How to increase audience retention on your YouTube channel

Find out how to establish a loyal fan-base on YouTube

Published by 

Alexis Pratsides


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With over 5 billion videos, YouTube SEO and retention is vital to ensure that your audience are engaged with your content and become loyal fans, as opposed to exiting and choosing to watch your competitor’s videos.

In this article, we cover 5 tips to increase retention on your YouTube channel and keep your viewers engaged with your content.

1. Upload quality content

The average retention rate for YouTube videos is 54%, with 48% viewers expected to drop off before the video ends. As Bill Gates once said, “content is king”. You must upload quality videos that aim to either entertain your viewers or increase their knowledge about a certain subject, or both!

The quality of your content doesn’t just stop at the subject matter of the video, but also include the video and audio quality.

Good recording and editing are vital in your videos, such as recording with a high-quality camera, as well as cutting out the ‘umms’ and ‘errs’ when you’re speaking.

It is important to remember that YouTube is about watching videos, not just listening to them. Therefore, your videos must be visually engaging to your viewers, and doing this consistently will increase your reputation – allowing you to retain your audience.

YouTube video caption, reads 'one of the biggest mistakes I see people making on YouTube is creating videos that nobody is searching for'.

2. Engage with your audience

When people watch your videos, you want to create a virtual conversation with them, rather than simply feeding them information. This two-way communication is key if you want to retain your audience.

One of the easiest ways to engage with your audience is by asking them to perform actions whilst watching your videos. This can be either liking, commenting or sharing your video.

You can also keep engagement high through competitions or giveaways. For example, you could tell your audience to comment on the video, and then say that you will pick a random commenter to win a prize in a future video.

This works well because for fans who want to know if they’ve won, they must watch your future video that reveals the winner, plus the increased comments on your YouTube video helps it rank higher.

YouTube video, screenshot of Sean Cannell

3. Include cards and end screens

One of the most useful tools that YouTube give you to retain your audience are cards and end screens.

Cards act as notifications that appear on your video which you can link to your other videos. Cards are convenient for your audience as they are given an option to click on the card, which if they decline, the card will simply disappear from the screen.

If you want to maximise the potential of viewers clicking on the card, you can place them in conjunction with a call to action in your video that is relevant to the card shown.

End screens allow you to promote up to four elements within the last 5-20 seconds on your video. These elements include pointing viewers to other videos, playlists, channels, websites, and merchandise.

To maximise the effectiveness of end screens, you should aim to promote different elements and consider leaving a gap at the end of your video so that the end screens can appear, giving your viewers enough time to take action upon one or more of the elements.

screenshot of Sean Cannell YouTube video

4. Give the video eye-catching thumbnails

There are billions of videos on YouTube, and it is vital that your thumbnail is eye-catching and enticing to click on.

Your thumbnail should contain clear, bold text with a colourful background and high-quality images depending on what the video is about. Take into consideration the size of the thumbnails, which should be 1280 x 720 pixels.

Video thumbnails can help retain your audience, but only if you remain consistent! There is no use in creating a variety of different thumbnails on your YouTube channel, as your audience need an indication that those videos are yours, rather than from another user.

Consistent eye-catching thumbnails will help your audience identify your videos from the rest and will therefore be more enticed to click on them.

Example of eye-catching YouTube thumbnail.Example of YouTube thumbnail, where the video title has been added.

5. Invest in YouTube SEO Optimisation

Video optimisation is crucial as it solves the biggest problem that content creators have; finding the right audience.

There are many ways to optimise your YouTube videos, however the main aspects are video titles, tags, descriptions, and categories. These must all be optimised effectively to your published content, as this helps your audience find your videos.

If you’re struggling to think of how to achieve this, think of what your viewers would be searching to find your video, and more specifically, the words/phrases being searched.

You need to be proactive in establishing how your audiences would most likely find your content, and simply tailor the optimisation factors to them.

A well-optimised YouTube video will have specific and accurate video titles (that don’t mislead your audience), lengthy descriptions, and relevant tags and video category.

Keep in mind that you can’t just optimise one aspect of your video, as complete optimisation is what will increase your rankings and help you capture the right audience who will hopefully become loyal viewers.

YouTube video result that has been optimised for YouTube SEO

Final thoughts

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, and with a plethora of videos uploaded every minute, you must ensure that your viewers will stick around and continue to watch your content.

Since YouTube is constantly changing, such as their addition of hashtags, it is important to stay updated with the latest changes, and also apply them to your video content, to help protect and improve your YouTube’s audiences retention rate.

Want help with your YouTube SEO?

If you want some extra support to optimise your video content to rank in YouTube (and Google) then speak to our SEO team, we’d love to help. Get in touch today!

Created by

Alexis Pratsides

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