YouTube was started in 2004. Surprisingly to many, it wasn’t started as a video-sharing platform but rather as a video dating website.
Today, it’s the second most used search engine globally after Google, attracting over 2 billion monthly users. Google acquired it in 2006 for $1.65 billion.
They analyzed the top 10 search results for 15,000 keywords to determine which metric points affected performance the most. Here’s what they found:
- Subscribers: Most of the results in the top 10 came from channels with the highest number of subscribers. Only 18% of videos came from channels with less than 1,000 subscribers.
Take away: Subscribers help, but if the content is engaging and of high quality you can still make your way into the top ten. But the more competitive the keyword, the more channel “authority” will help.
- Views: On average, the video in the first position had 74% more views than the video in the second position. Also, the YouTube algorithm recommends videos that are more likely to be viewed to the end based on their length and previous engagement. After all, YouTube makes money by selling ads.
Take away: Promote your content as soon as you release it (across multiple platforms) to get early traction for views. Don’t rely only on the YouTube algorithm to do all the work for you.
Engagement metrics: In short, it’s a virtuous circle. The more people watch a video, the more views, likes, and comments it gets. And the more engagement signals it receives, the higher it ranks.
Video features and elements
- Titles: 54% of all the analyzed videos had an average of 8 words in their title. Limiting your word use here seems to be the way to go. Also, be sure to mention the main keyword.
- Description length: The average number of words was 107. The idea here is to go longer to help rank for more keywords, but not to go crazy with it. Ensure the description closely matches the video content.
- Links in the description: Branded URLs were shown to increase CTRs by nearly 36%. If you want to drive the viewers to your website, use these.
- Hashtags: Top-ranking videos have on average 13 tags. Videos with fewer tags ranked in lower positions. Sprinkle in tags that match the keywords. But like on Twitter, Instagram, and other sites that use hashtags, don’t overdo it.