You’ve been consistently uploading videos on your YouTube channel for a while now. A looming question has been on your mind, though. It concerns YouTube views. So far, you have not been tracking the metrics closely. But, if you are serious about growing your YouTube channel, maximizing the platform, or making sales, it may be time to gain a better understanding of how YouTube works.
What counts as a view?
YouTube only counts a view when:
- 1. A user clicks on a video with the intention of watching it, and,
- 2. The user watches the video for at least 30 seconds. If a viewer skips through a video but stays on it for longer than 30 seconds throughout, it will still count as a view.
Experts are not sure what exactly counts as a view for videos that are shorter than 30 seconds. The 30-second watch time limit only helps YouTube decide whether a video is worth being monetized. Videos shorter than 30 seconds are usually not monetized.
The view tipping point = 300
If you want to measure the success of your channel by the number of views your videos get, it will help to understand what YouTube considers as a view. Back in the day, YouTube would count each time a video was loaded as a view. It did not take them long to figure out that people would just continue to reload the page of their own video to rack up the view count artificially. Since YouTube displays popular videos on the home page, people could game the system to rank higher.
When the view count is lower than 300, the same reloading system works and does not affect YouTube’s website. When the view count exceeds 300, YouTube has engineered its platform to freeze the views until they can establish on the back end that the views are legitimate. This is all done to prevent overcrowding of user’s home pages. YouTube wants to provide its users with the results that are most accurate and authentically popular. Videos that have bots as viewers or most of their views from the same computer have faked their popularity, a practice YouTube actively discourages.
YouTube is smarter than watch bots
YouTube spends time analyzing the behavior of its users. If it notices a user jumping to another video every 30 seconds, without a logical, realistic pattern, it will assume the user is a bot and stop counting the views from that user. Similarly, YouTube does not count the view of a user who leaves spam comments across videos.
Why views matter
It’s important to note that YouTube’s algorithm values watch time, not just views, for monetization. Likes are not as important, either. Whether the video is liked or detested, YouTube looks at how long the user stays on. To get that watch time, you have to get those views. So, it’s a good idea to prioritize views over likes. In the next few sections, we’ll look at some tactics for YouTube creators to increase their views.
It starts with your content
Viewers have become smart enough to smell low-quality content. Quality is not indicated only by the production value of your videos, but also by the authenticity that it reveals. Gary Vaynerchuk, the social media mogul, started his YouTube channel posting mobile camera videos of him tasting wine. People enjoy his unique point of view, so they tuned in to watch, irrespective of the production quality. Soon enough, Vaynerchuk got better equipment and began making smoother videos.
Where do you get ideas for great content? Most YouTube creators will tell you the same thing. They ask their audience. Asking your audience what they want to see and giving them value for their time. That’s the starting point of getting more views.
Get your viewers to subscribe
Look after your old customers while you steadily grow your base is the best piece of business advice for healthy growth. It’s the same with YouTube. Asking your viewers to subscribe to your channel will give you the chance to notify them every time a new video comes out. This results in higher views.
How do you get viewers to subscribe? The formula that many successful YouTube creators use is to ask at the beginning and end of each video.
Create a playlist
According to data from YouTube, top-performing brands on the platform build and promote playlists two times as much as the bottom 25%. Playlists work well because they take away the user’s effort to decide what to watch next. Grouping similarly toned videos into a single playlist will leverage auto-play, and an interesting cognitive bias at work called “loss aversion.”
Loss aversion is the theory that people fear losing something twice as much as the pleasure they feel at gaining something. Applying this to YouTube videos, auto-play makes users feel heavy about losing out on the opportunity to watch the next video. They choose to keep watching.
Use end screens and cards to promote other videos
End screens that appear at the end of the video can be used to redirect people with a clickable call-to-action. People can be redirected to another video, your website, or your social media page. Cards are pop-ups that appear in a video to direct viewers to another video or playlist. Cards can also be used to gather data from viewers in a poll format of what they would like to see next.
Enable embedding on your videos
Now, you’ve got great content and real YouTube subscribers to your channel. Let’s say you got feedback from a subscriber that they tried to share your video on their website or blog but could not do so. The reason they can’t? Because you may have forgotten to make your videos embedding enabled.
By enabling embedding, you open up the possibilities of reaching new audiences. If a subscriber shares your content on their website or blog, they will generally copy the embedding code onto their page. If they share it with their followers, you could have a spanking new set of subscribers on your YouTube channel.
Foster a community
YouTube is not just about posting content. It works well for creators when they treat it like a social network. Creators who respond to comments establish a stronger brand among their subscribers. It takes a few minutes a day and it can be clubbed along with scrolling through the comments to check for new content ideas.
Creators should also become active members of their own niche community. Follow other YouTube channels in your niche. Engage with them by commenting on their videos. Promote their content generously, which will earn you Watch Time credits that boost your channel in the YouTube algorithm.
SEO up your videos
YouTube is, at its core, a search engine and offers lots of opportunities where optimization can be done. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of crafting content such as video titles, descriptions, tags, etc. to organically improve visibility on a search engine. YouTube, like Google, factors in multiple components of your video to decide whether to show it in certain search results.
Legendary copywriter David Ogilvy wrote that when the headline to an advertisement is written, eighty cents out of the dollar has been spent. That speaks to the importance of an eye-catching headline. Pay close attention to optimizing your video title.
Jazz up your thumbnail images
When uploading your video, you can choose a thumbnail image from one of the auto-generated options. We advise you not to do that. Instead, create your own thumbnail to hook the viewer. YouTube reports that 90% of the top YouTube creators opt to create their own thumbnail rather than use any of the auto-generated options.
Thumbnails require creativity but a stand-out thumbnail can really help you stand out. Try to include bright colors, human faces, subtle branding, and text overlays. Check the technicalities of a YouTube thumbnail, too, and make sure to get them precise.
Publish videos at the right time
What’s the right time? It’s when your audience is most likely to be watching videos. YouTube has data about when your followers are watching videos. Scan your “When your viewers are on YouTube” report. You will gain information about the key times your users are online. You can then schedule content an hour or so before those peak periods. You should be able to access the report from the Analytics tab on your channel home page.
It’s your turn now
We hope this article sparked your creativity to boost views on your YouTube channel. It comes down to the authenticity of your content and your level of engagement with viewers and the community. Optimizing your channel by using the platform to the fullest can also help with the technicalities of the YouTube world.
The viewers have the power to make or break your channel, so you need to respect that community. Just because it is virtual does not mean that everything you do online does not hold weight. Treat your online following and community with respect and you will reap the dividends.