10 top tips for growing your YouTube channel

YouTube is the second-most popular website, with over 2.7 billion monthly active users in 2023. As the second biggest search engine behind Google, with around 2,500 videos uploaded every minute, the competition to grow a YouTube channel is fierce. Whether starting a new one or already having an existing one, how can you grow your channel to gain more views, likes, comments, and subscribers? Our guide covers the YouTube algorithm and 10 top tips for growing your YouTube channel. Let’s get to it!

What is the YouTube algorithm?

A robot in front lines of code on a screen

Like SEO and Google’s search algorithm, YouTube also has an algorithm that determines the ranking of videos in searches and what videos are recommended to a viewer. The algorithms are designed to help viewers find the most relevant content quickly and easily. Nobody likes scrolling endlessly, looking for something to watch, right?

Viewer satisfaction plays a key role in this. The algorithm is based on many different factors that are influenced by viewer satisfaction. Every video you watch and interact with on YouTube is used to help shape and develop YouTube’s understanding of viewer satisfaction.

Viewer satisfaction is primarily determined by several factors, including:

  • Monthly surveys asking for user feedback (we’ve all had one at the start of a video before).
  • Whether a user clicks ‘Not interested’ on a video in the recommendations.
  • The view duration and average percentage viewing of videos.
  • User interaction and engagement on your channel include likes, comments, and shares.

But what about the algorithm factors that determine your YouTube channel’s success? As the algorithm is continually updated, it’s hard to understand how you can fully beat the system. However, there are some algorithm factors that we know of, including:

  • Click-through rate (how many people click through to watch your video).
  • The total watch time on your channel.
  • The number of videos watched from your channel.
  • Whether a user recently watched a video on the same topic.
  • A user’s viewing history.
  • A user’s demographics, such as location.

Knowing how the algorithm ranks and recommends videos is one of the first and crucial steps to growing your YouTube channel. Sadly, uploading a video and hoping for the best won’t cut it. You need to play the game with YouTube algorithms to gain those views.

So now we’ve covered what the YouTube algorithm is, let’s get straight into our 10 top tips for growing your YouTube channel!

10 top tips for growing your YouTube channel

1) Understanding the algorithm differences

We’ve already covered the YouTube algorithm and how it works, but there’s more. YouTube estimates that 70% of videos a user watches are through recommendations by the algorithm. That’s why it’s important to know the algorithm differences.

There are 2 distinct differences in the algorithm that affect video recommendations. The first is the homepage (where you first arrive on YouTube). The second is suggested videos (the recommendations when watching a video).


Let’s start off with the homepage. As the viewer isn’t watching anything yet, the algorithm seeks to provide the most relevant recommendations so that you click on something to watch. There are 2 major factors at play in the algorithm here: video performance and viewing history.

For a YouTuber, it can be difficult trying to affect someone’s viewing history. However, you can improve your video performance. The more likes, comments, and shares you receive, the better. Then, depending on a user’s viewing history will affect whether your video shows in the homepage recommendations.

Here’s how video recommendations show on the homepage:

Homepage recommendations are all based on a user’s habits and watch history. Like when you land on Google’s homepage, the algorithm doesn’t know a user’s intent until they search for something (or, in this case, watch something).

This is why video performance is crucial for homepage recommendations. The better a video performs in the homepage recommendations, the more likely it will show on other user’s homepages.

Suggested videos

The second place where the algorithm comes into play is with the suggested videos. Suggested videos appear next to or underneath every video you watch (depending on the device), encouraging viewers to continue watching another video. Suggested videos also appear at the end of a video.

Unlike the homepage suggestions, the videos that appear in the suggested videos section are much more tailored and personalised. This is because YouTube’s algorithm understands a user’s viewing intent more, allowing it to recommend a video it knows a viewer will be interested in.

Following on the example above, here’s how suggested videos display after clicking on one of the homepage recommended videos:

Key factors at play in shaping the recommendations in suggested videos include viewing history, videos on the same or similar topic, and videos typically watched together. Because these suggested videos are based on your viewer’s habits and history, you need to better understand who your viewers are and what they like.

2) Understanding your viewers

The second of our 10 top tips for growing your YouTube channel is understanding your viewers. You may be thinking, how can I possibly understand all my viewers? Well, before you pull your hair out, the best way to understand your viewers is through subscriptions.

Understanding your viewers and what they like can help you develop high-quality content to target the top view satisfaction algorithm factor. Your channel analytics is a goldmine for better understanding your viewers. There’s so much data you can use to shape your content, including:

  • Views (consider creating more content on higher-viewed videos).
  • Watch time (which videos had a higher watch time).
  • Top traffic sources (the source of most views, such as suggested videos).
  • Likes, shares, and number of new subscribers from each video.
  • Reach and the number of impressions that lead to a view.
  • Click-through rate (a higher CTR could indicate a more popular topic).
  • Audience data.

3) Using audience data to shape content creation

A clapper board

Audience data is the most significant in driving the content you upload. Things like top videos contributing to audience growth, other videos your audience watches, and other channels your audience watches are a haven for discovering and inspiring what content you create.

From your data, you can then determine:

  • What videos should you make more of?
  • What videos should you make less of?
  • What videos should you experiment with? (audience data can help here)

This is one of the most crucial steps in helping you to boost subscriptions. Every YouTuber wants to increase their subscribers. While subscriber count does play a role in ranking videos, whether a user subscribes to your channel makes little difference to video recommendations.

4) Optimising your metadata

We mentioned above that click-through rate is one of the top-ranking factors in YouTube’s algorithm. While you can’t force viewers to click on your video, you can influence them. You do this by optimising your video’s metadata.

Metadata is a fancy word for different parts of a video uploaded to YouTube, such as the title, description, and thumbnails. Optimising your metadata to make videos more enticing and appealing can help increase your CTR (but no clickbait thumbnails or videos, please!).

It also helps the YouTube algorithm better understand your videos, including what the video is about, the topic, and categories. This goes a long way in ensuring your videos show in recommendations.

Your metadata needs to be optimised around YouTube keywords. These are the search terms or queries a viewer uses to find a video to watch. Optimising metadata around these keywords makes it much easier for your videos to rank higher in searches.

You can find keywords in several ways, including using a free online tool or the research section in your channel analytics. Every video you upload should have a specific keyword you want to rank for. Best of and How to are some of the best-performing videos on YouTube.

Once you have identified the keyword, you can optimise your metadata by:

  • Including the keyword at the start of the video title.
  • Using the keyword throughout the description.
  • Include the keyword in the video’s file name.
  • Alt text on your thumbnail.
  • Adding it into the subtitles for your video.

Avoid keyword stuffing, as this can have adverse effects. Instead, use synonyms throughout where possible. You don’t need to worry too much about adding tags to your video, as they don’t help with video discovery. You can still include them if you wish, but limit them to 3 or 4.

5) Enticing thumbnails

Thumbnails are another part of your video’s metadata that can impact CTR and views. You need to create a thumbnail that a viewer cannot resist clicking on without clickbaiting. Nobody likes being misled! Here’s an example of how to use thumbnails on your videos:

Your thumbnail is the biggest influence that affects CTR. The higher your CTR, the better it shows to the algorithm that viewers find your content interesting and engaging. After all, the algorithm cannot see the thumbnail, so it relies on CTR to judge effectiveness.

Some tips for implementing enticing thumbnails include:

  • Using a custom thumbnail on all videos.
  • Stick to a consistent style of theme.
  • Use a catchy or intriguing title.
  • Link the thumbnail to the first sentence of your description.

Find out more about using the power of persuasion to make your videos more enticing

6) Keep ‘em watching

Once you’ve attracted and enticed a viewer to watch your video, you need to keep them watching more of your channel’s videos. There are a few methods you can use to keep people watching:

  • Video cards at the end of videos with similar, relevant videos.
  • End screens with a call to action for subscribing or viewing another video.
  • Playlists with topically similar videos.
  • Using a channel watermark to gain subscribers

Here’s how an end screen incorporates both video cards and a call to action:

The only problem with channel watermarks is many YouTube viewers don’t know they are clickable. That’s why some channels will use a subscribe button instead of a branded or channel logo.

7) Upload schedule

Upload time and schedule is another top tip for growing your YouTube channel. Uploading videos when your viewers are online can significantly impact your views and engagement. Ad hoc video uploads without a real schedule won’t cut it.

The best way to determine your upload schedule is by comparing videos published and average views per video. From this, you can choose the best time and frequency for uploading videos. To begin with, this can be trial and error. But once you’ve figured it out, stick to it to help grow your YouTube channel.

8) YouTube Shorts

Short-form video content is the biggest and most popular form of content around. Short-form videos are less than 1 minute and are a great way to attract and engage viewers. On YouTube, short-form videos are known as YouTube Shorts.

YouTube Shorts are vertical, short-form videos filmed and uploaded on a mobile device using the YouTube app. Since launching in September 2020, around 2 billion active users have watched shorts each month.

Given their popularity, every channel should use this effective method to grow your YouTube channel. If you’re already posting on other social media channels, like TikTok, you’ve already got a short video ready for YouTube Shorts.

Here’s what they look like on the YouTube homepage:

The algorithm works similarly to longer videos to:

  • Metadata optimisation.
  • User engagement.
  • User watch history.
  • Similar content audiences watch.
  • Watch time.

9) Engage with your viewers

Another top tip for growing your YouTube channel is to engage with your viewers. Building up a strong community with your viewers and subscribers can be difficult. However, engaging and replaying comments can go a long way to encouraging further engagement.

When you reply to a viewer’s comment, it is specifically highlighted in the comments using the channel picture. The channel name is also highlighted, as shown here:

There are also several other ways you can engage with your viewers and build a stronger community with viewers:

  • Making posts in the community tab (engagement from these posts can make a significant difference in recommending your posts and videos to users).
  • Ask questions and use polls.
  • Run a special contest or giveaway.
  • Encourage viewers to give content recommendations in the comments.
  • Ask for viewers’ ideas, views, opinions, or thoughts on a specific topic.
  • Use GIFs and other photos in your posts or comment replies.
  • You could also try YouTube channel memberships (which is similar to Patreon) to build a strong community.

Following the tips above, you can help engage and build a community with your viewers. The greater the engagement on a video, the better for your videos against the algorithms.

10)  Live streams

Our last top tip for growing your YouTube channel is to livestream. Live streams help you reach and engage with viewers in real-time. Unlike other platforms, like Twitch, YouTube streams benefit from being an all-in-one place for your YouTube channel.

The streams also remain on your YouTube (providing it is less than 12 hours). This allows you to make the stream available to watch afterwards. But there are more benefits to live streams on YouTube:

  • Helps attract new viewers to your channel.
  • Real-time interaction with your viewers.
  • Global access for viewers to join and watch streams.
  • Can be a great way to get feedback on your channel or videos.
  • A valuable way to build stronger communities with your subscribers.

Here’s what a livestream looks like on YouTube:

All you need to do to ensure your channel can live stream is verify your YouTube account. YouTube usually takes 24 hours to approve your request to start streaming. After that, you can go live from the Create button of your channel dashboard.

Trying to grow a YouTube channel can be a tough cookie with so many content creators and videos uploaded. However, by following the tips above, you should be on course to growing your views, subscribers, and engagement!