By Syed Balkhi, the founder of WPBeginner.​

With over 1.5 billion monthly active users watching 1 billion hours of video every day, YouTube still dominates the majority of the video marketing world. If you're planning on creating a video marketing strategy to promote your brand or business, YouTube is the place to be.

However, simply uploading videos is not enough to bring effective results. The key to winning YouTube is getting your videos to rank at the top of their search results. You can actually do this even if you have zero subscribers on your channel.

Here are a few strategies that have worked for us in growing our YouTube channel to over two million subscribers. Hopefully, they help you grow your YouTube channel and get your videos to rank higher.

Write Keyword-Rich Titles and Descriptions

Optimizing your video title with keywords is a great way to get your videos to rank higher on YouTube. Targeting low-competition long-tail keywords is the best strategy to avoid the massive competition.

You can search for keywords using Google Keyword Planner. Find a suitable long-tail keyword related to your industry with enough monthly search volume. Then use the Keyword Tool to find YouTube search phrases and keyword terms based on YouTube autocomplete.

Creating your title to target these keywords and search terms will allow your videos to get to a higher spot on YouTube. List titles work really well. So well that we've made all of our videos a series of lists. For example, some of our YouTube titles have been "25 Cleaning Hacks You'll Wish You Knew Sooner" and "25 Most Bizarre Dinosaurs Ever." How-to titles work just as well. I recommend using CoSchedule's headline analyzer tool to help you craft the best title.

Create an Interesting Thumbnail

In order to get the most clicks, you need to stand out from the pack with an interesting thumbnail. Find a catchy shot in the video to make the thumbnail image. You can use a free image editing tool like Canva to enhance the thumbnail picture with words, stickers and emojis.

Create Longer Videos

Most people assume that getting more views is the best way to rank a video on YouTube. It's quite the contrary. YouTube used to rank videos according to popularity but the platform changed its algorithm in 2012 to promote videos according to length. If you do a quick search on YouTube, you'll notice how this algorithm ranks videos with millions of views below videos with longer watch time.

I've found that creating lengthy videos will help increase the chances of getting ranked on YouTube and rankings in the discovery feed. However, this doesn't mean that you should fill your videos with useless content to unnecessarily increase its length. Simply focus on creating more in-depth videos that offer value to your viewers and your efforts will be rewarded.

Start Networking to Get Featured on Playlists

Ranking for competitive keywords is difficult. If your business is related to a popular industry, then chances are you will have a lot of competition. So, when you can't beat them, join them.

You'll notice how YouTube shows playlists for certain search terms. Well, here's your chance to get your video ranked higher and also feature it among other influential videos. If you see a playlist come out at the top of YouTube search for a keyword you're trying to rank, reach out to the creator of the playlist via email and ask to get featured. Maybe you can strike a deal to promote each other. Mention their YouTube channel in your email newsletter or video in return for featuring your video in their playlist. Make an offer that benefits both.

Of course, all this hacking and optimizing won't be of any help to grow your business or get more views if your videos don't offer any value to viewers. Focus on creating high-quality videos that provide value to your audience and craft videos around trending topics to grow your YouTube channel faster and more efficiently. Who knows -- your next video might even end up going viral.  

Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site that helps small businesses start their website.

Published on: Apr 19, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.