How To Go Viral On YouTube

How to go viral on YouTube

YouTube is one of the most pop­u­lar Social Media and Video Chan­nels world­wide. Mil­lions of Videos are seen every day. Now you may won­der, how to hack this plat­form. In this arti­cle, writ­ten by Mos­hood Bakare, you will learn how to go viral on YouTube in 2020. Let’s direct­ly jump in!

How these Five YouTubers went viral and how you can too (in 2020)

The YouTube algo­rithm is that mad dog stop­ping a bunch of school kids from pick­ing a ball that fell into the neigh­bor­ing lot.

The dog will be nice and will allow them pick their ball if they give it what it wants.

How­ev­er, they do not know what it wants.

So, they try all sort of gim­micks like mak­ing fun­ny faces or throw­ing sticks to see if it will play catch.

The YouTube algo­rithm works the same way. You will need to beat it if you will ever go viral but like the kids with the dog, you do not know what it wants.

You can throw what­ev­er you like at it but you will nev­er go viral, unless you give it what it wants.

That is why we pre­pared this arti­cle on how to beat the YouTube algo­rithm and go viral. By the time you are done, you will know what the YouTube algo­rithm wants and how to make a video that will sat­is­fy all its requirements.

To be clear, Google has nev­er revealed how YouTube’s algo­rithm works, but sev­er­al YouTu­bers have gone viral after they fig­ured it out themselves.

We observed these five YouTu­bers to detect the trends that made them go viral. You could copy what they did too.

Let’s have a look at:

At the End you will find an easy 7‑step plan on how to go viral on YouTube in 2020. Click the link to direct­ly jump to our 7‑step plan.


1. Veritasium

Derek Muller owns Ver­i­ta­si­um. He has been doing YouTube since 2011, so he is def­i­nite­ly not a newbie.

Many of his videos went viral after they were fea­tured on top web­sites like the BBC. How­ev­er, his most pop­u­lar video went viral because he beat YouTube’s algorithm.

The video, which explains why there are 96 mil­lion black balls on a Los Ange­les reser­voir, has 43 mil­lion views as of now.


How Veritasium went viral

Derek lat­er made a video explain­ing why he went viral.

In the video, he explained that he opti­mized his video for two things:

  1. Click-through rate.
  2. Watch time.

1. What is Click-through rate (CTR)?

Your click-through rate (or impres­sion click-through rate) is your views divid­ed by your impres­sions, mul­ti­plied by 100.

That is, the num­ber of times peo­ple clicked to watch your video divid­ed by the num­ber of times YouTube sug­gest­ed your videos to peo­ple, times 100.

If YouTube shows your video to 100 peo­ple and only 10 clicked to watch, your CTR will be (10 ÷ 100) × 100. That is 10%.

2. What is watch time?

Your watch time (or audi­ence reten­tion) is the total amount of time peo­ple spend watch­ing your video.

Let us say your video is 10-min­utes long.

If a per­son watch­es it for a minute, YouTube counts that as one view and one-minute watch time.

If a sec­ond per­son watch­es it for say, five min­utes, it becomes two views and six min­utes watch time.

If a third per­son watch­es it for say, the whole 10 min­utes, that is three views and 16 min­utes watch time, and it goes on like that.

A high­er watch time means your video is rel­e­vant while a low­er watch time means it is not.

This makes watch time a more impor­tant met­ric than views, impres­sions or CTR. You will nev­er go viral if your CTR is high and your watch time is low.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, most new YouTu­bers are more inter­est­ed in views than watch time. Some even try gam­ing the algo­rithm by buy­ing YouTube views. It will NOT work.


How Derek increased Veritasium’s click-through rate (CTR)

Prospec­tive view­ers do not know if your video is some­thing they want to watch or not, so they have to guess.

And how do they guess?

They guess by check­ing the headline…

…and thumb­nail of your video.

This is why Derek used:

  1. A click­bait headline.
  2. A click­bait thumbnail.

1. He used a clickbaity headline

Derek almost called his video some­thing along the lines of “throw­ing shade balls”, until the YouTube wiz­ard, Jim­my Don­ald­son (aka Mr. Beast), who knew the video would go viral, told him to use “Why are there 96 mil­lion shade balls on this lake?”

Derek used this title but not before chang­ing “lake” to “reser­voir”.

2. He used a clickbaity thumbnail

Derek used a click­baity and yet pro­fes­sion­al and attrac­tive thumb­nail of him­self with lots of black balls behind him. That is click­bait at its finest.


How Derek increased Veritasium’s watch time

1. He made a long video

Derek max­i­mized his watch time by mak­ing a 12:07 min­utes long video.

That makes sense. Think about it:

A three-minute video will have three views and nine min­utes watch time if three peo­ple watched it to the end.

A 10-minute video on the oth­er hand, will have three views and 15 min­utes watch time if three peo­ple watched just half of it. And it could go all the way up to 30 min­utes if they watched it to the end.

2. He made a quality video.

Derek’s video was top­notch. The shoot­ing and edit­ing were impres­sive and the script was first class.

This does not mean you need a pro­fes­sion­al video cam­era or a pro­duc­tion stu­dio to shoot a video. Your smart­phone is enough to make a pro­fes­sion­al video. Just make sure you shoot at 1080p or higher.


2. Shelby Church

Shel­by Church runs the YouTube page, Teen Make­up Tips.

(Shel­by is more of a lifestyle video cre­ator and rarely makes videos about make­up tips these days.)

She has been on YouTube since 2009 and has 1.45 mil­lion sub­scribers at the time of writing.

Her most pop­u­lar video is “This is how much YouTube paid me for my 1,000,000 viewed video (not click­bait)”. That video got mil­lions of views after it went viral some­time in 2019. It has 6.8 mil­lion views at the time of writing.


How Shelby Church went viral

Church did not make a ded­i­cat­ed video explain­ing why she went viral. But in a lat­er video she made about how much she earned from that viral video, she men­tioned that she went viral because:

  • She increased her click-through rate.
  • She increased her watch time.

How Shelby Church increased her click-through rate.

1. She optimized for YouTube search

Shel­by made a video on a top­ic that

  • Lots of peo­ple were search­ing for.
  • Only few YouTu­bers had made videos on.

You can see that the com­pe­ti­tion for her tar­get key­word is low.

And look at where she cur­rent­ly sits when we search for that key­word on YouTube.

2. She used a clickbaity headline

If you searched for how much YouTube paid a per­son for one mil­lion views, and saw two videos with these titles:

  • This Is How Much YouTube Paid Me For My 1,000,000 Viewed Video
  • This Is How Much YouTube Paid Me For My 1,000,000 Viewed Video (not clickbait)

Which video will you click? The sec­ond one, right?

Iron­i­cal­ly, the phrase, “no click­bait” is actu­al­ly a click­bait. Let us explain:

Click­baits are not as bad as most peo­ple think. The term actu­al­ly refers to any word or image you use to get people’s atten­tion and entice them to click on your video.

They only got a bad rep­u­ta­tion after dis­hon­est video cre­ators used them to trick peo­ple to watch their videos back at a time when YouTube used views to deter­mine the pop­u­lar­i­ty of a video.

3. She used a clickbaity thumbnail

Shel­by used a neat, attrac­tive pro­fes­sion­al and click­baity thumbnail.


How Shelby increased her watch time.

Shel­by did the same thing Derek did with his video.

1. She made a long video

Shelby’s viral video was 10:48 min­utes long, mak­ing it one of her longest videos at the time. Many of her ear­li­er videos nev­er reached the 10 min­utes mark.

Every oth­er video she made there­after (oth­er than the one she made about inter­na­tion­al trav­el) are over 10 min­utes long.

2. She made a quality video

The script­ing, qual­i­ty and edit­ing of her video was superb.

3. She was sincere

Shel­by is not the first YouTu­ber to make a video on how much YouTube paid her for a mil­lion views.

Many oth­ers YouTu­bers have made sim­i­lar videos but most just ram­bled around and refused to reveal how much they made.

How­ev­er, Shel­by was hon­est and went straight to the point. She even includ­ed screen­shots of her pay­ments tab just so her view­ers knew she was telling the truth.

And this is what one of her com­menters had to say:

That com­ment alone got 47,000 likes and 492 replies. And it is just one of the thou­sands of sim­i­lar com­ments she received.


3. The ContentBug

The Con­tent­Bug is owned by Cathrin Man­ning. She is a dig­i­tal mar­keter who makes videos on search engine opti­miza­tion (SEO), social media and blogging.

Cathrin’s case is par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ing because she had two videos go viral.

The first video is titled, “How long it takes to get mon­e­tized on YouTube: The review process, Google AdSense, & more!”

She uploaded the video some­time in July 2019 and it went viral in Octo­ber, three months lat­er. That video has over 500,000 views as of now.

That seems small com­pared to oth­er videos here, but her ear­li­er videos only got a few thou­sand views.

So it was a real­ly big deal for her.



How The ContentBug went viral

In a video explain­ing how she went viral, Cathrin cred­its her suc­cess to two things:

  1. She made a video her view­ers were inter­est­ed in.
  2. She used good thumb­nails in her videos.

Again, this boils down to click-through rate and watch time.


How Cathrin Increased The ContentBug’s click-through rate

1. She made a video people were interested in

Cathrin said she opti­mized her video for YouTube search.

And she did it so per­fect­ly well that her first viral video is num­ber one for “how long does it takes to get mon­e­tized on YouTube”…

…and is among the top three for “how to get mon­e­tized on YouTube”.


She also ranks for oth­er sim­i­lar key­words. (The com­pe­ti­tion for her main tar­get key­word used to be low, but is sort of ris­ing lately.)

2. She used a clickbaity thumbnail

You will agree that Cathrin has the best thumb­nail among her com­peti­tors. And she uses those sort of thumb­nails for all her videos.

3. She used a clickbaity title

Catherin’s head­line informs her view­ers that this is the only video they will ever need to watch about get­ting mon­e­tized on YouTube.

Cathrin uses these sorts of titles for all her videos.


How Cathrin increased The ContentBug’s watch time.

She made a high qual­i­ty 12:15 min­utes long video. Nuff said!


4. SideNote

Side­Note makes inter­est­ing explain­er videos. It was found­ed in July 2018 and its first video was uploaded in Novem­ber the same year.

The video that would lat­er go viral was uploaded in Decem­ber and it went viral in ear­ly 2019. It has over 2.5 mil­lion views as of now.

The video is about Queen Elizabeth’s burial.


How SideNote went viral

The own­er of Side­Note has not made a video explain­ing why his video went viral. How­ev­er, it is obvi­ous he nailed it when he made a video his sub­scribers loved.

(His sub­scribers pro­vid­ed the ini­tial high CTR and watch time that made his video go viral.)

While peo­ple often talk about the Queen, they rarely talk about her dying. And even if they did, who knew the British gov­ern­ment already had elab­o­rate plans for her burial?

Any­one who made that video will prob­a­bly go viral on the con­di­tion that it was opti­mized for a high click-through rate and watch time, which Side­Note did.


How SideNote increased its click-through rate

1. It used a clickbaity title

The top­ic is a click­bait on its own and Side­Note deliv­ered it per­fect­ly well.

2. It used a clickbaity thumbnail

At this point, you should know that every viral YouTu­ber uses a click­baity thumb­nail. Side­Note uses click­baity thumb­nails for all its videos.


How SideNote increased its watch time

1. SideNote made a long quality video

SideNote’s viral video proves what we have been say­ing all along: Short videos nev­er go viral.

SideNote’s ear­li­er videos were always below the 10-minute mark. How­ev­er, the viral video was 16:04 min­utes long.

You might have noticed that some of the ear­li­er (and short­er) videos have many views.

That is because YouTube sug­gest­ed them to the peo­ple who watched the viral video. SideNote’s videos are very inter­est­ing, so it is no sur­prise that peo­ple watched them.


Some quick lessons you could learn from SideNote’s success

Side­Note dis­proved many myths about going viral on YouTube or even start­ing a YouTube channel.

1. You need a camera or video studio to become a YouTuber

Many peo­ple delay their YouTube career because they think they need a cam­era or a pro­fes­sion­al video pro­duc­tion stu­dio before they can start mak­ing videos.

Noth­ing can be more false.

You do not need any of those. Your smart­phone will do in most cases.

You do not even need a smart­phone, so to say. Side­Note makes its videos using pic­tures and footages down­loaded from the internet.

2. You need to make many videos to go viral

This too is false.

Side­Note had only six videos at the time one went viral. It cur­rent­ly has 13 videos.

Side­Note makes videos occa­sion­al­ly, like once a month on the aver­age. (Ver­i­ta­si­um also makes a video every month.) The per­son behind Side­Note is even fond of dis­ap­pear­ing for months at a time.

YouTube is qual­i­ty over quan­ti­ty. The key to going viral is to cre­ate qual­i­ty videos that peo­ple will actu­al­ly watch.

And there is a lim­it to the num­ber of qual­i­ty videos you can make in a month unless you have a large team help­ing you out.


5. Vanessa Lau

A sin­gle viral video took Vanes­sa Lau from 1,500 to 20,000 sub­scribers in less than one month.

That video “How to gain Insta­gram fol­low­ers organ­i­cal­ly 2020 (Grow from 0 to 5000 fol­low­ers FAST!)” has 3.7 mil­lion views as of now.


How Vanessa Lau went viral

Vanes­sa lat­er made a sec­ond video reveal­ing what made her go viral.

Like the rest, she opti­mized for her click-through rate and watch time.


How Vanessa Lau increased her click-through rate

1. She optimized for YouTube search

Vanes­sa revealed she opti­mized her video for YouTube search. That is, she made her video based on key­words peo­ple were search­ing for.

2. She used a clickbaity headline

Vanes­sa used two head­lines for her viral video.

  • The main head­line: “How to Gain Insta­gram Fol­low­ers Organ­i­cal­ly 2020”
  • And a click­bait head­line: “Grow from 0 to 5000 fol­low­ers FAST!”

She does the same thing with all her oth­er videos.

You can see the click­bait titles always con­tain at least one trig­ger word.

(A trig­ger or pow­er word is a word that inspires your view­ers to act. They are often verbs, that is, action words.)

For the viral video, that trig­ger word was FAST. Going from zero to 5,000 fol­low­ers is one thing. Going from zero to 5,000 fol­low­ers FAST is another.

How­ev­er, Vanes­sa says that you should make sure your video pro­vides the val­ue you promised in your title or else, peo­ple will leave your video faster than they clicked to watch it.

3. She added a date in her headline

You can see that Vanes­sa includ­ed a date in her headline.

That got her two things:

First, it made view­ers know her video was recent and rel­e­vant. (She actu­al­ly made the video towards the end of 2019 but opti­mized it for 2020.)

Today, she ranks No. 1 for that keyword.

Her video is also the most cur­rent (and qual­i­ty) YouTube video on get­ting fol­low­ers on Instagram.

The few ones with 2020 in their head­line are low qual­i­ty. The few qual­i­ty ones with dates are for 2019.

The ones with­out dates could have been for 2018, 2017, 2016 or even 2010 when Insta­gram was founded.

Instagram’s algo­rithm is always chang­ing. What works in 2019 may not work in 2020, not to talk of what worked in 2010.

Sec­ond­ly, some view­ers actu­al­ly searched for how to gain Insta­gram fol­low­ers in 2020.

Vanes­sa had the only 2020 video on YouTube at the time she went viral, so, she got all the traf­fic for that keyword.

4. She used a clickbaity thumbnail

We say this every time. Vanes­sa uses click­baity thumb­nails in her oth­er videos.


How Vanessa Lau increased her watch time

By now, you should know that the only way you can ever increase your watch time is to make a long qual­i­ty video. Vanessa’s viral video was 13.32 min­utes long.


How to go viral on YouTube in 2020

At this point, you should have a very good idea on how to go viral on YouTube. You need to make a video with a:

  • High click-through rate.
  • High watch time.

For now, only two kinds of videos can guar­an­tee you those. They are:

  • Videos peo­ple love to watch.
  • Videos peo­ple are search­ing for.


1. Make videos people love to watch

These sorts of videos are often about:

  • Social media.
  • Inter­est­ing facts.
  • Pop­u­lar YouTubers.

How­ev­er, this strat­e­gy only works for YouTu­bers who have some­thing very unique and at least, a few hun­dred or thou­sand subscribers.

(Those sub­scribers will give you the ini­tial high click-through rate that will make you go viral.)

Even at that, it is more of a hit or miss kind of thing since you can nev­er real­ly know what your sub­scribers love.

In oth­er words, this is not some­thing a new­bie should do, so we sug­gest you make videos that peo­ple are search­ing for.


2. Make videos people are searching for

This is the eas­i­er way to go viral on YouTube. How­ev­er, you should tar­get videos with:

  • High search rates.
  • Low search results.

That is, videos lots of peo­ple are search­ing for, but only few YouTu­bers have made some­thing on.

Bonus point for you if:

  • The few YouTu­bers who did, made ter­ri­ble or out­dat­ed videos.
  • The video falls under the “videos peo­ple love to watch category”.

Below are two meth­ods to find these sorts of videos.

i. How to find videos people are searching for using keyword research tools

Let us say you want to teach peo­ple how to get more Insta­gram likes. “Insta­gram likes” will be your keyword.

We will need a YouTube key­word research plu­g­in called vidIQ.

Note: vidIQ requires registration.

(There are oth­er sim­i­lar tools out there like Tube­Bud­dy and YTCon­nect. How­ev­er, they are pay-to-use. vidIQ is also a paid tool but it has a free option. We used the free option for this article.)

Go to and click on the search icon.

Then click on key­word research.

Enter your key­word and press enter.

You can see “How to increase Insta­gram likes”, which is exact­ly what we want to make a video about.

The title receives some con­sid­er­able search­es every month and has a low competition.

(The oth­er one with “free” actu­al­ly has more search­es but it is from peo­ple who want to buy likes with­out pay­ing. You are not inter­est­ed in that.)

Note: Take note of the relat­ed key­words you can see there. They are very useful.

Now search for “How to increase Insta­gram likes”. You should find more keywords.

How­ev­er, you will be lim­it­ed to only three or four relat­ed key­words because you are using the free version.

Nev­er­the­less, you can always check YouTube for more key­words using the sec­ond method. Besides, it would not hurt if you used both meth­ods together.

ii. How to find videos people are searching for using YouTube autocomplete

Warn­ing: You will want to clear your brows­er data before you use this method, else YouTube will tai­lor the results to your search history.

There are two way to do this:

  1. The best option is to open a web brows­er you do not use often and clear your brows­er data. (Ctrl + Shift + Del will bring up the menu in most browsers.) Now close the brows­er and open it again.
  2. A sec­ond option is to put your cur­rent brows­er in incog­ni­to mode. (Ctrl + Shift + N will open the incog­ni­to mode in most browsers.) You will do your key­word research in the incog­ni­to window.

Once done, head over to

Type your key­word into the search bar. Do not press enter.

You can see that YouTube auto­mat­i­cal­ly com­pletes your key­word. That is YouTube auto­com­plete in action. And those are terms that peo­ple actu­al­ly searched for.

Now, you have a bunch of things you can write around, but there is a still a problem.

Can see that all the results start with “Insta­gram fol­low­ers”? You will need to find words that come before them.

Find those by putting an aster­isk * before your keyword.

You now have more options.

See that “How to increase Insta­gram likes” comes first? It means many peo­ple are search­ing for it.

Now, type the entire title into YouTube. Do not press enter. 

You now have loads of close­ly relat­ed titles to choose from. How­ev­er, the one with the date is the closest.

Now, we will do a quick research on both titles to see which is best. (If you have only one title, you will do a research on that sin­gle title. It is not nec­es­sary that you end up with two titles.)

First, enter the first title into the YouTube search bar. Press enter this time.

You can see the top results have lots of views and are quite recent. This means it is a good key­word and title.

Also, if you have the vidIQ exten­sion run­ning, you will also see some infor­ma­tion on the low­er right of the videos.

You can see the com­pe­ti­tion for that key­word is low. This is what you want.

Luck­i­ly for you, you can see that there are many things wrong with the top three videos.

  1. The thumb­nails are ter­ri­ble and sug­gest the videos will be boring.
  2. The head­lines are stuffed with the key­words they are targeting.
  3. The videos are too short, and so on.

But peo­ple watch them any­way because no one has made a bet­ter video.

You could opti­mize for this title, but let us check the oth­er one first.

Now, search for the oth­er title.

You will notice the results are sim­i­lar. (That is nor­mal since both key­words are close­ly related.)

How­ev­er, the com­pe­ti­tion for this one is weak­er. The top three videos also have the same issues with the pre­vi­ous ones.

This is your goldmine.

It is bet­ter to go with the one with the date as your main key­word (Asides hav­ing a weak­er com­pe­ti­tion, the dates also shows that your video is rel­e­vant.) The oth­er one with­out the date will be your sec­ond keyword.


3. Make a quality video

Things do before you shoot

i. Do lots of research

Let me tell you a secret:

Most YouTu­bers are weak in research.

And unless you are doing a video that does not require exten­sive research, you will instant­ly have an edge if you spend more time research­ing your topic.

ii. Create a script

Many YouTu­bers do not cre­ate scripts. They just stand (or sit) in front of their cam­eras and start say­ing what­ev­er comes into their head.

This makes your video long, bor­ing and unstruc­tured. You will also find your­self say­ing lots of “uhm”, “em” and look­ing con­fused for most part of the video. Those are watch time killers.

So cre­ate that script and edit it until it is good enough.

iii. Gather materials

Depend­ing on the kind of video you are shoot­ing, you may need to show oth­er pho­tos and videos in your video.

(You will often know what mate­ri­als you need if you have a good script.)

Impor­tant: Stay away from copy­right­ed images, videos or audio because they could make YouTube delete your video.

iv. Rehearse your script

Read your script as you would do in front of the cam­era or micro­phone. This will make you catch last minute errors, famil­iar­ize you with the script and allow you per­fect the flow and delivery.

v. Get a good microphone

Your audio is very impor­tant. In fact, it is more impor­tant than your video, so do not ever com­pro­mise on it.

You might need to invest in a good exter­nal micro­phone because the inbuilt micro­phones in most smart­phones and dig­i­tal cam­eras can­not cap­ture crisp, noise-free audio.

Invest in a lapel (also called lava­lier or clip on) micro­phone if you ever need to. They are cheap and work with most cam­eras and smartphones.

We rec­om­mend the Rode Smart­Lav+ (Lava­lier Micro­phone), or (if you record inside) a Blue Yeti USB Record­ing Micro­phone.

Rode Smart­Lav+

Blue Yeti USB Record­ing Microphone


Also Check out the guide on the best record­ing microphones.


The Guide to Best Record­ing Microphones



Things to do while you shoot

vi. Shoot in high resolution

Shoot in at least 1080p (1920 x 1080). If you are using pic­tures or footages, make sure they are of high quality.

vii. Take your time

Many new­bie YouTu­bers think they need to start talk­ing from the time they start record­ing until the end. This is false.

Your favorite YouTu­bers make many behind-the-scene paus­es. You should too. Use that time to catch your breath, drink water and rehearse the lines you are about to recite.

You can always remove unneed­ed audio or video dur­ing editing.

viii. Avoid camera shakes

Shaky videos give peo­ple headache.

You could get a phone or cam­era tri­pod if you can afford one. Else, you could just bal­ance your phone or cam­era on top of a desk, book or whatever.

ix. Use lots of light

Good cam­era + bad light­ing = bad video

Poor light­ing will make your video appear grainy and low qual­i­ty, so you should only shoot in areas with lots of lights.

x. Shoot from different angles

Sin­gle shot videos gets bor­ing quick­ly, and for YouTu­bers, bore­dom equals low­er watch time. So, you will need to shoot from sev­er­al angles.

Some YouTu­bers even make two record­ings of the same video from dif­fer­ent angles and alter­nate between them.

You do not need to shoot the whole video twice. Shoot­ing a few scenes is enough.


Things to do after you shoot

xi. Cut, cut and cut

Do not be too attached to your video. Delete what­ev­er is not good enough. You may even need to reshoot parts of your video. Do it!

xii. Avoid useless transitions

We know you will love to test your lat­est video edit­ing skills but please, avoid those need­less tran­si­tions. They give peo­ple headaches and will kill your watch time.


4. Optimize for a longer watch time

i. Make longer videos

Longer videos have longer watch times.

How­ev­er, do not add non­sense infor­ma­tion to turn a five-minute video into a 10-minute video. (View­ers will stop watch­ing the moment they real­ize you have noth­ing to say.)

Instead, dou­ble down on your research. You will always find some new infor­ma­tion you could add to your script.

ii. Optimize your introduction

Your intro­duc­tion is the most impor­tant part of your video.

When peo­ple click on your video, they are still won­der­ing whether it is good or not and are very much ready to leave the moment they sus­pect it is not.

A good intro is:

  • Straight to the point.

Do not go around telling peo­ple the back­sto­ry of the sit­u­a­tion. Go straight to the point.

Do not tell peo­ple your name or the name of your page either.

If you will ever men­tion your name, some­thing like, “Hi, this is [insert your name] from [insert your page name]” will do. It is brief and takes a takes less than two sec­onds to say. (How­ev­er, don’t put it at the begin­ning of your video.)

Last­ly, do not ever tell view­ers to:

  • Like the video.
  • Sub­scribe to the channel.
  • Click on the share button.

Save all that for the end of your video.

iii. Avoid intro animations

You know those wack and class­less ani­ma­tions you see at the begin­ning of many YouTube videos?

They are intro ani­ma­tions and are watch time killers. In fact, most YouTu­bers no longer use them.

Use them spar­ing­ly if you will ever use them. Make sure they:

  • Have bright colors.
  • Are easy on the eyes.
  • Are no longer than two seconds.

And please, do not add those explo­sion sounds.

Last­ly, do not put intro ani­ma­tions at the begin­ning of your video. Instead, put them right after the intro­duc­tion and just before you go into the main con­tent of your video.

Once done with the intro ani­ma­tion, move into the main con­tent of your video immediately.

iv. Use retention tactics

Reten­tion tac­tics are those “tricks” you use to keep peo­ple watching.

In this arti­cle, you should have noticed we used phras­es like:

  • That got her two things:
  • Let me tell you a secret:
  • We will get back to that shortly.

Those are all reten­tion tactics.

You know the way you get curi­ous, lean clos­er to your friend and give them your full atten­tion when they tell you “let me tell you a secret about…”

Reten­tion tac­tics have the same effect. They will make you curi­ous and keep you reading.

Any­thing you say (or do) to make a per­son curi­ous about what you are about to say (or do) next is a reten­tion tactic.

You need to use reten­tion tac­tics all through your videos, espe­cial­ly in the introduction.

v. Make your video lively

Add some life to your video. Smile, move your arms and body, and talk as if you are excit­ed about what you are talk­ing about.

This rule still applies even if you are record­ing an audio.

You do not want peo­ple think­ing some­one woke you from sleep and forced you in front of a micro­phone at gunpoint.

vi. Be honest

Hon­esty is a reten­tion tac­tic on its own. Nev­er make promis­es you do not intend to keep.

No mat­ter how dope your video appears to be, peo­ple will leave the moment they real­ize the con­tent of your video is dif­fer­ent from what you promised in your headline.

That makes your video a bad clickbait.

Bad click­bait = low­er watch time.

vii. Use an outro

The out­ro is what­ev­er you do at the end of your video. Like the intro, it should be brief and straightforward.

You should also avoid out­ro animations.

Instead, tell peo­ple to like your video if they enjoyed it and sub­scribe. (You should tell them how impor­tant the likes and sub­scrip­tions are to you.)

Then tell them leave a com­ment about what they loved about your video, the new thing they learned or some­thing else they were doing that worked or did not work for them.

After that, you tell them to watch oth­er videos on your chan­nel. You redi­rect them using YouTube links, cards and end sceens.


5. Optimize for a high click-through rate

Your click-through rate is high­est right after you upload a video. The ini­tial impres­sions and views comes from the peo­ple who have sub­scribed to your YouTube page.

Like the oth­er YouTu­bers, you need to do three things.

  • Use a click­baity headline.
  • Use a click­baity thumbnail.
  • Do some marketing.

i. Use a clickbaity headline

The most suc­cess­ful YouTu­bers write sev­er­al head­lines for their videos before select­ing the best. You should too.

A good headline:

  • Includes a clickbait.
  • Is below 62 characters.
  • Is not writ­ten in all caps.

Also, the most impor­tant infor­ma­tion in your title should come first.

ii. Use a clickbaity thumbnail

Every viral YouTu­ber used click­baity thumb­nails in their video. The thumb­nails have lots of light and often con­tain some text.

You also see that the texts are always clear, bold and white with a bright shadow.

You will also notice that the YouTubers:

  • Stare right at you.
  • Show lots of emo­tions on their faces.
  • Make ges­tures with their hands.
  • Show some­thing relat­ed to the video.

Last­ly, the pho­tos are attract­ing and not shock­ing, sen­sa­tion­al, dis­gust­ing, inde­cent, vio­lent or sexual.

iii. Do some marketing

While most YouTu­bers do not talk about this, it would not hurt if you do some mar­ket­ing. Share your video on social media, online forums like Red­dit, and so on.


6. Optimize it for YouTube search

i. Add your keywords to your headline, description and tags

Add your key­words to your:

  • Video-Title
  • Video-Descrip­tion
  • Video File

Your key­word should appear no more than once in your head­line and at least, thrice in your descrip­tion. One of them should be in the open­ing sentence.

(Make sure your descrip­tion is long enough and the key­words flow with the rest of the sentence.)

You should also include some relat­ed key­words in your descrip­tion and tags.

You should have got­ten your relat­ed key­words from YouTube auto­sug­gest and vidIQ. How­ev­er, you can also get them from your competition.

To do that, tog­gle the Enable Inline Key­words option on in vidIQ.

It will show you the tags (key­words your com­peti­tors are rank­ing for). Copy the use­ful ones.

You could also use vidIQ and YouTube auto­sug­gest to find more key­words relat­ed to these keywords.

You could vis­it indi­vid­ual videos and use vidIQ to see the key­words they are rank­ing for.

ii. Name your video after your title

Before upload­ing your video to YouTube, change the title of your video file to the same one you intend to use on YouTube.


iii. Mention your keywords in your video

Google and YouTube can “hear” your videos, so you will need to men­tion your key­word so they know it is relat­ed to your video.

Men­tion your key­word at least once in your intro and sev­er­al oth­er times through­out your video. Just make sure they are very rel­e­vant are do not dis­rupt the flow of the video.


7. Optimize for more engagement

Engage­ments are the likes, dis­likes, shares, com­ments and sub­scrip­tions gen­er­at­ed by your video.

YouTube uses them to deter­mine the rel­e­vance of your video. (Remem­ber that only rel­e­vant videos go viral.)

Your engage­ment is pro­por­tion­al to watch time. That is, it increas­es as your watch time increases.

A high watch time and pos­i­tive engage­ment (that is, less dis­likes) will make the algo­rithm pick your video, mak­ing it go viral.

While you can do almost noth­ing about your engage­ment, there are one or two things you could do.

  • Encour­age peo­ple to ask ques­tions and leave comments.
  • Answer com­ments left by readers.

Tell view­ers to ask ques­tions and leave com­ments in your out­ros. You can also dri­ve the con­ver­sa­tion by pin­ning a com­ment to the top of your com­ment section.

Answer­ing com­ments instant­ly increas­es your engage­ment since YouTube also counts your com­ments towards your engagement.



You should know how to go viral at this point. If you do it prop­er­ly, your videos will start appear­ing in YouTube search and if it is good enough, it will go viral. This is usu­al­ly after a few months (three on the average).

That said, what else did you learn? Let us hear in the comments.


Are you miss­ing the right Equipent to get startet with YouTube?  Check out this amaz­ing Equip­ment Guide:


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Moshood Bakare

Moshood Bakare is a digital marketing freelance copywriter who breaks the most complex terms into simple, well-formatted and easy-to-understand bits anyone will understand. He writes long-form and in-depth articles for B2B and B2C businesses that want to win more clients and improve their internet footprint. You could order his copywriting (and ghostwriting) services at

8 thoughts to “How To Go Viral On YouTube

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