Playlists are a powerful (but underrated) feature that you can use to grow your YouTube channel. Yes, that’s right, it’s more than just mixing videos. It is an important part of your YouTube strategy.
When strategically created, playlists can help you leverage YouTube’s algorithm to your advantage, influence your viewers’ choices, and keep them coming back.
In this article, we’ll walk you through how to create and manage new playlists on your YouTube channel. We have also compiled some best practices to get the most out of this tool.
What is a YouTube playlist?
A playlist on YouTube is a collection of videos that are typically curated based on themes. You can use playlists to categorize content and help viewers discover specific videos. Visitors can find them in the Playlists section of your channel page.
You can also use playlists to organize your channel’s home page, like we did on the Sprout YouTube channel:
Playlists add a binge-worthy element to your channel. They are governed by the same rules as streaming platforms (such as Netflix): as soon as one video ends, the next one in the sequence starts playing.
Both viewers and channel owners can create YouTube playlists. Let’s take a look at why playlist creation is an important part of your brand’s YouTube strategy.
Why create playlists on YouTube
Improve YouTube SEO
Playlists often rank in YouTube search results. In fact, many search results include a separate section for ‘Related Playlists’.
If your playlist description and title are optimized based on what people are searching for, you’ll rank higher and improve your chances of getting more views. With a 5,000 character limit for descriptions, you can naturally integrate the keywords your audience is searching for.
For more information on how to get your videos to the top of search results, here is our guide on YouTube SEO.
Videos included in a playlist are more likely to show as suggested videos to viewers. YouTube prefers to show “thematically related” videos in the suggested videos column. And they can appear as suggestions even when someone watches one of your videos outside of that playlist.
See how a playlist and a video from the same channel are displayed in the Suggestions section:
In short, by creating playlists, you increase your chances of getting discovered on YouTube.
There are many ways to use playlists to increase YouTube engagement rates.
For example, you can direct visitors to videos that you want to specifically promote. Gathering your most popular videos into a playlist so that new viewers see your best content first is a good practice to follow.
You can organize videos by topic, audience type, or content. This is especially useful for viewers if you have a wide variety of videos on your YouTube channel. It will be easy for them to navigate and discover the content that interests them the most. Here’s a great example from Andey Crowley’s channel where he curated separate playlists for guitar lessons based on learning levels:
Longer display times
Playlists minimize the chances that a viewer will switch to another channel after watching one of your videos. The next video in the playlist is played automatically, increasing the playback time. And longer watch time means higher search rankings.
How to create a new YouTube playlist
You can create, edit, and manage playlists for your channel from YouTube Studio.
Step 1: In the menu on the left, select playlists. select NEW PLAYLIST at the top right.
Step 2: Enter a title and description (optional). select visibility settings (we suggest selecting Public so your audience can see it) in the dropdown box and click TO CREATE. Now you can see the playlist.
Step 3: To add videos, click the editing pen next to the playlist you’ve created.
Step 4: Click on the three-dot menu and select add videos.
step 5: Under Your YouTube videos, select the videos you want to add to the playlist. Click add videos.
step 6: To reorder videos in a playlist, drag and drop the video up or down.
Your selected YouTube playlist is ready! Now it can be seen by your audience in the playlist section of your channel.
You can also add a video to one or more playlists while posting it to YouTube. After adding video items, you have the option to choose an existing playlist or create a new one.
Best Practices for YouTube Playlists
Use an attractive title and description
When naming your playlists, add a catchy title and description that’s also optimized for search.
As mentioned above, adding a description is optional. But we recommend making it a required step for every playlist you create to appear in certain searches. The trick is to focus on keywords that your viewers might be searching for that are related to the videos in your playlist.
The title and description must also accurately represent the content that viewers will see in your playlist. Think about it: would you watch a playlist if you weren’t sure what was in it? While YouTube allows you to add up to 5,000 characters to the description, it gets shorter in search results. Load up your description with attention-grabbing details while concisely summarizing what’s inside the playlist.
Put your best videos first
Organize playlists by putting your best video first. The idea is to show your top performing content to more people and increase watch time. Increasing watch time will further improve channel engagement rates.
Find which videos attract the newest subscribers or have the longest watch time through YouTube Creator Studio. For more powerful insights, use a tool like Sprout Social to discover what resonates with your audience and determine the attributes that drive the most engagement.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to every playlist you create on YouTube. You’ll want to contextually decide if the video fits into the playlist. Sometimes you’ll need to consider the narrative you want to create, which brings us to the next tip.
have a narrative
Videos in a playlist must flow. Depending on the theme of your channel, decide on the appropriate topics and categories. Just like episodes of a TV show, viewers should be eager to find out what the next video in the playlist is about.
If you create vlogs, end each video with a loop and tell your viewers what’s coming up. Arrange your playlist in this order and watch your views soar!
Does your brand have video tutorials or videos on how your product is made? Make sure they’re arranged in the correct order so that viewers understand what’s coming next. Check out how Wix.com curated playlists with lessons on building an ecommerce business. Each playlist has a specific order for the videos to make learning easier for beginners:
Create a special playlist for new visitors
Just like an About Us page on a website, create a YouTube playlist that contains videos that let new visitors know what your channel is about. For brands, you can compile different videos that tell your brand story, like Duolingo has an “All About Duolingo” playlist with videos about the story behind the company and your brand mission:
You can also introduce your brand with a ‘New Here’ playlist to highlight your best videos that will let new viewers know what type of content your channel covers. Many YouTubers choose to do this, especially if they have uploaded a lot of videos over time. Creator Ali Abdaal has a special playlist with 14 videos for new viewers, so they can quickly get familiar with its content.
Set Best Thumbnail
There is no option to upload a separate thumbnail for playlists. The thumbnail of the first video will be set as the playlist thumbnail by default. But YouTube allows you to choose a thumbnail of any video in that playlist.
You can easily modify this from the YouTube studio. Go to the playlist you want to edit. Select the three-dot menu of the video you’ve decided to use as your playlist thumbnail. From the drop down menu, select Set as playlist thumbnail.
It is better to choose a thumbnail that matches the title of your playlist. Just like with videos, they can entice your audience to click when you appear in search results.
Don’t add too many videos.
The goal of creating playlists on YouTube is to make it easy for your audience to navigate. So the last thing you want to do is overwhelm them with a huge amount of videos on playlists. We recommend going for 3-10 videos per playlist. If a topic or topic you choose has a lot of videos, try splitting it into another playlist.
Get the most out of YouTube playlists
Creating playlists on YouTube is more than just grouping related videos together. They are tools in your video strategy to organize the content and make it easier for your audience to navigate the channel.
It is up to you to decide how best to select the playlists for your channel. Gain insights about your audience to learn their preferences and create playlists accordingly.
To learn more about how to increase your brand’s presence on YouTube, check out our YouTube marketing guide.