We all want our videos to get a lot of views, and in turn, lead to more subscribers. In order to do so, we have to prepare it for success. If you are hoping to optimize a video after it has already been published to YouTube then you aren’t going to get the best result, because much of optimization is done before the video is even shot.
In this article, we will give you a checklist, which you should have with you at the very beginning of creating a YouTube video: the ideation stage. As you go through your process, check off each task. By doing so you can ensure that you have given the video the best chance to rank high and be discovered.
Even though your view count is going up, it doesn’t mean your audience is watching your video. And if they are not, then YouTube is going to consider your video less valuable and therefore, lowering its rank.
Audience Retention is an important metric to keep an eye on after every video you’ve published.
Before you start your next project, take a look back at the Audience Retention of your previous videos.
Enter YouTube Creator Studio
Access YouTube Analytics
Select the video you want to review
Click into Audience Retention
See where a dip in views occured
What is Good Audience Retention?
If you want to see how your Audience Retention is performing, the Average Percentage Viewed will give you a broad perspective. The higher the percentage, the more people are watching your entire video.
If you get above 60% Average Percentage Viewed, you should feel very proud. In our modern world with our short attention span, that is considered a good retention.
In the example above, we see that on average, a viewer will only see 44% of the video. For the video below, we see that it only has 30% of the video viewed. Overall, the first one video is performing better.
There is also a dip that happens at the beginning in the second example, which indicates that viewers are skipping forward and about 20% then deciding it’s not worth continuing. It’s good data to help you improve your introduction and the hook.
If there is important information that you are presenting at a given point and in the Audience Retention you see that only a small percentage of your viewers actually see it, then for the next video, you might want to position the details in a different point in the video.
How to Improve Audience Retention
Here are a few ways you can retain your audience’s attention if you noticed a drop in viewership:
- Film a hook (introduce your video to let the audience know what to expect)
- Add b-roll (having supplemental footage to cut to makes your video more interesting to watch)
- Have a co-host (Having someone on screen gives the video more dynamic interactions)
- Edit out the unimportant stuff
- Write a conclusion (having a conclusion prepared will allow you transition from the content of the video to the call to action without the audience even knowing) See this example by PolyMatter below and notice how seamless their ending is.
If you have a video that is doing a good job retaining the audience, then replicate it. If there isn’t, keep experimenting with new structures. Improving audience retention is not simply important for your ranking, but it will affirm that you are building quality videos.
Knowing how to structure your video will allow you to be strategic as you build out your content.
2. People Are Unable to Find Your Videos:
Many viewers find YouTube videos via search, and if you aren’t using the appropriate keywords, then YouTube won’t be able to identify your content and display it for your viewers.
Where Do Keywords Appear on YouTube?
- Title: Have keywords at the beginning of the title and approx 60 characters so it appears in full in search.
- Tags: Include 10-15 tags from general keywords to more specific.
- Descriptions: Put important information and keywords at the beginning of the description so both searcher and search engine understands what the video is about.
Why Keywords Matter
Keyword relevance is important because the robots behind YouTube don’t associate the value of the actual video content with what the viewer is actually seeking.
Even when you add closed captions, it doesn’t mean the best keywords are present when we speak.
That is why it is important to know your audience and what words and phrases they are going to use to search for your video.
Here is how you can see what keywords were used to find your video:
Enter YouTube Creator Studio
Click into Traffic Source
Click YouTube Search
If you want to find some new keywords for your upcoming video, you will need to do some research.
1. Enter Keywords You Want to Rank for In YouTube Search: This allows you to see what the most popular phrases are.
2. Study the Competitors: See which videos are ranking high for your search term. Use a tool called VidIQ to see the keywords that the top videos are performing.
3. Search for Related Keywords and Evaluate Relevancy: A tool called Ubersuggest can help you find related keywords and allow you to identify the search volume, cost per click (aka CPC is used for determining the budget for paid search) and the competitiveness of the word or phrase.
Search volume: The number of searches with that particular keyword. The higher the number the more popular it is. You should aim to use keywords with a high search volume.
Keyword competition score: This score is usually indicated by a number and it represents how difficult it is for a keyword to rank due to other pages already ranking for that word or phrase. You want to find a keyword with low competition score.
Pro tip: The best combination is high search volume and low competition score. But if you can’t get that perfect mix, go for the low competitive score, as it will give you a better chance to rank, even if it isn’t searched as often.
4. Come Up With Content Related to Those Keywords: To come up with topic ideas around a keyword, you can use a tool called Answer the Public, which gives you all the most popular questions searched online.
3. You Don’t Have High Subscriber Numbers To Boost Your Video:
YouTube has stated that the number of subscribers doesn’t play a key role in your video ranking.
For example, if a YouTuber has a million subscribers and then overnight they lose 100 thousand, a video they had ranking number 1 will still be ranked number 1.
However, the number of subscribers has a lot of indirect effects on your channel.
- Subscribers know the moment your video is published
- Subscribers will watch your video in the first week (YouTube will rank your video higher if they see a lift in the first week of publishing)
- YouTube put a higher value on subscribers than views and social shares, because it’s harder to fake subscribers
While YouTube itself might not be using the number of likes and comments to determine where your video rank, having high engagement allows your video to be discovered through other means.
Here is an example of how it would work:
- A YouTuber with 100,000 subscribers views your video and likes it
- Then your video might be visible to a fraction of those 100,000 subscribers.
- Boom! Domino effect!
- More people will see your video and like it, increasing your network of viewers and your watch time, which is one of the main factors that YouTube takes into consideration.
Get engagements with a call to action:
- Don’t be afraid to ask for an engagement at the beginning of the video to avoid fall off on retention.
- Encourage them to leave a comment or start a discussion by asking a question at the end of your video.
- Monitor comments and responds to them so you can build a relationship with your audience over time.
It’s all about creating a community and that is what YouTube encourages.
5. Your Videos Do Not Increase Session Watch Time:
YouTube puts a lot of weight on watch time, and in addition to that, it puts more weight on session watch time.
Session watch time is counted when people watch your video and then continue to watch others, it doesn’t have to be your own. The more time people spend watching YouTube videos, as a result of your content, the more likely YouTube will increase your ranking.
Since YouTube puts importance on time spent watching videos, the length of your video will play a key role.
If you have 5 videos and all of them are a minute long, a 100% watch through will only get you 5 minutes total.
However, if you have 1 video that is 20 minutes, and an average viewer only watches half of it, then you have an average watch time of over 10 minutes. That’s more than double what your five short videos can do. This longer video is worth more. However, if that 20-minute video is really boring and people drop off in the first minute, then it’s not any better than 1 of the 5 short videos.
If your format allows, go for a longer video instead of a shorter one. But the most important thing is that you can keep people watching your videos: so use end screen and playlist links to keep them engaged.
Playlist: If you have multiple videos that fit a specific topic, add them to a playlist so the viewer can enjoy them all in one viewing.
Use Audience Retention to better understand how to structure your video for the best results.
Perform Keyword Research to find the keywords that your competitors are using and your audience is searching for.
Increasing Subscribers gets your video in front of more people the moment it is published.
Encourage Comments and respond to establish a relationship with your viewers.
Ensure that Viewers Continue Watching videos on YouTube after they finish watching yours.
Don’t miss a chance to optimize your YouTube video, download and print out this checklist for your next video project.
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Shanoon Cox is a writer and a lover of all things video.
Follow @Shanoon Cox
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