Beyond the structural elements of an SEO-optimized YouTube video, the
next most important YouTube Ranking Factors are audience engagement; getting your audience to validate that your video is actually relevant for your target keyword.
There are a variety of factors YouTube looks at to confirm that your video
is high quality, all revolving around audience engagement. The two biggest ranking factors and ways to ensure your videos get the engagement needed to appear in YouTube and Google search results.
YouTube Ranking Factors
- Number & Quality of Backlinks
- Clickthrough Rate from Search Results and Recommended Videos
- Shares on Social Media
- Subscribers (especially subscribes after a video view)
- Thumbs Up
- Views (especially in the past 48 hours)
- Comments (especially video comments)
- Number of channel view number of subscribers
- Age of channel
- Outbound links pointing to channel
- Inbound links pointing to channel
- Channel Title
- Channel Keywords
- Channel Verification
- Channel Art
- Channel Description
- Number of Facebook likes pointing to video
- Number of Facebook shares pointing to video
- Number of Tweets pointing to video
- Number of Tweets pointing to channel
- Number of Linkedin Shares pointing to video
- Number of Linkedin Shares pointing to channel
- Number of Pinterest pins pointing to video
- Number of Pinterest pins pointing to channel
Ranking Factor #1: Session Duration
Ranking Factor #2: Audience Retention
Session duration has been the most important YouTube ranking factor since late 2012. At the time, YouTube’s official Creators Blog stated:
“We’ve started adjusting the ranking of videos in YouTube search to reward
engaging videos that keep viewers watching. This is a continuation of
ongoing efforts to focus our video discovery features on watch time. As
with previous optimizations to our discovery features, this should benefit
your channel if your videos drive more viewing time across
YouTube.” (Emphasis mine)
Note that it doesn’t refer to how long people watch your videos (“Watch
Time’). Rather, it’s about videos that make people stay on YouTube longer.
How Do You Track Session Duration?
Unfortunately, there’s no way to track session duration because YouTube
hasn’t made this metric available.However, you can measure “watch time,” which is how long viewers watch videos on your channel.
Improving Your Session Duration and Youtube Ranking
• Ensure your videos have a high audience retention
• Use Annotations to encourage viewers to watch a related video
• Place your video in playlists with related videos
• Provide high-quality videos
• Create custom thumbnails for your videos to increase click-through rates
to related videos
• Get lots of subscribers, who typically watch more of your videos
Naturally, the ideal situation is for your viewers to keep watching your videos. But until you have a large channel, that can be difficult. If that’s the case, curate other high quality content on YouTube. There’s no reason you can’t add videos from other channel’s to your playlist or annotations. You can always update playlists later with your own videos, but in the meantime, make sure your viewers stick around if you want your videos to
Update for YouTube Ranking Factors
Prior to late 2012, “views” were the #1 YouTube ranking factor. But as you
may expect, views were easy to fake using click-bots. Plus, videos with clickable titles and descriptions got the most views, even if the video had little to do with the title. Not a great user experience. So for that reason, YouTube started focusing on audience retention to determine if your video is actually relevant for the keyword you’ve optimized for.
As an example, say you’re searching for videos about “Advanced YouTube
SEO.” A few years ago, you may have seen some really strong videos, but
you’d also see several that were really for beginners.
If that were the case, you’d probably realize it early on, stop watching the
video, and go look elsewhere. But even though the video wasn’t what you
were looking for, it still got a “view,” so it stayed high in the rankings.
This is exactly the type of thing YouTube was trying to avoid when they
made audience retention a primary ranking factor.
What Is Audience Retention?
Unlike session duration, which is viewer-specific, Audience retention is is
based on how all your viewers have engaged with a specific video.
Audience retention can be defined as the average percentage of your video
that people watch.
Thus, a higher audience retention demonstrates to YouTube that viewers
generally find your video valuable; the higher the better
As you can see, there are a ton of engagement YouTube ranking factors that affect how prominently your videos rank in YouTube and Google SERPs.
A well taught out marketing Strategy will help you rank High But the common thread among them all is that people are taking the extra effort to engage with your video when they could more easily leave or look for another video.
Next step Apply SEO techniques for your YouTube Channel