Over the past few months there has been much buzz about YouTube’s plans to change their layout, and the general public’s attitude has been, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But, alas, the new layout is here, and after some exploration, it is pretty clear that this new layout is not just a visual reorganization of existing features; it seems as if the folks at YouTube have made some strategic changes which will transform the site into more of a real-time social media platform, as well as a more useful business tool for companies.
Since as long as we can remember, YouTube has listed suggested videos based upon what viewers have just watched. Although this particular algorithm is still in play (the lengthy list of suggestions now appears smaller on the side of your screen on a video page), suggestions are beginning to shift from being video-focused to channel-focused. On the homepage, YouTube now suggests channels to which users should subscribe, based on their search and viewing history.
With channel subscriptions comes viewing loyalty, and thus more traffic to YouTube. This also means more traffic to the channels themselves, which become great business tools. Your business may already have a YouTube channel (if you don’t, start one NOW), but with its new layout, YouTube is marketing for you – it’s like retargeting ads on Google, but for free.
That being said, there are steps to take to make sure you are optimized for search on YouTube. Choosing the right relevant keywords for your channel and videos is now more important than ever – make sure that you don’t skip this step! Remember, now your channel can show up on users’ homepages as suggestions, based on their search history – not just their current searches.
Within search results and suggested videos/channels, each result shows only your avatar and 45 characters – so make sure you have a great photo and compelling copy within the first 45 characters of your title and description to maximize clicks.
Once someone has subscribed to your channel, everything you do – watch, upload, like, share, comment on a video, etc. – will show up on the user’s newsfeed. So be engaging and make sure that you are always adding compelling content and interacting with your subscribers (but don’t overdo it – YouTube has made it very easy for a user to unsubscribe, straight from the newsfeed).
Also great for a business with a YouTube channel is the layout change of the channel pages themselves (we’ve changed ours! Check it out!) – the way the channels are laid out keep viewers and subscribers there longer – it’s all about you. Your activity is easily seen and shared in a real-time feed. The customization options have expanded. Your videos can be watched right on your channel page, and your other videos are laid out in thumbnails underneath, available at the click of a mouse. And once someone has reached the end of a video on your page the current video shrinks on the screen, and three more of your relevant videos begin to play, luring viewers to keep watching your content.
Let’s back up for a minute – yes, now YouTube has its own newsfeed on each user’s homepage. The adoption of a newsfeed is a big move for the website. Although sharing videos across other platforms like Facebook is still encouraged, the newsfeed allows users to see real-time activity right on their homepages. The newsfeed is quite reminiscent of that of Facebook, and perhaps YouTube has applied it in order to keep the social aspect contained to the site, and to keep users from returning to their homepage often to see what’s new, as people do their Facebook newsfeed (constantly, in many cases).
For YouTube, traffic is king (more traffic means more advertising dollars!), and these minor, non-intrusive changes in the layout will, hopefully for the site, increase this metric tremendously. And since these changes have been tested over the past year before being fully rolled-out, something tells us it will be a win.
What do you think of the new layout??