Your channel page on YouTube is where you can brand your videos through attractive packaging. It creates an insular experience for your videos, one without all the distractions of suggested videos and that plain YouTube white background. A channel page is invitation into your home of creations, a living room with a screen that plays your videos and sells your particular brand. When you invite people into your home, you want them to have a good time, with great content and a welcoming aesthetic that beckons them to stay there.
Of course, like always, there are curious controls YouTube won't allow non-partners to bypass. In this case, it's with banner customization. We'll get to that later. Luckily the restriction is pretty much for that aspect of the channel page.
The Playbook Overview:
Strategy: Optimize and design your channel's metadata, layout, and background.
Why It Works: A well designed, organized, and search optimized channel page will keep viewers on your channel, attract more subscribers, and create a professional look to your content
How to Do It: Design a custom background. Optimize channel metadata. Utilize channel page features. Organize and arrange your content to meet the needs of your audience.
Channel Page Optimization: Make It Appealing, Remove Clutter
Some people like to compare a channel page to a Facebook page. What are you about, what are your interests, why should I want to be your friend? There are several ways to make your channel page attractive, and I'd say the very first thing is choosing the right kind of background. Colors that are welcoming or a background image that pops. Because I think Freddie Wong does about the best job you can do on YouTube, I'll show you the original image he uses on his page:
He blows this image up and puts it in black and white, and this is his background. You can link to his page here. Think about what Freddie Wong represents.: Over-the-top action-comedy. This picture says it all. It also works as his avatar. If you are arriving at his page for the first time, he is saying, "Hey, I'm Freddie Wong. I regularly deal with fireballs. What's up?"
Now, why would he choose to make this photo black and white? Maybe it's because it would clash too much with the video player. Imagine watching his videos with this attention-grabbing photo in full color. Sure, your background image pops, but the most important part of your channel page, the videos, start to clash. Yeah, you've got to be an interior decorator when you make color and background decisions.
Unfortunately, for eye-popping banners, you have to be a YouTube partner. Those banners usually have dynamic buttons leading to Facebook, Twitter, and E-mail. Otherwise, you'll get that generic, "Yep, it's a channel," banner. As always, some YouTubers have experimented and have come up with tricks on trying to customize your own without being a partner, but just like the thumbnail issue it's really just too much work for something that ultimately isn't going to matter much. Hopefully, you make videos that are so good you become a partner quickly and you can just laugh at those beneath you.
You have a lot of modules to choose from when creating a channel. These modules deal with comments, subscriptions, subscribers, other channels, recent activity, and so on. You may not want to clutter your page with a whole bunch of stuff, but surrounding your page with lots of activity is generally a good thing. Being a social YouTube creator, allowing comments, sharing other videos you like, displaying links to relevant channels are usually good things, but you need to maintain your page wisely so your page isn't cluttered with irrelevant junk.
Reviewing The Playbook: Channel Page Optimization
YouTube channel pages can be optimized in a number of ways to help viewers find your channel, stay on it once they are there, and compel them to want to keep coming back for more. When setting up and optimizing your channel page, you should be thinking about SEO/Metadata Optimization, Navigation, Features, and Branding/Design.
- Create a custom, visually compelling skin for the channel page.
- Feature the personalities. Make the audience feel like they are connecting with a person or character from your show and not just the brand or logo when they come to the channel.
- Make use of the "Banner Image" feature at the top of the page. Determine what links are important to display here and design this area to gain the most clicks (e.g., playlists, subscribe, Facebook, Twitter.) Links on this banner page can link off-site to promote any initiative.
- Utilize the 300 x 250 branding box located on the lower left side column.
- Properly tag your channel page with keywords and SEO formatting. (Under "Channel Settings.")
- Use keywords and SEO practices to optimize the channel for search when writing the channel description, profile, and other channel information.
Navigation and Modules
- Feature the right content and organize it in the best way for your particular audience. Set featured video and arrange uploads to be most engaging and relevant to your viewers.
- Determine the best presentation of your content on the channel (Uploads and Playlists). Feature playlists when your audience may be coming for distinct sets of content.
- Enable the "Other Channels" module to promote your other content or related channels. This module is a great feature to create cross-promotion amongst channels. Tip: channels listed here are also listed as suggested channels when a user subscribes to your channel.
Is Metadata Important for Channel Optimization?
I guess if you are specifically trying to get people to your channel through search, it's important to write tags and descriptions that allow users to find your channel through search engines. When writing this metadata, it's probably going to be a mix of broad genre keywords like "comedy" and "action" mixed with specific keywords such as your name and your channel name.
But this is a case where your videos are what lead to your channel. I always find channels through videos I find from the main page. So while search engine optimization should always be implemented to get whatever views you can, in this case, I don't see how writing brilliant metadata for the channel in particular is going to make you stand out. Your videos are king, and those should have the well-written metadata (tags, titles, descriptions). People will find your page after you've hooked them with a video or two. Content is king.
When It Comes to Channel Optimization, Be Superficial, Judge It On Looks
Really, you're looking for things to look good. Your channel page should please the eye and make people want to see what you're about. Then, hopefully you make entertaining videos so they'll stay there. When people click to your channel, they are in the Honeymoon Phase of what you have to offer. Are you going to ruin that goodwill with a poorly-constructed channel layout that makes them have second thoughts as soon as they arrive?
Remember the attention span of YouTube users. It's pretty short. So if they come to your page and can't find what they want because you haven't set up your uploads or playlists correctly, or you have tons of links and irrelevant videos making a mess of the place, they might be gone as quickly as they found you.
You should definitely test out your channel page and think to yourself, "If I am coming to this page for the first time, can I find the best videos quickly? Does the video clash with the background? If it doesn't clash, are the colors/background image attractive? Would I stay here?" Don't frustrate potential viewers, give them what they want, and make it easy to navigate.
Reviewing the Playbook: How-To Steps
Optimize Channel Metadata
- Include relevant keywords in your channel page title. Select and input relevant keywords as tags for your channel.
- Write an optimized and helpful channel description with pertinent information including links , release schedule, show description, and other relevant information.
- Create a great avatar image that is relevant to your channel and will be eye-catching in search results.
Enable and Utilize Channel Page Features
- Explore all available features and modules available for the channel page.
- Enable the "other channels" module to feature other channels and cross-promote. Enable your recent activity feed and channel comments to increase engagement with your channel.
- Enable all the branding features available on the channel page to maximize your personalization and branding on the page.
Design A Great Background Wallpaper and Other Branding Graphics
- Design an attractive wallpaper for your channel that features the personalities, characters or content of the channel.
- Design the banner image with a focus on the actions you want the channel visitors to take. You can make this area clickable, so design the banner to get viewers to click: feature the subscribe button and link to social media, important videos or playlists.
- Every channel will have different aesthetic and navigation needs, so make sure you utilize the branding features and design your channel to encourage clicks that will help you build an audience, gain subscribers, and achieve other objectives.
Get A Second Opinion
Channel design might not be your forte. You might be a great video creator, but maybe you're not the best judge of taste. So get somebody who doesn't care about hurting your feelings to critique your channel layout.
As always, YouTube success depends on trial and error a lot of times. So track your channel visits through Insight and see if people are leaving you within seconds. It might be time to restructure the way you handle the page. Your content will always be the driving factor in your success of YouTube, but it doesn't hurt to clean up the house for the guests once in awhile.