Over the past couple of weeks, there have been a ton of changes at YouTube including a major change to their search algorithm, new annotations functionality, testing of a completely overhauled site design, and a lot of other stuff.  In this week's ReelWeb, we take a brief overview look at those things, and what they mean for you as content creators and video marketers.

YouTube Search Engine Ranking - Algorithm Update

One of the other changes that happened to YouTube that might not be so apparent on the outside is their update to their search algorithm.  It now favors videos that have more time watched and contributes to viewer’s overall viewing session on YouTube.  The way that YouTube has explained it and talked about it, people still don’t really understand it.

Here is what we have been able to make of it, YouTube takes into account how many minutes people are spending watching your video.  Then they’re taking that number of minutes and comparing it to the number of minutes that other people are spending watching other people’s videos.  Whichever video has the most number of watched minutes will rank higher than the other video that has fewer minutes watched.

Along with that they also can take into consideration how your video contributes to that viewers overall session.  If you’re using annotations in your video that link to other videos, thus extending how long someone is staying on YouTube watching it that also boosts your video’s rankings in search.

Engagement is Key to Outranking Competition in YouTube Search:

What does this mean for us who are video creators and marketers on YouTube?

Basically it means that engagement is the key.  Audience interaction is so important, and you really need to focus on developing your audience as much as you focus on creating your content.

Recent Updates and Changes to YouTube

New YouTube Site Design

First off, if you haven’t noticed, the new YouTube site design looks and feels a lot more like Google +.  It’s very white, very clean.  The comments below had different thumbs up, thumbs down options as well as different threaded options.  Now it’s not just one big long list.  Everything’s neatly organized.  There’s a guide to the one side.  On your left side, you’ll see different channels.  There are a lot of things happening, and from what we've seen so far they look like positive improvements.  Most of those changes and updates can be seen clearly by just looking around the site.

YouTube Analytics Update

YouTube has also updated the views section in your analytics.  It shows you exactly how much total time people are watching your videos overall on your channel and also for each specific video.  It gives you a couple of different analytics there, some tools so you can understand how people are engaging with your videos, and how much time they’re actually spending on that video.

The new annotations analytics down at the bottom left hand corner of your analytics screen now will show you how many people are actually clicking through on your annotations, so you can see how much your video is contributing to people’s other viewing time on YouTube by sending them to other videos that you recommend if they end up watching.  The longer you keep people watching your videos the better, send people to other videos, and keep them watching longer, the better that video will do.  Annotations are becoming more and more important for having your video’s rank in search.  If you’re not using them like an outro, I recommend that maybe you start trying to experiment with some of that stuff as well.

Using Annotations to Link to Websites off YouTube

Another significant program that YouTube is currently piloting is the ability for us to use annotations to offsite websites, specifically our own websites that you have verified on your Google webmaster tools and on your YouTube account as an associated website.  You will, hopefully sometime in the near future, be able to link directly to your website with annotations.  Now, YouTube cautions the use of this because they say that any time you send people away from YouTube, their viewing session lowers.  This could affect your video’s search rankings in search and other things in sending people away from the platform.  They say to use it cautiously, but it’s a tool that a lot of us will definitely welcome.

Another update to annotations that has now been confirmed is that YouTube is getting rid of the store tab.  Instead, they are replacing it with merchant annotations that let you link to iTunes, District Lines, Café Press, and Shopify if you have a customs cart there.  It also lets you link to other places that you offsite to sell your products in other places where people are already used to buying things from you rather than doing that here on YouTube.  If you’re merchants, you’re probably going to welcome that change.

New Video Creator Marketplace

Another significant update to YouTube, the video creator marketplace is now open.  If you’re not familiar with it, it is essentially a place where creators, possibly like yourself, to connect with advertisers, also possibly like yourself.  It is where you can find like-minded creators and advertisers and come together.  Advertisers invite people who create content that they can advertise against and form relationships.  Creators can also make themselves available for advertisers to find them.  If you feel like you have an audience that can work well with certain advertisers in a certain niche, all YouTube does is put you in touch.  You work out all the terms and agreements on your own.  You can go apply, check it out, and read more information if you’re an advertiser or creator and you’d like to find more information about how you can connect and start working with the other party on YouTube.

YouTube's New Direction - Curation

Here’s a heads up on the direction that YouTube seems to be taking.  This is based off of a Forbes article.  They did an interview with a YouTube product manager, and he talked about the next big thing that’s coming up on YouTube.  The strategy that they’re taking actually revolves around duration.  They have over 72 hours of video uploaded to the site every single minute, and that is just a massive library to try to keep it organized and help good stuff surface and filter out the bad stuff.  They’re turning to their users sometime in the future to figure out how to curate that.  They figured out a business model that helps them monetize creators like us to make money here on YouTube.  It sounds like they figured out or are a least exploring a business model that also lets them offer monetization incentives for top curators on YouTube as well.  Probably, as this curation model goes forward, the curation community on YouTube will probably be significant to the overall health and vitality of this site, as the actual content creators themselves.  There are no specifics yet as to what this would look like, how it will work, function, or how monetization will be a part of all this.  If it’s coming, I actually welcome that, as long as it’s done well.

  • Vikas Singal

    Tim, People used to contact me to generate you tube views in the past, No they will ask me to give their video a 1-2 minute watch so that they can rank higher in the you tube search...Though I take it as best step from You tube to rank higher spend time video higher in their SERP...

  • Ken Fisher

    I wonder how they view going from one video to another off the YouTube platform. Let's say you have your own niche platform (using YouTube) filled with related videos. Perhaps that would not be counted unless you append their "&feature=relmfu" to the actual video link?

  • Jeff Martin

    The two things that need to happen with your YouTube video are: 1)
    Views as close to 100% completion as possible. 2) Viewers need
    to go to another video. You don't want people leaving the video early
    nor do you want your video to be the last viewed in the chain.