The sequel technique: how to get more video views on YouTube

Time to read: 4 min

Oct 1 2020

With 1.3 billion users and 300 hours of video uploaded every minute, YouTube can be quite a daunting place to post your content. Having a way to utilise the YouTube algorithm can make all the difference when it comes to getting your video in front of the right people. 

Here are our tips that will help you optimise your video for YouTube algorithm promotion. So that you, your brand or business can more video views.

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • YouTube SEO – finding the right keywords
  • Boosting your CTR
  • Ranking highly in suggested videos
  • Video length and watch time
  • The sequel technique

YouTube SEO – finding the right keywords

Did you know that YouTube can understand up to 95% of what is said in your videos? Optimised keywords and phrases are a crucial part of creating video content for YouTube. You should try to have them in mind as early as pre-production, so use your keywords when writing your script. In doing so, you are literally telling the YouTube algorithm that your video should appear in searches for those words. 

Of course, these keywords and phrases should also be used in your title, description and tags but including them in the video can be a helpful trick to boost your video’s rank in search results. 

There are several ways to find keywords that are relevant to your video’s topic. Typing a phrase into YouTube’s search bar and looking at the suggested searches identifies terms that are actively being searched by users. It’s one of the best ways to find popular keywords for your video. Another way is to reverse engineer keywords from your competitors. Find a video that is ranking highly around your topic. Have a look through the source code to find the keywords it has been tagged with. There are also several websites and Google extensions you can use which make the tags of YouTube videos visible.  

Boosting your click-through rate

Click-through rate (CTR) measures how many of the impressions on your video are being converted into clicks. The higher your CTR, the higher the views on your video will be. CTR is also one of the criteria against which the YouTube algorithm judges your video. If your CTR is good, the algorithm will start ranking your video higher in search results and suggestions. This will lead to more views.  To optimise your CTR you need to make sure your video has a distinct thumbnail. It needs to stand out amongst the other videos in search results and suggestions. To check, clear your cookies and data, or use an incognito tab to see which videos your video is coming up alongside in YouTube search results. 

Ranking highly in suggested videos

A surprisingly large proportion of views come from the YouTube suggestions and it is often overlooked. If used strategically, the suggested feed can be an excellent way to get more views on your videos by ranking highly next to popular videos.  Run a search for your topic on YouTube to see which videos are the most popular. Choose one which relates to your content and that you want your video to be suggested alongside. By using similar keywords and phrases, you can make your video rank higher in the suggestions of that video. If you make your thumbnail stand out against the other suggested videos, and have an engaging title, you will be giving yourself the best chance for a high CTR. This will give you the best chance of people who finish the more popular video watching your video next. 

Video length and watch time

The optimal video lengths for social media sites like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook ranges between 30 seconds to 2 minutes. On YouTube it is slightly different. Since 2012, YouTube has focused on audience retention and it is becoming more and more important in deciding how videos rank in search results. 

The YouTube algorithm favours longer videos with higher watch time and will promote those over shorter videos. This is dependent on your content’s niche, but it’s worth looking at the length of the content you are competing against. Aim for similar – or even slightly longer – durations to drive up your video’s watch time and rank above competitors in search results. 

The first 15 seconds of your video are crucial in capturing your audience. Make sure you have an engaging introduction to your video. If people are clicking away from your video after the first few seconds, your watch time will go down. Your video will be penalised by the YouTube algorithm, ranking lower in searches which will result in less views. 

The sequel technique

All of the tips I have talked about above can be used together in ‘The Sequel Technique’, coined by Brian Dean from BackLinkO. The sequel technique is a method of gaining views by targeting a popular video in your niche, creating a better version (or ‘sequel’ video) and then using the methods above to have your sequel rank highly among the chosen video’s suggestions. 

According to Dean you can improve the original video’s:

  • Graphics and animation
  • Audio quality
  • Pacing
  • Overall video content and quality
  • Content delivery

It isn’t necessary to use all of the tips together to get more views. Each one is helpful in its own right, but if you want to go the extra mile, try the sequel technique in full. Choose a video in your niche you think you could improve and see how it works for you. 

You can help your video stand out and rank higher in YouTube search results, To do this, understand how to optimise your keywords, thumbnails and watch time. Always aim to please the YouTube algorithm. Make it as clear as possible who your audience is and where you want your video to be suggested. The more targeted you can be, the better. 

Skylark Media is a video production and marketing agency based at Bristol’s Aardman Animations. Need help creating or optimising your videos? Get in touch with Skylark Media for a free video consultation.

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Nyles Hollister

Nyles Hollister

Camera and Edit Assistant, Skylark Media

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