YouTube Search Adds Time Watched As Ranking Factor

The YouTube Blog announced they have adjusted their ranking algorithm to include the time a video was watched.

YouTube said they experimented with this ranking factor with suggested videos and it lead to “less clicking” and “more watching” and thus feels it is a good idea to add to the overall YouTube Search ranking algorithm.

Part of this announcement, YouTube also added the time watched statistics to video producers YouTube Analytics dashboard. You can access the time watched statistics under the “Views” report. There is a section labeled “Estimated minutes watched.” Here are screen shots from two of my videos I made in the past few weeks:

You can see that while the Apple Maps published on September 28th has over twice as many views as the Google EMD video published on October 5th, the time watched on that video is less than the Google EMD video. In fact, I have five times the minutes watched on the Google EMD video than I have views on that video. Which may be why it ranks number one in YouTube for [Google EMD].

Google’s YouTube wrote:

The experimental results of this change have proven positive — less clicking, more watching. We expect the amount of time viewers spend watching videos from search and across the site to increase. As with previous optimizations to our discovery features, this should benefit your channel if your videos drive more viewing time across YouTube.

Related Topics: Channel: Video | Google: YouTube & Video | Top News


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Kate Huebler

    Is this controlling for the total video length, because otherwise wouldn’t long videos always outrank short videos?

  • Barry Schwartz

    I am sure they look at video length and time viewed as a ratio. It isn’t just about time watched. :)

  • keaner

    so that means people only watched about 5 minutes of your 15 minute long video EMD ?. Ouch :)

  • eCommerce

    For an analysis point of view, online retailers are now measure the performance of their video campaign or the product videos to get an idea about the kind of product people put more interest in especially before shopping from any ecommerce store.

  • eCommerce

    Hey Debdipta, Good question.

  • MarcusSl

    I think this is a fantastic idea, as not only will it help with the ranking on YouTube it will also help people to view the amount of time that others spend watching their videos.

  • Barry Schwartz

    lol, when you put it that way. :(

  • MJAllDay15

    Is it calculated as a percentage of total minutes watched in the video (user watched 4 minutes total out of 5 minute long video = 80%) ? Meaning that the greater percentage of your video that is watched results in higher ranking?

  • edvinsson.jl

    I have a video that says 14 views since 1:st of sept 2012 and 24 minutes watched when I look in “overview”, but when I go to “views” iot says 14 views and 11 minutes watched!? How come? Greet. Janne

  • edvinsson.jl

    Hi! I have a video that has one view all over the world since the 1:st of sept. 2012 ( today is 17:th of oct 2012 ) and it says 179 minutes watched time in Italy!? If it means ( if I have understood this thing with watched time can only be shown for views after 1:st of sept. 2012 ) that it is 179 minutes for all 49 views in Italy it will be 179 x 60s = 10.740s divided with 49 views = 219,18s = 3min 38s and the video is 3min 32s…!? in Sweden I have 105 views and it says 0min ( in this case I suppose it´s correct with not showing watched time before 1:st of sept. ) Another thing.. if ten zappers creats zero minutes ( I also search things and go away quickly many times ) it doesn´t really mean the video have no interest or value for everyone, but now with watched time it will be treated like it´s a definitive waste and will be stuffed away? And if watched time says 12 minutes for a song that is 4 minutes and there are 10 views, maybe three have watched all the 4 minutes and the others were zappers but time watched will show as 4 x 60s = 240s divided with 10 = 24s ( or 0 minutes watched time ); how I´m I to know what the video is worth from a number like 24s or 0 minutes watched time!? Greet. janne

  • Tyler Theobald

    I’m wondering if view time is calculated when you respond to comments, or when people respond to your comments. That seems like it would hurt average view time. Does YouTube know when people are posting or replying to comments as opposed to watching/rewatching the video?

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