How to Optimize Your YouTube Channel & Videos for Maximum Exposure

How to Optimize Your YouTube Channel & Videos for Maximum Exposure: The Basics

I’ve heard it said before that video is the king of content.

I can’t confirm or deny that statement, but what I can say is that video is an extremely powerful tool for promoting your music.

From music videos to video songs, your content can be presented in a variety of different ways to engage fans and viewers.

But if you don’t set up your videos and your channel properly, you’re going to have a hard time gaining subscribers and views.

Earning a viewership is hard enough as it is – don’t put up any more walls between you and getting views!

Here are several ways you can optimize your YouTube channel and videos for maximum exposure.

Include Relevant Keywords In Your TitleClick To Tweet

Include Relevant Keywords In Your Title

If you want to get more views for your YouTube videos, you have to get this right.

You must assume that your title is the first and only thing people see when they find your videos.

And although the video thumbnail is equally important (we’ll talk more about that later), if your title isn’t descriptive, engaging, and/or attention-grabbing, I’m sorry to say you just aren’t going to get many views – mainly because YouTube is basically a search engine!

pipe monkey

This upload is  from a known Canadian artist’s YouTube channel. I have no idea what the video is about. I’m not saying that I’m not curious, but I’m also not surprised that it only has 10 views.

These days, your title can contain up to 100 characters – that’s more than they ever allowed in the past. If you aren’t at least putting your artist name in every video you publish, you can’t expect it to gain any traction.

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For example, if you’re publishing an acoustic cover of a popular song, at minimum, you need to include the original artist’s name, the song title, your artist or band name, as well as the words “acoustic” and “cover”.

every breath

You can always count on Igor Presnyakov to have an accurate and keyword-rich title for his videos. Learn from him.

With all of this in mind, please don’t fool people into watching your videos with the use of irrelevant keywords. They’ll begin ignoring you altogether.

Brand Your Channel Well

What do people see when they land on your YouTube channel?

Does it look as though a tumbleweed could roll through at any moment?


Knock, knock. Is anybody home?

Don’t be lazy – start populating your channel with relevant information immediately.

Your channel needs:

  • A channel icon. Also known as a profile picture. Use your face. Really.
  • Channel art. This is valuable retail space. Use it to promote new releases, your website, new merch, or other noteworthy things. Swap it out from time to time to keep your fans engaged.
  • Links. YouTube allows you to add links to your website, your Facebook page, your Twitter profile, and so on. You can even add a link to Instagram these days. Please take advantage of this.
  • A welcome video. YouTube lets you choose what video your visitors see first. Choose wisely. You do not have to make a video saying “hi, we’re so-and-so from Albuquerque, New Mexico”, but don’t forget that a great first impression can only be earned once.
  • Playlists. Your channel just looks empty if you don’t create a few different playlists. Take some time to think about how you’re going display videos below your “welcome video”.

Lindsey Stirling's channel

Lindsey Stirling’s channel – never disappointing.

I’m not going to lie – in addition to the things I just covered, the more subscribers you have, the more legitimate your channel is going to look. But please do not buy subscribers – it won’t help you in any way. Encourage your fans, friends and family to subscribe to your channel if your numbers are a little low.

Use Custom Thumbnails

Funny how YouTube tells you to use custom thumbnails for your videos and yet doesn’t make it a default feature for new users. They have to see some life on your channel before they’ll even let you upload your own images.

Oh well. It’s still really important that you do this. YouTube even says that “90% of the best-performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails.”

To be fair, it’s a feature that still seems fairly underutilized by musicians.

custom thumbnails

Known YouTube personality PewDiePie takes full advantage of custom thumbnails.

This could be because there are already plenty of moments in a music video that could make for great still shots.

In any case, here’s how to upload custom thumbnails (assuming YouTube has granted you permission):

  1. Go to your channel, and click on “Video Manager” at the top (make sure you’re logged in).
  2. Click on the “Edit” button next to the video you want to upload a custom thumbnail for.
  3. Click on the “Customised thumbnail…” button, upload an image from your hard drive, and you’re done!

Here are some additional tips with regards to thumbnails:

  • Make sure to use a high-resolution image, preferably at 1280×720 so that it fits a 16:9 aspect ratio. Make sure the file size is smaller than 2 MB, and save it as a JPG, GIF, BMP or PNG.
  • Make an eye-catching image. Learn from what others are doing. Here’s a hint: bright colors, bolded all-caps text, and faces tend to perform pretty well.
  • Don’t be cheap. Put some real effort into your images, and don’t use a picture of a hot girl or hot guy just because it will get more clicks. Build a cohesion between the video content and the thumbnail.


To summarize, if you want to optimize your YouTube channel and video uploads for maximum exposure, you need to:

  1. Use relevant keywords in your video title, tags, and description field.
  2. Brand your channel. Make sure your visitors know that you’re actively creating and uploading new content.
  3. Use custom thumbnails to engage viewers.

These are simple things anyone can do, but laziness and procrastination can get in the way. Instead of waiting until the last possible moment to create the images or textual content you need, plan ahead, and cull it all together so that you’re ready to plug it in the moment you start uploading your new video. When you’re more strategic, you’ll get better results from your uploaded content.

Author Bio:

David Andrew Wiebe is the founder of The Music Entrepreneur, and author of The New Music Industry. He is also active onstage and in the studio with bands like Adrenalize and Long Jon Lev. His new solo album is slated for release later this year.


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