YouTube got a new design in 2012. The debate goes on whether the change is good or bad. However, even those who think the change is unwarranted, are searching for YouTube tutorials to get used to the new interface. So in the wake of YouTube's UI makeover, lets get going and get our videos optimized to be found on YouTube.

YouTube has also become more social. Now video and activity sharing are made simpler and subscriptions are given more importance on the homepage. New options are added to channels and some existing ones are taken out. Based on these changes, its time to review the best practices for YouTube SEO and marketing.


Users can manage their channel subscriptions easier and faster from their homepage sidebar now. This can be a double edged sword for a YouTube marketer.

So make sure to

  • Provide content that will keep users glued to your channel, or they'll unsubscribe faster than they had subscribed.
  • Encourage viewers to subscribe using subscribe requests at the end of a video, annotations, video descriptions, social media sharing, blogging or any other creative methods you could think of.

Activity Feeds

The middle column of a YouTube user homepage shows recent activity feeds or uploads of the channels they are subscribed to. We social beings expect communication and sharing. Nobody wants to be friend with someone who doesn't communicate. So make sure you give importance to communicating and sharing your activities with your subscribers regularly. This starts with enabling sharing in your Privacy settings and setting Sharing options on Accounts Settings page. Post an update using bulletin, share a playlist, share a like, and be communicative and active.


When users preview channels to add new subscriptions, they can see the average weekly uploads by a channel. A user can easily gauge the importance of a channel by checking the upload frequency. This makes it even more important to upload videos regularly.


YouTube's new design comes with bigger video thumbnails. YouTube gives you an option to choose a thumbnail from among three random video stills. This doesn't look professional always. That's why its important to use a custom uploaded image, suitable for larger display, as your video thumbnail.

Channel Page

The new YouTube channel design comes with featured, feed and videos tab. Featured and Feed tab have a sidebar included. From the Edit channel option, you can set your default tab which users will see when they come to your channel.


Choose a relevant title for your channel.
Give a good description.
Include keyword rich tags.
Upload a high quality and relevant Avatar as big as 1600x1600px.
Choose a professional looking background image that suits your brand.

The channel description will appear on top of the right sidebar and only the first 250 characters are visible by default. The rest is hidden under a more link. So give a crisp description visible above the fold.

Remember that YouTube uses the Meta data you provide, to pull up videos in its searches and also in its ranking algorithms. Use targeted keywords as tags and include them in your description to optimize your channel in search.

If you are a YouTube partner, you'll notice that the option of including a separate header banner is no longer available. Channel banner is part of the background image now. Design a background image with the top of the image (max height - 150 px) as your header, and in Edit channel >Appearance section, push down your content enough to fit the banner in.

The option to add links to your banner is now available for background image. Make use of it and link your website, social network account, videos etc. using image map code. As the links are added to the background image, you are not limited to the top of the page to display them. You can give a link anywhere, where the background image is visible. Be creative and explore this option.


Link your Facebook & Twitter accounts to YouTube through account sharing settings and get these to be displayed on your channel sidebar.

Apart from this, the new design allows you to put multiple links on the sidebar. Use this feature to include as many links as you want, on the channel sidebar. You can even link to a specific section of your website using this. However, don't overdo it. These are nofollow links unlike the website link in the old design. So don't expect to get link juice out of them.

Featured tab

Enable Featured tab on channel page and use it wisely. Choose from the available four templates according to what suits you best. Display a playlist with a mixture of some of your most viewed videos and some of the lesser viewed videos that you want to promote. If you have multiple channels, display them using Network or Everything template from Edit Channel option.

Feed tab

This is where you communicate with your target audience. As mentioned earlier, make sure you give your viewers a regular update on whats happening on your channel. Apart from capturing the interest of the viewers, this will also help your channel fair better in YouTube ranking.

In Edit channel > Info and Settings, you can choose to redirect your subscribers to Feed tab, even if you keep Featured or Videos tab as default.

Further, use the channel sidebar to feature your playlists and multiple channels if you have any.

These are only some tips to optimize your YouTube channel using the new design. Let me know your views and more ideas on this. And lets debate on the new design !

Check out Bob Nunn's article, How to get found on YouTube, to learn more about YouTube optimization techniques.