Watch time or retention rate is vital factor of ranking when it comes to YouTube. Watch time is how long viewers watch your videos before they drop off or leave a video, having a video watched for the full duration or more than half the video can improve your ranking in YouTube Search as well as improve ad CPM’s, therefore it is important that we can improve this metric in our videos. With Programmes like YouTube RED programme, if your content has a low retention rate it correlates to a low payout from the RED programme.
Optimize Entry Points
Your thumbnail and title are the first thing that a viewer will see and will get them to click through into your video. You must have a compelling and interesting title and thumbnail, but they must be accurate to the content and not be deceptive clickbait titles or thumbnails. If you use misleading titles or thumbnails, it will be immediately clear to the viewer which will result in them leaving the video early and leaving a thumbs down, which will negatively effect your video.
Use YouTube Analytics
YouTube Analytics is a great tool for finding out why your audience is dropping off and lowering their watch time of the videos. If you check the audience retention report on YouTube Analytics you can find out which videos have low view times. If you find a trend in low view times in videos you can see what each have in common, for example if they’re dropping off within the first 15-30 seconds you should follow the 15 second rule to optimize the content, but if they’re dropping off halfway in each video you should see if there is any relation between the video eg. the video gets slower or has less energy which are the most common reasons for drop off, to combat this you can use annotations to prompt users to keep watching or simply telling them to stick around to see whats coming up.
Create Quality Video Content
Creating quality video content is an obvious one, but it is one of the most important factors. Why would you watch a video that didnt have interesting content? The higher the quality of your content and orginality the higher the watch time generally is. The user will be engrossed in the video and more likely to watch if it is something they havent seen before. You can achieve this by using your own style in videos and not blatently copying other youtubers styles. Voice your opinions, spark interest, and interact with your audience by posing questions and call to actions.
Editing is also a big part of creating quality video content. You should edit your video effectively by creating interesting openings, use of cuts to edit out the boring or unrelated parts that arent interesting and only keeping in the compelling parts to maintain interest throughout the video. Make sure to test the video out on your friends or fellow youtubers before uploading to get an honest opinion and feedback on the video.
The 15 Second Rule
When creating a video you need to grab the viewers attention within the first 15 seconds. If using an intro limit it to less than 5 seconds as if its longer it takes too long to get to the actual content. In order to capture the attention in the first 15 seconds you must place compelling content first with the information that the user is expecting or a build up to it. Dont start off with boring information that is irrelevant to the video content. At the start of the video you need to channel all of your energy, be completely outgoing, energetic and fast paced and try keep it up throughout the video as this style of behaviour is highly engaging.
Video Linking and Annotations
The use of video linking and use of annotations in older videos, can help users to continue watching your other videos by linking them to newer videos or continue to stay watching the current videos by asking them to stick around to find out more in areas that they usually drop off (eg. mid video) .This will increase your overall watch time since they are watching more of your video content.