How can we get subscribers on YouTube

9 ways to get more subscribers on YouTube

In March 2018 we revived our YouTube channel and expanded it from 14k subscribers to over 180k subscribers.

We achieved this by following a list of proven strategies that helped us get more subscribers to our YouTube channel.

In this post, I'm going to share these strategies with you.

  1. Aim for topics that people are looking for
  2. Keep the topic of your channel narrowed down
  3. Give people what they're looking for
  4. Choose formats that work
  5. Publish on a fixed schedule
  6. Add your videos to a playlist
  7. Link your YouTube channel from external sources
  8. Use the interactive functions of YouTube
  9. Ask your viewers to subscribe to your channel

1. Aiming at topics that people are looking for

If no one is watching your videos, no one will subscribe to them. Views are a prerequisite for getting subscribers.

How can you get more views for your YouTube videos?

Create videos about the topics people are looking for that rank high on YouTube search.

And how do you like these topics?

Use our free YouTube keyword tool. Just enter any topic and it will show you up to 150 keywords and their estimated monthly search volume.

Are you looking for a larger pool of ideas?

Use Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer to pull all ideas from our database of over 800 million YouTube keywords.

Once that's done, you'll need to create an optimized video that will rank in YouTube search results. Follow this tutorial to learn how to create it or watch this video:

If we assume that a certain percentage of viewers subscribe to your channel, then it makes sense that more views mean more subscribers.

2. Keep the topic of your channel narrowed

Just because people are looking for something doesn't mean you should make a video about it.

For example, 3,000 people a month search for “hainanese chicken rice” in the US:

While we might post a video on the subject, rank in search, and attract tons of viewers and subscribers, it wouldn't be a smart move because it has nothing to do with SEO, the subject that interests our subscribers.

This is not good for two reasons:

  1. You will log out. If that happens, what's the point of getting subscribers in the first place?
  2. It would detract from our video's engagement. Rejections, negative comments, short viewing times - all of this and much more awaits you if your subscribers don't like your video.

In case you're wondering what the second point has to do with subscribers, your video's engagement (or lack of it) can affect your YouTube search ranking. It can also affect whether it appears as a suggested video in the sidebar.

These two sources of traffic tend to send the most consistent views, resulting in a constant stream of subscribers.

For this reason, you should keep the topic of your channel as strict as possible - especially in the early days of your channel.

That's exactly what we did. At the beginning we focused exclusively on topics related to SEO.

That made it easier to get our subscribers' engagement and get YouTube to promote our videos to new but similar audiences and get even more subscribers.

3. Give people what they are looking for

If the title of your video is "Tesla Model 3 vs. Tesla Model Y," but the first three minutes of your video are about BMWs, then your viewers will be jumping off and not subscribing.

A good YouTube video is one that caters to the wants and needs of viewers.

How do you know what your viewers want?

It's pretty easy with some topics. A topic like "How to Make Scrambled Eggs" means that viewers want instructions on how to prepare scrambled eggs.

YouTube sees it the same way, because all the top results show exactly that:

It's not that easy with other topics. Take the topic of "Nintendo Switch Games" for example. Do people want to see reviews? A list? Gameplays?

To find out, enter the topic on YouTube and see what's in the search results list. In this case, it's mostly summaries of the best games of all time:

If YouTube ranks a certain video format disproportionately high, as it did above, then you will almost certainly have to create something similar to stand a chance of ranking.

4. Choose formats that work

It may seem like the growth of our subscriber base has just been sunshine, but it wasn't. We still made mistakes along the way.

In 2018, for example, Sam Oh, our YouTube man, got the opportunity to travel to Ahrefs headquarters in Singapore. At the time we had around 30,000 YouTube subscribers.

We figured our audience could enjoy a vlog of Sam's experience in Singapore.

We were completely wrong.

Sam's Singapore vlog was the only video on our entire channel that resulted in zero net subscribers.

So we took it off the list.

The reality is that our subscribers are only interested in SEO and digital marketing tutorials that will help them get results for their websites, YouTube channels and businesses. And you will see that this is all we post now.

While that doesn't mean you shouldn't experiment with new formats, it is a reminder that once you find a format that works, you should stick with it.

5. Publish on a fixed schedule

It wasn't until we started posting one video a week in 2018 that our subscriber numbers really started to grow.

Committing to a weekly release schedule meant we could produce more content. More content meant more views. More views meant more people subscribed to our channel, which in turn increased our subscriber base.

So if you want to get more subscribers on YouTube, find a release schedule that you are comfortable with and stick to it.

This will prevent you from making the common rookie mistake of posting once and then disappearing for a few months.

The good thing is: it doesn't have to be a weekly video either. The only important thing is that you stick to your schedule consistently.

6. Add your videos to a playlist

You can add your videos to multiple playlists on YouTube:

While playlists don't generate direct subscriptions, they do increase the likelihood that someone will watch more than one video. And the more they come into contact with your content, the more likely it is that they will press the subscription button.

Playlists are a win in every way. They improve the user experience, user engagement and lead to more subscribers.

7. Link to your YouTube channel from external sources

If we look at our channel analytics, it's clear that our channel home page is our second biggest engine for subscribers.

In other words, the more people we can get there, the more subscribers we're likely to get.

This is one of the reasons why we link to the homepage of our YouTube channel from our other marketing channels. For example from our website homepage:

And many of our blog posts:

But we don't just limit it to the assets we can control. For example, when someone on the marketing team is interviewed (or lectured) on a podcast and the host asks where their audience can learn more about us, we often tell them to search for Ahrefs on YouTube.

And of course the podcast moderators link to our channel from the episode we did together.

8. Use the interactive functions of YouTube

YouTube has a few interactive features that you can add to your video to get people to subscribe. For example, you can add watermarks:

When a viewer clicks the watermark on one of your videos, they'll see the subscription button. You can also add endscreen subscription buttons:

Well, these features were only responsible for about 1.5% of our subscribers in 2020, so don't set your expectations high or expect them to magically boost your subscription rate.

But since it only takes a few minutes to add them and they'll still add to your overall subscriber base, it's well worth adding to your videos.

9. Ask your viewers to subscribe to your channel

Not all of your viewers are subscribers, so don't forget to ask them if they want to subscribe to your channel.

The general format we use is pretty simple - we add the "please" and tell them why. For our regular videos, we just say, "Subscribe to our channel for more SEO and marketing tutorials".

And if we're doing a series of videos, our "request" would be: "Make sure you subscribe to our channel so you don't miss the next video in the series."

Just be careful not to overdo it. Many YouTube creators spam the "request" in multiple parts of the video: at the beginning, a couple of times in the middle, and at the end.

Not only is this unhelpful, it's annoying, which can deter viewers from subscribing to the video. That's why we're keeping the question to a minimum by including it at the end of our videos.

Final thoughts

We have used these tactics with great success on our YouTube channel and there is no reason why they shouldn't work for you.

Do you need more tactics on how to get more views on YouTube? Read this post.

Want to learn how to rank your videos on Google Search? Check out this post.

Did I miss a cool tactic to get more subscribers on YouTube? Let me know on Twitter.

Translated Search engine & conversion optimization, online marketing & paid advertising. A perfect fit from a single source.