The world we live in relies on video. This isn’t because we are lazy as people; it’s because, in the current state, people are accessing information in every moment of life. And video is the dominant way to receive information — and to distribute it. But there is a literal universe of videos on the web nowadays. How can viewers find the content they’re looking for?

Very few content creators skillfully keep all their content organized and fresh. This is where we find the benefits of playlists. In fact, playlists may be the key to getting more views on your YouTube channel.

How viewers find content

Google’s search capabilities are pretty intelligent. Gone is the need to have a billion and one tags to make sure your content is in front of everyone. YouTube’s algorithm takes the written content, plus the closed captions, titles and tags and cross-references all the info to make sure it fits nicely together. You’re only helping your viewers find the content they need by keeping things right to the point. If you want more views on YouTube, you need to make your videos as easy to find and digest as possible.

screenshot of Comedy Central's YouTube channel
When your channel has hundreds of videos, playlists help guide the viewer to the content they find most interesting.

Here’s a scenario: Pete and Roger are making playlists of their superhero movie breakdowns. Pete, being the organized virtuoso that he is, keeps playlists for each specific superhero he discusses. Roger, who has a heart of gold and the organizational skills of a narcoleptic goat, just posts his new content to his main video feed, with videos on various superheroes mixed in with his weekly vlog and the occasional cooking video.

Pete has the right information where it needs to be. Viewers can find everything he’s ever said about Spiderman, all in one spot, just by scrolling down his channel page.

But if viewers stumble upon Roger’s Mirkwood of a channel, they have to struggle to skip over all the other superheroes before getting to his next Spiderman hot-take. By that time, he’s lost their interest. I’m not saying go all Sheldon Cooper on your playlists, but keeping similar content grouped together will lead to people exploring more of videos on a specific topic.

Whether it is original content or shared videos, this is the lesson with video playlists. Information needs to be readily available and yet easily distinguished. In the end, this will lead to more views and more time spent on your YouTube channel.

Optimizing your YouTube playlists for views

The most basic terminology will lead to the best playlist types. Sometimes videos can bleed into two categories, but it’s best to start with around three main categories. To be honest, a page with 30 playlists is useless. Who has the time to explore all that? Especially since most people get distracted by “suggested” playlists and videos leading to other areas of the internet. You have a limited window to catch and keep a viewer’s attention.

house at dusk in thumbnail for HGTV playlist
Like the thumbnail on individual videos, the thumbnails on your playlists should be enticing while unifying the collection of videos under a single aesthetic.

Clear titles are critical. You may think “Nobody reads those!” and you’ll be partially correct. Most people rely on titles to guide them; others throw caution to the wind and watch videos without knowing or caring about titles. I may not share their sense of reckless abandon, but there is a point to their madness. If it’s their favorite creator, they know that they will enjoy the content no matter what it is.

That being said, the brain will actively process information within the range of vision even if the person is not actively paying attention to it. Which title is easier to find to share with a friend 7 hours after seeing the original video: “News anchor slips on ice” or “News anchor break dances her way out of a job and into the food service industry”?

Playlists are a great way to help people find what they are looking for.

The question is, what content do you add and what content to leave out. Well, the obvious answer is to highlight the content that’s most relevant to your topic or focus. Don’t go all crazy and add any and every video because you’re scared you won’t retain the audience on your page long enough. Make sure that all the videos in a playlist relate to each other, either in terms of format or subject matter.

Lastly, utilize your thumbnails so that the relationship between video in a playlist is clear. You can brand the thumbnail of a specific video to signify that it’s part of a larger playlist. This is an added level of clarity where people no longer have to read, but can visually find what they are looking for.

Playlists that bring in views:

Playlists keep your channel organized

In the event that your channel has literally hundreds of videos, just know that no matter how many videos you have in your playlists, people will only watch what they are looking for. Playlists are a great way to help them find it.

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