We Analyzed 1.3 Million YouTube Videos. Here's What We Learned About YouTube SEO

We Analyzed 1.3 Million YouTube VideosHere's What We Learned About
YouTube SEO

We Analyzed 1.3 Million YouTube Videos. Here’s What We Learned About YouTube SEO
Brian Dean

by Brian Dean · Updated Feb. 28, 2017

We analyzed 1.3 million YouTube videos to better understand how YouTube’s search engine works.

Specifically, we looked at the correlation between ranking factors — like views, comments and shares — with YouTube rankings.

We learned a lot about YouTube SEO. And I’m sure you will too.

Here is a Summary of What We Discovered:

1. Comments appear to be an influential ranking factor. We found that a video’s comment count strongly correlates with higher rankings.

2. Longer videos significantly outperform shorter videos. The average length of a first page YouTube video is 14 minutes, 50 seconds.

3. We discovered that video views have a significant correlation with rankings.

4. The number of shares a video generates is strongly tied to first page YouTube rankings.

5. There’s a moderate correlation between a channel’s subscriber size and rankings. This means that even small channels have a chance to rank their videos in YouTube.

6. Video likes are significantly correlated with higher rankings.

7. “Subscriptions driven” has reasonably strong correlation with rankings. Therefore, videos that result in new subscribers have an advantage in YouTube search.

8. We found a very small relationship between keyword-rich video tags and rankings. This could represent the fact that YouTube can now understand video content without the help of metadata.

9. Videos that contain an exact match keyword in their video title appear to have a slight edge over videos that don’t. This means that including a keyword in your title may improve your rankings by a slim margin.

10. We found zero correlation between keyword-optimized video descriptions and rankings.

11. HD videos dominate YouTube’s search results. 68.2% of videos on the first page of YouTube are in HD.

I have detailed data and information of our findings below.

Video Comments Have a Very Strong Correlation With Rankings

YouTube encourages creators to publish videos that maximize engagement. Needless to say, comments are a strong indicator that people are engaging with your video.

But does YouTube use comments as a ranking signal?

Our data suggests that they do:

youtube comments chart

As you can see in the chart above, the more comments a video has, the higher it tends to rank. Considering YouTube’s emphasis on user engagement, this result isn’t a big surprise.

Key Takeaway: Videos with lots of comments tend to rank best in YouTube.

Longer Videos Outrank Short Videos

When it comes to video SEO, should you create short videos? Or are you better off with longer videos that cover a topic in-depth?

We analyzed our data to find out.

Our data shows that longer videos tend to significantly outrank short videos.

video length chart

In fact, the average length of a video ranking on the first page of YouTube is 14 minutes, 50 seconds.

What’s happening here?

YouTube has publicly confirmed that a video’s total watch time is a key ranking signal.

youtube-creator-blog-screenshot

Also, in 2015, Google was granted a patent for an algorithm that uses “watch time” as a ranking signal.

In short, YouTube wants to promote videos that keep people on YouTube for a long period of time. Longer videos accomplish this best, hence the preference for longer video content.

Another theory is that longer videos provide more overall value in a single video. This is true for “how-to” videos as well as for content designed to entertain. The value that longer videos provide may encourage more interaction signals (including comments and likes) that ultimately impact rankings.

In fact, if you do a cursory search of popular keywords, you’d be hard pressed to find a short video (< 3 minutes) ranking highly in the search results.

youtube search results 2

Key Takeaway: Longer videos perform best in YouTube search. The average video on the first page of YouTube’s search results is 14 minutes, 50 seconds long.

Video Shares Are Strongly Tied to Higher Rankings

Google has consistently denied the fact that social signals play a role in their algorithm.

However, YouTube’s algorithm works independently of Google. So there’s a possibility that YouTube uses shares from social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as a ranking factor.

In fact, we did find that shares have a strong correlation with higher rankings in YouTube:

total video shares

It’s important to note that we used YouTube’s public share report for this analysis.

video shares

Why is this important?

One of the major issues of using social shares as a ranking signal is that they’re easily gamed. Anyone can can hand someone a few dollars in exchange for sharing a piece of content 100 times on Facebook.

This isn’t the case on YouTube.

Unlike sharing content using a webpage’s social sharing icons, YouTube knows which users share video content…and where they share.

youtube social share icons

This tracking makes this signal much harder to game.

Combine that with the fact that YouTube encourages publishers to create highly-shareable content (and that YouTube reports shares in YouTube Analytics), and you have a strong possibility that the relationship between shares and rankings is more than a chance correlation.

Key Takeaway: Highly-shared videos outrank videos with fewer shares.

A Video’s View Count Is Significantly Correlated With Rankings

Video views used to be YouTube’s #1 ranking factor.

The thought was that: lots of views=popular video=quality video.

However, YouTube discovered that views often serve as a poor indicator of video quality.

So they changed their algorithm to emphasize factors like audience retention and engagement:

youtube emphasize watch time

However, we discovered that a video’s total view count continues to have a significant correlation with rankings.

video views rankings chart 2

It appears that you still need a critical mass of views to rank in YouTube. (In fact a YouTube engineer stated that, while views aren’t as important as they once were, YouTube still uses them).

That’s because, without views, your video can’t generate the other signals that YouTube uses to evaluate your video’s quality (like total watch time and comments).

But at a certain point, views have diminishing returns.

That’s why you often see high-quality videos rank above lower-quality videos (even when the lower-quality video has significantly more views).

example of low video view video ranking

Key Takeaway: Video views are significantly correlated with higher YouTube rankings.

A Channel’s Subscriber Count Is Moderately Correlated With Rankings

We found a moderate correlation between a channel’s total subscribers and rankings:

channel subscribers chart

This is good news if you run a small or new channel.

Unlike Google, which seems to have a preference for big brands, YouTube is more likely to rank content from “the little guy”.

For example, for this popular keyword, videos from two small channels outrank a video from a channel that has over 2 million subscribers:

ranking with low subs

This type of result isn’t uncommon on YouTube.

(Of course, channels with millions of subscribers have an edge. But our data shows that this advantage isn’t as significant as you may think).

Key Takeaway: Channels with lots of subscribers have an advantage in YouTube. However, videos from smaller channels consistently outrank videos from popular channels.

Videos With Lots of Likes Outrank Videos With Fewer Likes

It’s no secret that YouTube prefers videos that engage their audience.

And video “likes” serve as a powerful engagement signal. After all, likes are a crowdsourced way of evaluating how the YouTube community feels about your video.

That’s the theory. But what does the data say?

Our study revealed a significant correlation between likes and video rankings:

youtube likes and rankings chart

This suggests that YouTube may use likes as a ranking signal.

However, as you know, correlation doesn’t always mean causation.

Videos with lots of likes are also likely to be high-quality. And high-quality videos generate other ranking signals (like audience retention) that YouTube values.

Key Takeaway: YouTube may use likes as a direct ranking factor. Or it could be that heavily-liked videos generate other signals that YouTube truly cares about.

Videos That Result in New Channel Subscribers Rank Higher Than Videos That Don’t Generate Subscribers

If someone really enjoys a video on YouTube, what are they likely to do? Subscribe to that channel so they can see that channel’s future videos.

In other words, a video that encourages lots of new subscribers is a sure sign of quality.

Not only that, but getting new subscribers is an extremely hard metric to game at scale.

Sure, you can get a few people (or bots) to subscribe to your channel after watching a video. But it’s much more difficult than generating thousands of fake views or likes.

Knowing that, its likely that YouTube uses “subscriptions driven” as a ranking factor.

Our data did indeed show a significant correlation between “subscriptions driven” and higher video rankings.

subscriptions driven rankings

As they do with shares, YouTube displays the number of subscriptions driven underneath each video:

subscriptions driven

(Publishers can choose not to show this information publicly).

Like with most metrics, you can boost the number of subscribers your videos generate by creating world-class video content.

However, you can also ask viewers to subscribe:

subscribe CTA

I’ve found that a clear call-to-action to subscribe significantly boosts my “subscriptions driven” on each video.

Key Takeaway: “Subscriptions driven” has a reasonably strong correlation with higher YouTube rankings.

Keyword-Rich Tags Have a Weak Correlation With YouTube Rankings

In the early days of online video, platforms like YouTube relied on metadata to understand your video’s topic.

For example, YouTube would analyze your video’s title, description, tags…even your video’s filename. Essentially, the more text you could attach to your video, the better.

Today, YouTube can “listen” to every word of your video (without needing you to upload a transcription):

youtube automatic transcription2

Knowing that, does YouTube still use video tag metadata?

We found a weak correlation between keyword-rich video tags and rankings:

keyword in tag chart

While tags don’t appear to be as important as they once were, our data shows that they still make a small dent. So it makes sense to use them.

(Also, YouTube recommends that you use descriptive tags. This suggests that they still use tags to understand the content and context of your video).

Key Takeaway: Including your target keyword as a tag may help with rankings. But the overall impact of tags appears to be small.

Keyword-Optimized Titles Are Slightly Correlated With Rankings

Traditionally, you video’s title was piece of metadata that YouTube put a lot of emphasis on.

However, we found that including an exact keyword in your video title only has a slight potential impact on rankings:

exact match title

These findings could mean a few things:

It could be that YouTube has de-emphasized the importance of video titles. However, this seems unlikely as YouTube has stated that: “Titles contain valuable information to help viewers find your videos in search results.”

What’s more likely is that YouTube has developed a deeper understanding of a title’s meaning (beyond simple keyword matching).

In other words, they may use a less-sophisticated version of Google’s semantic search. If so, YouTube wouldn’t need to see a specific keyword in your title to rank you for that query. A synonym would do the job.

In fact, its common to see videos ranking well in YouTube for popular keywords…even when they don’t contain the exact term in their title.

youtube search results example

Key Takeaway: Using your target keyword in your title may help you rank for that term. However, the relationship between keyword-rich video titles and rankings is very weak.

There’s No Correlation Between Keyword-Optimized Descriptions and Rankings For That Term

Does including a keyword in your video description help you rank for that term?

According to our data, keyword-optimized descriptions don’t have any impact on rankings:

keyword in description

This finding contradicts a common “best practice” of video optimization: keyword-rich descriptions.

There are a few possible explanations for this finding:

First, like with titles, YouTube may not require an exact keyword in your description to understand what your video is about. For example, let’s say that your target keyword is: “how to grow tomatoes”. Using terms in your description like “growing tomatoes” and “the best way to grow tomatoes” may work just as well.

Second, there’s the possibility that YouTube uses “keyword appears in a video’s description” as a ranking signal, but it’s so small that we weren’t able to measure it. In fact, we found several videos with no description at all ranking highly on the first page. This implies that your video description isn’t nearly as important as user-generated signals (including views and “subscriptions driven”).

Third, it could be that YouTube now ignores video descriptions as a ranking factor. This is unlikely as YouTube states that: “Well-written descriptions with the right keywords can boost views and watch time because they help your video show up in search results.”.

Despite this finding, I still recommend writing keyword-rich descriptions.

Why?

An optimized description helps you show up in the suggested videos sidebar, which is a significant source of views for most channels.

Key Takeaway: There’s no correlation between keyword-optimized descriptions and rankings for that term. However, I still recommend writing keyword-rich descriptions as they can help your video rank for related terms (and appear as a “suggested video”).

HD Videos Dominate The First Page of YouTube’s Search Results

Do high-definition or standard-definition videos perform best in YouTube search?

We discovered that HD videos appear significantly more often than SD videos on YouTube’s first page:

HD videos

This data can be interpreted in two ways:

First, it could be that YouTubers that create the best video content also tend to record in HD. Therefore, this is an instance of correlation only telling part of the story.

Second, there’s the possibility that YouTube has an inherent preference for HD video content.

It’s difficult to determine the full impact of HD vs. SD from our correlation data alone.

Regardless, the vast majority of videos that rank well in YouTube are in HD. In fact, 68.2% of all videos on YouTube’s first page are in HD.

Key Takeaway: HD videos are significantly more common than SD videos on the first page of YouTube’s search results.

Summary and Conclusion

I’d like to thank Qi Zhao for helping us with statistical analysis for this study.

And if you’re curious about how we conducted this study, here’s a link to our methods.

Now I’d like to hear from you:

Which result was most surprising to you?

Or maybe you have a question.

Either way, leave a quick comment below right now.

316 Comments

  1. Bookmarking it! Seems like an amazing guide. You last guide was awesome.

    Thanks for the post Brian!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Pravash. Yup, this is a brand new study. We collected and analyzed the data over the last 2 weeks so this is what’s important for video SEO in 2017.

  2. This is great research, Brian! Something to be proud of for sure. Although YouTube has been around for a long time now we STILL don’t see too many companies leveraging this great media for ranking. Who doesn’t like INFO_taining your customers? Even if they do create a small biz video, they might not know how to rank it for keywords. That is where great guides like this one come in to help succeed online.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Well said, Chris. I think the underlying issue is that, with video, there’s a barrier to entry that’s not there with a post. But as you pointed out, the upside of video marketing/YouTube is HUGE.

      1. Yes Dean, for SURE! I wonder sometimes if people realize that Google Owns YouTube. That being said, why are you not including videos into your marketing strategy? Huge Ranking Opportunities 🙂

  3. Mario Avatar Mariosays:

    Short videos do well… It depends on your audience and content strategy.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      That’s true, Mario. But in general, our data shows that longer videos tend to rank best in YouTube.

      1. Our short videos rank really well, many on page one on Google SERPS. My clients who are mostly in the real estate space- their videos always rank high for very short videos. It does depend on the niche you are in. It makes sense that “how to” videos are expected to be instructional and therefore 14 minutes is perfect. However, no one is going to get great audience retention on a tour of a house for sale that goes on and on for 14 minutes. Buyers want to see the photos of the house, inside of the house, they are not there to learn how to buy a house, they are there to buy a house, totally different niche. I think that Google knows the difference because we have a lot of videos on page one and page 2 that are less than 2 minutes in length. The other thing we do for retention is to link videos from one video right into a specific point in another video. This helps the buyers stay on the video longer because of curiosity.

        1. Adrian Avatar Adriansays:

          Noah Kagan is in the process of validating his channel on Youtube and many of his vids are short. Curious to know what Brian thinks about this. Might a certain niche, like Katerina’s one, choose to go with short from the get go?

        1. ricardo marcos Avatar ricardo marcossays:

          this study is for ranking in youtube not google serps.

    1. Yes..that’s true right now. But don’t you think that it depends on the audience and the points? I mean – if you’re trying to learn something, one very short video may not be very helpful.

  4. Hi Brian, another great post as I’m looking to start doing video this year!

    When it comes to comments, shares, and likes, have you seen any evidence that these aren’t just the RESULT of the high rankings, not the CAUSE of the high rankings? On your own videos, have you noticed that when these factors come first, those videos rank better than others that didn’t get that early engagement?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Tom. This was a correlation study. So we only looked at how different metrics correlated with rankings. We’re not able to tease out cause and effect
      from our data. That said, from my own experience, I’ve definitely noticed that lots of comments tend to precede a high-ranking video.

      1. This was my thought also! Thank you for answering it.

      1. Taylor Avatar Taylorsays:

        Brian, did you happen to check the comment to views ratio?

    1. Matt Avatar Mattsays:

      I wondered the same thing when I read those parts.

  5. This is going to be massively helpful. Thanks.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Vikrant

  6. Excellent research piece and knocks the head on some of the rubbish I read out there about “YouTube SEO”. Thanks Brian

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Azzam. Yup, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about YouTube SEO. I hope our results can start a trend where more people use a data-driven approach.

  7. Caleb Malik Avatar Caleb Maliksays:

    How confident are you in the results given the use of spearman correlation (thanks for sharing methods btw). You do supply some anecdotal evidence based on reports out of YouTube, but I often found myself saying things like, “well of course the comment count is highest on the higher ranked videos, it’s much easier to get comments when you rank well.” Any additional thoughts on this? Are there results above for which you advise greater caution, are there others you are more confident about? Would be interested to hear more.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Caleb, you raise a great point. As with any correlation data, caution is warranted, correlation doesn’t mean causation, etc. And our study is no different.

      In terms of results I’m confident on, I use a combination of the strength of the correlation, statements from YouTube about what they value, and my own experience. And my experience is pretty much in-line with the data. The only one I was surprised to see was the effect of views as I see videos with fewer views outrank videos with significantly more.

      1. Caleb Malik Avatar Caleb Maliksays:

        Hmm, very interesting, and I assumed there was definitely interpretation on your own experience. Thanks for sharing! Had you considered a multiple regression for analysis? Or did this data, and it’s collection, not lend itself to such analysis? This might offer greater insight into causal relationships if it is possible.

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          We actually did consider multiple regression to try to tease out the individual effects of each ranking factor. It’s something we may pursue in a future study/update of this one.

      1. I’m not a stats person but I guess one way to look at the impact of comments on ranking is the timing of the comments. Often a video will get a flurry of comments when it is published but not so many after that – even though the video continues to accrue views and watch time. So in that scenario it would be the comments come first then the video is ranked highly as a result. What are your thoughts?

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Katie, that’s definitely a possibility. One of the weaknesses of a correlation study like ours is that it’s hard to tease out cause and effect.

  8. Ann Avatar Annsays:

    There is something I have to keep in mind, Thanks for sharing these things!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Ann. These results also led me to tweak how I approach optimizing my videos.

  9. Amie Botes Avatar Amie Botessays:

    Great post and really interesting insights Brian!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Amie. Glad you enjoyed it.

      1. Amie Botes Avatar Amie Botessays:

        I think it could also be interesting to see what categories the videos fall into, like the channel’s main focus for example, marketing, entertainment, food, exercise, gaming ect. and if that has an impact on how YouTube ranks different video categories.

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Amie, that would be interesting. That said, our sample included hundreds of different categories. So they were represented in the data set.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Felix

  10. Yeah.
    I get new content from Brian Dean.

    Thanks!

    (I think, I will make a channel tommorow after read this. :/)

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Yosua. Cool! Good luck with the new channel

  11. Hello Brian, the thing is that in the past the most popular videos were the short ones. Now… it’s exactly the oposite thing… Everyone wants to keep the users on their websites, decreasing the bounce rate. They’re not doing it so much for the users but to improve their profit.
    🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Kiril, that’s a valid point. Whether its Google, Facebook or YouTube, they all want to keep users on their platform.

  12. Jake Avatar Jakesays:

    Great Article,

    What about a series of video like Part 1 – Part 10, do they rank aswell as long videos?

    Thanks Jake.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Jake. According to our data, a series won’t rank as well. Both from a “We’re YouTube and we want to keep people on our platform” angle and from a user experience point of view. It’s much easier to watch a single video than get the same info from 10 different vids.

  13. Fab article, thanks Brian.

    To me YouTube ranking is an enigma. I can upload one and it gets views, likes etc but upload another and it’s somewhere in the abyss. Part due to competition I am sure but I cannot find consistency. Your guide helps.

    One question actually… YouTube keyword research. Do you have any tips on finding those YouTube searches that carry search volume? All I use is the predicted search bar in YouTube.

    Finally, YouTube rankings in organic search. Any data you’d possibly share about this?

    Great thanks.
    Marcus

  14. Sariel Mazuz Avatar Sariel Mazuzsays:

    Hey Brian,

    Awesome article with some surprising insight! Definitely going to take action based on these.

    The one that really caught my attention, it’s the correlation between keywords-rich description and ranking. Although I’ll keep using optimized descriptions (As you said), still, as a “little perfectionist” it’s great to know that 😉

    Quick question, which tools did you use for this kind of analysis?

    Stay awesome,
    Sariel

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Sariel. That one caught me eye too. We had quite a few videos without any description at all rank well. So that was a sign that descriptions
      aren’t as important as they once were.

      In terms of tools, I’d have to ask my co-author (Zach) what he used. But from what I gather it was a Swiss Army Knife of different tools. This wasn’t easy to pull off.

    1. Hello Sariel, I figured I can chime in about the tools we used. To do the extraction, we used a combination of the Python library Scrapy and their companion headless web browser, Splash, to render JavaScript (its essentially a scriptable version of Google Chrome). Once we collected all of the data, we put it into a database and normalized the data. We then used the Python Library SciPy to extract the data and run the correlation algorithms. If you have any more specific questions i’d be more than happy to answer them.

  15. Shad Avatar Shadsays:

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the insightful post.

    What would be your recommendation for visual-only videos (no talking – no text). Examples would be real estate tours, demo reels, etc… (Here is an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1Q2-6v7OMc)

    Is there any hope for videos like this to rank well?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Shad, there is definitely hope. I imagine other videos in that space also have no talking. So you’re all in the same boat

      1. An opportunity to be a purple cow no? or will that not work for real estate?

  16. Jui Avatar Juisays:

    Nice information!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      🙂

  17. Wow, just a great guide and free! The future of “SEO” (we’ll have to come up with a new name soon) seem to be outside of Google Search now, having so many other places to lookup content (Youtube in this case, Reddit, Pinterest… you name it).

    Thanks again!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Miguel. It’s true that other platforms steal a few % of searches from Google. But Google is still the dominant force in search by a mile

  18. Legit study, way to really provide some value!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      That’s how I roll, Dustin 🙂

  19. Pankaj Avatar Pankajsays:

    Hi Brian,

    Thank you for sharing such a epic youtube ranking factors.

    From your every post i learns something new & intersting.

    Thanks again Brain for this awesome post!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Pankaj

  20. Great update to this post Brian. It sure is nice that guys like you test all the data that some of us just don’t have time to do. Thanks!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Dan. Actually this is a brand new post. Either way, glad you enjoyed it

  21. Damian Avatar Damiansays:

    Thank you for this article, I am an SEO Analyst and I tend to do a lot of searching online to keep up-to-date with the SEO world and ever-evolving techniques. And I have to say, you’re site is one of the best out there offering top-quality content, and lots of it. Love your YouTube posts too, keep them coming! 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Damian.

  22. A great study for brands looking for increased brand awareness or traffic to their YouTube channel.

    However, did you look to see if it’s still true that click through from YouTube to websites is low? If that’s still the case, it would seem that using YouTube videos as a method to drive website visits would not be recommended. What are your thoughts?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Good question, Katherine. The CTR depends a lot on the video, the CTA etc.

  23. Thank you for this detailed guide about YouTube ranking factors.
    It’s surprising to see your analysis of keyword-optimized descriptions not having any impact on rankings. I find it really hard to agree with this, based on my experience.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Pradeep. I was surprised by that one as well.

  24. Thuong Le Avatar Thuong Lesays:

    Hi Brian,
    Just want to say Thank you for great research. You are the best.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Thuong. I’m always trying to add value to the SEO community.

  25. Anand Avatar Anandsays:

    Brian, your ideas are superb. I hope to be like you one day guiding many.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      🙂

  26. Great info on YouTube ranking. I will start making all my videos in HD, Thanks Brain 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Sounds good, Bill 🙂

  27. Good timing! I just suggested to a friend who is traveling through Africa by the seat of his pants that he should start a video log. I’ll send him the link. Thanks.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Judy. Hope this guide helps your friend

  28. Brian,

    This is absolute GOLD! I’ll be saving this in Evernote, bookmarking in Google chrome, and reviewing again and again. Thank you!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Justin. I hope this guide helps you grow your channel

  29. Hey Brian,
    It’s a quite interesting guide – very detailed and informative. Looking forward to the next one! 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Cheers Ivailo. Glad you learned some new stuff

  30. Brian, you are the Brain of IM. It is just the “i” on the other side 🙂

    Excellent research and useful findings. Will definitely help.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      HA! Thanks Qadar 🙂

  31. Brian, Great Post and Awesome! Content My team and I have been pushing video/SEO for almost 9 years now and Brian it changes constantly however, your study will be utilized to the fullest. I’ve followed you around for a while also and You are the MAN! keep up the great work and god bless you for sharing your study.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Brian. I hope this helps you guys have even more success with video marketing.

  32. So based on these findings would you recommend driving as much traffic as you can to new videos to increase views, shares, subscribes, and view time? Or is it best to let them rank organically and see if they sink or swim naturally based on the merits of the content.

    If so, what is the best strategy if you have a small audience?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Jacob, it’s both. I recommend promoting your videos to your current audience (it’s great content anyway. So it’s a win for them). That can give your video an initial boost that helps a lot.

  33. Hey Brian. Thanks for this study. For me there’s something missing. What about CTR? Don’t you think that in 2017 Youtube use that like Google? ++ 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Bruno. I’m confident that YouTube uses CTR. Unfortunately that’s not public so it’s hard to analyze data on that.

  34. Hi Brian,

    Bookmarked it and will use it for sure!

    Got a little question for you:
    Do you think there is a correlation between subtitles and rankings? Does Youtube use it to understand the subject of a video and therefore make it rank higher?

    Thanks!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Dany, great question. I actually don’t think they use them that much. They can transcribe videos with pretty good accuracy without them.

  35. Amazing stuff and I have bookmarked as well. Quick question: as video length appears to correlate with higher ranking, how do we weigh the significance of that vs. the data that shows view duration dropping off significantly after 2 min or so? Won’t the longer videos decrease % of views all the way through? Thanks

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Dan, good question. YouTube isn’t as focused on % viewed. They care more about total watch time.

  36. Hi brain after reading this article … Most trending videos on YouTube by your site readers… Cheers

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      I hope so, Manmohan

  37. Hey Brian,
    Just another awesome research. Every piece of content at backlinko is pure gold!
    Thank you for sharing!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Ivan. Glad you enjoyed the new guide

  38. Andrew Gitt Avatar Andrew Gittsays:

    Hi Brian, this is a great article. I only pay attention to facts with case studies. So thank you. I’m going to be in touch with you in the near future as I’m working on a new platform that literally does every single thing you mentioned and going to be recording my own case studies. I plan on sharing with you. So be on the lookout to hear from in the near future. Thanks again for your great article.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Andrew. I’m the same way 🙂

  39. Amir Avatar Amirsays:

    Hey Brian, have you had the chance to check the impqct of the ratio of likes to views amount

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Amir, we didn’t look at that ratio. Are you thinking a higher likes:view ratio is best?

      1. Amir Avatar Amirsays:

        Yeah, it might reveal who used bots for increasing his views and who had real users.

  40. Vali Avatar Valisays:

    Hey Brian,

    How about “latest uploads”?

    I’ve searched for “TVR1” (in Romania) and top 1-3 videos are uploaded within last 24 hours. They have only 2k views, 4-5 minutes length, few likes, etc.

    On 5th place is an 430 days old video, over 40 minutes in length, some likes and comments, etc.

    The first video (ID: 1Ap6uI-Nx5A) is ranking without having the keyword in title (TVR1).

    Some ideas?
    Thanks,

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Vali, good question. We actually looked a bit at that but didn’t find anything. New videos only get a temp boost. After that, older videos rank better because they have more comments, likes, watch time etc.

      1. Vali Avatar Valisays:

        I see… I’ll watch that video to see when will lose his rankings.

        1-2 years ago was a simple method to rank #1
        Step 1: upload a video on UNLISTED
        Step 2: boost with some views, likes, comments
        Step 3: make that video PUBLIC
        Once you made it public, it ranked on top.

        Any new tricks like that? 😀

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Vali, I think the days of tricks on YouTube are coming to an end 🙂

  41. Are you sure about the duration of the video, that is 14 Min and 30 sec? As in many niches, it’s impossible to increase video length; then one need to add additional video minutes. It might reduce the interest of the viewer.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Omkar, I’m sure. We triple checked all of our data.

      1. Great but if you can check hairstyle, cooking type of niches the average time is around 6-8 minutes. My wife has a channel which has 70 recipes that fetched 130k views in 10 months in just three months work with 0 work and without further updates. There I see high duration videos receiving fewer view’s while less duration one’s getting more. But I agree with most information based niches this period is standard. I look forward to updating you if I can gather any information on it.

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Omkar, that makes sense. The data doesn’t necessarily mean “longer videos=better”. The #1 goal is to create an amazing video. And it sounds like your wife is doing that. I would keep going with what’s working for you.

  42. Great stuff! Answers a lot of questions. Thank you very much.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Melanie. Glad this study could help clear things up for you.

  43. Excellent analysis of youtube SEO and video ranking factors.
    Just started our youtube channel, the information provided in this post gonna help me a lot.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Sounds good, Ruby. Good luck with the new channel

    1. I also started implementing techniques described in this article on my youtube videos. I made some serious changes on my channel aswell on a few videos with low number of views. I will share my results as soon as I notice some changes.

  44. Awesome research! As a very small channel, I am testing the same theories as far as search and rank is concerned. I have 15 Subs, almost all of which were derived from one video that has viewer retention and comments! I set out to try and replicate the same results in future videos, and I landed right in between 2 videos of major YouTubers!! This video only had 8 views!! I am fascinated with how YouTube ranks and will continue to read your posts! Great work, sir!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Joseph. Hopefully this study can help you re-create the success you had with that popular video.

  45. What a great article, Brian! Thanks, only a few people write such a quality article on such a topic

    I have a simple question, what should be the minimum length for writing a great description? I am told by so many people that your description should be of 500 words. Did you find any correlation between the videos that have a long description and the videos that have a short description?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Aamir, good question. We didn’t find a correlation between description length and ranking. But long descriptions may help you show up for more “suggested videos”, so I prefer to write 250+ word descriptions.

  46. How did you select these 1.3 million videos?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Sam, there’s a link to our methods at the end of the article.

      1. Ah, missed that. Thank you.

  47. Barry Avatar Barrysays:

    Found your e-mail in my Junk folder and almost deleted it before reading as I didn’t recognize “the sender”. Glad I didn’t as what a “gem”! Answered a ton of my questions about video marketing with Youtube. In fact I have paid for content with less valuable information about marketing with Youtube than what you provided for free in your report! Awesome content! Many thanks, Brian!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Barry. I have too 🙂

  48. Thanks for this! As a new an very small chanel I am glad to hear about point 5! 😉
    Greatings, Sabine

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Sabine

  49. Derwin Avatar Derwinsays:

    Simply great Brian. Thanks a lot!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Derwin

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