It’s no secret that YouTube analytics are confusing as hell. And while we can confirm that you can’t control whether YouTube will promote your content in the suggested video sidebar, we definitely believe that you can put yourself in a situation that’s much more likely to make their algorithm favor your channel.

By recognizing and exploiting what’s worked in the past, collaborating with other YouTubers and SEOing the shit out of our videos, we were able to gain over 5,000 subscribers and almost half a million views in just one month.

We were pretty blown away by the results, so we wanted to share our experience.

Hanging out and collaborating with other YouTubers

At the beginning of 2017, we attended a small travel summit hosted by FunForLouis and the Live The Adventure crew. (If you haven’t heard of them, you can check them out here.) The very first day of the summit we saw a pretty substantial spike in views. We swear YouTube somehow knew we were in the same location as all these other YouTubers and for whatever reason rewarded us by pushing our videos to new viewers.

We continued gaining momentum the entire weekend of the summit. Afterwards, we ended up traveling and meeting up with those same YouTubers off and on for the next month (and would shout out and be shouted out to in various videos). And surprise!, views kept going up.

Then, we ended up being one of two vlogs from the summit featured by FunForLouis, which leads me to our next topic...

Shoutout from a bigger Youtuber

Admittedly, this one’s tough to engineer. After the Travel Summit, we randomly decided to submit an intro for FunForLouis’ channel. He splices in a shout out from a viewer before every video. Then we got really lucky. Louis had selected our video as the best vlog of the summit, so he featured us at the end of his video. He also added our intro to the beginning of the video. So we had a double whammy of being at both the beginning and end of the vlog along with a link to our channel in his description. This was the result:

Finding what works and exploiting it

If you already have a YouTube channel, analyze your highest viewed videos and see if there’s any sort of theme. For us, we quickly realized that our food videos consistently got thousands (and sometimes 100+ thousand) more views than our normal vlogs. We actually resisted making more food videos for a while because we were worried about being pigeonholed as food vloggers instead of travel vloggers.

But what we realized is that in reality, those videos only helped support and our other content and grow our channel. Tons of people were clicking to watch the food vlogs, but subscribing for the story. And now we’re consistently getting over 1k views on our vlogs within 24 hours of posting them!

We have also decided to embrace the food angle after we had our England food video gain over 200,000 views!

Sticking to a schedule

We keep hearing, and definitely suspect that YouTube rewards consistency. And we’re inclined to believe it, since literally a month before our views started skyrocketing, we committed to posting a new vlog every Mon/Wed/Fri. Before that we would just post randomly, so it was impossible for viewers to anticipate a new video.

YouTube definitely seems to like being able to rely on channels for consistent, quality content.

Optimizing our videos for search

YouTube is the 2nd biggest search engine in the world, next to Google. So, since we first started our channel, we’ve been paying attention to the content of our titles, descriptions and tag sections and targeting specific keywords.

Search traffic accounts for 9.4% of our traffic while suggested videos account for a whopping 41.8%.

What this shows is that SEO is definitely something worth worrying about (after all, that 9.4% accounts for around 120,000 monthly views on our channel!), but it’s not as powerful as having YouTube suggest your videos alongside others.

If you’d like to know more about how to optimize your YouTube videos for search, checkout our Ultimate Guide to YouTube SEO.

The key takeaways we've gathered from all this is that:

  • Uploading consistently and on a schedule increases your odds of success.
  • Getting into the YouTube suggested video sidebar can skyrocket your channel growth, but it’s a hard thing to engineer.
  • Videos should target specific keywords or events in order to squeeze as much search traffic out of it as possible.
  • Collaborating with other YouTubers can cause huge growth on your channel, but it probably won’t last forever.
  • You should always be digging into your analytics to find out what videos are working and why, then you can create more content like this.

I really hope you found this analysis helpful. If you have any questions or comments, leave a note below. And make sure you’re subscribed on YouTube so that you can follow our journey.