Understanding how videos get discovered on YouTube

Understanding algorithms can be a tricky one. Each website you upload to has similar, yet entirely different, ways of processing how your followers and target audience get to see your content, with YouTube being one of the most elusive formulas of all.

Not knowing where to start is a problem for many creators but these new tools in your YouTube overview page clearly illustrate two key metrics which you should pay close attention to: click-through rate and average view duration.

By understanding this information you can deduce exactly how many people are clicking from your videos and at which point in the video they start to lose interest. If you can optimise the content of your videos to reduce drop-offs then you're on to a winner.

Creator Insider

Further detailed exploration is described in this recent Creator Insider video starring Patricia and Rachel from the YouTube analytics technical team. Here’s what we learned from their talk on discovery.

What it means if your views are up but your click-through rate is down

Your best videos with the most views are most likely to have the lowest click-through rate (CTR) as they’re shown to a broader audience who are less familiar with your content. Videos with lower views would’ve targeted a relevant small audience so the impressions are usually higher. This makes it harder for creators to gauge their output but looking at a combination of both of these through the overview page will help to figure out how people are reacting to the title and thumbnails.

External traffic and its effect of home page performance and watch next

Creators often worry about external traffic’s effect on getting recommended via the Home Page or Watch Next features but Rachel affirms that everything is taken into context and both these edits each have their own ranking models which are personalised to a user based on how often they watch a certain creator or topic.

Why you should focus on average view duration (AVD) instead of average percentage viewed

Discovery look at relative and absolute watch times to determine how to promote your video, as shorter videos find it easier to have a higher percentage watched figure but videos of all lengths need to be able to succeed.

What to do if your CTR and AVD are good but the video isn’t doing well

This is the most confusing thing for creators. CTR and AVD are merely two of the main factors that discovery takes into consideration, the others include how many people watch and engage with the content, competition, topic interest, and seasonality. If there are other channels talking about your niche topic, they’re less likely to watch your video and if your fanbase are all at school, they’ll probably be watching on weekends.

Whilst this is all easy to compare in regards to your own content, creators are wanting to peek at how their competitors are doing in regards to click-throughs and average viewing times which is a feature that the team teases they’re looking into next. Until then, you can stay up to date with YouTube tricks and tips from the experts themselves on the Creator Insider channel.