Growing on YouTube is not as simple as it used to be a few years ago. The YouTube algorithm is constantly evolving and has had multiple iterations. As a result, there are a few key metrics you need to prioritize in order to grow your channel in 2023.
That is why to help you out, we’ve put together 17 proven ways along with examples of successful channels to inspire you on your journey. But in addition to all of these methods, one thing you absolutely cannot miss out on is the quality of your videos — they need to be well scripted, shot, and edited. InVideo’s YouTube video editor can help you with the editing, allowing you to create engaging YouTube videos quickly and easily.
Here’s what we cover:
- #1 Optimize your YouTube channel for SEO
- #2 Start with keyword research
- #3 Research other content on YouTube
- #4 Create videos optimized for retention
- #5 Create clickable thumbnails
- #6 Write concise yet descriptive titles
- #7 Optimize your video description for SEO
- #8 Respect YouTube’s community guidelines
- #9 Create a video series
- #10 Add videos to a playlist
- #11 Use video chapters
- #12 Use YouTube premiere
- #13 Use end screens to keep your audience watching
- #14 Read into your analytics
- #15 Engage with your audience in the comments sections
- #16 Cross-promote your channel
- #17 Promote your channel on other platforms
Let’s dive in
17 proven ways to grow your YouTube channel in 2023
Over the years YouTube has prioritized several different metrics to optimize and suggest videos for users. The most recent shift requires you to focus on three things — click-through rate (CTR), Audience Retention and Watch Time because these determine whether your video gets pushed to the right audience or not.
- The click-through rate tells you the percentage of people that saw your thumbnail and clicked on it to watch your video. For example: If your click-through rate is 5%, that means for every 100 people that saw your thumbnail, 5 people clicked on it to watch the video.
- Retention refers to the percentage of people who continue watching your video post the 30-second mark. YouTube measures this with a metric called Audience Retention. You can check it for each video by going to the video analytics.
- Watch time is the amount of time in minutes that people are spending on your video. For example, if 200 people have watched your 10-minute video with an average viewership of 60%, you have 600 minutes of watch time.
For a more detailed explanation of these metrics, check out this blog, and now let’s take a look at how you can optimize your channel and content for these metrics to grow in 2023.
An interesting profile is a great way to promote your YouTube channel, boost SEO, and also give new users an understanding of what they can expect if they subscribe to your channel.
Let’s take Nick Nimmin’s YouTube channel profile for example and break it down to understand why it works!
Your profile description should immediately tell the viewer what value you will be providing them. You have to also build social credibility so make sure you give your audience a reason to subscribe to your channel instead of the many options they have available. Lastly, you must let your audience know when they can expect to get new posts from you or in Nick’s case - when he goes live. It is important that you use hashtags in your profile description but YouTube strongly advises against overdoing it.
You must also add your contact details like an email ID or your social handles which will show up below your profile description, and there is also space for you to add links to your website, online store, or other resources you would want your audience to check out. This can also help you bag more subscribers when someone lands on your YouTube channel either by suggestion or recommendation.
Keywords are what help you optimize your titles, content, and description so that your videos rank on YouTube and Google search. With the volume of content being created on YouTube, ranking on search is the top most priority if you want your videos to be discovered.
To do your keyword research, start with YouTube search. Type in the topic you want to create a video on and YouTube will automatically show you the most searched terms surrounding it. All of these are keywords that could turn into potential topics. These tell you what are the most searched terms, and therefore you can tailor your content accordingly.
For example, when you type ‘baking cake’ in the search box, you get the following results, ranked by popularity:
One thing to keep in mind is that it’s always better to base your search around long-tail keywords. This improves your chances of ranking. Questions and statements, therefore, make for better keywords. You can go one step ahead by clicking on any one of the results and checking out the videos that have ranked for it.
But simply using the YouTube search is often not enough to overcome the competition. Using a specialized tool like VIDIQ that tracks keywords and tells you their potential specifically for YouTube is imperative. You can sign up for the tool and then install an extension in your browser. It gives you data for search volume and has a scoring system that tells you how competitive your keyword is and what the chances are for it to rank on YouTube.
VIDIQ also has a trend alert tool that can help you track growing trends around your topic of interest. You need to simply create a trend alert and VIDIQ will notify you every time similar phrases or keywords relevant to your channel have started trending. This will allow you to jump on trends before they get saturated.
This step is almost a natural segway after keyword research. While looking up keywords on YouTube and Google, you must spend time watching the content that is already ranking for your keyword. Why - because this will not only give you an idea of what is working for the audience but also help you identify gaps in content and quality.
You must critically examine the videos and make notes of what you think could make them better. Take your research a step further and read the comments section to see what their audience had to say. You will find a lot of feedback here about what the audience was expecting, and what they liked and didn’t like.
Comments like these will tell you what more you can add to your video and will help you increase audience retention and eventually watch time if you are able to provide your audience with better quality videos.
Retention is one of the three key metrics that the YouTube algorithm analyzes to decide whether to push your video to newer audiences. Now there are several factors that affect retention — from the content of your video to how it is presented.
To give you an overview, here are the things you need to focus on to ensure your videos are optimized for viewer retention:
Before you even start filming, you need to ensure that your idea and your content are solid. The only way to ensure this is to script out your videos. Scripting is a way to ensure that you cut out the fluff and unnecessary information and keep the bits that the audience will find valuable/entertaining.
Scripting your videos will also save you a lot of time while filming and editing.
To understand how to write a good script for your YouTube video, check out this helpful guide:
You can also get started with your script using this YouTube script template and if you’ve never written a script or a video outline before, read this article in which we have also shared templates for different kinds of video scripts and outlines.
After your script and screenplay are ready, you get down to filming and producing your content. While you don’t need to invest in a film-level production setup, you do need to ensure that the device that you are using allows you to record high-quality video and noise-less audio.
But besides the gear, here are the things you need to focus on to ensure your videos are good quality:
- Audio: The auditory experience is even more important than the visual experience when it comes to YouTube videos. People will click away because of bad audio faster than because of bad video. To start with invest in an entry-level mic that doesn’t pick up a lot of noise but gives you crisp audio. Rode video micro pro is a good on-camera option while the Rode lapel is a good on-person option.
Also, use sound-proofing options like a sound blanket or foam when recording to reduce noise and echo.
- Lighting: This is the most basic thing to focus on. Lighting affects the mood and tone of your video and therefore how your audience perceives it. If you’re sitting in a dark stingy room to film a motivational video, it will not fly. But you don’t need to invest in an expensive light setup. Make natural light your best friend. If that’s not an option, invest in an inexpensive ring light.
Here’s an in-depth guide to lighting your videos right:
- B-roll: This is all the footage that supplements what your subject is saying in the A-roll or primary footage. When you script your videos, that will give you an idea of the parts for which you need supplementary footage. You can then either shoot it yourself or get stock footage using a tool like InVideo that gives you access to millions of stock assets.
For a more detailed understanding of how to film your videos, check out this blog.
After you’re done filming, you now need to bring your clips into an editor and edit your video for clarity, retention, and engagement. This will include cutting out the repetitions, adding B-roll, music, text, breaker slides, and any other elements that enhance the look and feel of your video.
You can do all of this and more using InVideo’s YouTube video editor which gives you access to a multi-layered timeline, stock assets, and a host of professional editing tools that make your life easier.
Before you start editing your videos though, check out this list of the most common editing mistakes that kill retention:
Your thumbnail is the first thing someone sees before they decide to click on your video and watch it and that’s why it is the most important factor determining your click-through rate.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your thumbnail stands out:
- Look at thumbnails of ranking videos for your keyword. This will give you an idea of what is working and what’s not. Now you want to create thumbnails that fit in with the theme but also stand out from the ones that are currently ranking.
Often times ranking videos for a particular keyword all have very similar thumbnails. So creating one that stands out slightly can be great for your CTR.
- Use lighter colors and bold text: While this is not an official recommendation by YouTube, lighter thumbnails with curiosity-inducing text do tend to perform better in terms of CTR. One reason for this is also that a lot of people view YouTube videos on their phones and use the dark mode. Having a lighter-colored thumbnail automatically helps stand out against that.
- Have faces or a human element in your thumbnails: Again this is subjective to the videos you are creating, but having faces or people in thumbnails generally have a better CTR.
If you want to learn how to create ideal thumbnails for your YouTube videos that are guaranteed to get you the clicks, read this blog. And check out this video by Channel Makers where they have reviewed over 400 thumbnails to come up with 6 key elements that can get your video maximum clicks.
Along with your thumbnail, your title is the next most important thing that determines your CTR. In simple words, if someone does not find your title interesting enough, they won’t click on your video.
Ideally, your title should be the first thing you decide after your keyword research because that is what determines the content within your video. You want your title to ideally include the keyword you want to rank for. But more important than that is for the title to convey an emotion that the viewer can associate with their pain point in this industry
Here’s how you can create a great title:
- Use simple language: Avoid jargon because you don’t want to confuse your audience. Take a look at the title of this video:
- Convey the crux of your title within the first 55 characters. Longer titles tend to get cut off, especially on mobile devices, and two, audiences today have shorter attention spans, so you want your first few words to tell them exactly what they are going to get from the video. Keep your title concise with the keyword as well as actionable info toward the beginning, like in this title below.
- Use power words to build an emotional connection and address the audience’s pain points: Power words or phrases command the viewers’ attention and trigger them to take action. For example, instead of just writing ‘best chocolate cake recipe’ you can title your video ‘the easiest 3-ingredient chocolate cake recipe’. This is because the audience searching for your video are looking for quick and simple solutions and not necessarily for the best recipe.
One thing you want to remember is that you provide the value you’re promising in your title. Check out this video by Think Media where they talk about the different types of titles and how you can use them to get more views on your YouTube videos.
If you’ve dabbled in SEO, you know that an increased frequency of keywords can help you perform better on search. But you don’t have enough space in the title to ensure you get in all your keywords. This is where your video descriptions come in.
To optimize your description for SEO, make use of the word limit to your advantage. You can describe what goes on in the video and thereby get an organic opportunity to include keywords. Don’t stuff keywords though — that’s not acceptable here either.
In addition to describing your video and adding keywords, you should also have a call to action and provide links to your other social media channels, your website, other videos you want them to check out, and any other frequently asked questions.
You can also have a CTA asking your viewers to subscribe. Use this auto-subscribe link ‘?sub_confirmation=1’ so that when people click on it will just ask for a confirmation of subscription and they don’t need to be redirected.
Simply add your channel’s link ahead of the auto-subscribe link, like this: https://www.youtube.com/invideoofficial?sub_confirmation=1
YouTube video chapters help you divide your video into sections or chapters. You can see these sections in the play bar and lets users navigate longer videos - allowing them to jump, skip and share a particular section.
Video chapters are a great way to increase audience retention. You may have audiences who rewind important sections or skip to interesting sections instead of dropping out - thus positively impacting your audience retention.
Video chapters can also help you rank on search. What you need to do for this is that when you add chapter names to the timestamps, ensure that they have the right keywords and match the user’s search intent - like in the example below, you will find that the creator has used keywords like ‘how to record your screen’, ‘instructional videos’, ‘how to switch between showing your face and showing your screen’.
Chances are that when a user searches for this keyword, your video may be suggested to them if that section has a good audience retention percentage.
YouTube has become very strict with its community guidelines and has been flagging channels and taking down videos that don’t fit within the rules. This is because of the rising demographic of underage users and advertisers that don’t want their ads to be seen next to inappropriate content.
A recent study by Statista confirms that in 2021 alone YouTube took down tens of millions of YouTube videos because they did not follow the community guidelines.
Make sure that you read YouTube’s community guidelines and stick to them otherwise, your videos will be flagged and taken off YouTube’s recommendation feature and multiple reports can also lead to your channel being blocked.
One of the biggest challenges creators face is keeping their audience retention high in longer videos. This is because apart from short attention spans, a lot of viewers are there for a specific purpose and once they get their information, they are most likely to tail off.
So, instead of creating one long video that gives out all the information, divide your content into multiple short videos that easily segway from one to the other. Not only will this increase your audience retention but when the user continues to consume content on YouTube through your videos, it will increase your watch time credibility.
Pro-tip: It is super easy to create a video series using InVideo’s YouTube editor because it allows you to keep the assets used in your videos like text graphics, logos, brand colors, etc. fixed.
Don’t forget to label your videos as their parts and you can also redirect viewers with a call-to-action in the end, leave a link in the description below or add it to your YouTube end screen.
Playlists are the easiest trick in the book to increase watch time. They allow you to link similar or complimentary videos together and put them in a playlist. So when someone starts watching a video from your playlist, it will automatically play the next one in the queue, keeping the user watching on the platform and massively impacting your watch time.
We too have created many playlists on our YouTube channel which are curated based on our audience’s interests and needs.
YouTube Premiere allows you to schedule your next video so your audience can watch it for the first time with you. Not only does this let your audience know when your next video is coming up but also it lets you engage with them while they watch it for the first time with comments on the live chat.
Remember to schedule your YouTube Premiere at a time and day when your audience is most active (you will find this in your analytics). You will get tonnes of data about what works for your audience in this first interaction and moreover, if you have good engagement, it will send a signal to YouTube to suggest this video to more users - thereby increasing your chances for a higher click-through rate.
Watch this video to know more about how to schedule and use YouTube premiere for your next video release.
YouTube has many tools that can help you increase watch time, one such tool is end screens. End screens will help you to keep your audience watching your videos. The end screen provides a space to redirect your audience to the next video they should watch or even a playlist that they can check out. Not just that you can also add a subscriber button that viewers can directly click on if they want to see more of your content.
Watch this video to know more about YouTube end screens where we also show you how to create custom end screens for your YouTube channel:
Pro-tip: Creating custom templates like this for your YouTube end screen can be time-consuming to design, especially if you’re not a pro at editing or design. However, with InVideo’s online editing tool you will be able to customize pre-made templates and create a YouTube end screen in minutes.
A key rule for succeeding on YouTube is to double down on what’s working and revise what’s not. YouTube has no dearth of analytics and data it can provide about your audience that can help you shape your content to match the user's intent. You will find everything - from demographics, that will help you understand the average age of your audience to more insightful data like retention which tells you the parts of the video they paid most attention to and what bored them eventually leading to drop-offs.
You will find all of these analytics in the YouTube Studio. Watch this video by YouTube Creators that shows you all the metrics that you can leverage and where you can find them.
We have also written an extensive blog on YouTube’s algorithm where we have dived deeper into watch time and audience retention and shared actionable tips to impact them.
Only half the battle is won once you have uploaded your video on YouTube. It is absolutely crucial that you spend time responding to comments - answering questions and having a conversation with your audience.
A great way to get the conversation rolling is to pin a comment with a question. This is also a great way to increase community interaction and will let YouTube know that your audience is engaging with your content - thereby impacting retention.
You will often find YouTube creators showing up on videos of other channels that complement their content. This is a great way to cross-promote your channel and reach a wider network of users who are interested in your niche.
Make sure to find creators who share your niche or complement it - for example, if you’re making videos on ‘How can I grow my YouTube channel fast?’, you can collaborate with other creators who share the expertise or find a creator who actually grew their YouTube channel in a short span of time, irrespective of their niche.
Watch this video where Nick Nimmin shares tips on how to collaborate with fellow YouTubers.
Social media provides plenty of opportunities for you to shout out about your YouTube channel. You can add it to your bio and also embed links to your best-performing videos.
Let’s look at how to promote your youtube channel on your social media:
Facebook allows you to embed video links from YouTube on your status - so don’t forget to share your best-performing videos with a call-to-action to subscribe to your channel for more such content.
You can also share your YouTube videos and channel links to Facebook groups that you’re a part of but make sure you write an enticing caption that lets your reader understand the value they will get by watching your videos.
You can also add your YouTube channel’s link to the About section in your profile.
There are tonnes of ways you can use Instagram to promote your YouTube channel on Instagram.
Reels: Create snippets of your YouTube videos to share on Instagram Reels with a call-to-action on the video and the description to check out the full video on YouTube. Make sure you have a link for the same in your bio.
Stories: You can share behind-the-scenes videos and images of your YouTube video with a link that can directly take them to your YouTube channel.
Bio: You can add links to your YouTube channel with a call-to-action that gets your Instagram followers to subscribe or you can also post fresh links to your YouTube videos whenever you upload them.
Pro-tip: It only takes a few minutes to optimize your YouTube videos for Instagram using InVideo’s Instagram editor that comes inbuilt with a robust editor, thousands of templates, stock assets, text, and more.
You can share links to your best-performing videos or even share a call out for your channel to let your Twitter followers know what you do on YouTube and how you can add value to them.
Growing on YouTube is a process but these tips will only help you fastrack it. With these proven tips that have been curated by researching expert creators on YouTube, we hope we have provided the solution to the question of how to grow your youtube channel for free.
If you’re just starting out with YouTube, you must check out this list of YouTube ideas we curated from the top performing channels and you would want to bookmark this comprehensive guide on how to make a YouTube video. We also have a super comprehensive guide on YouTube’s algorithm and what you can do to create an impact on the platform.
You can also learn via videos on our YouTube channel, where we share daily video creation tips and tricks, and the latest video trends and ideas to help you make more money as a video creator.