How Buffer Grew Their YouTube Channel by 59% in 30 Days (Step-By-Step Case Research)

How Buffer Grew Their YouTube Channel by 59% in 30 Days (Step-By-Step Case Study)

At present you’re going to see how Buffer grew their YouTube channel by 59%.

(In 30 days)

One of the best half?

They didn’t must publish a thousand movies to do it.

In reality, most of their progress got here from FIVE movies.

And on this case research I’ll stroll you thru the step-by-step course of that they used.

How I Helped Buffer Flip Their YouTube Channel Round

Final 12 months, Buffer’s YouTube channel was struggling:

Buffer YouTube channel analytics

As Buffer’s digital advertising and marketing strategist, Brian Peters, put it:

On paper, Buffer was doing the whole lot proper:

  • They printed movies on a constant foundation (identical to the “consultants” advocate)
  • Their movies have been quick (< 2 minutes)
  • They shared their movies on Fb and Twitter

However nothing labored.

In reality, as Brian Peters informed me:

That’s when he gave me a name.

Maintain studying to see what occurred subsequent.

Now, Let’s See The Outcomes…

Since implementing my recommendation, Buffer’s subscriber progress elevated by 59%:

Sub growth

Their month-to-month views shot up by 35%:

YouTube views

Watch time elevated by 61%:

Total watch time

And for the primary time, individuals began to love their movies…

…and depart feedback:


You is likely to be questioning:

“How did they do it?”.

Two phrases: YouTube Search engine optimization.

Buffer’s Secret Weapon: YouTube Search engine optimization

I in all probability don’t must inform you that YouTube is HUGE… and rising quick.

In reality, YouTube is the 2nd hottest web site on-line (Yup, much more fashionable than Fb).

Top ten websites

And YouTube isn’t simply an enormous web site, it’s an enormous search engine.

So to succeed on YouTube, your movies must rank. Interval.

Truly, that’s the principle motive that Buffer’s channel grew so shortly:

Their movies began to rank for fashionable key phrases.

Key phrases like…

“Social media advertising and marketing ideas”:

Social marketing tips

“Fb advertising and marketing ideas”:

Facebook marketing tips

And “social media for small enterprise”:

Social media for small business

And people first web page rankings straight led to extra views, subscribers… and site visitors to Buffer’s web site.

Or as Brian Peters put it:

Now it’s time to point out you precisely how Brian Peters applied my recommendation…

…and acquired Buffer’s movies to rank in YouTube.

Step #1: Discover Untapped Video Key phrases

On the subject of YouTube, key phrases are the whole lot.

Select the RIGHT key phrases?

Your movies rocket to the highest of YouTube.

Select the WRONG key phrases?

Your movies get buried within the search outcomes.

It’s so simple as that.

Again within the day, Buffer didn’t spend a lot time on key phrase analysis.

For instance, right here’s one among Buffer’s movies from final 12 months:

Buffer video

Total, this can be a strong video. The content material is useful. And it seems to be skilled.

So what’s the issue?

This video isn’t optimized round a key phrase that individuals seek for on YouTube.

And due to that, this video has struggled to get views:


Distinction that video with this one which Brian lately made:

Buffer video

This video has racked up over 10ok views:

Proven marketing tools

Sure, this video was created to maximise Viewers Retention and Whole Watch Time.

(Extra on that later)

For now, the necessary factor to bear in mind is: this video was optimized round the correct key phrase. 

And that’s the #1 motive that it did so properly.

With That, Right here’s Precisely How Buffer Does Video Key phrase Analysis At present:

Right here’s the method that Buffer makes use of to seek out untapped key phrases on YouTube:

1. First, they create an inventory of “Seed Key phrases”

Seed Key phrases are phrases that describe tremendous broad matters.

For instance, Buffer’s Seed Key phrases are issues like:

  • Social Media
  • LinkedIn Advertising and marketing
  • Fb Web page
  • Content material Advertising and marketing

And should you ran a health website, your Seed Key phrase checklist would appear like this:

  • Fats Loss
  • Kettlebell Exercise
  • Paleo Weight-reduction plan
  • Cardio Exercise

See how that works? These are broad matters which you could create movies about.

Now, to be clear:

You’re not going to optimize your movies round any of those phrases (they’re too aggressive).

However an inventory of Seed Key phrases is SUPER useful for the following step.

Talking of…

2. Subsequent, Brian Pops His Seed Key phrases Into YouTube Search

Now it’s time to show your seed key phrase checklist into dozens of lengthy tail key phrases.


YouTube Counsel.

This works identical to Google.

Pop a Seed Key phrase into YouTube…

…and take a look at the key phrases that YouTube suggests.

YouTube search

If you wish to scale this course of like loopy, head over to


Once you enter a seed key phrase into this software, it’ll spit out a whole bunch of phrases from YouTube Counsel.

Search volume

As you may need observed, “social media advertising and marketing” has appeared twice in our searches. And it simply so occurs to be a PERFECT key phrase for Buffer’s channel.

Growth! We now have a key phrase.

However is is the proper key phrase?

That’s what step #Three is all about…

Three. Lastly, It’s Time For YouTube Competitors Evaluation

Identical to with Google, you need to optimize your movies round key phrases that:

a) Get plenty of searches


b) Aren’t tremendous aggressive

How do you discover these magical key phrases?

Buffer makes use of a nifty Chrome extension known as TubeBuddy.


This software reveals you stats for every key phrase proper within the search outcomes:

How to rank for YouTube videos

That manner, whether or not or not a key phrase is simply too aggressive…

…BEFORE you make your video.

Fairly cool.

OK, so that you discovered a key phrase. Good!

Now it’s time for the enjoyable stuff: creating your video.

Step #2: Create Movies Optimized For “Watch Time”

Buffer’s YouTube channel made the identical mistake that A LOT of channels make:

Creating movies NOT optimized for Watch Time.

I’ll clarify…

YouTube’s #1 objective is to maintain individuals on YouTube.

(In spite of everything, the extra time individuals spend on YouTube, the extra money they make from advertisements)

And that’s why YouTube’s algorithm places a lot emphasis on Watch Time.

By no means heard of Watch Time? Right here’s a easy rationalization:


The full time spent watching a YouTube video because it went reside.


And right here’s what that report seems to be like in YouTube Analytics:

Watch time

As you may count on, YouTube LOVES movies that rack up plenty of Watch Time.

In reality, YouTube has gone on the document saying that:

“Watch time is measured in cumulative minutes watched, and every video uploaded – in addition to each channel on YouTube – is “ranked” by watch time. Channels and movies with larger watch occasions are prone to present up larger in search outcomes and suggestions.”

– YouTube Creator Academy

In brief: the extra time individuals spend watching your video, the upper it’s going to rank.

The query is:

HOW do you create movies that maintain individuals watching?

Let’s discover out…

How Buffer Boosted Their Common Watch Time By 61%

Listed below are 5 issues that Buffer did to enhance their Watch Time by 61%:

1. They printed LONG movies

I don’t care what the “consultants” say.

Lengthy movies carry out higher than quick movies.

(WAY higher)

And the info backs this up. Final 12 months we performed the biggest YouTube rating components research ever (we analyzed over one million YouTube movies).

What did we discover?

That longer movies are inclined to outrank quick movies.

YouTube video length

Earlier than, Buffer would add actually quick (1-2 minute) movies to YouTube.

Compare video length

All these movies work properly on Fb and LinkedIn. However they DON’T work on YouTube.

And certain sufficient, when Brian began producing longer movies with plenty of meaty content material, they racked up a ton of views…

YouTube video length

…and began to rank for his or her goal key phrases:

Three examples

I’ve observed the identical factor occur with my very own channel.

Again within the day, I solely printed quick movies like this:

YouTube Backlinko

And that’s one of many important causes that my movies have been virtually invisible on YouTube.

At present? I concentrate on packing as a lot worth as I can right into a single video.

Which implies that my new movies are usually no less than 10 minutes:

YouTube Backlinko

And since my movies are so lengthy, they rack plenty of Whole Watch Time robotically.

2. They minimize out the fluff from their intros

In line with YouTube, the primary 15 seconds of your video is KEY.

YouTube official blog

In different phrases, your intro must seize your viewer by the eyeballs.

(And you’ve got 15 seconds to do it)

Again within the day, Buffer’s intros had A LOT of background data.

For instance, try the intro from this video:

Video intro

Distinction that intro with one among Buffer’s current movies:

Better intro length

See the distinction?

The second intro shortly previews precisely what you’re going to study from the video.

Let me present you one other instance…

Right here’s an intro from one among my early movies (earlier than I knew what I used to be doing):

Backlinko intro length

Now try this fluff-free intro from one among my newest movies:

Better intro length

Once more:

My intro previews precisely what you’re gonna study. No background. No fluff.

And that efficient intro one of many causes that this video racked up over 143ok of watch time minutes in 30 days:

Increased watch time

So yeah, your video’s intro is actually necessary.

However there’s one other GREAT option to improve Watch Time that I haven’t talked about but.

Which leads us to…

Three. They Included “Sample Interrupts” Into Their Movies

Need individuals to observe your video all the best way to the tip?

Use Sample Interrupts.

Severely. They work insanely properly.

In reality, Sample Interrupts are one of many important causes that my Viewers Retention tends to be so excessive:

Average percentage viewed

So: what are Sample Interrupts?

Sample Interrupts are parts in your video which might be totally different than the remainder of your video (they actually “interrupt” the “sample”).

Sample Interrupts could be issues like:

  • On-screen graphics
  • Animations
  • New background or setting
  • B rolls
  • Completely different digicam angles
  • Sound results
  • And extra

How about an instance…

Buffer’s outdated YouTube movies didn’t use ANY Sample Interrupts:

Buffer video

This video is VERY static.

It makes use of the identical precise shot your entire time.

(The video additionally lacks visuals, cuts to totally different pictures… or anything to interrupt up the sample)

Flash ahead to one among Buffer’s current movies, and it’s Sample Interrupts galore.

You will have B rolls:

Buffer video

You’ve acquired on-screen graphics:

Buffer video

You even have Brian demonstrating among the ideas in actual time:

Buffer video

And it ought to come as no shock that these adjustments helped push their common view period as much as a really strong 2 minutes, 11 seconds.

(A 61% improve)

four. They Scripted Each Line

It is a biggie.

Until you’re a type of those who drops the mic on the finish of each dialog, you could script out your movies.

(Or no less than comply with an in depth define)

Within the early days of the Buffer weblog, Brian P would fireplace up the digicam and begin speaking:

Buffer unscripted video

Certain, Brian knew the final factors he wished to cowl.

However he didn’t have a script. And that made it arduous to comply with together with Brian’s ideas.

My early movies have been the identical manner…

I’d hop in entrance of the digicam with out a script.

Which meant my movies have been PACKED with meandering nonsense like this:

Backlinko video

(There’s additionally the problem of my hair. And my shirt. However that’s one other story.)

At present, Brian and I do know higher. That’s why we each define and script our movies earlier than we shoot.

In case you’re curious, right here’s what one among my scripts appear like:

Backlinko script

As a result of we script our movies, our supply is tremendous crisp.

(Which retains individuals watching)

5. Lastly, Buffer analyzed what already labored

Sure, the four methods I simply shared with you might be common.

That mentioned, each area of interest has its personal wrinkles.

So earlier than you finalize your script, see what’s already confirmed to work.


It’s easy: watch the movies that rank within the high Three on your goal key phrase.

Then, notice what all of them have in widespread.

For instance, once you seek for “social media advertising and marketing” in YouTube, these are the highest Three outcomes:

Social media marketing

After I watch these Three movies, I discover that they’ve quite a bit in widespread:

  • All of them use LOTS of examples (like Gary V’s Instagram, X, and many others.)
  • 2 out of the three movies are >10 minutes lengthy (the #1 result’s 22 minutes lengthy)
  • The entire movies point out: reside video, Instagram, “cellular first”, influencer advertising and marketing
  • 2 of the three movies emphasize that the following tips are particularly for this 12 months

Clearly, you need to incorporate these confirmed parts into your video.

In reality, that’s precisely what Brian did when he made a video about social media advertising and marketing:

Proven marketing tips

Let’s transfer on to…

Step #Three: Optimize Your YouTube Movies

You already know why YouTube Search engine optimization is so necessary.

So let’s dive proper into the steps.

1. First, Buffer keyword-optimized their video title

Right here’s the deal:

Key phrase-optimized video titles aren’t as necessary as they was once.

In reality, our YouTube rating components research discovered a weak relationship between keyword-rich titles and rankings:

Exact match title

That mentioned, utilizing a key phrase in your title DOES assist (slightly). So I like to recommend doing it.

In reality, as soon as Buffer began utilizing keyword-rich titles like this…

Powerful Facebook marketing strategies

…their views elevated.

Buffer YouTube views increase

2. Second, they wrote titles designed to maximise CTR

Not like Google, YouTube has confirmed that they use click-through-rate as a rating sign.

In reality, a YouTube analysis paper states that, on the subject of recommending movies to customers:

“To guage suggestion high quality we use a mixture of different metrics. The first metrics we think about embrace click on by fee (CTR), lengthy CTR (solely counting clicks that led to watches of a considerable fraction of the video)…”

– The YouTube video suggestion system,
Analysis Gate

Put one other manner:

The extra individuals click on in your video, the extra YouTube will put it on the market.

YouTube ranking

And that is one thing that the Buffer group found firsthand.

The query is: HOW do you do it?

Energy Phrases.

What are Energy Phrases? They’re phrases and phrases that push individuals to CLICK.

For instance, you may see that Buffer makes use of a Energy Phrase on this title…

Power words

…and this one too:

Power words

Need a couple of extra examples of Energy Phrases? Right here you go:

Phrases and phrases that push individuals to CLICK.

Subsequent up, we now have…

Three. They wrote keyword-rich, Search engine optimization-friendly video descriptions

Buffer’s outdated video descriptions have been REALLY transient:

YouTube intro

In line with YouTube, quick descriptions like this actually harm your video Search engine optimization.

In reality, they formally advocate lengthy descriptions:

“Write full descriptions: as much as one to 2 paragraphs.

Some creators solely put their social media hyperlinks within the description, probably lacking out on a whole lot of additional views.”

– YouTube Creator Academy

At present, Brian P writes a full description for each video:

And right here’s an instance:

YouTube concise intro

four. Final up, Brian optimized his video tags

It’s no secret that keyword-optimized tags are a MUST.

However how do you optimize them, precisely?

Buffer makes use of a easy, Three-step course of:

First, they use Three-5 tags that embrace their goal key phrase… and shut variations.

For instance, in Brian’s video about social media advertising and marketing he makes use of these tags:

YouTube tags

Subsequent, Brian fires up TubeBuddy.

Particularly, he enters his goal key phrase into the “Tag Explorer” characteristic…

Tag explorer

…and makes use of any related tags that TubeBuddy pops out.

Tag summary

The third and remaining step is to spy on the tags that different movies use:


This final step is an enormous one.

Sure, utilizing your competitor’s tags can assist your search engine rankings.

However they’ll ALSO allow you to present up subsequent to your opponents as a recommended video:

Up next

Bonus Step #1: Use Thumbnails
That Stand Out

Your video thumbnail is HUGE.

Sadly, Buffer’s movies used default thumbnails on most of their movies:

Bad YouTube covers

For my part, this is among the important causes that their movies struggled to get views.

(Sure, your thumbnail is that necessary: YouTube reviews that “90% of the perfect performing movies on YouTube have customized thumbnails.” That’s LEGIT.)

That’s why Brian stepped up Buffer’s thumbnail recreation in an enormous manner:

Good YouTube covers

See how a lot these new thumbnails stand out?

YouTube cover comparison

THAT’S the way you need your thumbnails to look.

Bonus Step #2: Create (and Promote) Optimized Playlists

Playlists are an underrated option to get extra views (and subscribers).


Playlists dramatically improve your “Session Time”.

Session Time is the period of time somebody spends on YouTube after they begin watching your video.

And Session Time is a rating issue that YouTube cares about… A LOT.

In reality, YouTube says this about Session Time:

“Your channel additionally will get a lift when individuals watch something anyplace in YouTube after watching your content material.

…and once you make content material that makes individuals watch extra out of your channel, then you definately’re serving to us out.”

– YouTube Creator Academy

For instance, let’s say somebody begins watching one among your movies (“Video A”).

And proper after they’re completed, they shut their browser.

YouTube bad ranking

Your video is inflicting individuals to LEAVE YouTube. So that they’re going to demote that video.

Then again:

Let’s say somebody begins watching Video B. And after they’re completed, they watch one other one among your movies.

YouTube good ranking

This time, your video is KEEPING individuals on YouTube. So that they’re going to put it on the market.

And that’s the place playlists are available…

When somebody’s completed watching a video in a playlist, it robotically performs one other video.

YouTube playlist ranking

In different phrases, playlists robotically enhance your Session Time.

And that’s why Buffer curates their movies into playlists…

Buffer playlists

…and prominently reveals them off on their channel web page.

Buffer channel

Now It’s Your Flip…

And now I’d like to listen to from you:

What’s your #1 takeaway from as we speak’s case research?

Or possibly you’ve a query.

Both manner, let me know by leaving a fast remark beneath. 

I’ll be round as we speak to personally reply to feedback and questions.

So you probably have a query or thought, ensure that to go away a remark proper now.

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