see what's working

You can use YouTube Analytics to see what videos are successful at keeping viewers watching:

  • Watch time report: Find out which of your videos has the greatest watch times and view through rates.
  • Audience retention report: See which of your videos has low watch times and view through rates. Recurring dips or decreases in audience retention graphs may mean that there is a common reason why viewers abandon the videos.
  • Audience engagement reports: See which of your videos drive community actions like comments, favourites and likes.
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