YouTube became a massive force in today’s social media space and its popularity is growing every day.
With over 1.9 Billion users that visit YouTube each month, the video streaming platform is available in over 91 countries around the globe. Every passing minute, 300 hours of video content is uploaded on YouTube and people watch over a billion hours of video per day with more than half of these views coming from mobile devices.
With these astonishing statistics, there’s no wonder why YouTube is now more popular than live television.
However, businesses are still shy about using YouTube as a marketing channel, with only 9% of small businesses in the US are on YouTube, taking advantage of the benefits of this social media platform.
If you take a closer look at YouTube you will see that so many brand names don’t even have a YouTube channel or if they have, they’re lacking good and consistent content. This is worrying because YouTube has proven to be not just a platform for memes but the second biggest search engine after Google. It’s also the second most trafficked website, behind Google. Not only that, but YouTube videos are featured on Google’s Rich Snippets and Organic Results, they show up on the “Videos” and “Images” search tabs on Google result pages and YouTube helps potential customers make purchasing decisions and builds trust.
These are just some of the reasons why you can’t afford to be indifferent about having a channel anymore. Even so, there are so many businesses that ignore YouTube thinking it’s just too expensive or time-consuming, when in fact all you need is a smartphone with a good camera and good ideas.
These days it seems that if you want to grow online you need to invest in advertising. But the truth is if you understand how to use the YouTube platform and you have great content, you could reach millions of people without spending a dime. All you need is a good YouTube Marketing Strategy for your business and understanding how this platform works.
Understanding the Youtube Algorithm
We can’t talk about a YouTube strategy without understanding its algorithm. So, the first question is:
What is the YouTube algorithm, and how can you take advantage of it?
Unlike Instagram, YouTube is not hiding how their algorithm works because their goal is to show the most relevant and personalized videos to their users. By doing this they can keep viewers on their platform for as long as possible.
“The goals of YouTube’s search and discovery system are twofold: 1. Help viewers find the videos they want to watch, and 2. maximize long-term viewer engagement and satisfaction.”
So the YouTube ranking algorithm will naturally focus on how the audience interacts with the videos. It is no secret that their algorithm “learns from over 80 billion bits of feedback from the audience daily to understand how to serve the right videos to the right viewers at the right time.” By tracking users ‘ watching preferences and behavior, they can predict what other videos they might also enjoy, thus keeping them engaged on the platform. To train their artificial intelligence, they pay attention to data like this:
- the videos each user watches
- the videos they don’t watch
- how much time they spend on each video
- their likes and dislikes
- the videos they mark as “not interested in”
They’re more interested in engagement metrics instead of vanity metrics like other social platforms, encouraging the creators to focus on the content first. That’s why the videos with more watched time will always rank higher than videos with the most views.
What is watch time? According to YouTube, this is the total time that viewers are watching your videos. The Watch Time algorithm includes Audience Retention, Estimated Minutes Watched, and the Watch Time per user session. YouTube wants users to watch videos all the way through, then start watching the next video, and so on. They will reward creators that will make this happen, that keep their users engaged and watching videos for as long as possible in one session.
But how the algorithm influence where your videos will appear on YouTube and in front of your existing or potential subscribers?
First of all, let’s see where can you expect your video to appear on the platform:
- your videos can appear in the search results
- on the homepage
- in the suggested videos stream
- in the trending videos stream
- and let’s not forget the subscriptions.
So, how the algorithm decides to serve content to users in these key places?
The YouTube Search Results
As you would expect the most important factors that will influence your video’s search rankings are keywords and relevance.
If you want your videos to be on top of users’ search results, you need to pay attention to your titles, tags, thumbnails, descriptions and, of course, content. Make sure you optimize these for SEO if you want people to discover you.
According to YouTube: “If a video on your brand’s channel drives [a viewer] to watch more videos, the channel earns some watch time credits for the cumulative minutes accrued. ” This is strictly related to the relevance aspect of the search ranking criteria. Your videos should drive users to watch other videos surrounding the same topic.
Homepage and Suggested Video Stream
The YouTube homepage is unique for each visitor. The social media giant shows you content based on your activity history, thee videos you watched or engaged with in the past. So for example, if you watched a particular video from a Youtube influencer, next time you visit the site you will see more videos from that same creator or other videos in the same niche. YouTube tries to diversify the content it serves you every time you come back on the homepage.
This is self-explanatory, the Trending tab will show you the most popular videos on the platform.
The subscription page will show you the videos from the channels you subscribed to.
We already established that the “watch time” is important when it comes to YouTube analytics, but there is another metric that you should pay attention to: “view velocity”. This metric measures the number of subscribers who watch your video right after it’s published. So you need to make sure that you promote your video on social media, your blog, or even your email list, right after you post it for an initial boost.
Another thing that YouTube pays attention to is when people watch multiple videos from the same channel. This is especially important if those videos show up in the “Suggested Videos” section. So if you want to get extra points for your channel, you need to make sure that you create awesome videos consistently and you encourage watchers to watch more of your videos, by using end cards for example.
The bottom line is that the most important metric still remains the watch time, thus your ultimate goal should be increasing the number of minutes your videos were watched. And you need to have all your analytics in mind when you create each video because one video that might not perform as well will affect your entire channel because it reduces your overall watch time.
A good practice would be to remove those videos that are underperforming and replace them with better content based on your analytics.
This means that not only do you want to create great videos consistently, but you’ll want to use the tools YouTube gives you, like end cards, to encourage watchers to watch more of your videos.
That’s everything you need to know about the YouTube algorithm. It’s all about total watch time and getting people to stay within the YouTube platform.