How to optimize your YouTube videos

Last week I talked about the importance of a YouTube account, and this week I had planned on talking about how to optimize your profile, however with the recent discussion on OverClocked ReMix about how to get more views on YouTube, and with my own recent work in trying to get promotional videos made for the Nerdapalooza,  the nerd music festival taking play this July in Orlando, FL, I thought I’d skip forward to video optimization this week. As I mentioned last week YouTube is the 2nd most used search engine on the internet, this makes it INCREDIBLY powerful for getting your music out there. The YouTube algorithm also makes sure, best it can, that related videos are linked together, so someone who’s watching one video might find any one of these related videos interesting as well. This is huge. This is your bread and butter. This make is how YouTube helps people find sleeper artists they never knew they loved. So how can you make sure that artist is you.

In the thread on OC ReMix, artist CyprusX posted a video of his Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia guitar remix that he’d submitted to OC ReMix,  and asked how he might be able to get it more views. His song is actually quite good, have a listen:

So how does someone, whom obviously already has good musicianship, get their music to a wider audience? There’s been so many good suggestions, I thought I’d pluck a few from there first.

Dhsu said:

Actually one thing that works fairly well is making it a reply video to another video that’s already popular.

This is an absolutely great way to get views, and is highly encouraged, for both the poster and the responder. When you post a video response to a popular, relevant video, your video shows up under it as a video response. Additionally, their video also is linked under your response video as what yours is a response to. This way both you, and the video you respond to get additional exposure. That said, it’s equally important to encourage visitors to make video responses to your videos as much as possible. You’ll notice Auto-Tune the News does this a lot.

Benjamin Briggs (aka chthonic) said:

also make all of your thumbnails boobs

I’m not joking

I’m not going to deny that this works, but this is one of the situations where you want to weigh views/conversions. As a musician on YouTube looking to get your musican heard, you conversion is essentially when someone who doesn’t know about your music ends up listening to your songs, likes them, and gets converted to a regular fan. While putting suggestive images in your thumbnails, or stuffing your video full of popular, irrelevant tags, or just spamming your URL all over the place, whether or not it’s relevent, is a great way to get lots of views, it’s a very poor way to get a lot of conversions. Your best conversions are going to come from people who are already interested in something similar, and find your videos as a result of that.

zircon said:

  • Make really compelling videos
  • Make videos regularly
  • Encourage people to subscribe + Like your videos
  • Share your videos on Facebook
  • Make video responses to popular videos
  • Make really compelling videos

This is pretty much it, right here. All these things are pretty dead on, especially with the like/rating and subscribing suggestion. The more subscribers you have, and the better your ratings are, the more likely you’re going to be the show up in results and related videos. It’s that simple, but wait, there’s more!

Modus said:

[…] putting your songs to a creative, high quality montage can sometimes do the trick. This windows movie maker screenshot crap isn’t going to catch anyone’s attention but montages DO, as lame as that is.

This is somewhat true. While it’s absolutely important that you have something more interesting than a still image or a slideshow, it’s even more important that you have information about yourself in there as well. Make sure to have, at the very least, a title card that has information about yourself, your channel, other places to hear your music, and having “annotations” or in-video links to like/subscribe incase your video gets embedded elsewhere.

Lastly, artist Luhny said as the 2nd reply:

how about you post a link? advertise it on facebook, twitter, myspace, when you are on IRC or when you are using any messaging services such as ICQ, MSN, AOL, YIM, etc. Advertize it more, so most likely more people will view it.

Bam. So easy, right? Advertise your video in relevant places and people will view it. Share it on any and every outlet you have where people would find it relevant. What this is called is “building authority.” You can’t promote your work in a single place and hope someone stumbles upon it. You have to put yourself out there in as many places as it seems relevant. Keywork: “relevant”. Don’t get overly spammy, and don’t try to push or sell people too hard. Psychologically people aren’t really going to accept things you try to shove down their throat. HOWEVER if they look around a few places, you constantly start coming up, then you seem relevant to their interests and their more likely to be interested.

To anyone incredibly serious about promoting their music independently on YouTube is suggest this (this will be catered specifically to video game remix artists, but other musicians can find it relevant):

  1. Set up Google Alerts
  2. Have it search for terms such as “video game remixes”, “game remixes”, “videogame remixes”, “castlevania remixes”
  3. Have it send you daily e-mail updates
  4. Watch, and wait for a discussion like this one to show up somewhere on the internet:
  5. Register, contribute, and then plug your own mixes. The contribute part is extremely important. If you just hop into this community and say “hey guys check this out” people are going to be turned off immediately by your spammy behavior. The first thing you want to do is drop in there and say “Hi, these are some mixes that I liked. Additionally, I’ve done a few remixes myself, here’s 1 or 2, let me know how you feel about them.” Make sure to always be polite, and encourage people to give you feed back and establish personal connections. Don’t just drop in, post your mixes, and leave. This is probably one of the best ways to get fans. If you do this on enough threads on the internet, not only are you videos getting more views, but they’re getting more internal links, which helps your videos show up more often, and it’s getting you more authority for  the “video game remixes” search terms. This can also work for your original works as well if you say “I also have a few originals on there” etc.
  6. Repeat. Very few people go viral over night. Especially people peddling to a market as saturated as video game remixes on YouTube. If you want to get views, never stop promoting. Don’t expect the magic internet fair to do all the leg work for you.

In addition to everything mentioned above:

  • Optimized Titles. CyprusX is on the right track but could actually benefit from including “Order of Ecclesia” in his title, rather than just “OoE”. You have something like 120 characters for your title, use as many of them as you can: eg. Castlevania: Order of Ecclessia – Empty Tone Rock Guitar Remix
  • Don’t feel bad about stuffing those titles as big much as possible. Why? Well how are people going to see your video? Either they’re going to get to it from another video, they’re going to be linked directly to it, they’re going to know about it already and go themselves, or it’s going to be embedded somewhere else. They’re more likely to find it if it has a title with the keywords relevant to what they’re searching for, if they’re getting linked to it they’ll listen to it regardless of the titles if they’re interested, if they’re coming back to hear it after already having heard it, then you’ve already won, and if it’s embedded they won’t even see the title. I’ve heard excuses like people not wanting to alienate their audience by having an obvious SEO’d title tag, but I’ve never heard a good reason to not do this. Also: keyword being relevant titles. Do not spam.
  • Optimized descriptions. Information about the song, the source, you, your channel, your website, twitter, facebook, etc.
  • Do covers. When possible, do covers. Optimize your tags & titles bigtime. eg. Weezer Say It Ain’t So NES 8-bit remix. “Guitar Rock Remix” etc.
  • Post video responses
  • Encourage video responses
  • Encourage ratings
  • Encourage subscriptions
  • Links in your signature
  • Linking people you might think are interested
  • Having your own website with links to your YouTube
  • Having a twitter, linkedIn, Facebook page
  • Tumblr’s are nice for this
  • Look and see what POPULAR artists are doing, and do that, because they were doing that before they got popular, and it worked pretty well for them.

Anyway yea, you can see where this is going. You might as “which one of these are most important?” Per usual the answer is ALL of them. Every little thing you can do that might help is worth doing if you actually want to get heard. Don’t give up. Put yourself out there. Do it with to 100%.

If anyone has any question about anything discuss, or any suggestions about anything else they might want to hear me talk about, leave a comment 😀