5 Ways to Get More Views Through YouTube Recommendations

Last Updated on September 13th, 2019 at 10:00 am

Most of the discussion about get more views on YouTube concentrates on YouTube SEO, social media promotion, and gaining subscribers. While these contribute to the discovery of your videos, alone they do not unlock the lion’s share of views you stand to gain from YouTube’s recommendation engine (via YouTube’s homepage and “recommended for you” suggestions).

If you wish to get more views on Youtube in the long term, you should know some ways to get more views through Youtube Recommendations.

1. Create thumbnails that get clicked

We have established that click-through rate is still vital and that YouTube prioritizing watch time is simply a countermeasure against low-quality clickbait to get more views.

So now let’s talk about the elephant in the room—enhancing your clickthrough rate—utilizing two great sources of inspiration for clickable thumbnails: YouTube’s trending videos tab and Netflix.

Have closeups of emotive faces or action shots

Look around YouTube and you will see no shortage of highly expressive faces on video thumbnails.

Base on a study by Netflix about the performance of artwork on the platform, “emotions are an effective method of conveying complex nuances. It is well known that humans are hardwired to answer faces—we’ve seen this to be consistent across all mediums. However, it is important to note that faces complex emotions outperform stoic or benign expressions.

One of the earliest trends also noted by Netflix, which is worth carrying forward to your own thumbnails, is that a picture’s tendency to win against others dropped when it contained more than three people.

YouTube Algorithm Works

You could optimize your thumbnails for click-throughs by including 1 to 3 faces in your thumbnails wearing expressions that speak louder than words.

When you do not have emotive faces in your videos, you could also use thumbnails that convey action to elicit an emotional response, such as the SlowMo Guys.

the slow mo guys use action shots in their youtube thumbnails

Follow the “rule of thirds” to create your thumbnail photo

The rule of thirds is a simplified method of achieving the “golden ratio”, which studies have shown minimizes the amount of time it takes for our brains to process a picture.

This picture composition guideline suggests that you position your point of interest not in the center of the picture, however, in the first or final third of the frame.

example of the rule of thirds

While it’s more of a guideline than a hard-and-fast rule, designing your thumbnail in this manner allows you to draw the viewer’s eye to the most important “message” in your picture.

Add text to your thumbnails

Base on a 2019 study by Sandvine, YouTube now accounts for 37 percent of all mobile internet traffic. That means a fair segment of your audience will watch your videos on a mobile device also.

That is what the homepage of YouTube looks like to them:

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The prominence of your thumbnail relative to the title makes it nearly guaranteed that the user’s eyes will be drawn to the thumbnail of your video first. And then, if they find the picture compelling enough, will they read the title.

So why not add some text to the thumbnail to help viewers make up their minds?

The text could be the title of your video or even only a handful of words which are related to its hook. Whatever you select, if over a 3rd of your viewers are used to “reading” thumbnails on mobile, be sure your own thumbnails could communicate what your video’s about even without the title.

Brand your thumbnails

When you take a look at the trending tab on Youtube, you’ll notice many of the trending videos have optimized their “first impression” by utilizing the tactics we have outlined above.

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YouTube thumbnails could be very similar aesthetically, and so making it simple for viewers to spot your videos at a glance increases the opportunities that they will be clicked on by people who are already familiar with your content.

When you have a consistent format for your YouTube channel, think about branding your thumbnails to differentiate them from other recommended videos.

Anybody familiar with Great Big Story, for instance, will instantly recognize their logo mark on YouTube.

YouTube Algorithm Works

2. Stick to a consistent premise or format for your YouTube channel

Most great YouTube channels or series could be summed up in 5 seconds:

On the flip side, many YouTube channels struggle to achieve traction because they treat their YouTube channel as a place to add all their video content, rather than as a home for a consistent video series. Consistency is the inspiration for achievement on YouTube—without it, you would possibly be capable to seize consideration, however, you will not be capable to maintain it.

YouTube channels that find their consistency are able to sustainably grow their subscriber base and viewership because it makes it simpler for people to determine to watch more of their content and subscribe to their channel.

The First We Feast channel embodies the type of consistency we are talking about—celebrities eating food—with multiple series which are essentially variations of the same premise.

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Below, you could see how this consistency feeds their subscriber development over time. Whenever a video is lucky enough to “go viral”, it truly has a better shot at converting each fleeting viewer into a lasting subscriber due to the stickiness of the premise and the consistency they could find across the rest of the channel’s content.

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If you wish to deviate from your core premise, it’s best to do it on a separate YouTube channel to keep away from undermining your own efforts. First We Feast, for instance, is owned by Complex, which has a very different focus and audience. The channels are connected under the Featured Channels tab, however, otherwise, they do not really intersect.

how first we feast separates itself from complex

3. Feed the recommendation engine with other sources

Newer YouTube channels cannot depend on the recommendation engine to get more views.

Recommendations, after all, are mostly based on how viewers have seen and interacted with your videos in the past. YouTube wants data to base the recommendations on and there is no data without people watching your videos. To exercise all the usual efforts to promote your videos, such as:

  • Sending new videos to your email list
  • Partnering with the press or other influencers
  • Promoting your videos on social media

But above all, concentrate on YouTube SEO and getting more subscribers, not only to garner video views over the long-term but also because what a user repeatedly consumes on-platform and what a user subscribes to are key signals that the YouTube algorithm uses to make personalized recommendations.

In the paper, the engineers note that “the most important signals are those that describe a user’s previous interaction with the item itself and other similar items… For example, think about the user’s past history with the channel that published the video being scored—how many videos has the user watched from this channel? When was the last time the user watched a video on this topic?”

If you could get a new user to continue watching more content after clicking through to one of your videos, you could enhance the chances of your videos getting recommended to them the next time they open YouTube.

4. Encourage viewers to stay after they click

Getting people to view your videos is one thing. Getting them to truly watch a video all the way through is another.

Fortunately, you could enhance your video completion rate (and earn more watch time) by building this objective into your video creation process:

  • Begin strong and incorporate a “hook” into the introduction your video
  • Transcribe your videos so people could watch them muted
  • Adjust the length of your videos based on your analytics (how far do viewers truly make it before dropping off?)
  • Do not use the same shot for too long or you might bore the viewer (that is why jump cuts are prevalent on YouTube)
  • In case your video is long, sprinkle in interruptive moments that re-focus the viewer’s attention when it begins to wander

5. Encourage binge-watching on your channel

You could also optimize for watch time at the channel-level by employing strategies involving video consumption and consistency to get more views.

Beyond having a focused premise for your YouTube channel—which is arguably an important thing—some other methods you could make it simpler for viewers to watch more of your content include:

  • Utilizing cards and end cards to manually recommend related videos
  • Linking to videos in playlists whenever you share so that the next video the user watches is always one of your own
  • Creating a consistent format from the thumbnail to the video itself—if viewers enjoy one of your videos, they need to be capable to rightly assume they will enjoy your other videos.
  • Incorporating a particular call to action or even scenes from other videos to “pitch” viewers directly to consume more content.
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Cards can be utilized to lead viewers further down the rabbit hole of your YouTube channel.
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