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What Influences YouTube Views

YouTube is by far the biggest online video sharing website with more than 4 billion videos being watched every day1. It is fully incorporated with Google and dominates most video search results2, so it is of great interest to all YouTube users to know how their videos are ranked and what determines their views.

Quite generally, a user can influence his presence on YouTube by 1) altering his content, and 2) by interacting with the online community. It is reasonable to believe these two categories of factors can drive quality traffic to the video webpage if fully optimized.

Let us consider content. Visitors go to YouTube seeking something, whether it’s information, entertainment, etc., with a limited timeframe in which to find it. Therefore, the primary factor is the quality of the video and whether it satisfies a user demand. For example, it summarizes Sucker Punch, the movie, in two minutes. It is fruitless to regurgitate already available information without giving a new perspective or a critical evaluation to it. Additionally, video delivery and video formatting, such as special effects, in-video pictures and graphs, and subtitles, heavily affect the viewer’s experience and consequently the video’s popularity. Nobody wants to watch a presenter mumble or speak unnaturally fast when there are better videos out there.

The title invites users to watch the video, and at the same time, determines the standing in search results, so it must be inviting, descriptive and keyword-packed. Make it catchy and engaging but informative to establish your channel as an authority in the field. Furthermore, do careful research and select the ten most relevant keywords to function as tags for the video. Be wary of singular vs. plural, as these often give different results in searches. The tags will help display your video in similar categories as well.

Finally, description and transcription enable the video to be better indexed. The description must be accurate, and can span up to a whole paragraph to fully explain the contents of the video, or it can be a contents section. It can also feature an external link to the company website, for example. YouTube can transcribe a video but with quite a few errors, and it is worthwhile to include an accurate transcription for referencing and copying.

Now, consider how you and your video’s engagement influence its standing. YouTube provides an attention report, which shows off where most people left the page; the longer they watch your clip, the higher it ranks. This report can be used to monitor video quality, and more specifically, which part or parts to change. Great content engages the user till the end and makes him share the video on his social networks. Therefore, YouTube considers highly shared and highly commented videos as good quality. Other users might choose to create backlinks to the video webpage, but for maximum effect, these links should lead to your YouTube channel. This will increase the channel authority and make it easier for new videos to become popular faster. A whole new level of linking is embedding the video into a blog or website, which can further boost the authority of the video.

YouTube considers genuine social buzz around videos as a good sign of their quality, so heavily commented and replied-to videos quickly rise in rankings. However, spam comments and bogus replies are easy to detect and may actually do more harm than good. So there should be genuine discussion going on. Naturally, likes and dislikes are important, but getting a thumbs down may be actually better than nothing at all as it shows that people feel strongly about the clip.

References:

  1. http://www.youtube.com/t/press_statistics
  2. http://www.reelseo.com/videos-ranking-universal-search-results-video-seo-study/

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