Episode 190 | Posted on

Secrets to the YouTube Algorithm with Derral Eves

Some of the biggest influencers and internet celebrities of the 21st Century rose to fame via YouTube. While you may think that they happened to get lucky by being in the right place at the right time, there’s actually a lot of work and smarts that goes into a successful YouTube strategy. YouTube has a tremendous audience and is the second largest search engine after Google, so it pays to understand what makes the YouTube algorithm tick, and then to create, optimize, and to format your content in ways that most appeal to the algorithm.

One man who lives and breathes YouTube is Derral Eves. Derral is the founder and CEO of Creatus and of VidSummit. He’s also one of the first people to be a YouTube-certified expert in audience growth. One of Derral’s claims to fame in the world of viral videos is Squatty Potty’s pooping unicorn ad which won a Webby award and which he produced. This episode number 190 is packed with massive value for anyone who ever uploaded a video to YouTube or plans to. Derral and I will be diving deep into video content, YouTube algorithms, recommendation engines, and even AI. With this knowledge, YouTube will surely become one of your best marketing weapons. Now, on with the show.


Derral, it’s so great to have you on this show.

Thanks for having me. I’m just excited to be here especially when we can nerd out. What gets me the most excited in life is when we can nerd out. Seriously, finding people that are like-minded, we can talk about what we like to talk about. This will be great.

That’s fantastic. I had another podcast called The Optimized Geek. So, I consider myself more of a geek than a nerd but I rebranded that on my coach’s advice that not everybody self-identifies as a geek or a nerd, for that matter. So, I was alienating a large potential audience so I rebranded it to Get Yourself Optimized.

This is music to my ears. A geek and a nerd are all the same. People who are obsessed with things, which is awesome.

There are some distinct differences like pocket protectors for nerds and geeks are early adopters usually Mac users.

That’s pretty funny. I look at the people that are actually running the world right now. I don’t know if you want to call them nerds or geeks, but they’re the ones that actually are making the decisions that are affecting all of us.

Everything evolves to a point where systems and processes get smarter because of data. Click To Tweet

You’re referring to the Illuminati, right?

Okay, maybe not that. Maybe they’re in there somewhere. It’s all fun.

Let’s geek out or nerd out about AI because I’m really excited about where things are headed in terms of SEO, marketing, and AI. I was at the Abundance 360 Conference a few months ago that is run by Peter Diamandis. We’re getting an inside look at some of the new tech that’s coming, AI and 3D- printing, nanotech, longevity technology. It was mind-blowingly awesome. Let’s first of all, define for our listeners what the heck is AI and why should we care as marketers, especially when we’re talking about YouTube?

Here’s the thing. At the end of the day, everything evolves and it evolves to a point where systems and processes get smarter because we have data. You have two types of data. You have structured data and unstructured data. What’s interesting are the platforms now. We’ll use YouTube, specifically, because I’m wearing a YouTube shirt. Because that’s what you do when you’re talking about YouTube—when they shifted from the model of “Oh, we have an algorithm,” and now we have an AI, that’s 2012. And they went from views to other indicators, like watch time. That was a huge shift.

They were able to 4X their amount of views and watch time in just a few months because it was getting machines to predict what would be the best for viewers to watch. That is something interesting. It was looking for patterns. It’s looking for little things they can put in a structure. Then, there’s also the unstructured data that they’re actually pulling it in and saying, “Okay, this is what this person wants. Based on his viewing behavior, we can suggest these contents to this other similar type of person”

When YouTube did that, they went all in. They tried their own AI at first, then their parent company, Google. Google probably has one of the most amazing AIs out there, it’s called Google Brain. They were able to pull that into YouTube and since then, they are doing billions of hours watched every day. It all has to do with 70%–75% of all those views that come from the AI – predicting what people want to watch. I don’t know about your viewing habits in YouTube, I bet they increased quite a bit over the years because YouTube is starting to see, as it’s getting more data, it’s getting us the content that we want to see.

Back in 2010, Google, well Alphabet, acquired DeepMind. They are some of the smartest AI researchers in the world and having that amazing resource now inside of the Googleplex. Google allows YouTube to leverage what those incredible people are doing to make better recommendations for YouTube users, to suss out what’s real and what’s spam, and to get at the intention of the user, not just the keywords that they’re searching for.

Right, and now is the shift. I know a lot of people are saying, “What keyword should I use in my title and my tags?” and so on. I’m like, “That’s almost so old, it’s like 2014.” They made a huge shift towards it were when they first uploaded, just to start associating it but once they are able to gather the data, which is the viewing behavior and how people interact to what type of videos they do. Second, they’re also looking at what’s being said in the videos. That’s part of the AI, to predict and start to see patterns. “Oh, there’s a word that they use and there are other videos that use it, the density of the video has this word used in this time or the similar words to that. Here are other videos that are similar to that similar size. Maybe they’ll consume that because it has the sort of data points that this specific video has.”

YouTube recommends videos for people to consume content one right after another.

That reminds me, there’s a really cool demo of an AI from Google Cloud, it’s the Natural Language AI.

That is off the charts.

You don’t even have to be a paying customer to try this out. You can just scroll down the page—I’ll include the link in the show notes—and paste in some texts that can be text from your SRT file, for example, from the transcript of your video. A lot of people do not even realize that YouTube creates transcripts of what you’re saying in the video automatically. It’s not always perfect, so you should go in there and tweak whatever mistakes it’s made, but that’s all searchable content.

Then, you can copy that textual content, paste it into the natural language API demo and see how salient the different entities or keywords are—the entities are like a group of keywords—how salient, or in other words, how relevant and prominent are these different keywords in your audio. If it seems weird to the AI that it’s not natural, it doesn’t seem that salient, then you’re going to get a poor score. That’s really powerful.

I looked at it and tried to simplify it. I don’t know the level of every listener or viewer on this podcast, I assume it’s extremely high, but the cloud natural language generator is like the keyword cloud that you were able to see several years ago. You just start grouping keywords together and then it creates this association. It’s like that Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon, almost. It’s just trying to identify keywords that would be similar and what people are using.

That’s the same thing that YouTube is using right now. It’s able to see and identify what’s being said in the video, the tonality of it, the pacing and how many words per second are there. Also, the images they are able to pull in with Google Cloud Vision, that element as well and start seeing, “Okay, what is this content really about?” And, “Is there a similar content out there?” It puts these videos together where it can increase the probability of recommendation for the viewer to consume.

A lot of the secrets to success of your clients and some of your own videos have been the recommendation engine.

I would say 39 billion of those views are all about the recommendation engine. The other billions are just damn luck.

Or the searcher behavior, right? People are searching on YouTube, it’s the number two search engine by query volume.

Yeah, but it’s a very small percentage when you’re looking at the number of views that YouTube’s at if you really want to get a volume of views. That’s the only way to grow a channel. That coincides with subscribers which YouTube doesn’t really care about because they are really good at predicting what people want to watch. That being said, that’s 75% of all views. So, just a small percentage will be searched, yet it is a huge search engine. People use it religiously for finding out how to do things or learning about things and so on. It can trigger some of the metrics YouTube works out to say, “Hey, this content is good. Let’s serve it to more people.”

But I need to clearly define that there are two types of system. When you are talking about the AI, it has two parts of the brain. The first part is for search and the other part is for discovery. They work completely different and they have different things that are triggers to rank better and so on. It also works in harmony at the end like getting data from the search portion of it will help, saying “oh, this is a good video. We found it in search. It’s getting a high number of people to click on it. Let’s start recommending it out to some of our videos that will be related to this.” That’s where the balance is but there are a lot of videos that just search heavy-driven and they don’t see a lot of YouTube recommendations because there is not a lot to recommend in that kind of content.

I see, if we wanted to really hack the YouTube algorithm, we want to focus on the recommendation engine and have something that has broader appeal than something super esoteric that’s in a niche all by itself.

Right. I do love the micro niches and I think YouTube’s the best place for that. I mean, you can find content about anything. To really get the massive amount, we are talking billions of views, you have to be more mainstream. It has to be something that appeals.

AI is composed of two parts. The first part is for search and the other part is for discovery. Click To Tweet

That being said, what’s interesting is the AI is helping to predict what people want to watch because they are going to start seeing data and they’re like, “Hey, here’s some abnormal data. This is a data that’s there. Let’s serve it out to more people like that.” Before you know it, you actually have a trend on YouTube. This is something that people can see and then more creators can see, “Oh my gosh, this has so many views. Let’s do this. This is something we can create.” It’s almost facilitating content creation, which it is on YouTube because people are being inspired because of the all mighty dollar that comes from those video views.

How would you get insight into what is trending and ride on the coattails of what is already becoming popular? How do you see, like on Facebook or Twitter, there are ways to get insight into trending topics, trending hashtags for example. You can use BuzzSumo to see what’s going viral in the social sites. What’s the secret sauce for YouTube?

YouTube actually has a trending tab. They just say, “Here’s the trending content in your region.” You can drill down by state, you could do it by country, you could do it by region. You can see what’s most popular. They’ve taken that away and I think people were using it to manipulate a little bit and they’re really sensitive. It was like, “Oh, they’re using this to manipulate,” and it really punishes those content creators that were using it for good but it’s just that they took that away. There is a trending tab and you can click on that, but it’s pretty much seeing what’s happening on reddit, believe it or not, than YouTube.

reddit is my favorite playground and it’s one of those secret hidden gems or dims, whatever you want to call it. For YouTube, when you can find a subreddit and you can see what’s really working there, it has a high probability that that video content is going to perform extremely high on YouTube. I’ll give you an example. Part of our strategy is like, “Hey, let’s look and see what’s working, and then see what people will respond to. Make video content that will respond to that.” Then, it’s a natural fit. When it’s a natural fit and it’s organic, you can get to the top of reddit.

If you are on the front page of reddit, we are talking about 12 million views we got in a day. It just works really well. It’s just this new influx of views coming into YouTube on this platform which triggers that metric of, “Hey, you’re bringing a whole bunch of people on the platform. And guaranteed they are going to watch more than one video, maybe not the whole 100% that’s coming on. Maybe just 60% or 70%, but that’s a high amount of volume,” and then YouTube says, “They’re watching some. They are starting a session. Let’s go ahead and recommend and reward this video to go out to more people.” Before you know it, you have 50-60 million view video on your hand. It’s pretty fun and I’m geeking out over it. That’s not the bad term geek, this is the good geek.

If you’re video start this binging session of three hours of watch time and it’s not even your videos, you just started it off, you kicked it off, you get rewarded by the algorithm.

Absolutely, you do. It’s called the session starts and YouTube does not tell us the percentage of weight that goes towards it, but they’ve mentioned that “Hey, if you bring someone to start a session and they come back frequently, and you’re the place that starts the session,” they’re going to reward that. I just see channels that there’s another part of the YouTube recommendation engine which is called Browse Feature.

What’s Browse Feature? It is basically a content that’s on the home feed, on the trending tab, and then it’s also just finding people. It’s just browsing to see where you’re at, just this content that follows you when you get in there. It can be just from going in there. That’s what I believe is the indicator what YouTube really likes. It’s, “Hey, you are bringing content on. There are people on because of your content. Let’s reward that,” and you’ll see a huge spike of increase with the Browse Feature.

Very cool and timing of your launch of that video. When you publish that video is very important, right? If you publish a video and it had potential then you go on a vacation for a week, you just destroyed your chances of that video going viral, right?

Things have changed. If we were to have this conversation three years ago, I would say absolutely. But things have changed. Now, more views are coming from evergreen. That means after the first seven days, you are getting more and more views. The way that I like to explain it is, when you release a video, YouTube has a specific hour that they’ll promote that video. Sometimes it’s for seven days, sometimes it’s for two days, or whatever. It really changes and that’s one of those things that they change quite a bit. Right now, it’s pretty much 48 hours that you get prime suggestion and then it kind of slopes down and goes off a little bit, and then it kicks back on a week or two, or even three weeks, or even a month or two down the road.

Just to give you context, I’ve uploaded a video that I thought would perform very well. It did get some suggestion but it did not get the number of views that it was there. All the indicators are right. I’m like, “Man,” I scratch my head, “what’s going on with that?” Two months later, it explodes. Literally, it just took off and we were getting two million, three million views a day for at least 14 days on that, and then it just petered down. I know the cycle that it will just go away for maybe 45 days or something then it will kick back up. We might be getting 1000 views per hour, or 2000 views per hours, or 3000 views per hour for that video. There are just different lengths, so you’ll get a promotion on the first portion of it, and then you have another on the evergreen. YouTube’s been really trying to give creators the opportunity to take a break and not be punished by not pushing out content.

That being said, I just need to explain something. I don’t want people to get an idea to think, “Hey, I can just take a month off and I’ll be okay.” Generally, when you do your next upload, you’ll get more promotion than you had prior because YouTube said, “Hey, we want to reward you. We want you to get this sense of euphoria that things are working and it’s not as bad as it seems, and you’re on the uptick. But the reality is this. Suggestion comes from your own videos. You have a high number of views that are coming from your video content. As you are uploading your video content, it is suggesting your other videos. When you take a break when you’re not uploading it’s not recommending to those other videos that people may watch two or three videos because they are being suggested to them based off that upload. That’s the thing that they are trying to tweak as much and I noticed probably a huge shift as the middle of March on this. I see the last 48 hours’ promotion getting out to more people like it did two years ago, but that’s one of those indicators that they change frequently. Did that answer your question? I don’t know if I’m going full circle on that one.

There are so many angles we could look at this from, so let’s get the evergreen versus ephemeral content angle. So, you upload something that is kind of news of the moment, news jack something but it’s going to be old news in a week or two. That’s probably not a great strategy for YouTube. It might work for Facebook but it’s probably not a great strategy for YouTube, right? You want to have more evergreen content because that’s going to get you more views over the long haul. Tell us more about what the nuances are around evergreen versus ephemeral.

That’s a great discussion. I have creators reach out to me and says, “I am burned out on YouTube. I’m not even happy to do this. I’ve been uploading solid for the last five years. Every day is a grind,” and they’re doing it. For me, YouTube’s created a culture of getting people burned out. I’ve seen people come and go for multiple reasons, but the main reason is they start to lose views and they start to lose the money that goes with those views. It’s because they always post content, they’re not being as creative and connecting with their audience like they once were.

That being said, the daily vlogger of waking up every morning and showing you my day and ending at night, I believe is not very healthy as a content creator. I think taking an event and saying, “Hey, we are going to this event,” and you are creating a video around that event that might happen in a day, that’s going to be more effective because the people, the way they digest is if it’s in a digital daily content, people are like, “Oh, that was yesterday. That’s old news. I want something there.” When it’s more event-based and words weaved into opportunities like holidays, like right now we have the NBA Playoffs. We’ve stuffed in the things that always happen every year and we have a higher probability of trending when those topics are trending and have it be relatable. Doing that experience-based is definitely far better in that, and that is more evergreen because it can be shown at any time. It doesn’t date really itself because if you do it in a way saying, “Hey, I want it to last longer than a week, I want it to last for years,” you think creating content a little bit differently.

That reminds me from an SEO perspective, I would tell my clients like CNET and Digital Trends, client’s minds that produce a lot of content that keeps getting recycled and redone every year like the Holiday Gift Buying Guide that sort of thing. And then, they would make a new URL each time for that content piece so the new version would be at a URL with the year in it. Terrible idea because they are now starting over again with no juice. Instead, they should have a stable URL that is the same year after year, then they archive the old year’s content if it’s even still relevant and people still want it to a day-based URL. That’s fine. But the stable, evergreen kind of home for that repeating piece of content needs to be dateless. I think there’s a way to apply that idea to YouTube, I just don’t know. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on that.

I think things of date are very relevant when you’re getting these monumental moments that will be archived and is something people want to look at. Today, I was watching the launch of SpaceX and it happened a few weeks ago. It was a specific date of that launch but I want to see those rockets sliding. There were the heavy falcon booster rockets coming down and I just wanted to see that. I saw it on the internet, I didn’t get to see the full launch, so that was more relevant. I think anytime that there is a launch that’s SpaceX, that video is still relevant. I really do believe that because that’s the archive thing. People want to see that type of content.

A video needs to be able to live on its own but if it’s a series, note that it should make sense.

I think the listicle type of things of, “Hey, what to buy?” in a given year can be effective. It’s just changing the way you present it. It’s like ‘Good Christmas Gift Ideas for Men’ instead of saying, ‘Good Christmas Gift Ideas for Men in 2019.’ It’s just like, get very specific of, “Hey, these are good ideas,” and then it’s just more listicle that way and not necessary date-driven.

Would you recommend the people to update the video? When you update a webpage, you can put in a new video embed, all sorts of new products, new tips and tricks, and so forth, and really refresh that page. But with YouTube video, you can’t upload a new version of the video, right?

I generally do. Let me tell you why we actually upload a new version of it. It’s because it’s going to suggest the older one. You can tie that. You can create data points between the two. You can put part two in a series. You can create a series playlist which even groups it even further together. As long as you don’t feel it’s outdated and there’s going to be some value that comes from there, It might be older gifts, but if people are looking for gift ideas, that’s great. If there’s a second video, third video, or fourth video that creates a series, that’s part of the thing that YouTube wants. It wants to recommend videos for people to consume one right after another. They want that binge effect to happen and if you can help facilitate that, that’s the easiest way to do it.

When somebody says, “Oh, that was a really cool video. I want to see what else it got,” because they know it’s going to be different than the one they have as long as the video is different but has that same structure, that’s when you’re knocking it out of the park. YouTube will recommend that video because that would be a naturally recommended video and if you have a percentage of your views going in from that, you can create that data relationship between videos, that make it really interesting for that AI to say, “Oh, this is what people want to watch next.” The higher the percentage is, that’s when you have that guaranteed spot of the next up video, which is a massive amount of traffic.

Right. I would think that the best kind of structure to a series of video is to make it like a TV series. Season one episode one, season one episode two, et cetera.

Please don’t ever name it like that because that’s not YouTube. But yeah, it’s the same concept where it can be watched in order but it can also be watched as a standalone. I think that’s the key. It needs to be able to live on its own, but if it’s watched in a series, it would make sense.

Got it. As far as doing research for what kinds of videos to create on what sorts of topics, you mentioned the trending tab. There’s also looking at what’s trending on other social platforms like trending hashtags on Twitter, for example. There’s also Google Trends which has a YouTube feature. A lot of people don’t know that. You just chose where it says web search, there’s a pull down there and you chose YouTube search and you can compare keywords to each other and see how YouTube searchers are behaving very different from Google search behavior.

It definitely is. What I find fascinating is the fill-in data – the Autofill. What people are actually searching for does fluctuate as well and it does change from Google to YouTube as well. We’ve been using Google Trends since they made it available. It’s like a way to help predict what’s going to happen before it happens a little bit. Then you can start seeing, “Oh, this term is taking off. What do we need to do? We do research.” So, you start doing a recon, you search very specifically on YouTube, and you can start creating filter sets which a lot of people don’t do. It just blows my mind that they don’t even do this, but you can hit advanced and you can see, “Okay, I want to see the most viewed video in the last seven days,” and it’ll show you everything that’s going on there.

You are able to start seeing these little trends and this micro niches that it really can take off. If you really go back and look at the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, it was very specific how it started. We have great documentation, great case study, it’s just wonderful to see it happen, but what we’re able to do, if you were able to see that, you can start seeing that, “Oh, this is starting to trend. Let’s see what’s happening,” and you can see the curve before it even started to come up. This is like, “Okay, here’s the new influx of people,” and you go back even in an hour. It’s just the amount of people that were uploading onto YouTube with that was ridiculous.

When you see that’s more current or upcoming that might trend very big that you…

It depends on your demographic. The audience that I probably paid the closest attention to is Gen Z. Even at my house, I have some Gen Z kids and they have 65-inch, 70-inch, whatever TV on the wall but yet, they’re on their little devices and they’d rather watch it here. Understanding that their behaviors are, they’ll watch Netflix occasionally but they are heavily into the YouTube creators. That YouTube creator world is theirs. I like to try to predict what they’re doing because that’s the bulk of where the internet traffic is happening online and they’re most hardcore. You have that group, then you definitely have your millennials, you have you’re Gen X, and then the Baby Boomers, and so on and so forth. So, it depends on where you’re going out.

Right now, things are trending like in the sports world. Of course, you have the NBA Playoffs, the finals, and you have the specific teams and stuff like that. But then you’ll have trends that happen within themselves like Fortnite. It has been a solid trend for a couple of years. As you get closer to things that happen really weird in the game that people start talking about, start making videos, and creates more of that buzz that’s organic. There are some changes that are being made last night, a lot of things that people are trying to figure out and they are trying to hypothesize. Epic has done a great job, Donald Mustard, those guys are just fantastic of really setting their own trends and really getting that momentum going.

It really depends. There are trends all over the place and you have the news and you have everything that coincides together. I think the biggest thing for SEO if we are just talking about SEO trends, 100% AI. AI, machine learning, predictive learning, unstructured data, structured data, that’s where are some massive trends. I think this is the year of AI, I really do. With Facebook and Torch and a few others, these are getting more mature and as they are more mature, it makes achieving their objectives, they are just going to start doubling down on a lot of this artificial intelligence. It’s going to really help us.

You mention Gen Z is a huge audience on YouTube. They don’t really look at Facebook as a place to hang out, right?

I could tell you, I have a 13-year-old and I’m like, “Hey, you’re 13. You can get on Facebook.” He’s like, “Why would I get on Facebook? Only grandparents are on Facebook.” I’m like, “I’m not a grandparent. I’m your dad.” He’s like, “Yeah, like I said. Only grandparents…” “Again, why do you say it?” It’s just like they don’t want to be there. They avoid it like the plague. I just want to put them on there so that I can tag him but he’s like no, that’s not even a place to communicate.

Even if they have an account, it’s a ghost town.

Absolutely. But you know, Instagram is not. That’s why Facebook saw, “Hey if we want the Gen Z market, we need to get Instagram.” That’s where both of them are, between Instagram, Tiktok, and Snapchat. There was definitely an exodus of Snapchat over the last couple of years because you had mainstream parents, marketers, and other people that didn’t want to be a part of that so they just shifted where they want to go. They just want to have their own platform, basically.

What about gamers who are live streaming their gameplay? Is that more on YouTube? More on Twitch? Tell us a bit more about that trend.

At the end of the day, Twitch is an amazing platform. It was Justin.tv and it was really focused in on a small niche, which is live gameplay. It evolved into something more. A lot of creators want to be, a lot of kids, Gen-Z they want to be a YouTuber, they want to be a streamer, they want to be a gamer. Where they’re looking is definitely Twitch. But the problem with that is to be a part of their partner program, you have to go through so many other hurdles to even be allowed to make money on it where YouTube is, it’s like you have 4000 hours and a 1000 subscribers, you are a partner. So, you have two different worlds.

From a creator’s experience, I think YouTube is better because it has a higher probability to get more views, to suggest content whether it’s live or archived or whatever it may be. You can go into their regular video library and there’s more opportunity. For a live element, this is where a lot of content creators on Twitch really complain is not getting that promotion like they would on other platforms. So, where’s that going is a difficult thing. The gaming world is really saturated right now, it’s really tough, and is not necessarily about the most amazing gameplay, but you are literally entertaining people.

I like to make a comparison. Let’s take basketball for example. You have a professional NBA basketball team and then you have the Harlem Globetrotters, and you have two different types of audiences. I can tell you if you get the Harlem Globetrotters, they have the most amazing plays and shots, and that’s what they’re talking about. Those channels will grow extremely fast. Those that are just tactical in play but there are other people out there that are competitive and stuff. Then, you have a blended strategy where it’s like a ninja. Ninjas are a perfect example of this. It’s like you have the professional side where he does tournaments. He’s amazing at it but he also brings in the play. I still don’t know how he streams for 12-13 hours a day. I already get sick of it after an hour but that’s the audience.

The biggest thing for SEO is 100% AI. Click To Tweet

It’s just a different world. I can’t imagine streaming for any length of time. I just can’t be bothered. There are some huge names on YouTube, big YouTubers who have made a fortune off of live streaming their gameplay like PewDiePie and Captainsparklez and stuff. One of those guys, I think, recently left the platform for a different platform because there’s a much greater monetization opportunity.

To say that they left the platform was clickbait. I think they decided to start streaming over on the other one, but they are still uploading videos. The amount of money that they make by uploading video in that ecosystem, they would be foolish to walk away from that. The money just can’t be as big. Even if it was for the long term play, they’ll still upload. PewDiePie was the one that started streaming content on a Blockchain service, which is really interesting. I think Blockchain is definitely the future, it’s very interesting, and he went to that direction, but he’s still uploading content on YouTube.

Some of our listeners, probably many of them are not really that familiar with the whole eSport movement and gaming in general. They’re probably not familiar with Fortnite unless they’re kids or League of Legends. There are bands that are put on the map because of a big tournament, League of Legends. At the Abundance 360 Conference, I became aware of this. They showed this huge stadium of people, there was a pop band that was created by League of Legends, and they made the song Pop Stars, I think is the name of the song, and they had a massive number of viewers around the world. It might have surpassed the Super Bowl or something. It was crazy numbers. I don’t remember.

Guaranteed. Here’s the thing. I want everyone listening and watching to this, to really pay attention to this. Where the trends are you have to follow the almighty dollar. You figure out where the dollar is and that’s where trends will normally go. You take all the movies that were put out last year. You put all the money that was made on those movies and you put it all together. Then on top of that, you put all the money that was made on television, you put it all out together. Gaming and eSports were 3X that.


You look at Fortnite, they are giving a $100,000,000 away this year. They are doing almost a billion dollars a month. That’s just one game, a free game, and they’re just buying skins and just the other things that they do that’s naturally gamified in that game, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. This is a massive market. There’s so much money there and people are willing to drop $50–$100–$200 a month just so they can have the gameplay that they’re looking for, which is nuts.

Buying virtual goods and having people create these virtual things that you’re buying with your hard-earned money, it just seems ridiculous to me.

It does seem ridiculous but in the same sense. It’s the same thing but its virtual. My mom was like, “Why would anybody want to watch videogames? Why does anybody want to watch basketball? Why would you want to play basketball instead of watching it?” Well, it’s entertaining. That’s the new generation, they are entertained just as much.

I actually like to watch gaming. One of the things that I like to bond with my boys is when they are playing Fortnite and I like to harass them a little bit. I’m right there watching them play, and then, they get to watch me play and they make fun of me. It’s just back and forth like that. That’s where things are going. This is a sport and people will recreate with it, and they’ll also watch.

I think eSports is super fascinating. I think all the NBA teams right now are getting their own gaming league, gaming teams, and being part of the league. It’s getting very interesting. They are filling arenas all around the world and people are paying quite a bit of money to watch people play video games.

Wild. What a different world. Let’s circle back to this concept of identifying topics or entities because there are a couple of tools I wanted to talk about. We briefly mention Google Trends, the YouTube search options and you mentioned the YouTube suggest, autofill, autocomplete – giving some valuable insight on what’s popular. Also, there is another tool. This one is from Searchmetrics. It’s a paid tool but I really like it. It’s not just for keyword research for Google, you can use it for YouTube as well but it’s not YouTube-specific. And that’s the Topic Explorer from Searchmetrics. I don’t know if you’ve ever played with it.

I definitely have. I try to stay on top of all the tools. I think the difference would be is how it’s pulling its data in. Is it being scraped and pulled in or is it tapped into the AI? A tool that I like a little bit more than that, is also a paid tool, is vidIQ. This tool was 100% meant and it’s tapped into the API. It’s able to pull reports and things that you get a little bit more intimately. It can pull in to see what’s the volume of use that this is getting and where’s it at in the cycle. Is it massively coming in? How many views per hours are getting right now? Is it ramping up? That’s one of those factors that YouTube looks at. So, it’s able to pull a lot of little things in. One thing I like about it is for competitive analysis and also keyword research to see what’s actually happening in real time. It can go out and get real-time data where a lot of these other places that scrape would have to scrape and get that.

Got you. So that’s vidIQ and they have a Chrome extension?

They did and it is off the charts. I love it.

You were mentioning earlier, tags are so 2014. One of the many features of the vidIQ extension, the reason why I first found out about that tool was I was trying to figure out what are the tags on these competitor’s videos and that’s one of the things that it exposes.

It does and it’s really cool. I still do tags even thought that I know there’s not a lot of weight behind it because of the natural language API into Google Brain and that’s where we’re things are at, but at the end of the day, you got to optimize and even if it’s a small percentage, that’s a small percentage higher, that you have a little bit higher probability, and that’s a great tool to see what your competitors are using.

Then, there are hashtags as well which is something that YouTube, fairly recently added to its capabilities, right?

Yeah. I’m kind of torn on that one. Let me tell you why. The hashtag, how it comes up, it comes up before your title. I’ve been testing it out since it came out and it was a novelty thing and seeing where it’s going. But I found that it gives another bounce point. When someone’s watching a video, they see recommended videos and most of the views right now that are happening on YouTube are on a mobile device.

Generally, they’d have to flip their phone and then they could start flipping between the video suggestions. Well, where it’s at the very top is your title and that’s where the hashtags are. That would be a quick place to search and that would be a bounce point. I’m like, why would I want to send people off my video and create another thing? I’ve been doing a lot of tests on that. It’s inconclusive at this point but it’s leaning towards that I would probably never recommend doing it.

Oh, really? Okay. Got you. Because you’re going to bleed away a lot of the potential viewers from watching more of your videos on your playlist because they click.

Or it could just be that one particular video that they’re watching right now. If they jump off 15 seconds earlier, 30 seconds earlier, you’re losing those watch time minutes. What is the main key factor of really getting recommended to?

Got it. All right. What about VideoAmigo, are you familiar with that tool?

I’m not.

Okay, so that’s something to look into. I’ve had one of the guys behind that tool, Jeff Martin on this podcast talking about YouTube SEO. It was a great episode. Listeners, I’ll include a link to that in the show notes. VideoAmigo and voot.net are two of their tools that are awesome.

Cool. I’ll check it out for sure.

Cool. What about the other tools that I should have asked you about that I hadn’t? Which ones do you want to mention?

My favorite tool for YouTube is TubeBuddy. Let me tell you why. It isn’t necessarily an SEO tool. It has some SEO components to it like I can see competitors and see what my competitors are doing and we can group them all together. But at the end of the day, it’s like channel management. If I want to switch out a link in all thousand videos, I can do that fairly quickly by just doing a find and replace with that tool, they’re tapped into the API, and they just go for it.

I use probably that tool more than any other tool on YouTube just because it helps me manage multiple channels. What I’m able to do normally and maybe a 20-hour manual process I can do and maybe 30-40 minutes with TubeBuddy just because it has automation systems and such from there. That’s a huge tool I’d recommend for everyone. The company’s trusted and I love them because they really understand what creators want and they’re providing it.

One of the tools that I use is on their legend account, but it’s still awesome. They do AB testing, so you can start doing AB testing on your title and AB testing on your thumbnail. I would never recommend doing it at the same time. Just pick one and go from there. That will help get that click-through rate up because that’s the first metric that YouTube looks at is how many impressions and how many clicks are on those impressions. If you can increase that 2%, 3%, 4%, that’s going to bring in more opportunity to get those views that are out there.

Awesome. Now, do you go back into your back catalog of old videos and update the thumbnails, titles, and descriptions.

I do. I do quite a bit. When they first gave us the data, I was like a kid in a candy store. I’m telling you I was most excited because before that, my number one tool was seeing things in real time and you had real-time analytics. When they gave us the video performance on all of that clicked through rate was, now there’s a report there that you can pull in and show all your click-through data.

I was like a kid in a candy store. I was like, “Oh my gosh. I’ve been waiting for this.” We’ve been doing ads just to see which one would have the click-through on some projects that we could do, just because if we could increase the click-through rate, we had a higher probability of them seeing the content and then you know how it goes.

I have a channel that all we did was replace all the thumbnails. We did not replace the title, we just replace the thumbnail and we got three times the number of views after that. It’s very consistent. We increased our baseline and we got 3X the number of views we normally get in a month because we actually had better thumbnails that people would click on. After that, what the titles would work. I’ve been always good at titling. So, it’s just like trying to figure out what’s going to be the best clickable, but it’s just getting that visual appeal and knowing where it’s weak.

All right. Where do ads fit into the equation here? If you’re doing YouTube advertising, you have the pre-roll ads or you’re doing banner ads on other people’s videos. What are the opportunities and how do they feed into your overall YouTube strategy so you can get the massive billions of views?

Ads are a different thing. I think that if you’re going organic, you go organic on YouTube. If you want a blended strategy of bringing some ad in, I probably wouldn’t recommend doing it through paid advertising. I just think that it’s two different things. But let’s talk about ads specifically because I’m passionate about that because, on my other side of that, I work with companies, getting their message out, getting the videos to hit. It’s just ads is the main focus for that.

Ads are what really changed YouTube. When YouTube started, believe it or not, it was a dating website. I don’t think a lot of people know that but it was a dating website. When they started, their sample size with some students at Stanford and some people in that area, they realized no one was using it for dating but they’re using it to post pictures or their videos of their cat or the latest college prank or whatever it is. So, they really went back and retooled, and in June of 2005 is where they brought in a lot of recommendation features and really focusing on the video platform.

They went from a dating site to broadcast yourself and it was like self-broadcasting and you had this huge little influx. What was interesting, YouTube was purchased by Google for $1.65 billion the previous year and YouTube’s number one saying, “Hey, we want to make money at this. This is something we can do for free.” So, they’re thinking of ways that they can bring in advertising but do it in the right way. Now Google did two things that I really believe that created what the ecosystem is today and the opportunities for people like me to make a full-time living, uploading videos to YouTube.

Where the trends are is where you’ll find the almighty dollar. Click To Tweet

But it also created the biggest issue that they have on the platform which was this. They started to advertise and they started to infuse. The current CEO at YouTube was the person that was with Google Ads, AdWords at the time, that was the forefront of this. She’s amazing, Suzanne is just amazing and so she was saying, “Okay. We need to bring in these ads and this is where it needs to be.” The thing that they did was they created a partner program where creators that are uploading content would share in the revenue.

It created this ecosystem that what is YouTube today, where you have the advertiser, you have the viewer, and you have the creator. It’s been a balancing act for years because when one of those individuals, groups feel disconnected, it throws everything out of balance. So, the bigger that it gets, the small little tweaks and squeaks make it even more unbalanced. That happened in 2007 and that’s when YouTuber says, “Hey, I can upload videos, quit my day job, and just do what I love, which is creating content.”

So, it created this subculture of creators that are going out there, which is really fascinating., But the advertiser was able to really narrow down the niche and say, “Look, I know that these are the type of people I want. Why advertise on television when it’s like a shotgun approach? I get a very sniper approach and get the exact viewer that I want. I can get the right messaging. Then, we can do what they call brand integrations,” where they’re actually integrating the brand, the creators, the ambassador, and that’s where it gets really, really fascinating. So, it created this relationship.

You probably heard and seen in the news the last couple of years what they would call about the Adpocalypse on YouTube. What happened is these advertisers are realizing that their ads were going on content that they didn’t necessarily deem approved. My whole thing is buying a lot of ads is number one, they’re lazy because they can literally block anything. They just need to set up their AdWords account right. Seriously, it’s like, “These are the words we do not want.” You can get very specific but it was just a blanket approach of cutting off this line.

But the reality was they started to say, “Hey, we’re pulling our ad money until you fix this problem.” They were creating this problem that wasn’t really there as much as it was because the news just made it great news and people were talking about it. But it created this issue, and before you know it, YouTube’s really sensitive and they started deleting videos, started deleting channels, people were starting to lose their income. They might have 14-15 employees and they’re like, “What am I going to do now?” We just had our channel deleted and it could have been a false positive. There are all these little things from there.

That’s the makeup of it, and for advertisers, I think right now it’s really interesting. Number one, you can pick the channel that you want your ad to be on. I can say, “I love this channel. It resonates with me. ” in your AdWords. You don’t even have to contact the channel owner as long as they’re a partner and they’re showing ads you can have it show up. You can have a show up with Google Ads or DoubleClick. You just choose the way that you want to do it and you now can piggyback on top of that.

Now, here’s the thing that I learned is there’s a lot of people that would go piggyback on their competitor and the creator wasn’t smart enough to block those to say, “Oh, I don’t want to see any ads of these types on my videos because it would be pulling people away from what I want them to experience.” So, you don’t want like Coke ad on a Pepsi channel, right?  You just don’t want that and so you can set those parameters up but most creators and also brands aren’t smart enough to go through that.

This could be a whole other episode talking about YouTube advertising. We actually did a whole YouTube advertising episode a while back now but it was Tommie Powers. Do you know Tommie?

Yeah. I love that man.

He’s awesome. Tommie Traffic.

Yeah. If you ever want to get a solid strategy, I would say Tommy’s right at the top of the list for that, for sure.

Yes. Now, you mentioned reddit earlier. Is that something that you’re investing a lot of time and focus into, like becoming a power user of reddit, having a ton of post karma, so that stuff that you submit will get a lot of visibility and then it goes viral and then you piggyback that?

The thing I liked about reddit is, it tells you what’s going to happen on the Internet before the internet knows it’s happening on the internet. That’s what I love about reddit. I’ve been an early adopter. I think I’m 12 years on reddit. I spend quite a bit of time. This is a place where people don’t have a filter so it’s not really good for everyone, but it’s good to see what gets people to react, and the human nature and the psychology of it. That’s probably what sucks being the most and it is a rabbit hole. It’s like when we’re going down and you get sucked into a rabbit hole and before you know it you’ve lost hours.

I do that for a couple of reasons. That gives you a pulse of what works and it is a great platform that can self-identify a content that is promotional and they just push that off to the side. It’s almost the only pure algorithm that really goes off of organic. I know that there’s been a lot of changes the last couple of years because it has to make money and a few other things like that, but that’s why I spend the most time.

Just to give you context, it’s like we’re doing a project. Let me just give you an example. When we did the pooping unicorn ad for squatty potty, that commercial, just to give context to everyone, was uploaded three years ago. That campaign is still running today. The first year, it did $45 million and attribute ourselves to that video, and it continues to perform time and time again.

When we were coming up with the concept and the writing and stuff on that, Jeffrey Harmon, who was the other executive producer and he was a principal at that time for the Harmon Brothers says, “Hey, we want to do this idea of a pooping unicorn for this idea,” and I’m like, “I got to be a part of that.” Anything with unicorns is like gold on the Internet and when you add poop to it, this is like, “Okay, this is going to be interesting.”

So, we go on to reddit, and I’m just trying to see anything unicorn-driven and I didn’t even know that this subculture even existed. Maybe I was just naive. I don’t know. I’m in a small town in Utah. I don’t know what it is but I found this subculture of bronies. Do you know what a brony is?

I have no idea. Tell me more.

Okay. It’s males, bros that love My Little Pony. Those are bronies and they are so obsessed with My Little Pony. They even dress up as My Little Pony. It’s just this subculture that’s there and I was trapped in that rabbit hole of red. There are multiple subreddits of bronies, but we found a lot of the jokes that we used as inspiration for some of the things that they’re saying and some of the stuff in there. It was really interesting to see what would respond, what didn’t respond, and so on and so forth.

Part of our strategy, even up to the launch was I created this animated GIF of the unicorn actually pooping rainbow sherbet ice cream and it took off on reddit. They were testing the titles and stuff and it just had lakes of its own. I think the only thing I do differently is making sure I really do that at the same time as the video released within a day or two. We waited a full week and they still shared the video. We got hundreds of millions of views on it but still, it was it’s interesting. It’s interesting.

So, you didn’t submit that yourself to reddit? You put it out there is like, “Hey, community, you might want to pass this around or share this.”

No. That’s so green, you’re a noob on reddit if you say, “Hey, you might want this?” You can’t do that. You need to be a part of a community, contribute to the community, build up karma in that community to be respected, and then that helps validate how far your reach will go. With that, it’s like not getting too specific but I have a few reddit accounts. I just don’t have one and each one is geared to a specific vertical. There are other people that do the same thing but I think it’s just more understanding the pulse, how people communicate, what titling and thumbnail work in there that help you with some title and thumbnail strategies. It’s just a fun place.

Utilize YouTube’s transcription feature for a more optimized searchable content.

Yeah, it is. I don’t have time for it so I delegate to my team to build up. I have reddit power user who is in the Century Club. Do you know what the Century Club is?

Yeah, I do.

For listeners who aren’t familiar with that, that’s over 100,000 post karma points. She has alt accounts, even that is in the Century Club.

And let me tell you, the Century Club is very difficult to be a part of. You don’t get karma very easy on reddit. You have to have people respond and it can’t be a paid way to do it.

Yeah. She spends so many hours in there. Pretty crazy, I have her creating accounts for me so that I’m not completely reliant on her. I want to have my own assets that are my own accounts that have post karma and comment karma. Anyway, I digress. Enough on that.

But too, from your audience, if people are looking for SEO value, it’s one of the strongest platforms that rank just immediately in Google is reddit. If you understand that, the brands are now adopting onto it. I was going through some articles that were posted and they’re using reddit to start adding multiple locations for them to rank on the front page. It’s usually the one that’s most overlooked too because you had the darknet and you had the Internet and you have reddit in between. Like we don’t want anything to do with that. But it’s not what it is. It’s just niches that people are interested in the topic and they just want to spend time on it.

Yeah, and they hate marketers for the most part. Although there are some subreddits that are targeting marketing as the topic. but you got to be very careful if you’re going to try and “market” on reddit. You’re probably going to get chased.

You’ll be burned at the stake. I’m just here to tell you right. You’ll be burned at the stake.

Pretty much. Anyway, this is all really fun and fascinating. If folks wanted to learn more about YouTube and all the opportunities that abound with just video marketing in general, where should we send them? I know there’s this amazing conference called VidSummit. I haven’t been yet. I’ve been to VidCon and I know it’s a completely different animal. I’ve heard really good things about VidSummit. Where should we send our listeners to? vidsummit.com?

You can follow me anywhere on socials @derraleves and you can pretty much find me anywhere on that but VidSummit, specifically, and I think you can appreciate this. With a lot of the successes that I have had, I was always asked to speak and to train and I love surrounding myself by people that are like-minded. I learned so much when you’re just really digging deep like we did today. This was actually really fun for me, by the way. It’s just like the whole component of getting people’s experience and you’re talking openly is so cool, so I love speaking at conferences.

However, I never found a conference that just resonated with me, personally. It’s like, “Oh yeah, you had maybe one talk that you had some amazing things and then a golden nugget get here and there, but I personally hate panels. I hate panels like it’s the plague and the reason why is everybody is not prepared. It’s like I want to prepare a presentation, I want to be able to see case studies, I want to see, “Hey this is what we thought. This is what we did. Here’s what we did. Here’s what we wish we would have done and here are the results.” That’s what I want to see. It like, I could never find a conference, I always look for it.

What am I going to do? So, I decided I love to learn. I love to do it. I’m going to invite people that I wanted to learn from and I’d put them on stage and I would call it the VidSummit. You mentioned Tommie Powers, he was at the first VidSummit. I want to learn from Tommie Traffic. He came in and blew it completely out of the water and I told him and the other speakers there, I’m like, “This is where I want to be in three or four years,” and they’re like, “Man, you’re pretty optimistic.”

For me, I’m very goal-centric, we were able to grow it, and it’s been great. With the number one video marketing conference in the world and we focus in on the business side of the video. When you’re a content creator, you’re a brand, you’re an agency, you’re a marketer, there’s 100% the business side. It’s like these agencies that want to work with creators and brands. We’re showing tactics of ad strategies, we’re talking about organic, and so on and so forth.

To give context, the top 10 most viral video ads of all time that produced the most, that grossed the most in sales, we had seven of the top ten come and present and show everything. They open up everything and says this is how we did it. Tell me a conference that really does that. For me, that’s what gets me excited about it especially seeing people that are very smart in their niche and they really get what they’re doing and they’re willing to share. We created this culture of what we call creators helping creators or it’s just people are helping each other.

The biggest compliment came from the stage last year. Gary V., some people like and some people don’t like. Anyway, It was his second year at this conference and he was able to see a huge difference. He goes, “I speak probably 52 weeks out of the year and I’ve never seen a conference like this in the sense that I look in the audience right now and I see keynote speakers at the other conferences that I go to and they’re here to learn,” and it’s true. People don’t come to just speak, but they come to learn and to share.

If you want more information about it, just go to vidsummit.com. It gives you all the information going on, happens October 15th through the 17th this year in LA. If you are at all interested in online video, this is the conference for you. It’s not like VidCon. I love VidCon. VidCon has its place but you have 21,000 screaming little girls following their favorite creators. These ones all about money and growing audiences. That’s what we love.

That’s awesome. Do you know who I heard about VidSummit from first? It was Sean Cannell, on a show on Marketing Speak and I asked, “What are the alternatives to VidCon? Because I wasn’t really that impressed. It’s just all these pre-teen girls running around after the Try Guys and stuff, and I really wanted to get more business value out of that conference,” and that’s when he told me about VidSummit.

Yeah. Sean’s been a great supporter, he’s been there four out of the five years. He wasn’t in the first initial one because I didn’t know him yet.

Awesome. Very cool. It’s in my neck of the woods, too, because I’m in Santa Monica.

Well, it’s just right down the road from you.

You figure out where the dollar is and that's where trends will normally go. Click To Tweet

Very cool. If somebody wanted to work with your agency to help blow up online. How would they connect with your agency?

You can go to 4creatus.com.  We’re very selective of who we take. We don’t have so much time, and I don’t want this massive company, we have twelve employees, but I just want to keep it kind of boutique where we have the most fun. The thing for me, I just want everyone to know, if you want to connect with me, it’s about doing something different. I’m here to disrupt hurdles. I’m not satisfied with the status quo. In fact, we just had a project where we did the number one most crowdfunded project of all time in film and television, blew the record off the doors, like double the amount, and we just produced the first portion of that series, and it’s amazing. So, I’m always looking to do things that are done differently or if there’s a different way that you feel like can disrupt, that gets my excitement going, it gets my wheels thinking and makes me motivated.

Awesome. All right, well thank you so much Derral. This was a ton of fun and really illuminating and insightful. Listeners, I hope you got a ton of value out of it. I have a feeling you did and now it’s time to implement some of this stuff so that you get some business value out of this and not just entertainment or edutainment value. Derral, thank you again and thank you, listeners. This is your host Stephan Spencer signing off. We’ll catch you next week.

Important Links:

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

Upload evergreen YouTube content so that viewers can rewatch my videos and still find them relevant years after they were uploaded.
Consider tweaking my video transcription so that it’s easier for Google’s and YouTube’s algorithms to find relevant words that were mentioned in my videos.
Add keywords to my video script, but make sure that these words are salient and relevant so that they don’t sound unnatural to my audience and the algorithm.
Use reddit to research trending topics that I can incorporate into my video content. Other ways to look for what’s trending are Twitter hashtags, Google Suggest, and YouTube Suggest.
Suggest older videos on my new uploads so that I can still promote my older content and my audience can conveniently refer back to it if they want to.
Invest in a channel management app to easily manage my growing YouTube channel. Derral recommends TubeBuddy.
Make my videos visually appealing by investing in good quality cameras, incorporating some editing skills, and adding some graphics that can improve my branding.
Create constant engagement and make it my mission to build a community. My viewership will not be made possible without subscribers.
Add VidSummit to my events calendar. It’s the most anticipated conference for video creators and marketers.
Check out Derral Eves’ website for some of the best YouTube strategies that can help bring you millions of viewers and subscribers.

About Derral Eves

Derral Eves is a YouTube Certified Expert and the founder and CEO of Creatus and VidSummit. He’s helped 21 channels start from nothing to get to over a million subscribers for each. Generated 38 billion views on YouTube & 19 billion on Facebook. Derral was also the executive producer on several viral video campaigns, including Squatty Potty’s ice cream pooping unicorn ad which won the ad of the year at the Webby’s.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *