Rebel Insights

How to Grow Your News Audience on YouTube

YouTube front and center on smartphone

Best Practices Directly From YouTube — With Our Tips, Too!

After sharing best practices on Google Search and Discover, Google News Initiative hosted another excellent webinar, this one focused on YouTube. With two billion monthly logged-in viewers, it’s a perfect platform to spend more time on and experiment with to reach more people.

Key insights from the webinar included:

We'll walk you through each of those topics, and we also have a bonus section on how to use RebelMouse to level up your YouTube presence.

To start, YouTube’s Nicolette Scott and Google’s Tina Xiao emphasized the four Rs at YouTube:
  • - Remove content that violates the Community Guidelines.
  • + Raise up authoritative voices on the platform.
  • - Reduce the spread of borderline violative content.
  • + Reward content that meets the high standards for monetization.
In other words, follow the Community Guidelines and produce high-quality content with authoritative voices to see success on the platform.
Before you create news content for YouTube, you should know all of the places your content might appear. News shows up in multiple places on the site, or app. First, there is the “ Breaking News” shelf, which appears only during major developing news or times of crisis:

Breaking News shelf on YouTube

Next is the “ Top News” shelf, which appears alongside search terms with relevant news.

Top News shelf in YouTube mobile app

And of course, news-related videos can be found via channels or search in general.

YouTube Video Formats

When you produce news content for YouTube, you’ll want to do so in a format that makes the most sense. Here are the recommended formats that typically perform the best, with an example of each from our clients:

1. Analysis

GZERO Media YouTube videos with analysis

GZERO Media does an exceptional job of breaking down complicated issues with their political scientist and global politics expert Ian Bremmer.

​2. Live (especially during breaking news)

Narcity YouTube Live videos

Narcity takes its viewers to the Red Carpet with live streams on YouTube.

3. Explainers

HealthyWomen YouTube explainer videos

HealthyWomen has animated videos explaining various health-related concepts.

4. ​Podcasts (video or audio format)

No Film School podcasts on YouTube

No Film School has an audio-only podcast that is fully accessible on their YouTube channel.

5. Documentary

xoNecole documentary style video on YouTube

xoNecole produces some of its videos in a documentary style.

6. Roundups

Investing News Network YouTube video roundups

Investing News Network has a weekly video roundup featuring top finance stories.

7. Interviews

OkayAfrica interviews on YouTube

OkayAfrica posted segments of its interview with Ghanaian star Black Sherif into separate videos with closed captions.

8. ​Collaborations (partnerships with other organizations)

The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft video on YouTube with collaboration

The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft partnered with the Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University, The Nation magazine, and the Breaking Points podcast to put on a panel discussion that was fully archived on YouTube.

You don’t have to do all of these formats, and you can even mix and match between them in a single video. Focus on the ones that make the most sense for your site, your talent (writers, editors, experts, etc.), and your areas of expertise.

Building Up Your Community

YouTube isn’t just about posting content. Scott and Xiao talked about the importance of engaging with your community, too. You can do that with the Community tab. In addition to teasing upcoming videos, it’s a great place to share behind-the-scenes nuggets, generate discussion, or poll your audience, like It’s a Southern Thing does:

YouTube Community post by It's a Southern Thing to generate discussion

It’s important to note that subscribers to your channel will get occasional notifications for new Community posts. They have the ability to opt out of those in their settings.

You can also interact with your viewers in the comments section of your videos. They’ll be pleasantly surprised to see the official channel interacting back with them. You can also pin a comment from yourself to the top of the comments section.

Another tip from Scott and Xiao is to post on a consistent schedule. The cadence should be known to the viewer, such as expect something every Thursday or new content is posted daily. Premier Guitar has a recurring segment called Rig Rundowns that is posted frequently:

Rig Rundowns video section by Premier Guitar

Your channel should be a mirror image of the rest of the work you’re already doing in your newsroom, and you should focus on quality content that will resonate with your audience over quantity. All videos should fit your brand identity and be high quality.

Standing Out

One way to demonstrate high quality is by using effective titles and thumbnails. These will help your videos stand out in search results, and they’ll also be recognizable to your most loyal audience. They also look good on mobile, which accounts for more than 70% of YouTube’s views. For example, here’s a look and feel that The Advocate goes with:

The Advocate Up & Out series on YouTube

Scott and Xiao stated that you should be accurate in your titles: No clickbait. You need to deliver on what you’re teasing because that’s the best way to retain your audience and get people to keep coming back for more. They said that you can use Google Trends to find the best keywords to use. There’s a toggle in Google Trends to display YouTube-only data:

YouTube search data in Google Trends

Experimenting With Analytics Guiding You

From there, let analytics be your guide. Look at what performs best and do more of that. With YouTube Analytics, you can get down to the second to see when viewers are most engaged, and that’s incredibly valuable data.

Experiment with different types of posts, especially with Shorts. Shorts is a YouTube product that displays videos that are 60 seconds or less, with a lot of eyeballs: more than 70 billion daily views. According to Scott and Xiao, these are the best news formats for Shorts:

  • Broadcast clips
  • Condensed stories
  • Explainers
  • Interview sound bites
  • Experimental
  • Podcast clips
  • Raw footage clips
  • Events and culture
  • Soft news

Shorts don’t have to be as polished as your typical videos. They can be of lower production value, even raw in nature, since that’s what resonates best with audiences. Scott and Xiao said that one of their best tips is for broadcasters: “Drop the anchor tone.” IEEE Spectrum has attention-grabbing Shorts on robots and drones:

IEEE Spectrum YouTube Shorts about robots and drones

Another Shorts tip: Always lead with something compelling in the first 1–2 seconds. That might include text, a date, or anything that catches your attention. Check the data later to see if people are clicking away and how they are exiting. Shorts is a great place to experiment, and you can let the analytics guide you on what works best.

And then there are Podcasts. They’re growing on YouTube, so they’re definitely worth thinking about, and there’s virtually no downside to reposting podcasts there if you’re already producing them. Work It Daily has video podcasts called “Table Talks” that are divided into different topics. The episodes are packaged under their respective topics and viewers can easily consume them under the Podcasts tab.

Work It Daily Table Talks podcast on YouTube

Whether it be Podcasts or your Channel page in general, it’s important to have a cover photo that reinforces your brand identity. Upworthy does a great job with that:

colorful cover photo from Upworthy on YouTube shows their brand identity

Always set clear expectations for who you are and what types of videos you’re posting, and you’ll be well on your way to unlocking audience growth on YouTube.

Level up With RebelMouse

Now that you have plenty of tips and tricks to enhance your YouTube presence on the platform itself, let’s get into additional things that you can do with RebelMouse.

We recommend repurposing your videos for use on your site, by either writing around them or embedding them contextually where it makes sense. Here’s an example from Love Meow:

Love Meow repurposes YouTube video on their site

It’s incredibly easy to do this with RebelMouse’s CMS. All you have to do is paste the YouTube URL into our Add Media Toolbar and it will auto-populate the embed, complete with structured data to support technical SEO:

RebelMouse Add Media Toolbar to upload YouTube videos via link

You can also search YouTube without leaving our platform to find videos that way:

YouTube search within the RebelMouse platform

Another thing you can do is embed a transcript. YouTube already has transcripts for every video. You can find them by clicking on the three dots next to any video and then clicking “Show transcript.” You can add that to your site with the “transcript” attribute for structured data found in’s Video Object type.

You should also promote your YouTube channel on your site, adding a link to it along with your other social media accounts. You can do this in our Layout & Design Tool and it’ll appear with structured data across your site with an @sameAs data field.

For more exposure, we recommend creating a YouTube tab for your content in Google News. To do this, go to the “Video” section in your Google Publisher Center account and link to your active YouTube channel URL or a playlist URL. Check out our Guide to Google’s Publisher Center for full instructions on that configuration.

Google Publisher Center add video option for YouTube

A good example of this is the Google News page for Narcity, which has a “Narcity Videos” section that links to its YouTube videos.

Narcity videos section on Google News links to YouTube videos

Finally, back on the YouTube platform, you should create additional backlinks to your site on the About page. Here’s how Hemmings does that:

Hemmings backlinks on YouTube About page

You should also share links to your site in the Community tab, in video descriptions, and/or in the comments section when it makes sense.

If you’re still hungry for more best practices and tips, check out this presentation from YouTube, which includes fundamentals to success, inspiration for running tests, advice on creating playlists, and much more.

Want to take your YouTube strategy to the next level? Get in touch with one of our strategists and we’ll work on a custom plan that works best for you.

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