Back to blog
How To Rank YouTube Videos Fast With Backlinko’s Sequel Technique

How To Rank YouTube Videos Fast With Backlinko’s Sequel Technique

Earlier this year, a trusted SEO professional, Brian Dean, released a method to rank YouTube videos fast using what he calls the ‘Sequel Technique’. We circled back over 7 months later to see what kind of impact the technique has had in the blogosphere only to discover that even the team at Backlinko has yet to release a blog post on this fantastic solution to generate more views for your videos. If you’re a content creator that operates on YouTube or intends to, you’ll want to tune into his video, or read the transcription below.

[Video Transcription]

Today, I’m gonna show you exactly how to get more views on your videos fast.

The secret, a new strategy called the sequel technique. I recently used the sequel technique to get 25,339 views on one of my YouTube videos in about two weeks. One of my subscribers also used this strategy on one of his videos, and that video now has over a million views. And in this video, I’m gonna walk you through the entire process, step by step. Keep watching.

(gentle music) Last year, I saw something that blew my mind. I was looking at where most of my YouTube views came from. And even though I rank in the top three on YouTube for popular keywords like, video SEO, keyword research, and SEO tutorial, I notice that most of my views didn’t come from YouTube search. They came from suggested video, pow, mind blown. In my case, 25% of my views came from search, but 41% came from suggested video. Now as a quick recap, suggested video is a section on the right hand side of every video on YouTube, or underneath the video if you’re on a mobile device. And if you can get your video to appear as a suggested video, you can get thousands or even millions of views. And the best way to do that, the sequel technique. In fact, when I used the sequel technique, this video for my channel racked up over 25,000 views in less than three weeks. And even though my video is a few months old now, views continue to roll in like clockwork. And it’s all thanks to the sequel technique. In fact, 66% of the views on that video have come from suggested video. Which, as you’ll see in a minute, is by design.

With that, it’s time for me to show you the entire step by step process. Starting with step number one, find a popular video in you niche. Your first step is to find a video in your industry with lots of views, why? Remember, the goal of the sequel technique is to show up as a suggested video. And when you get your video to appear next to a popular video, lots of people will click over and watch your video. The question is, how do you find a popular video in your niche? Here are two simple strategies that work great. First, use YouTube search. All you need to do is search for a keyword that describes the video you wanna make. Then, keep an eye out for a video in the search results that already has lots of views. For example, when I searched for improve Google rankings, I noticed that this video had over 200,000 views, bingo. You could also look at your competitor’s most popular videos. Just head over to their channel, and hit videos. Then, sort by most popular. And just like that, you get a list of their top preforming videos. For example, remember Jeff Rose, that guy I mentioned earlier? As you might remember, Jeff used the sequel technique to get over a million views on one of his videos. Well, when Jeff looked at his competitor’s most popular videos, he found this one. So, he went with that video for step number one. Next, it’s time for step number two, create a bigger and better video, “the sequel”.

So, now that you’ve found a popular video, it’s time to create something bigger and better. Why is this important? Well, awhile back, YouTube published a little known research paper called, Deep Neural Networks for YouTube Recommendations. And this paper outlined how suggested video probably works. As it turns out, YouTube focuses on something called expected watch time. Expected watch time is simple. It’s YouTube’s best guess of how much time someone will spend watching your video after they click on it. And needless to say, YouTube promotes videos that keep people on YouTube. So, the higher your expected watch time, the better. For example, let’s say you just published a video about cold brew coffee, let’s call it video A. And YouTube starts to show your video in the suggested video sidebar. Well, when people click over to your video, they only watch it for 30 seconds, on average. YouTube knows that when someone clicks over to your video as a suggested video, it’s only gonna result in 30 seconds of watch time. So, that video has an expected watch time of 30 seconds. Now, let’s see you create another video about cold brew coffee, video B. This time, people watch two minutes of your video, on average. That video has an expected watch time of two minutes, four times more than video A. And because video B has a higher expected watch time, YouTube’s gonna promote it in the suggested video sidebar like crazy. So, as you can see, to show up as a suggested video, your video needs to keep people watching. And to keep people watching, you video needs to be awesome. That’s where this step, creating the sequel, comes into play. With your sequel, you take the video that you found in step number one, and make it better. In other words, you want your sequel to be more like Empire Strikes Back, and less like Episode I.

Here’s exactly how to do it.

First, create an awesome video intro. Why is this so important? Well, YouTube’s data shows that the first 15 seconds of your video is huge. In fact, YouTube says that if you lose someone’s interest in the first 15 seconds, they’re gonna click away and watch something else. Boring, next. But if you grab their attention in this 15 second window, they’ll stick around. The question, how do you create an awesome video intro? An intro that’s even better than the video you found in step one. I’ll explain with an example. Again, here’s the video that I found in the first step from this process. This intro is actually pretty good, but I knew that I could do a little bit better. So, for my sequel, I started my video off with something that would grab people’s attention. Specifically, I let people know that I was gonna show them how to increase their Google rankings fast. I also showed people real life proof that my approach works. And because my intro grabs people’s attention, they keep watching.

Next, create a longer video. Last year, I analyzed over a million YouTube videos to understand how YouTube’s search engine worked. And we found that long videos crush short videos. Even though of study focused on YouTube’s search, the message is clear. YouTube promotes videos that keep people on YouTube, and longer videos do that best. Plus, longer videos tend to have a higher expected watch time. For example, let’s say that your video is three minutes long. Well, even if people watch 100% of your video, which will never happen, your expected watch time will be, at most, three minutes. But let’s say that your video is 10 minutes. Even if people only watch half of your video, your expected watch time is gonna be five minutes. In my case, my competitor’s video was 10 minutes 48 seconds long. So, I created a video that was a little bit longer at 12 minutes, nine seconds.

Finally, it’s time to add pattern interrupts to your video. Pattern interrupts are super powerful. In fact, I found that pattern interrupts can dramatically increase your videos, audience retention, and watch time. So, what are pattern interrupts? Pattern interrupts are something that you add to your video to change things up. A pattern interrupt can be a visual, a camera angle change, a joke, music, basically anything that’s different than the rest of your video. For example, the video I found in the first step didn’t use a lot of pattern interrupts. It was pretty much a static screen recording. So, for my sequel, I used dozens of pattern interrupts. I added visuals, I changed the camera angle, I told stories, I even added a handful of little funny things. Well, at least they were funny to me. How about another example? Jeff Rose implemented all three of the tactics from this step for his sequel video. Jeff’s intro grabbed people’s attention. His video was almost 18 minutes long. And he used a ton of different pattern interrupts.

With that, let’s move onto step number three, optimize your video.

Finally, it’s time to optimize your video. Now, usually when you optimize a YouTube video, you optimize it for SEO. But with the sequel technique, you’re not trying to rank in YouTube search. If you do, great, that’s a bonus. But it’s not the main goal. The main goal is to show up as a suggested video next to a popular video. For example, let’s look at Jeff Rose’s video again. Like I mentioned earlier, Jeff’s video has over a million views. But when you search for the keyword passive income in YouTube, his video doesn’t even rank in the top three. The vast majority of Jeff’s million plus views came from suggested video. So, how you optimize your video for suggested video? It’s simple, copy your competitor’s keywords. In fact, YouTube’s Creator Academy says that when your video’s metadata matches the video someone’s watching, you’re more likely to show up as a suggested video. With that, here’s exactly how to optimize your video for suggested video. First, say your keyword in your video, this is a big one. You’ve probably noticed that YouTube can understand what you say in your video. It’s not perfect, but in my experience, they understand about 90 to 95% of the words you say in a given video. And when YouTube hears your target keyword in your video, it helps them understand that your video is about that topic. For example, I noticed that this video used the keyword improve your Google rankings in the title and description. So, I made sure to say that exact phrase in my video.

Next, you wanna use that same keyword, or a variation of it, in your title. For example, you can see that my video title contains the keyword higher Google rankings, which is a variation of improve Google rankings. Now that you’ve optimized your title, it’s time to optimize your description. Specifically, you wanna check out your competitor’s description, and use the same keywords they use. For example, I noticed that my competitor’s description used the terms SEO, improve Google rankings, and search engine. So, I sprinkled those same keywords into my video description.

Finally, copy your competitor’s tags. To do this, you’ll need to look at your competitor’s tags in the source code of the page, or use a tool like TubeBuddy or vidIQ. Then, just use a few of these tags in your video. For example, I used as many tags as I could for my competitor’s video in my video. And because my video’s title description and tags matched this popular video so well, I consistently show up as a suggested video next to that video. In fact, YouTube even promotes my video as Up next, which means, it automatically plays after people watch that video. Now, before I end today’s video, I have a quick bonus step for you. Which is to increase your suggested video CTR. As you just saw, suggested video is a powerful way to get more YouTube views. But what if there was a way to double, triple, or even quadruple the amount of views that you get from suggested video? Well, there is, and it’s improving your CTR. You might’ve heard of CTR before. If not, CTR stands for click through rate. And it simply means, of all the people that see your video, how many actually click on it? And needless to say, the higher CTR, the more views you’ll get. For example, let’s say that your video shows up next to a popular video as a suggested video, and 5% of the people watching that popular video click over to your video. That’s great, but if you could increase your CTR to 10%, you’ll double your views without needing to do anything else.

With that, here’s exactly how to do it. First, log out of YouTube, or open an incognito window in Chrome. That way, your viewing history won’t effect what you see. Next, visit the popular video you wanna show up next to. And take a look at the thumbnails in the suggested video sidebar. Finally, create a thumbnail that’s different from those thumbnails. For example, I noticed that most of the suggested videos next to this video use the same colors, red, orange, and white. So, I made the main color of my thumbnail green. That way, it really stands out. I also realized that most of the thumbnails didn’t show anyone’s face. Instead, they use mostly texts, screenshots, and visuals. Now, I knew that there were studies out there that found thumbnails with human faces get clicked on the most. So, I made sure to include a shot of me from the video in my thumbnail. In the end, as you can see here, I have a thumbnail that really stands out. And because it stands out, it has a super high CTR. And thanks to that high CTR, my video gets thousands of extra views every single month, views that I wouldn’t get if my thumbnail blended in.

Okay, so that’s it for the sequel technique. And I hope this video helps show you how to get more views on YouTube. And if you learned some cool new stuff from today’s video, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel right now. Just click on the subscribe button below this video. Also, if you want exclusive SEO techniques that I only share with subscribers, head over to And hop on the newsletter, it’s free. Now, it’s your turn. Which of the strategies from today’s video are you gonna try first? Are you gonna start using pattern interrupts? Or maybe you’re ready to increase your CTR.

Visit Backlinko for more tips like this.


Did you enjoy this article?
Show love by signing up for more.

Meet The Author
Hiilite Web Design + Marketing + SEO
Contact Us
close slider
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.