Google published a YouTube strategy guide for politicians. It contains great tips for content planning that’s applicable for non-politicians, including advice that can be applied web and podcasting content as well.
YouTube Content Planning Guide
The guide is organized into three sections
- First Steps
- Content Planning
- Content Creations
First Steps for Content Planning
This part contains three sections:
- Find Your Why
- Think About Branding
- Learn the Formats
Find Your Why
This is about writing down reasons for creating the content. Low quality content that fails to help a site rank is, in my opinion, content that lacks a relevant purpose.
A relevant purpose could be found in identifying goals that the audience may have, problems that need solving.
The kinds of questions one might find in a (competitor’s) Frequently Asked Questions section can give an indication of the kinds of problems and concerns that your readers might need to have addressed in your content.
Goal oriented content can perform well with users because some search queries can have underlying goals and purposes that need addressing.
For example when someone searches for Pancakes they’re probably really asking, “How do I make a pancake?”
So instead of writing an article about Pancake and adding associated phrases like breakfast and pancake batter and synonyms like flapjacks, a content writer can instead focus on writing a web page that directly and unambiguously answers the question, “How do I make a pancake?”
That’s the difference between writing for keywords and SEO and writing for users. The SEO who misses the point focuses on synonyms and associated phrases. The person who understands the question that is inside the search query will focus on answering the question.
That’s why content that is written in a way that answers a question that underlies a search query is more helpful and useful than content that is written because it needs to contain specific keywords in it.
Learn more about the Latent Question Concept: Search Queries: Search Results Analysis: The Latent Question
This is how Google addressed it in the context of political content:
“To help find your “why,” consider:
– Who is your “ideal viewer”? (e.g. age, demographic, political identity)
– What do you want your audience to get from your content? (e.g. general knowledge, entertainment, understanding of current events)
– What value can you or your organization uniquely offer?
– For inspiration, check out this channel trailer that breaks down the “why?” in compelling fashion””
Answering the above questions can help solve the “What Should I Talk About” dilemma that every content creator faces, regardless if it’s text for a web page, YouTube video or a podcast.
The next section was about branding the YouTube channel so that it has an attractive appearance.
Areas of focus for a YouTube channel:
- “Channel Banner
- Channel Avatar
- Channel Trailer
That’s pretty relevant for anyone contemplating a YouTube channel!
The next section is called “Learn the Format(s). This is a reference to different kinds of content. There are different kinds of content that can be cycled through. Having these written down and put on a schedule can be helpful.
These are the content formats that Google suggested:
- Weekly Coverage
- Behind the Scenes
- Live Streams
2. Content Planning
Here Google offers great advice for creating a content schedule. Google advises that it is less important to publish lots of content than it is to publish content on a fixed schedule.
“Consistency doesn’t equal volume. It’s far less important that you post frequently than it is that you post on a reliable schedule.”
Google also advises to not overextend yourself.
“Keep your content manageable. High production videos are great, but can be very difficult to sustain. Find a balance between content quantity and quality that you can maintain over the long term.”
Three Kinds of Content
Google identifies three kinds of content:
That’s a way of conceptualizing different kinds of content, identifying what the purpose of the content so as to fit it into a schedule.
Hero content, outside of YouTube, could be thought of as content that tries to rank for a major keyword phrase or address an important pain point. It’s not limited to evergreen content, it can also be focused on a current event, like a conference or an important announcement.
Here’s how Google explains it in the context of a politician YouTube channel:
“Frequency: Rare. Usually built around a major event, moment, or idea.
Content: Mass appeal topics that lean into increased interest in the general public at a particular time (Ex. Election day, State of the Union address, major legislative vote, etc.).
Audience: Hero Content attempts to cast as wide a net as possible and be accessible to viewers who may be unfamiliar with your organization or content.
Goal: Provide a moment of significant visibility for your content,converting a large amount of casual viewers into long-term subscribers.”
Generally, I think all content should be helpful or useful in some way, even an eCommerce product page (with reviews, how-to data, unique product info, etc.).
What Google’s referring to as Help Content is evergreen content. Evergreen content is content that addresses a topic that remains the same every year. Topics like how to boil an egg or how to make a California Roll don’t really change much.
Evergreen content is great for any website because it’s useful and can become a source of steady traffic and links, with only a minor infrequent content touch-up to keep it relevant.
Google’s YouTube guide offers this explanation:
“Frequency: More often than Hero, but less than Hub
Content: Evergreen topics targeted towards specific questions or areas (Ex: What is the NHS, How would “The Green New Deal” work, etc. )
Audience: Broad and targeted appeal, typically this type of content can appeal to more casual viewers who do not normally engage with your channel
Goal: Provide evergreen videos that continuously gain viewership and convert subscribers at a steady rate”
This is the main content that’s produced on a regular basis. This means relying on the content “formats” that Google suggested.
- Weekly Coverage
- Behind the Scenes
- Live Streams
The goal of Hub content is to give regular site visitors and new visitors something to dig into once they discover your YouTube channel, podcast, or website.
An important aspect of Hub content is being timely with current events. Fresh news and content that’s breaking is highly popular and keeps people coming back. I suspect there’s a little fear of missing out (FOMO) involved that keeps visitors returning for more.
Here’s Google’s advice:
“Frequency: Your regular chosen cadence. Think of Hub Content as your channel’s “bread and butter.”
Content: Sustainable, targeted content that appeals directly to your subscribers’ tastes and expectations. (Lean into your formats!)
Audience: Your existing subscriber base, plus those viewers who’ve been watching but haven’t subscribed.
Goal: Keep your audience coming back with steady, consistent content that appeals to their expectations and desires. Secondarily, provide a bank of content for new viewers to explore after subscribing.”
3. Content Creation
This section addresses issues that are directly related to video production.
“Stay accessible…audiences want to see the real, unfiltered you. Personal content is best. Distance and mystique are not your friends here.
Imperfections are your friend. While it may seem counterintuitive, don’t be afraid to keep your videos rough around the edges.
Capture great audio. Good sound can significantly impact how viewers experience your video.”
Creating Great Content Takes Planning
It takes an organized plan to get a content program rolling. Google’s tips for YouTube content are useful for creating a successful content strategy.