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Better With Age: Content Lessons We’ve Learned From 10 Years of YouTube

The first YouTube video was uploaded 10 years ago on April 23, 2005 by one of the site’s co-founders Jawed Karim. In this 19-second video, he is seen standing in front of the elephant cage at the San Diego Zoo. It is titled ‘Me at the zoo’ and the original version has had more than 19 million views. Not bad for a YouTube video that doesn’t have a cat in it, but still, it is nowhere near the top 10 viewed videos in YouTube’s history.

With nearly 7 trillion total views, these are the top 10 YouTube videos of all time. This top 10 list interestingly enough starts and ends with videos from a Korean rapper, showing the global power of YouTube, which was purchased by Google in 2006 for $1.65 billion dollars in what Google called “the next step in the evolution of the Internet.”

    Name                                                                         Views
  1.  PSY – Gentlemen MV                                          803,455,806
  2.  Jennifer Lopez – On The Floor                             812,242,500
  3.  Charlie bit my finger – again!                                812,683,689
  4.  Shakira – Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)        813,555,646
  5.  Eminem – Love The Way You Lie                         819,574,600
  6.  Katy Perry – Roar                                                  821,531, 256
  7.  LMFAO – Party Rock Anthem                               827,445,912
  8.  Katy Perry – Dark Force (Official)                         844,436,243
  9.  Justin Bieber – Baby                                             1,141,868,076
  10.  PSY – Gangman Style                                          2,258,848,834

How can your video content aspire to make the list? Celebrate YouTube’s 10th Anniversary and simultaneously bolster your brand’s content creation and distribution efforts by giving these gifts to YouTube viewers everywhere.

1. Top-Notch Trailers

The most important thing you can do for YouTube is to create a channel trailer that focuses on increasing subscribers. Show viewers what they can expect, how often you’ll post new videos and why they should subscribe. Subscriptions are key to the success of both YouTube and your channel. Subscribers watch more of your videos and have longer watch times than non-subscribers.

2. Nifty Titles

Create eye-catching, keyword-relevant titles that will encourage viewers to stick around and watch your videos. Be sure to keep the title to less than 70 characters. List the most relevant keywords at the beginning of the title and save your brand for the end. You might also want to include the word “video” in your title to increase visibility on other search engines.

3. Killer Descriptions

A well-written description that compels people to watch a video can also lead to more channel subscribers. The first part of your description needs to be short since YouTube only shows the first few sentences unless a viewer decides to “See More.” After the short description, add a transcript of the video. Include links to other related videos or content. You have 5,000 total characters in the description field so use as much as you can.

4. Relevant Tags

Adding too many tags is the same as adding no tags at all. Only use the keyword phrases that are most relevant to your video and keep them focused on one theme. Search YouTube for related videos and see what tags the most viewed ones are using. Don’t just copy the tags; make sure they are equally relevant to your video.

5. Eye-Catching Thumbnails

Consider YouTube’s video thumbnail your first impression to the viewer; its like a movie poster. Create thumbnails that are visually appealing and truly represent the content. You may want to add text to the thumbnail to entice the viewer to watch. If you do, ensure the text is large enough to read easily.

6. Longer Watch Times

The longer a viewer watches your video the better YouTube thinks of your video and is more likely to show it in relevant search results. Monitor video watch time using YouTube analytics. Take lessons from the winners and apply them to other videos; improve the losers with more compelling and relevant content.

7. Likes and Shares

Everyone loves likes and shares, especially YouTube. The best way to get these is to ask your viewers for them. Ask viewers to like and share videos in the annotations. Ask them in the description. Ask them in social media. Ask them in emails. If you want more likes and shares, then ask for them.

8. Tons of Comments

Likes and shares are great but comments are even better. Comments are an indication people are engaged with your content. Responding to comments shows you care and creates an excellent way to engage viewers. How do you get viewers to comment? Again, asking goes a long way.

9. Closed Captions

Add closed captions to all your videos. A viewer may be a non-native English speaker or be hearing impaired. They may even want to watch with the sound turned off depending on their environment. Search engines can read closed captions and viewers can filter their search in YouTube for closed-caption videos. Not only will this help viewers, it helps YouTube learn more about your video.

10. Everywhere Embeds

Just like we embedded the top 10 videos of all time in this post, embed your YouTube videos everywhere. YouTube makes it easy by giving you an embed code. The more places it is, the more people see it and the better rankings it gets on search engines.

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