Want to know how to get YouTube to recommend your videos?
Well, it appears that I have cracked the code on this one. Not to be overdramatic, but the YouTube gods have shined down upon me and finally started to recommend my videos to the masses. And by masses, I mean people who don’t know me personally so it’s not like they watched my videos as a favour or out of pity (yay!).
Anyways, back to my point. Finally, after seven months of building my YouTube channel from the ground up, one of my videos has caught YouTube’s attention. This particular video has gained more YouTube suggested views because it had its debut as a recommended video on YouTube.
It’s an exciting time for my channel, but how did it happen? How did the video end up as a suggested video for certain people? And, why did YouTube suggest this video in particular?
The answer to all of these questions lies within the analytics, so let’s take a look!
First glance overview of my YouTube analytics
My channel currently has 529 subscribers, which is an increase of 73 over the last 28 days. This is a pretty good jump in subscriber count, especially since we haven’t done any paid ads this month.
The reason for the increase comes down to the recent recommended video and the fact that I have started to appear on other people’s channels. The increased exposure helped me to gain some new subscribers, which has been awesome.
In the image below, you’ll see that we had 1.3k views in the last 28 days. We’ve also gained almost 130 hours of watch time and 73 new subscribers as I mentioned above.
The analytics also tells us that we have got 19 more new subscribers and 41 more views than usual. YouTube compares performance levels with the previous period, which is how they are able to determine specific changes or improvements between each 28-day period.
The interesting thing is that this jump in subscribers is not because of any type of paid advertising. We ran some ads as an experiment (read my post on how that went here: To Advertise Or Not To Grow Your YouTube Channel) a few months ago. But this month we didn’t run any ads so the fact that we still saw a jump in subscribers and views is great news.
Now, let’s talk about the video that YouTube has started to promote organically on the platform. The video is called Essential Functions of a Small Business, and you can either watch it as a video on my channel or read the blog post right here.
The image above shows the top videos in the last 28 days. As you can see, the ‘Essential Functions of a Small Business’ video has shot straight to the top of the leader board this month. Although it’s one of my older videos, it has almost three times as many views as my most recent upload, which currently sits in second place.
This is unusual for my channel because whenever I upload a new video, paired with promotional posts on social media, broadcasting it on my weekly newsletter, and so on, it tends to get the most views. However, that hasn’t happened this time and I want to find out why.
Suggested video analytics
When I look at the suggested video analytics specifically, I can see how much impact a suggested video has had on things like views, watch time, and subscribers.
In the image above, you’ll see a horizontal grey line going across the graph. That grey line represents the average number of views that my videos of roughly the same age have received. The blue line indicates how many views this particular video has gained since it was published. It remains fairly average at first but by the time January 10th hits, views began to rise quite rapidly. This shows that the video is being viewed more than other videos of the same age.
This video has a watch time of 89.5 hours, which is 39.5 more than usual. This tells me that people are watching the video from start to finish, which may be part of the reason why YouTube took notice of this video and started to promote it as a suggested or recommended video on the platform.
YouTube takes notice of things like that because they want people to stay on their platform for as long as possible. Since this video hooked viewers and got more watch time, YouTube took notice. On top of that, this video helped my channel gain 36 new subscribers. This means that while they were watching the video, they hit the subscribe button, which is awesome.
Audience retention analytics
In the ‘key moments for audience retention’ section of this video’s analytics, you can see that we have a 41.7% average duration and an average view duration of 6 minutes 55 seconds.
If we explore the audience retention analytics further, we see that it’s almost flat:
We lose around 40% of people within the first 30 seconds or so. I know that sounds quite bad, but that’s just the way it is, and most videos will lose a chunk of viewers at the very beginning. But let’s not dwell on that too much because when we click on the ‘relative audience retention’ option, everything starts to make sense.
The relative audience retention graph above basically shows how the video is performing relative to other videos of the same length. As you can see from the graph above, this video is performing above average, which means it’s getting more watch time and subscribers than other videos of the same length.
How to know if YouTube is suggesting your video
I believe that all of these things (watch time, views, relative audience retention, subscribers, etc.) come together to explain why YouTube started to promote this video. By looking at the YouTube analytics, you can clearly see that watch time has increased rapidly, along with the subscriber count.
Our subscriber count from this particular video remained steady up until YouTube began promoting it. Suddenly, we were up by 36 subscribers within a month, which is a great number for a YouTube channel still in its infancy.
There is further evidence that YouTube has pushed this video out within the ‘reach’ section of the analytics.
The first thing that stands out to be as evidence that YouTube is suggesting this video to people is the number of impressions. The impressions indicate how many times your thumbnail has been shown to people, either on their home page, search, sidebar, recommended video section, etc. Each time your thumbnail is shown, it counts as a single impression.
My video has got 10.5k impressions and 48% of those impressions are from YouTube recommending my video to potential viewers. The reach analytics also shows that this particular video has a 3.8% click-through rate, which can be improved. However, keep in mind that this is one of my older videos. When I post a new video, the click-through rate typically lies around 15 to 20% but once it’s been out for a while, things tend to level off.
In the bottom left section, you can see the different traffic source types. YouTube search accounts for 31.8% of traffic while suggested videos are 29%. This is a clear indicator that YouTube has been recommending my video to viewers and if you want to find out if your video is being recommended, I highly suggest taking a closer look at your analytics. The proof is in there, you just have to know where to look and what to look out for.
YouTube search terms
If you want to know what keywords people are searching for when your video pops up, take a look at the ‘Traffic source: YouTube search’ section. Here is what mine looks like for this video:
From this, I can see exactly what terms have helped people find my video. The most popular search term people have used is ‘business structure,’ followed by organizational structure, small business organization, and so on.
What’s interesting about ‘business structure’ being the most searched term is the fact that we haven’t focused on that term. We didn’t include it as a tag on the video because we knew it was a competitive term. Nonetheless, we are ranking for the term ‘business structure’ anyway, but how?
I believe it has something to do with YouTube’s algorithm. Recently, YouTube has expressed that the tags on your video are not as relevant as they once were. Now, YouTube is focusing more on your actual content and the words inside your video. They can transcribe videos, pinpoint keywords, and then promote relevant videos to certain audiences.
So, despite the fact I didn’t include the term ‘business structure’ within the description of the video or as a tag, we still managed to rank for this term because I talked about business structure in the actual video.
YouTube analytics also tells us where my video has appeared as a suggested video. It provides a list of videos where mine shows up as a suggestion after someone has watched that particular video.
The interesting thing about this data is that the videos listed are not always my own videos. Sometimes, they are other creator’s videos, which is awesome because it means my video is being promoted to new audiences.
Suggested video vs “non-suggested” videos
To help you see the difference between the outcome of a video that YouTube has suggested versus one that it has not suggested, let’s compare two videos on my channel.
So, I’m going to compare the ‘Essential Functions of a Small Business’ video with one that was released around the same time. Here is a list of videos that were published around the same time as the video that has recently been suggested by YouTube:
The suggested video has got 775 views, 51 likes, and 19 comments, which is more than our average but not our highest performing video on the channel. However, if you compare that with a video that was released around the same time, such as the ‘How to say no when you want to say no,’ video, it has 255 views, 18 comments, and 32 likes.
Diving further into that video’s analytics, we see that the watch time is 28.3, which is significantly less compared to the 89.5 hour watch time of the suggested video. That’s a huge difference. We gained just four subscribers with the ‘non-suggested’ video, whereas the suggested video got 36 new subscribers.
You can also notice a huge difference in audience retention between both videos. Not only that, but impressions are also significantly less.
This video has 2.1k impressions, while the suggested video has 10.5k impressions. The traffic source section reveals more insights and shows a stark contrast between this video and the video that YouTube has recommended to people. Most traffic has come from ‘direct or unknown,’ and this video is not ranking on YouTube search very well at all.
It took six months before one of our videos finally got promoted by YouTube (without us paying for it!). Yes, it took some time for it to happen, but it was worth it.
If you want to get more suggested video views, you’ve got to stay consistent and continuously optimise your videos. Keep going but don’t be afraid to try new things and switch it up to help increase audience retention, click-through-rates, and views!
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