Youtube Traffic Patterns and Uploading Recommendations

Youtube Traffic Patterns and Uploading Recommendations

When thinking about video SEO and marketing (in general – ways to get your video additional traffic, additional exposure, and additional ranking), it is important to understand and get a picture of the traffic patterns at the site you are optimizing for. Does the site you are interested in optimizing for get the most traffic in the morning or evening, weekends or weekdays? Is there a particular section of the site that gets more traffic or more user interaction?

I have seen a ton of posts online with users asking these questions in specific regarding Youtube Video Sharing and then speculate (Some say – The best time to upload is in the evening, after work, and during library hours) but I have not seen these questions answered to any level of satisfaction.

The following questions are relevant when determining if there is an optimal time to submit your video to Youtube and if there is a particular relevant category that would be best to submit to:

  • What is the best time of day to upload a video to Youtube?
  • What day is the best to upload a video to Youtube?
  • Which category is best to submit your video to on Youtube?

Of course, it is important to note that we are assuming that the "best" times to submit or upload a video to youtube, is a time that corresponds to a higher level of website traffic at Youtube. The thoery being that the more people that are online searching for videos, your video will have a better chance to be seen. Certainly makes sense although it probably has much more to due with the video itself – is it creative, unique, quality, etc…? Lets assume that your videos are worth viewing, in that case, it is likely a good idea to submit and upload your videos to Youtube according to times that correspond with higher traffic and video views.

I was surfing this weekend when I came across a research paper from students at the University of Calgary analyzing internet traffic on Youtube. The research paper was published in October, 2007 (last month).

Let me summarize this research and outline some of the findings as they relate to the questions above. If you do not feel like reading, you can jump to the conclusions summary below.


Methodology and Background

I will not go into too much detail here because you can read the full report and there is a lot more involved than what we are concerned with for this post. That being said, here is some background on the research.

Research was done on two user groups :

  1. Local User Group – Monitored Youtube usage by University of Calgary students (28000 students and 5300 faculty/staff) for 85 consecutive days between 1/14/2007 and 4/08/2007. For this user group, the research team monitored a total of 23,250,438 valid http transactions (3% of which were for videos – 556,000 videos)
  2. Global User Group – Measured statistics for the top 100 most viewed videos of the day, week, month, and all time (as reported on youtube)

Research Findings and Results:

Figure 7 – below – Addresses the following 2 questions:

  1. What times of the day does Youtube get traffic?
  2. Which days does Youtube get traffic?

Youtube Traffic Patterns and Uploading Recommendations

From the research, the following was observed:

  • Higher requests occurred on weekdays than on weekends – as one would expect.
  • Diurnal traffic patterns were observed – i.e. More requests occurred during the day than at night.
    • Steady increase in traffic to youtube from 8am until 1pm
    • Steady state of peak traffic between 2pm and 6pm
    • Steady decline in traffic between 7pm and 7am
    • Traffic rose at night between 12am and 4am – the theory is that this has more to do with the fact that the college campus has students who may be watching videos late at night in the dormitory.

Table 8 – below – Addresses the following question:

  1. Which category is is the most popular on Youtube?

Youtube Traffic Patterns and Uploading Recommendations

From the research, the most popular 5 Youtube Categories on a daily basis are:

  • Entertainment
  • Sports
  • Music
  • Comedy
  • News and Politics
    • Note that over time, news videos are less viewed as they are enjoyable only in terms of their recency.

Other interesting and notable findings:

  • Video Views:
    • 50% of the video requests (and corresponding bytes transferred) were for previously requested videos
    • Entry into the all time category require, on average, 8 times more views than those in the monthly category
  • Ratings:
    • Popular videos in all categories all have a rating of at least 4
    • For all videos, the average rating is 3 or higher 80% of the time.
  • Video Length Duration:
    • Videos with long term viability and popularity have durations well below the 10 minute maximum.
      • 52.3% of videos in the all time most popular category were between 3-5 minutes long.
      • Median length of video clips measured was 2 minutes.
  • Video File Size:
    • Only 10% of the videos viewed were larger than 21.9 MB
  • Video Bit Rates
    • 97% of videos seen on campus had bit rates below 1 Mbps
    • 62.6 % had bit rates between 300-400 Kbps
    • Median bit rate was 200 Kbps

Conclusions Pertaining to Video SEO on Youtube:

Clearly these results may differ depending on where you live but I feel that this research is adequate to draw some general conclusions regarding when and where to upload your video on Youtube for maximum exposure. Obviously you have to keep in mind the time zone that you are in. I will utilize this research to upload videos according to Pacific Standard Time a I want technology users in San Jose and Seattle to see my videos… ;-)

  • Rule #1 - Obviously, make a quality video that would likely be viewed on Youtube – Due to the audience on youtube, and popular categories noted, this most likely would be a more viral video, funny, shocking, etc…
  • Best time to upload your video to Youtube is:
    • During the week
    • Wed or Thurs is best
    • Submit your video between 12pm and 1pm as it can take up to an hour to upload and process your video. This way your video will be live during peak traffic at 2pm – that is the target.
  • Best category to upload your video to on Youtube is:
    • Although there is research showing the popular categories above, I would suggest that you choose the most relevant category. But, as a possible example, if your video falls somewhere in between music and entertainment, I would suggest choosing entertainment as it has more traffic.
    • That being said, the most popular 5 Youtube Categories are:
      • Entertainment
      • Sports
      • Music
      • Comedy
      • News and Politics
  • Most popular videos tend to be much shorter than 10 minutes (youtube's maximum length for non-director user accounts)
  • Encourage and allow ratings to be submitted to your video – most popular videos have a rating of at least 4-5.
  • Encode your video, without jeopardizing too much quality, at a bit rate that enables the typical broadband user to begin playback with minimal startup delay.

Here is the research paper for those that are interested - University of Calgary YouTube Study


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About the Author -
Mark Robertson is the Founder and Publisher of ReelSEO, an online information resource dedicated to the fusion of video, technology, social media, search, and internet marketing. He is a YouTube Certified, video marketing consultant and video marketing expert, popular speaker, and considered to be a passionate leader within the online video and search marketing industries. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • ruben

    which time are you talking about? California time or Calcutta time? New York time? Please explain. I thought the best time to upload is 8pm to 10 pm. A little of explanation on the time frame would be awesome. Also the research is good but it is wrong since it forgot the most watched category "pets and animals"

    Hope to hear about the Best time to upload!!!!! :)

    • http://www.reelseo.com/about/mark/ Mark Robertson

      Sorry Ruben - Mountain Time MST

  • Christo

    It might be better to upload a video during the week. But I consistently see a MUCH larger amount of viewers of my vids on Saturday and Sundays.

  • TheBlogRevenue

    Thanks a lot. It's really helpful for me on video marketing on youtube.

  • hiddentreasures

    Is this PST CST EST?

  • http://www.tytus.co/ Marc Tytus

    This looks like a great article, Mark. Can you post a link to the research paper?

    • http://www.reelseo.com/about/mark/ Mark R Robertson

      Marc - Yup - I just updated the post - link at bottom. Sorry bout that - usually I try to do that and didnt realize that I hadnt...

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=717273575 Derrick Barrett

    Very interesting...

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=31000018 Bryan Harley

    This article is 4 years old, the YouTube landscape has changed a lot. Any chance of updating with statistics from newer studies?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=564055289 Steve Love

    between 12 and 2pm what? GMT? PST? EST?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=677947918 Michael Field-Dodgson

    very helpful thanks.