YouTube uses watch time as part of its algorithm for suggesting videos (in terms of rankings). How to increase watch time to boost your YouTube ranking? In this article, you will find several ways to increase your YouTube watch time.

Increase YouTube Watch Time

Do you have a YouTube channel? Do you want to make money on YouTube? However, according to YouTube Partner Program (YPP), your channel needs at least 4,000 watch hours in the previous 12 months and 1,000 subscribers, you can apply for the YPP and have an opportunity to make money from ads.

Now, the question is: how to increase YouTube watch time?

The deal: this post lists 8 simple yet effective ways to help you increase watch hours on YouTube.

Here, before trying some of our tips and techniques to increase your YouTube watch time, let’s see what "watch time" actually is and how it works.

What Is YouTube Watch Time?

According to YouTube, we know that watch time is the amount of time that a viewer has watched a video. Watch time makes you know what content viewers actually watch (as opposed to videos that they click on and then abandon).

How Do You Check Your Watch Time on YouTube?

  • Sign in to YouTube.
  • In the top right, select your account > Creator Studio.
  • In the left menu, click Analytics > Watch time.
  • At the top of the report, you'll see information for Impressions > Click through rate > Views > Average view duration > Watch time.

steps to check watch time

Why Is Watch Time So Important?

Before October 2012, a total number of views was considered the primary measure of success on YouTube. However, YouTube adjusted its algorithm and made the watch time become the #1 ranking factor because they realized that view count alone wasn’t a good indication of relevance or content quality.

Justin Briggs found a strong correlation between watch time and rankings in YouTube search:

the relationship between watch time and ranking

Now, you have to optimize your video for watch time to rank your video. Keep reading to find different ways on how to increase watch hours on YouTube video!

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1. Create Videos with Quality Content

YouTube, launched on February 14th, 2005, is the 2nd most visited website in the world. Today, over 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. See! How fierce the competition is for watch time! Therefore, to increase YouTube watch time, you have to focus on quality.

Content is king, as we so often hear. When making YouTube videos, you should put yourself in the shoes of viewers and think "what would make me want to stick around and watch this entire video?" Follow this advice, and I bet you can create a video which will attract and retain viewers.

For instance, you can make a video which teaches your viewers something. Here, I create a video to tell users 3 Ways to Fix Disk Unknown Not Initialized Issue on External Hard Drive. Then, it’s watch time is 464,918 minutes this year.

the watch time of my YouTube video

If your video content is so good, viewers won't think twice about sharing it with their friends and family. It’s a good way to boost YouTube watch time.   

2. Nail the First 15 Seconds

When starting watching a video, viewers always will ask themselves two questions:

  • Is this video worth my time?
  • Should I keep watching this or not?

Almost all YouTube viewers will find the answer in the viewing of the first 15 seconds.

If the 15 seconds of your video can’t capture your viewer's attention, they will lose interest in what you have to say pretty quickly. As a result, they will leave your video. High bounce rates will drive your watch time down big time.

Make sure the first 15 seconds of your video is engaging and interesting. If you can hook your audience within the first 15 seconds, you will have a good watch time.

3. Choose Titles & Thumbnails That Accurately Reflect Your Content

Both YouTube video title and thumbnail can send a signal to the viewer about the video's content. When people are searching for any videos on YouTube, they will see the title as well as thumbnail to decide whether they need to watch this video.

Well-designed titles and thumbnails can bring 3 benefits:

  • Attract more fans to your channel.
  • Encourage viewers to watch through your videos because they know what to expect.
  • Make your content appealing to a broad range of advertisers.

video title and thumbnails

Therefore, it is very necessary to optimize title and thumbnail to increase watch time on YouTube.

Optimize YouTube Title

To write the perfect title for your YouTube, you can follow the below tips:

  • Include your keyword in the title.
  • Use a number in your title. (This can boost CTR. For instance, if your video contains 3 ways, you can include 3 in your title.)
  • Keep your titles within 70 characters (including spaces).
  • Keep the title precise and natural.

Examples:

  • 3 Ways to Fix Disk Unknown Not Initialized on External Hard Drive
  • How to Recover Unallocated Partition with Data on It

Optimize YouTube Video Thumbnails

If you want to increase YouTube watch time, you need to understand that thumbnail images are just as important as the video’s title. YouTube video thumbnails not only can help you jump out at users but also help you stand out in a long line of search results.

Here are some recommendations:

  • Your image should be 1280 x 720 pixels, with a minimum width of 640 pixels.
  • It must be in .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG image formats.
  • The image file must be under the 2MB limit.
  • Try to use a 16:9 aspect ratio as it’s used most often in YouTube players and previews.

4. Keep a Close Eye on Your Audience Retention

Audience Retention is the average percentage of a YouTube video that viewers watched.

pay attention to audience retention to increase YouTube watch time

Here, to increase watch hours on YouTube video, you need to keep a close on the Audience Retention report for every video you upload to your YouTube channel.

The Audience Retention report will show you where viewers drop off (Valleys) and where viewers tend to stick around (Peaks), as shown below. Thus, you can make adjustments as necessary, versus operating in the blind.

audience retention help you analyze the watch time

It has been proven that increasing a video’s retention rate can help you get you out to more people who are interested in your content, which can boost YouTube watch time.

5. Create Content Based on Long-Tail YouTube Keywords

Targeting long-tail YouTube keywords can help drive more traffic to your videos instead of your competitors and increase your watch time if you are putting the other tips into action at the same time.

There are many methods for identifying long-tail keywords to use for your content. But the simplest way is to use YouTube’s suggestions feature.

Type in a word you know your audience is interested in into the YouTube search bar. Then, you get some valuable long-tail keyword ideas from YouTube we could use for content.

For instance, we typed "recover data" into the search bar, and got some valuable long-tail keyword ideas from YouTube we could use for content. Thus, we are able to create more targeted content.

get long tail keywords from YouTube suggestions feature

Besides, you can check out what kind of content your competition is producing and look at what keywords they are using to complete your own content.

6. Create Video Playlist

Did you know that you can get more hours of watch time on YouTube although people don’t watch your videos?

To be specific, if a viewer starts watching your video and continues watching a playlist (it doesn’t matter if the subsequent videos belong to other people), you will get credit for that watch time.

Playlists guide potential viewers toward a more linear viewing experience, which will increase your YouTube watch time.

How to increase YouTube watch time by using this feature?

  • Create different video playlists to cover all your videos.
  • Organize your playlists into meaningful sequences based on relevant themes, holidays, events, recurring series, etc.

Excellent video playlists provide your viewers the opportunity to watch more of your videos in one viewing session, increasing your visibility and doing wonders for your watch time.

video playlist

7. Use Cards and End screens

After uploading YouTube video, you can use some tricks to increase watch time.

End screen

You can use an excellent feature – end screen to direct your viewers toward your most relevant videos easily to improve YouTube watch time.

Cards

Besides, you can use cards to increase watch hours. YouTube can help you add the following cards to get more watch hours on video.

  • Video or Playlist card: promote a video or playlist.
  • Channel card: promote another channel.
  • Poll card: encourage viewers to participate in a poll.
  • Link card: link to another approved website.

add end screen and cards to increase YouTube watch time

8. Build Your Subscriber Base

Building YouTube subscriber base might be the #1 best thing you might be able to do for your video SEO because active subscribers always lead to higher watch time on your videos from the moment you publish them.

Try the following tips to grow subscriber base to increase YouTube watch time:

Organic subscriber growth

Try promoting your videos on social media, optimizing your YouTube channel, and generating social proof to enhance the organic growth of your subscribers.

Generating social proof

Generally speaking, social proof resembles the level of popularity your channel has achieved.

When viewers check out your channel and find that you have a respectable number of subscribers, they likely check out your content and subscribe to your channel.

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It’s Time to Get to Work!

Reading here, I guess you might be clear about that watch time is the most important metric measuring success on YouTube. It is necessary to increase YouTube watch time for YouTube SEO. Here, this post lists 8 tips to increase watch time on YouTube.

What do you think? Which ways you want to try to increase the watch time of your videos on YouTube? If you have any other good solutions on how to increase watch hours on YouTube, please share them with us by leaving a comment in the comments below.

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