What is Really the Most Important Factor to High
Ranking Videos on YouTube?
The following article is an excerpt from my Video SEO Thunder 2015, which is now included in Toob Ring of Fire, The Ultimate Guide for ranking videos in YouTube and Google.
Session Watch Time is very likely the single most important YouTube ranking factor. Session Watch Time simply means how much and how many videos do people watch AFTER clicking on your video.
And this makes sense. If you were in charge of YouTube which videos would you favor and why, it’s hard to come up with a better reason than than to rank the videos that create the most views on YouTube higher than the videos that people don’t watch and cause people to leave YouTube.
This puts video marketers in a bit of a Catch-22. Our main goal as marketers is to get people to our videos and then get them off of YouTube to visit our own web pages were we sell products and services as well as get email subscribers. However to rank well, we need people to watch other YouTube videos.
In my opinion, this isn’t a chicken and the egg situation. You must get get people to your videos before they can click to your site, so ranking should be your first priority. Your videos need to encourage people to watch more videos with the hopes that while each video will get a lower percentage of people to click to your own site, you’ll have a much larger total number of people watching your videos in the first place.
From YouTube’s Official Creator blog:
features were previously designed to drive views.
This rewarded videos that were successful at
attracting clicks, rather than the videos that
actually kept viewers engaged. (Cleavage
Now when we suggest videos, we focus
on those that increase the amount of time that the
viewer will spend watching videos on YouTube, not
only on the next view, but also successive views
Read the quote from YouTube above again. It’s the most important aspect of ranking videos on YouTube and it’s essential you understand this point.
How To Increase Session Watch Time
Annotations and Cards
Annotations are areas of of videos that you can turn into “hot spots”. This YouTube feature allows you to put clickable links right on your videos.
Cards are a fairly new feature that are similar to annotations in that they are clickable areas that appear on videos. The difference between the two are that cards only appear for 5 seconds and YouTube controls where they are placed over a video, while annotations can last as long (or short) as you want them and you control where they are on the video.
However, cards have the distinct advantage of being “cell phone friendly”. This means if you have clickable links in cards, people using mobile devices can click the links.
If your videos are getting a good percentage of their views from wireless devices such as phones and tablets, using cards will have a much bigger impact than annotations.
Use cards and annotations to increase your video’s Session Watch Time by placing links in them to other popular videos.
End Cards/End Slates/Outros
Some people call them end slates, some call them outros as well as end cards. Whatever they’re called, they are the last part of your video and should include a strong call to action. Generally, this is where you encourage people to subscribe or click a link to your site.
Don’t confuse end cards with the cards feature as discussed just above. An end card is simply the last part of your video, while a “card” can be inserted over any part of the video.
To increase Session Watch Time you should strongly consider a good call to action to watch another video. Even better, have a link to a playlist (or two).
Segment Your End Cards and Outros
Instead of giving your viewers a single choice in your end cards, give them two simple but distinct options.
For example, let’s say you have a video about body building. Have a link to two different videos or playlists:
Segmenting viewers can greatly increase your clicks and video views, as well as giving your viewers content that is better targeted to their interests.
You also want to use arrows, pointing fingers and animated text to highlight links on your end cards. You need to tell people what to do next. You must make it as obvious and easy for them as possible to view another video/playlist or to click to your site.
Tip: Segmenting viewers is also an excellent marketing strategy when sending people to offers or optin forms on your own site too. Segment as much as possible.
Using Playlists to Increase Session Watch Time
Linking to playlists is probably the most effective way to increase Session Watch Time. A playlist is simply a list of YouTube videos that will automatically play one after the other.
Playlists can and do get ranked. They can also be listed as related videos on the pages of other videos.
Virtually every public video on YouTube can be inserted into a playlist. You can create your own playlists which include only your own videos, a mixture of your videos and those from other, or just video from other folks.
Playlists can be embedded and linked to, just like videos. Really consider adding all of your videos to playlists, with your own video at the first position, then link to and embed the playlist instead of just linking or embedding your single video as a way to greatly increase your session time.
Another strategy to increase Session View Time is to create a video that is really just an end card and insert it at the end of a playlist. This is a short video with only one purpose: To get viewers to click on a link to ANOTHER playlist. Salesmanship and copy writing principles really come into play…you need to sell people on clicking the links.
Tip: Create two playlists, segmenting interests as suggested above and linking to each.
Much more on playlists in Video SEO Thunder 2015.
Link to Popular and Trending Videos
If lots of other people are watching a video, chances are your own viewers will enjoy it too, assuming it’s related to your audience.
Add links to popular and trending videos in your description, as well as annotations and cards.
Even better, add the popular video to a playlist with more popular videos along with your own videos and link to the playlist.
Interesting comments can increase the session time viewers spend on a video page. You can also link to your other videos in the comments to encourage people to click which increases their Session Watch Time.
Session Watch Time is an essential part of modern ranking on Youtube, but it is far from the only factor in getting your videos to rank high.