The Dream of the 90s is Alive on YouTube: How to Increase Views, Subscribers and Revenue on the World’s Second Largest Search Engine

November 17, 2021

Eli Feldblum, Sandler Digital

Session Recording and Slide Deck


Eli Feldblum of Sandler Digital discusses how to maximize your efforts on YouTube during his presentation, The Dream Of The ‘90s Is Alive On YouTube: How To Increase Views, Subscribers And Revenue On The World’s Second Largest Search Engine.


What do I mean by the dream of the ‘90s is alive on YouTube? (0:30)

Remember old-school digital marketing? Digital marketing and SEO used to be easy. You didn’t have to do hard work. YouTube is dumb. It’s not a sophisticated network. This same workflow still works on YouTube.


Your Big Issues (2:50)

Issue 1: Videos don’t match audience demand

You produced excellent video content – but it doesn’t match how YouTube users searched for that content.


Issue 2:  Lack of new features

You don’t employ new YouTube features, like shorts, community posts, and stories, which would greatly extend your reach.


Issue 3: Lack of Discoverability

While your video content is great and engagement is high, not enough care is placed on thumbnails, hashtags and calls to action.


Issue 4: Audience confusion

Your content serves multiple purposes that are often at odds with each other: educating sophisticated in-market viewers and bringing in new viewers.


Understand Demand (3:51)

Your videos may provide great content – but that content might not match how viewers search for their content. With 3 billion searches per day, Youtube is the second largest search engine in the world; tweaking content to meet that demand can dramatically improve “discoverability” or your ability to appear in search results.

You can be effective with the “Rule of Three” (the title, description and tags) to help videos rank better within YouTube search. 


Divide the Demand (5:25)

Determine the verticals of search that comprise your audience. 

  • Generic: How do people search in general for content about a product or service?
  • Branded/In-Market: How do people search specifically for content about you?
  • Competitors: How do people search specifically for content about your competitors?


Plot your Demand. What is it people are searching for in your space, and how do they conduct those searches?


Demand Demand (7:09)

  •  YouTube search is based on “on-page” elements as well as “off-page signals” like engagement and view count. On-page metrics, like the rule of three, determine how relevant your video is and are a large part of determining how well it ranks.
  • Plan and add new content that is in line with the types of searches your audience employs. Use concatenation, like “recap” + “season” + “episode” to create a content plan. 
  • Update older, existing videos to bring them in line with the above keyword patterns. While you can’t change video content on YouTube, you can always change text.
  • Focus on the rule of three.
  • Breakout key portions of videos that meet audience demand for shorts, community posts, and stories. 


What Is Discoverability (8:08)

  • YouTube is an old-school search engine; it runs on textual and keyword-based signals, not semantics, so every signal matters.
  • Historically, YouTube publishers have only had three signals – the title, the description and the tags. Those are the Rule of Three. Your primary keywords should appear in all three.
  • Videos must match audience demand.
  • Features like thumbnails and hashtags help too.


Why It Works (10:28)

YouTube is kind of dumb. It does not understand synonyms, misspellings and semantically related content. Treat it like a search engine. In total, YouTube receives 3 billion searches a month; it’s extensively used despite being old school. Its viewers exhibit a mix of search behavior; they are unlikely to click content that explicitly promises to deliver what they searched for, but they will watch longer in search of that promise.


How it Works (11:59)

Videos with better textual elements like titles, descriptions and thumbnails will get better engagement – regardless of the actual video content. 


What’s Next: Features (12:20)

These will help from social and classic perspectives.

  • Shorts – Only appear on mobile devices, not searchable, used sparingly, help metrics tremendously. Employ above regular cadence, use spoken CTA.
  • Community Posts – Mobile only, not searchable. Copy your well-performing social media posts right into the feed. Can be multiple content types. Polls work great. Great engagement rates; use extensively, use to highlight videos like a teaser trailer, release new offers, use polls to artificially drive up engagement rates
  • Stories – Use extensively, can be created on desktop. Can transfer Instagram stories over. Include a CTA.
  • Hashtags – Unlike tags, they help viewers discover content through non-search channel. Meant as a navigational device so viewers can find other similar videos. Very effective for discoverability.
  • Chapters – For videos longer than one minute. Increases view time. Just add timestamps and descriptions to your content. Must use timestamp of 00:00 or 0:00 to have chapter s appear. Help videos appear in blended results. Great way to show up in regular  Google search results. 


Understanding Your Audience (22:28)

Many channels serve different and distinct audiences. Your content must serve each, either with multiple distinct but connected channels or with a single channel. If you use a single channel, implement distinction in cadence; split your daily uploads so that each is aimed at a different audience. Use consistent titling structure, at the end of video titles, along with consistent branding and watermarks, to distinguish between content types.


Thumbnails (24:00)

Thumbnails are important to get views but won’t help rank. Like meta descriptions in traditional SEO, thumbnails don’t help a video rank per se but they can improve click-through rates. Use large text.


Cadence (25:19)

Cadence is important and consistency keeps viewers engaged. They expect it. Split your cadence between audiences and append cadence with shorts, community posts and stories. 


Countdowns and Premieres (26:24)

When exciting content is on the horizon, you can schedule the video to premiere at a later date – viewers can set reminders and the countdown timer will show up in their feed. Schedule videos to premiere at a later date or time in YouTube Studio. These improve engagement, including live and responsive chat.

Make sure titles and thumbnails are already set before premiere. 


Translations (27:37)

There’s an incredible demand for other languages. Check your comments for demand. Rewrite titles, reupload and promote. 


Transcripts, CC and Subtitles (28: 25)

These can be used as textual signals and give Google and YouTube better context to index and rank your video. More content always wins.


Channel Optimization (29:03)

Your channel is the introduction to your site – and it can show up in search results! Use all five link opportunities, add custom trailers and use all 1000 words of description with Audience Demand keywords.


On-site and Schema (29:26)

Google wants to know about YouTube; you can include your YouTube channel in your Google Publisher Dashboard. Add organization schema to the homepage of your website, including YouTube.