9 tips to make a video go viral on YouTube (2023)

Cute animals, kids saying the silliest things, talk show clips, comedy sketches and fitness instructionals: YouTube is the bustling agora of the Web, capturing all of life’s hilarious moments, compiling helpful tutorials and trending news. From its humble beginnings a decade ago, YouTube has propelled itself beyond a call to action to “Broadcast Yourself.”

YouTube is an ever evolving, all seeing eye that is incredibly social, comment-intensive and gives us cocktail conversation, “Oh, did you see that YouTube video?” YouTube is the emperor of video platforms, and having a strong brand presence means contributing to the kingdom with videos.

YouTube is also the world’s second largest search engine. Yes, you read that right; as well as the third most visited site on the Web. Meaning if you’re not incorporating the video network into you digital marketing mix you should. Right now.

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Every so often, a YouTube video goes viral. Try as you might, you cannot force virality. The essence of virality is user generated, passed contagiously amongst video watchers. Daily, more than one billion users collectively watch more than watch hundreds of millions of hours of videos, generating billions of views on the platform localized in 75 countries, available in 61 languages.

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Users upload 300 hours of video every minute meaning there’s a whole lot of audio visual noise. Being found takes a special talent — this is where the art of optimizing your content for the search engine comes in. It takes time to stand out but this can be made easier with tips and tricks.

9 tips to make a video go viral on YouTube (1)

Do your keyword research and monitor ranking progress

It may have been a while since your last academic research paper, but your brand’s video optimization is not the time for guesswork.

Start your investigation by digging deeply into keywords related to your industry and brand.Rank Tracker, is a standout tool for evaluating keyword potential. Rank Tracker treats individual YouTube URLs as site names. In just a few steps, you can have detailed information on keywords for your YouTube videos.

From the entered URL, keywords and keyphrases will automatically generate which you should add and delete from this list. Be sure to choose YouTube from the list of search engines (separated into folders by country).

The project will run, data will be collected (it’s super fast with a solid internet connection) and then click finish to view the results. That’s all it takes!

Keep in mind that while the YouTube platform is indeed amazing, it cannot scan audio within a video for keywords and phrases. You have to do that job yourself, adding it into the context of the content surrounding the video.

The importance of ranking keywords cannot be stressed enough. YouTube, like Google, utilizes ranking to determine which videos rank at the search engine results page (SERP): AKA top of the heap and more likely to be played.

To play the ranking game, the number of views, length of watch time, ratings and comments are all key components. And, in addition to each of these factors, the right keywords can make all the difference between being at the top of page one and page six (and really, who clicks that far). Keyword tools like RankTracker ensure you’re on the right track, not just throwing great videos into the dark depths of obscurity.

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Optimize thefile name

Before uploading a video to YouTube it will likely have an auto generated title something like, “LSR354.mov.” Rename utilizing keywords that describe the video in similar or fewer words than a title. A video featuring how to carve a pumpkin should be renamed, “carve-pumpkin-tutorial.”

Improve the title using the right Keywords

Your video title may seem like a chance to execute your amazing ability for puns, but this is a great starting place to be smart with video optimization. Be descriptive but concise like you would with any webpage URL. Add in modifiers like “new” or “official” to draw attention and add value to the video right from the title. (People have an innate trust in the word “official” in our social world to rise above the fan pages and robots.)

For example instead of “How to Bake Banana Bread” add your brand and additional fitting keywords, like “Foodie Magazine New Recipe: How To Bake Delicious, Easy Bread,” or “New Recipe: Delicious Banana Bread – Foodie Magazine.” Capitalize each word in your title.

9 tips to make a video go viral on YouTube (2)

Other words that have a strong descriptive pull are words like
: DIY, Reviews, Case Study, Free and Tutorial.

Create a video for mobile devices

Smartphones aren’t just for texting about YouTube vids, they’re for watching. More than half of all YouTube videos come from mobile devices and they’re dedicating significant time to the platform; the average viewing time for mobile users (smartphone and tablets) is more than 40 minutes. Mobile is also YouTube’s top priority according to Susan Wojcicki, YouTube’s chief executive; if it’s the company’s first prerogative it should be your brand’s as well.

First off know what you’re working with. Track your YouTube channel’s traffic from mobile by clicking on the Channel icon then click on Creator Studio. Under the left hand navigation click to Analytics followed by devices. Check out your mobile traffic and break it down by operating system.

Evaluate your page with a keen eye from various mobile devices to check how video titles and thumbnails appear. Ensure the image is clear and easily discernable.

9 tips to make a video go viral on YouTube (3)

76 percent of Millennials subscribe to brand or company channels on YouTube
. The users are out there, now it’s time to create the content they want to watch. Seven out of 10 of these millennials are likely to watch a branded video while shopping online. And, nearly 75 percent of millennials find videos helpful when comparison shopping. This means your brand and company needs to host quality brand and product-oriented videos featuring details that will influence these savvy shoppers. Remember to keep the video titles focused on the product or service at hand so if a consumer is searching within a brand channel the intended video is first on results list.
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Write an effective video description

When uploading a video, the description box may seem like the last thing you want to fill out. But don’t miss this step – it’s important for SEO potential. Give your video at least 300 words of a description packed with keywords and phrases related to your brand and industry. So, write the description after you do your keyword research. Emphasis pull quotes and comments that give insight to the content in the video. Also, link to content related to the video that offers further information or a place for purchase with branded, tagged URLs. Add a domain link to your site at the very top of the video so viewers don’t have to dig deeper for you content.

You should also utilize the description area to place a link inviting users to subscribe to the channel and a link to a related different video on the channel. This will aid in guiding viewers on your branded content.

Submit all the subtitles and create closed captions

Closed captions and subtitles are perhaps one of the least employed SEO tactics on YouTube. But, when YouTube conducted an A/B test with one of their channel partners, finding that videos with English captions saw a 4 percent increase in views. Beyond SEO purposes, closed captioning opens the video content up to a larger audience including those with hearing disabilities or language translated captions for an international audience.

YouTube does offer automatic speech recognition tech to craft captions, but these automatically generated scripts can host mistakes. You can employ this tactic and then edit the text to ensure quality control. It’s better to have no subtitles than automated gibberish which could mark the YouTube URL as “pure spam” by Google, shooting down any SEO value.

9 tips to make a video go viral on YouTube (4)
Or, you can craft your own closed caption script and upload to YouTube. Such a file includes the text of what was said in the video and time codes for when it was said. Be sure to add auditory descriptors into the text such as [group laughter] or [loud door creak.]

If writing out your video script isn’t the idea of a fun workday, support the gig economy and hire talent on Fiverr.com or work with a freelancer in your network.

Add tags properly

Tags are essentially keywords. (Another reason to yet again use Rank Tracker.) They are entered when uploading or editing the video and offer insight for the platform’s discovery system about the video’s topic and content. Include your brand’s name and related tags. If you’re stuck use YouTube’s auto suggest tool.

Don’t go wild with the tags — only include words that accurately describe what’s in the video. Start with longer phrases like “golden retriever puppy training” and then work your way down to “dog training” and “puppy.”

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Keep in mind that tags (like the video description) need not be stagnant. As new tags become popular and different search rise on the keyword list update your tags. Utilize quotation marks to indicate multi-word tags, such as “Donald Trump” or “Drake University.”

9 tips to make a video go viral on YouTube (5)
Understand optimal length

The most popular videos are on the short side. That doesn’t mean you have to subscribe to a doctrine of defining time constraints, but it does mean you should cut the excess on your branded video. Viewers are more likely to watch the entire video if it’s short, meaning a more engaged audience.

If the content is something that requires something that requires more time, like a tutorial or testimonial, know that you don’t have to give all the gritty details, but provide an short and sweet overview. For viewers who are searching for more in-depth information you can direct them to the appropriate videos of web content by links in the description.

It depends on the amount of content and the purpose of your video, of course one-size doesn’t fit all. Consider separating out content, short snap videos all in one playlist so once one video is over the user is automatically directed to the next short clip on the list.

Open up to overlays

Overlays are those small boxes of text that pop up during a video. This text can appear as a clickable link which works wonders with strong CTAs for your audience, whether that be subscribing to the channel, making a purchase, or viewing more info on your site. Remember to also place that CTA in the description box so there is repetition of what action you’re calling the audience to take.

With just a few upgrades to your channel and videos — with special attention on keywords and phrases — you’re on your way to a highly discoverable, engaging YouTube presence. Whether you’re paying to be on the top of the search ranking or striving for organic optimality apply these tactics for boosted SEO, engagement and views.

9 tips to make a video go viral on YouTube (6)

Read next:4 tools for building a social media empire

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FAQs

How do I make my YouTube video go viral? ›

Stick around to learn more about the strategy behind viral videos, why they're so useful, and how you can potentially make one yourself with Animoto.
...
5 easy tips on how to make a video go viral
  1. Keep it short and sweet. ...
  2. Have a clear point. ...
  3. Stay relevant. ...
  4. Try to be relatable. ...
  5. Be consistent.
15 Feb 2022

What are the 5 tips for getting your video to go viral? ›

How to go viral: 10 top tips
  • Research the best kinds of video formats.
  • Keep on top of trends.
  • Focus on a specific niche.
  • Use keywords in your captions, hashtags and descriptions.
  • Get help from established influencers.
  • Create relatable content.
  • Keep it short and sweet.
  • Post content regularly and consistently.
25 Aug 2022

How do I make my YouTube video viral 2022? ›

How to make a video go viral on YouTube in 2022 ?
  1. Get to know your audience. ...
  2. Pay attention to what your target market has to say. ...
  3. Express your concerns and ask questions. ...
  4. Be authentic as well as genuine. ...
  5. Keep your content brief and succinct (2-8 minutes is a good choice).
17 Aug 2022

What makes a video viral? ›

A video goes viral by quickly amassing millions of views due to social media users sharing it with their friends and/or followers. And the more people share, the higher the number of views.

How do you make a viral content? ›

Make your content useful enough to share

Creating highly relevant, useful and educational content is an easy way to improve your chances of going viral. To increase your social media shares, make your content easily digestible and shareable. Think infographics, short-form videos and interactive content.

Do viral videos make money? ›

For perspective, remember that the creator fund pays around 2 to 4 cents per 1,000 views. That means, if your video had one million views, you could make between $20 to $40. And if your video went viral and you had 10 million views, you could make $200 to $400 from the creator fund.

How does a post go viral? ›

A viral post is something that has been shared, copied and spread across all social platforms. On Facebook in particular, going viral means that a post has generated a great deal of attention in the form of a high number of likes, shares and comments.

How do YouTube shorts go viral? ›

How to Make a YouTube Short Go Viral in 1 Minute (Complete ...

How do I make my YouTube video go viral for free? ›

Your content should rank well if you want to make it viral. It is the reason optimizing the title is necessary. Add the tags to your video that people might use more often to look for your videos.
...
  1. The link to your official or business site.
  2. High-ranking keywords.
  3. Call-to-action.

What's the best day to upload on YouTube? ›

According to Boosted, the highest level of engagement on YouTube occurs on Friday through Saturday and on Wednesdays. On most days, the best time to post is at 5 p.m. Though, if you post your video before 9 p.m., you are still likely to enjoy success. Another option is to post on a weekday morning at about 8 a.m. EST.

What is the best time to post on YouTube 2022? ›

The best day and time to post on YouTube in 2022

According to a social media trends report, the best days to post on YouTube are Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Meanwhile, the best times to post on these days are: Between 6pm and 9pm.

How many YouTube Shorts should I post a day? ›

If you just started your channel or you just need views or watch time for your channel, you can easily upload shorts for more views and watch time. Sometimes some Shorts may not perform well. If you upload 100 shorts to YouTube daily, It may help you to get more views and will definitely help you to get watch time too.

What is the first viral video? ›

It all started more than 25 years ago. Before social media, even before the internet for some people, there was the dancing baby. The 3D-rendered, diaper-clad baby doing some version of the Cha Cha is widely known as the first viral video or meme.

How many likes do you need to go viral? ›

Generally, posts with 100,000+ likes or views and 1,000+ comments are considered to be viral. However, the term 'viral' is subjective and can mean different things to different brands. For example, you might consider a post to go viral if it crosses 10,000 views.

How do you know if a video is viral? ›

If your video reaches one million views, it is considered medium viral (which will certainly earn you a healthy flow of new followers while boosting your status on the platform). And, if you get five million views within a three to seven-day period—you will officially become a viral TikTok sensation.

What types of content go viral? ›

Viral content is online content that achieves a high level of awareness due to shares and exposure on social media networks, news websites, aggregators, email newsletters and search engines.

Why do some things go viral? ›

According to Spartz, virality depends on Virality Coefficient (number of people one is sharing content with) and Cycle Time (how long it takes one to share content with someone else). The higher the viral coefficient and shorter the cycle time, the faster virality is achieved.

How do I make my YouTube video go viral for free? ›

Your content should rank well if you want to make it viral. It is the reason optimizing the title is necessary. Add the tags to your video that people might use more often to look for your videos.
...
  1. The link to your official or business site.
  2. High-ranking keywords.
  3. Call-to-action.

How long does it take for a YouTube video to go viral? ›

Three months. After the first week, the video slowly starts climbing up and will reach its full potential (in views per day) in 3 - 6 months. But some videos of mine took over a year to become slightly successful.

Can your first YouTube video go viral? ›

The short answer is: No, you cannot get viral with your first video. The long answer is actually quite long, detailed, and complicated. But there's one way to avoid all of that, is making quality content, day after day, week after week, and doing the best you can to promote and share.

How do you go viral short? ›

How to Make a YouTube Short Go Viral in 1 Minute (Complete ...

How do I get subscribers? ›

8 Ways To Get More Subscribers on YouTube in 2022
  1. Tip #1: Create engaging and informative content.
  2. Tip #2: Create and publish videos frequently.
  3. Tip #3: Optimize your YouTube videos.
  4. Tip #4: Optimize your YouTube channel.
  5. Tip #5: Create high quality videos.
27 May 2022

What type of YouTube videos are viral? ›

Music videos, comedy sketches, pet videos, and film trailers are all categories ripe for going viral — sometimes overnight.

How many YouTube Shorts should I post a day? ›

If you just started your channel or you just need views or watch time for your channel, you can easily upload shorts for more views and watch time. Sometimes some Shorts may not perform well. If you upload 100 shorts to YouTube daily, It may help you to get more views and will definitely help you to get watch time too.

How does a post go viral? ›

A viral post is something that has been shared, copied and spread across all social platforms. On Facebook in particular, going viral means that a post has generated a great deal of attention in the form of a high number of likes, shares and comments.

How much money is 100k views on YouTube? ›

Some people won't be as engaged — more of them will only watch short clips of your videos or stop watching altogether once they see an ad. So it's reasonable to assume that your CPM for video views would go down to somewhere between $1.2 and $8, or $120 to $800 per 100,000 views.

What is the most viral video ever? ›

One commentator called the Kony 2012 video the most viral video in history (about 34,000,000 views in three days and 100,000,000 views in six days), but "Gangnam Style" (2012) received one billion views in five months and was the most viewed video on YouTube from 2012 until "Despacito" (2017).

Why is my YouTube video not viral? ›

In order to make a video go viral on YouTube, you need to make it engaging. You can do this by making sure that your video is not boring or too long. You also need to make sure that the video is relevant for the audience that you are targeting.

How many views should I get on YouTube? ›

Views to Subscribers: How Well Are You Growing Your Channel? If your YouTube channel has 100,000 subscribers, then you should expect between 12-15,000 views per video. That's an average ratio of views:subscribers = 14%.

What is a good YouTube growth rate? ›

The average views on the first YouTube videos are a few hundred. That could increase to the thousands as you start to catch on. The average YouTube channel growth rate is about 1,000 subscribers in 22 months.

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