YouTube Tips: OneChannel Trailers, Google Hangouts & More

YouTube Questions

In the last email newsletter I called for readers to ask me anything about YouTube. I got some really good questions and thought these YouTube Tips might be helpful to others. I’ve omitted the names just to keep everything confidential.

Q: Should we go with specially designed intros as our trailer or a short regular video to demonstrate our work as a trailer in the onechannel layout?

A: I would go with a custom trailer. Try to encapsulate what your channel is all about in 30 – 60 seconds. I don’t have good examples of this on my channels. I need to redo our trailers big-time. They can be a very effective tool. Think of it like a commercial. The quicker you can hook them the better.

Q: Have you guys tried Google Hangouts? Found any ranking advantages when posting these to your Youtube channel?

A: We have done some Google Hangouts and they worked really good when we were promoting the Learn To Cook book. We definitely plan on doing more but we’ve been so slammed with this production stuff we haven’t had time to put it together. Next month we’ll be doing some for sure though. I’m not sure about ranking advantages because we didn’t keep the videos on our channel, but I know some people are doing really well with their Hangout videos.

Q: Other creators have asked me if it is better to distribute your show on a single platform, like YouTube, or try to get your videos on as many sites as you can. If the objective is revenue, how would you look at this? Currently, I make revenue from YT,, Mypod studios, DIYchef and my network. I look at it like having a tv show. The more exposure, the more people are going to watch you, wherever they find it convenient.

A. This is a great question and I think the answer is a little complicated. We started out with your strategy of being everywhere to get the most people to find us. I still think it’s a totally solid strategy. I definitely don’t like having all my eggs in one basket.

Over the past year we’ve been pretty immersed in the YouTube ecosystem. My focus has really been on YouTube SEO and getting our videos ranked for high traffic terms. As I was doing this I found that we were competing against ourselves for a lot of terms and I didn’t want a video on a lower paying site to outrank one of our YouTube videos. I ended up scaling back our uploads to a bunch of places to get the YouTube videos to rank #1. I do feel that the SEO push has greatly increased our subscribers and views on YouTube.

So, for a long-term strategy I think ultimately it’s a bland of the two approaches. I am good enough with the SEO stuff now that I can control which videos on which platforms rank. So I’m going to slowly start expanding our reach, but I want each upload destination to bring in at least SOME revenue.

SUMMARY: For people first starting out, I think they can build impressive numbers faster by focusing on YouTube and then gradually expanding out to other platforms that have a monetization system in place.

Q. YouTube is an extremely tough mountain to climb. Competing with millions of other videos being uploaded at the same time, it’s very easy for your video to get lost and disappear. We’re trying our best to consistently upload videos (twice a week), keep our channel fresh and to add value on other channels that are also trying to reach more viewers.

Since Feb 2013, I’ve come to know the theory of what to do with your YouTube video to increase your reach to thousands if not millions more. But putting the theory into practise is much more challenging. Crossing the thin line between thousands of views and only tens of views is quite difficult.

We’re averaging superior low views on our videos… my question would be, how long before one can expect views to increase after applying the theory of interesting titles, good descriptions, tag words, annotations,socializing with other YouTubers, etc?

A. You are right about YouTube being a tough mountain to climb. And it’s actually getting harder based on my personal experience. There are far more people publishing videos and YouTube has made it a little more difficult – because I’m pretty convinced they are promoting the channels that they have the best chance of making money on.

As far as a magic number to hit – I’m not sure what it is. It felt like a really long slow haul to get Hilah Cooking to the point where we were getting 1000 views per video. It’s definitely do-able but just takes a little time. I think things started to really click after we had been publishing consistently for 2 years. It seemed like forever. But that was also right around the time we had 100 videos and 10,000 subscribers. Then we could always count on 1,000 views per video.

After looking at your channel it seems like you are doing everything right. You are optimizing your videos really well for terms it seems people are searching for. Good examples are your “Tower of London” and “Iron Man 3” videos. Keep thinking of any way you can tie your videos in to things people might be searching for. Eventually search will start getting you traction

In the early days, we had several recipes get ranked pretty well from the beginning and that brought in a steady stream of viewers. Some of them hated our show but a bunch really liked it. The people who liked it became subscribers and continued to watch. But the traffic from search really made a huge difference.

You are doing a great job with the channel. 1) My only real suggestions at this point: Try to incorporate some voice over or on-camera intros to your travel videos. You can use the captions feature to easily transcribe those. That will give you a bunch of extra keyword stuff for Google to latch onto. With just a music track, you are missing out on a lot of keyword action. 2) Try to meet up with other YouTubers on your travels and figure out some simple collaboration videos. We did a ton of these in the early days and they really did help – even thought most of the videos themselves were not all that popular.

I hope my advice was helpful. As always, take everything with a grain of salt and continue to do your own tests to find what works. Do you have questions about YouTube? Do you think I’m totally off-base on my advice here? Leave a comment below and let me know! Thanks for reading.

(Photo by alexanderdrachmann)

YouTube SEO Guide

youtube seo guide

youtube seo

As I’ve already mentioned, YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world, following it’s big brother Google. It might seem like if you rank well in one, you’d rank well in the other, but that’s not the case. I still don’t know why some of our videos rank so well in Google and others are nowhere to be found.

When it comes to optimizing your content for search engines, we’re all playing a guessing game. Google offers the occasional hints about what works, but the algorithm is top secret. All we can do is experiment, share the knowledge and guess some more. There are some great resources on Google SEO and I’ll list them at the end of this chapter. But our focus is on ranking well in YouTube.

The YouTube search engine shares some characteristics with Google, but the current YouTube algorithm seems to be a lot more simple and much easier to crack.

YouTube SEO Part One: What the Hell is a Keyword?

Before we can move forward, it’s important that we nail down the concept of **keywords**. I’ve found that this concept confuses quite a few people at first. I don’t think “keyword” is a very accurate description, but it’s industry terminology at this point so we’re stuck with it.

A keyword is a word (or combination of words) that people type into a search engine when they’re looking for information. Certain words (or word combos) get typed in a lot of times so those become highly coveted keywords. High traffic keywords can bring in a TON of traffic if you rank well for them.

When we were first planning Hilah Cooking, I had just spent several months educating myself about SEO. My ultimate goal was to build an “authority site about cooking.” The plan was to have hundreds of recipe videos and rank well for as many as possible so that we would have an ever-increasing stream of traffic from search engines. Before we even shot an episode, we made a list of hundreds of potential recipes. Then we did some keyword research to see what people were searching for. Our initial list of episodes became a list of keywords.

My advice is to think about Keywords in pre-production. Don’t let it affect the content you’re going to produce, but use it as another tool to build an audience for your project.

When people use a search engine, they have a “problem” and they are looking for a “solution.” Example: Someone doesn’t know how to poach an egg and they need to figure out how to do it. They type in “How To Poach an Egg” and the search engine tries to provide them with the best solution to their problem. If your video is the first result, you’re going to get a lot of views to your video.

The topic of keywords may seem to apply only to How-To or instructional types of videos, but it can be a powerful tool for scripted projects as well. We’ll explore that soon!

YouTube SEO Part 2: How To Do Keyword Research

Once you start thinking about SEO it’s easy to get distracted by all kinds of tools and on-line classes promising awesome results in return for varying amounts of money. My advice is to keep it simple and not get distracted. This step should only add a few minutes to yourproduction time for each video. Keep in mind that you’re a content creator first and the SEO skills you are developing are there to help get your work to a bigger audience.

With that in mind, here’s a quick and simple technique for Keyword Research. As an example, we’re going to use a video about How to Poach Eggs.

1. Launch the Google Keywords Tool. It’s free!

2. Put yourself in the brain of someone who wants/needs to learn how to poach an egg. Type a few words and phrases into the main box. Keep it quick and don’t over-think it or over-do it. I typed in “How to Poach an Egg” “poached eggs” and “how to poach eggs.”

3. Make sure you unclick the box for “Broad” and click the box for “Exact.” I also click the box for “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms.”

YouTube SEO keyword research

4. Enter the dumb Captcha and click search.

5. A bunch of keywords will pop-up along with data about how many monthly searches there are and how competitive the keyword is. I’m mainly interested in Global Monthly Searches so I prioritize by that. Here’s what the results look like:

YouTube SEO keyword ideas

6. Decide what keyword to target. In this case it looks like there are quite a few searches for “How To Poach an Egg” so that’s what I’m going to target. But take a look at some of the other keywords that Google is suggesting. If you’ve are just starting out, I would suggest targeting keywords that have Low competition and at least 3,000-5,000 global monthly searches.

What To Do With Your Keyword

Now we’ve got a video and we’ve got a keyword. Now we’re going to bring the two together. This is a multi-step process that may sound totally crazy at first, but take it a step at a time and it will start to make sense.

1. Title your video file. Incorporate your keyword into the title of the video file. Don’t leave it as some non-descript title generated by your camera or editing software. In our example we are going to title the file “”

2. Upload your video file directly to your YouTube account. Don’t use a third-party system for batch uploading. Do it manually.

3. Give the YouTube Video a Title. Make it descriptive and accurate. For our example, I’m going to go with “How To Poach an Egg.”

4. Fill out the Description Field. Use the description field to accurately describe your video. The first couple of lines are the most important. Try to include your keyword in the first sentence, i.e. “Learn how to fly a kite with this simple kite-flying tutorial.” Write a couple of paragraphs about what viewers can expect to find in the video. Think of the description field as a mini-blog post.

5. Tags. Fill out the tag section. Make sure to use your keyword and other keyword variations. Put your Keyword based tags first. If your subject is frequently misspelled, add some tags with common misspellings. Aim for at least 20 tags.

6. Annotate Video. Incorporate your keyword somewhere into your annotations. Use annotations to interlink this video with your other videos. Incorporate other call to actions like “Subscribe” “Thumbs Up” etc.

7. Upload Transcription. Transcribe your video or pay somebody to transcribe it. I usually use Fiverr. In your video manager, go to the CAPTIONS tab and add the text. It will take a few minutes, but YouTube will automatically sync things up. This is a lot more accurate than the weird YouTube generated captions.

Now YouTube and Google have a lot of information about what your video is all about and where it should be placed in the rankings. If you’re going after a Keyword that has a lot of competition it could take awhile, but once you add more subscribers and your channel becomes more authoritative it will be easier to move up in the rankings.

YouTube SEO Case Study

I’ve actually been going through all the steps in this series over the past month for our How To Poach an Egg video. So it’s something that really DOES exist.

When we first launched the video it was kind of DOA and seemed to be maxed out at about 2,000 views. But after optimizing it, it’s now ranked #2 on YouTube. We’ve beat everybody but Alton Brown and I’m not sure we will ever rank #1, but the video is generating consistent traffic now. This is all just to let you know that this stuff really does work. The top two videos are paid placements, which is actually a good sign. You’ve definitely picked a good keyword if people are running ads against it.

YouTube SEO search results

Producing videos on an ongoing basis is hard work, but it’s way more exciting than all this keyword stuff. Even though this stage falls into the “non sexy” part of things, spend a little time here and you will reap ongoing rewards.

Thanks for reading! Please leave a comment and let me know if this was helpful, what was unclear and what questions YOU have about YouTube SEO. -Chris

YouTube for Small Business: Trophy Boutique Case Study

In addition to cranking out episodes for my two web series, last year I found myself increasingly interested in how to use YouTube for small business marketing. I wanted to do a small scale experiment to see what might work. I immediately thought of my friend Laurel, a personal stylist here in Austin Texas. I’ve known Laurel for awhile, she’s made a few guest appearances on Hilah Cooking and we even did one of the Learn To Cook photo shoots in her kitchen. She was the perfect guinea pig for my YouTube marketing experiment.

Laurel’s personal styling business actually grew out of Trophy Boutique, her fashion blog. She’s awesome at what she does and has tons of very satisfied clients, so word of mouth was already working well for her. Her blog already did a great job of explaining her services and offering photographic proof that she knew what she was doing as far as fashion. I wanted to build on this with a small no-budget video campaign.
Continue reading “YouTube for Small Business: Trophy Boutique Case Study”

New YouTube Channel Layout is Here!

New YouTube Channel Design

New YouTube Channel Design

YouTube has started unveiling its new channel layout via select partner channels. The new design will roll out to everybody later this year.

As you can imagine, as with any time YouTube changes anything, people are PISSED OFF.

I’m not one of them. I think the new design is great. It fits in with the new design direction that is being implemented across all of Google’s different properties and more importantly it gives tremendous insight into YouTube’s strategy for 2013 and beyond.

Continue reading “New YouTube Channel Layout is Here!”

200 Episodes!

200 Episodes of Hilah Cooking

Yesterday, we released the 200th episode of Hilah Cooking (technically the 201st, but we screwed something up on our calendar). This is a pretty big deal for us because it also coincides with the three year anniversary of the show. When we hit these kinds of milestones I can’t help but do a little bit of reflection.

In some ways the 200th episode doesn’t feel like quite as big a deal as it was when we released the 100th video. When we started the project, my goal was determined to produce 100 episodes and then evaluate whether things were working or not.
Continue reading “200 Episodes!”

How To Make Money With a Web Series

How To Make Money With a Web Series

The #1 question I get from readers of this blog is usually “What camera do you use?” This is quickly followed up by a question about how to make money with a web series or if it’s even possible. The quick answers are: “a Canon 60D” and “Yes it’s possible, but it’s complicated.”

All “make money online” questions are tricky to answer because there are no clear-cut answers that work for every project. If somebody tells you they have a magic bullet, they are lying. Unless you are already backed by a company with lots of money, the topic of monetizing internet video content is something we’ll all be exploring for some time. I’ll tell you upfront that all the projects I’m currently working on are completely boot-strapped and self-financed. There are no investors and we have zero outside financial backing.

I have a long-term strategy for these projects so I’m not looking for any get-rich-quick or shady solutions. Instead, I want to figure out as many possible income streams (even if some of them are tiny) and make sure all of them build brand equity.

There’s a Swedish proverb that says something along the lines of “Many Small Streams will form a large river.” I like this a lot and it has guided the big picture direction of what I’m doing with these brands.

With at that in mind, here are 5 ways you can definitely make money with a web series. These are things that definitely work and that are a core part of what I’m doing now. None of these are all that sexy or exciting and all of them require actual work.

Continue reading “How To Make Money With a Web Series”

7 Ways to Increase YouTube Views

How to increase YouTube views

When we first started up Hilah Cooking, I really hated YouTube and the last thing on my mind was how to increase YouTube views.

There were many reasons for my hatred. The quality was terrible. The commenters were idiots. The interface was ugly. And particularly insulting to me: we didn’t get very many views. For all of these reasons, I spent very little time optimizing our YouTube videos and at the end of the first season we decided to ignore it altogether and just use it as one of our many upload destinations.

But during our summer break between season 1 and 2, I started to look at YouTube a little differently. Slowly but surely our videos had started to gain some traction and the comments were actually improving. Instead of just dropping by and writing “NICE TITZ” we started to get some very helpful feedback and questions from people genuinely interested in how to make the recipes in the videos. Even better, we started getting a lot of traffic from YouTube to our main site. Starting with Season 2, we decided to rethink our YouTube approach, ignore my initial prejudices and invest some time into it.

Continue reading “7 Ways to Increase YouTube Views”