This week’s podcast is all about optimizing your YouTube channel layout. What is the YouTube channel page and what are its main graphical features? How do you customize the main content of your YouTube channel page? How do you brand your channel using the about tab, channel trailer, and related channels? We answer these questions and more this week on ReelSEO TubeTalk: YouTube Video Marketing Tips, with your hosts:
- Dane Golden: Octoly | Twitter | LinkedIn
- Matt Ballek: Magnet Media | Google+ | VidiSEO
- Reed Lucas: BentPixels.com | YouTube Bent Pixels | YouTube UrbanRcLA
Tip #1: What is the YouTube Channel Page and What Are its Main Graphical Features?
Matt Ballek says the YouTube channel page is your “home page” or home base on the YouTube.com property. He says it’s important to make it nice and make it a place that you’d like to invite people over to see. There are some branding features, but when Matt speaks with brands and channels just starting out, they put too much effort towards their channel vs. their actual videos.
For new channels, make your channel art match your brand, but put most of your effort towards your actual videos. Because when it comes to attracting an audience or getting them to subscribe or engage, the videos come first and the channel page comes second. But it’s still important to have, just like having a home page or website, it’s a place people come once they’ve seen your videos and they want to know more about you and see if you have more content available.
Once people have already seen one of your videos, your channel can help convert people who have already viewed into subscribers because once they hit your channel they can see if you have other pieces of content other playlists, other reasons to hit that subscribe button. It’s your way of saying “here’s all the content we have that’s worth subscribing to,” instead of having an unwieldy or unorganized channel where you’re not sure what your theme is or what your channel is about, which could deter people from subscribing.
YouTube Channel Art
The channel art, which is the banner image at the top, should match the color scheme of your brand or current marketing scheme. For channels and brands that are producing consistent content, it’s important that the channel art tell people a little bit about what the channel is about and what viewers can expect to see. Within the image you can spell out the kind of content, the frequency people can expect it, or showcasing the topic. It’s also key because when people hover over your profile picture elsewhere on YouTube, people will see a “hover card” popup that includes your channel art, so they get a preview of what your channel’s about, and that’s a great way of bringing in new subscribers. For an easy template for designing your channel art, see Matt’s One Channel Template.
Reed Lucas says that the channel banner is key for a number of reasons, including that it’s your iconography, and really demonstrates your brand. Also by refreshing it regularly give people revisiting your channel the perception that there’s more new content. After a while the same banner becomes stale.
YouTube Profile Icon
The profile picture/channel icon shows up in the top left of your YouTube channel. It’s similar to the profile picture on Facebook or Twitter. This should look good both very large and very small. Some brands use their logo, but brands might also use a person’s face. Reed Lucas says (jokes) that you should use an image of a cute kitten for your channel icon.
For each channel, there’s a “subscriber view” and an “unsubscribed view.” If someone has not subscribed to your channel, you can opt to show them a “subscribe trailer,” which is similar to a movie trailer, which encourages them to subscribe. If a viewer is currently a subscriber, they won’t see that video as it’s redundant. Instead they’ll see suggested videos. The channel manager can toggle between those two views while editing, and the channel can be optimized for both types of viewers.
Reed Lucas says that it’s important to leverage everything that the front page has to offer in terms of what he calls “the viewer content path.” When people are exposed to your channel via search or the hovercard, etc., it’s important that you’ve laid out all your content in such a way that demonstrates visually for the first-time viewer what your content is about.
Tip #2: How Do You Customize the Main Content for Your YouTube Channel Page?
YouTube Channel Page Navigation
First, Dane Golden gives us a walk-around of the navigation. From left to right you have:
In some views “home” will show your profile image instead. This just takes you to your channel page.
The “Videos” tab lists your videos in reverse chronological order. Dane like to look at this when he’s benchmarking a channel as it offers a good idea of the raw uploads, frequency, etc.
This tab is a list of every playlist the channel has. Each channel can do hundreds of playlists, and not all can fit on the channel page. Dane advocates that channels create as many playlists as possible, with different ways of organizing their videos. These playlists can include videos the channels themselves create or even videos created by fans of their products or services. Reed Lucas adds that you can create curated playlists where you introduce other people’s videos with your own video in a playlist, and then monetize your own video via pre-roll ads.
These are the channels you chose to list. See more comments by Reed below.
This is sort of like your Facebook wall, anyone can post to it. But you don’t get a lot of traffic here.
See more comments by Reed below.
YouTube Channel Layout Page
When you start out with a new channel, you just get an edit pencil icon in the top right of the page. When you click on it you get some choices. The first thing that comes up is the “Add a section” popup window. You need to “Enable Browse” to get your customization going. Then under “Content” click “Select content.” Then you get “Sections.” Matt Ballek says these are “shelves.”
Sections/shelves let you feature sets of videos, such as latest uploads or likes, or you can feature a custom set by using a playlist or tag.
The “Content” dropdown enables you to list your videos in various ways. You can list videos arranged by popular uploads, uploads, liked videos, posted videos, live now, upcoming events, completed events. You can list playlists by created playlists, a single playlist, playlists you’ve saved that others have created, multiple playlists, and posted playlists. You can even list other channels, whether you’ve subscribed to them or just want to include them. Or you can just list your recent activities, such as videos you’ve liked or shared, or your uploads, or whatever.
Reed Lucas adds that when you have a new channel without a lot of content, it’s helpful to “fill the store” with lots of curated content along similar interest paths as the channel is in the process of being created. So during the process of creating great content, the channel already has some content that represents them and their lifestyle, vision and campaigns, already built into the channel. Then you can cycle out those sections/shelves as you get more content. It’s a way of very quickly creating a professional appearance on YouTube.
You can use “Horizontal row” layout or a “Vertical list” layout. Dane prefers the Horizontal row if you have a lot of content because it has the opportunity
for a lot more content in the “shelves.” Reed says however, that the vertical list will display more info. For clients with a lot of playlists, they use two horizontal rows “above the fold” at the top, then use the vertical style because it shows more description info and previews, with more horizontal rows after that. Click here for more info on “Sections and Playlists.”
Tip #3: How Do You Brand Your Channel Using the About Tab, Channel Trailer, and Related Channels?
Reed Lucas says that at Bent Pixels they have a checklist of 75 or more tasks to address for channel setups and upgrades. They recommend that new channels be thorough – input data in every place possible. Put real effort into thinking about what you you want your content to show up next to and where you want your channel to be found and how you want people to perceive you when they roll over your icon and see your hover card.
The “About” Tab
Reed recommends you use all available space in the About section (see YouTube’s help pages here). Add your creed, use keyword-heaving descriptions of what your channel is about and what they can expect. Add your show schedule, a little character that represents you, any calls to action or bits of information. Make sure you add your contact email and other info. The About section also offers fields for social media and website links. Four of these links will show up in the banner/channel art – those should be your most important ones: your calls to action, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But additional links will show up on the About page – use as many as you can. He recommends allowing your subscriber numbers and viewcount to be displayed on this page, which he calls the channel’s “badge of honor.”
The description on the About page is what shows up when people are searching for content like yours. It should be tantalizing, but then back it up with a really awesome trailer video for an unsubscribed viewer.
Unsubscribed Trailer Videos
As mentioned by Matt Ballek above, these are the videos that trailers are the videos seen first on your channel by those who have not subscribed. Reed Lucas says that if the video is good enough, you’ve already subscribed before it’s over.
Two Kinds of Subscribe Videos
Reed says there are two types of subscribe videos. The first type is “Hey my name is… and this is what I do and what I believe, and this is what my channel is about. Here’s how often I post, and I really need your feedback.” The second type is for those who are on a campaign to maximize views rather than audience. Then the channel trailer should be of that campaign.
You should have a backup channel trailer video, which can be used in your Fan Finder video. The exact workings of the YouTube Fan Finder isn’t well-understood, but its goal is to leverage your channel trailer as free ads for you within the YouTube system. Reed has found success by using five different Trailers in the Fan Finder section of his personal channel UrbanRCLA, so use more than one video in Fan Finder if you can.
Trailer videos should hit the heart strings and really tell people what you’re about. YouTube calls it your “creed” video. While it could be anywhere in length from 30 seconds to seven minutes or longer, Reed recommends about 90 seconds. It’s usually best executed by speaking directly to the camera. Including comedy and bringing out other emotions in people will increase your likelihood of getting them to subscribe.
Related and Featured Channels and Sponsorship Opportunities
You can suggest other channels to viewers, which YouTube also cross references to recommend your channel on those you recommended. Featured channels can be a good sponsorship opportunity for creators, along with sponsoring the channel art or profile picture/channel icon, sponsored playlists, and more. When Bent Pixels represents brands for influencers, they have a set of incentives they’re willing to offer for the channel if they qualify based on subscriber base and views per video. Then there’s a list of deliverables, including featuring the channel. The brand is interested only in awareness, conversion and audience.