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YouTube Search Matters More Than Suggested Videos

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YouTube suggested videos

Video producers who rely on YouTube’s “suggested videos” feature for projecting results will find it is more risky to getting viewership than the search feature.

Suggested videos is the name YouTube uses in its analytics report to describe a major source of traffic to videos on the site. That source appears on the right side of the page for desktop browsers when a viewer displays a video.

The title of the column is called “Up Next”. An “autoplay” feature is right by the title. It means the videos in the list will automatically play after the one in the main viewing screen is done.

The suggested videos are based on what YouTube algorithms think the viewer wants to see next. Even if the viewer doesn’t allow the current video to end, he or she can skip autoplay by clicking on any video in the Up Next list.

But the videos that appear in Up Next are extremely susceptible to changes in the algorithms, especially these days with the emphasis on privacy.

The following example shows how relying on Suggested Videos for projecting viewership is a risky choice.

One channel saw a doubling in video views thanks to a change in the algorithms that led to more visits from Suggested Videos.

Nearly one year later, the algorithms changed again. The number of visits from Suggested Videos returned to the previous level. Total viewership was cut in half.

Why Search is More Important

Video producers have a degree of control over search results and no control over suggested videos. The first gets results from effort while the second gets results mainly from luck.

Producers can increase search results by identifying important keywords and focusing on them with the following tactics:

  • Video title
  • Description
  • Script
  • Tags

The first three have the highest measurable impact on ranking better in search results. The tags have an uncertain impact.

Once changes are made, track the results by looking at the search results. One useful metric is the total number of views per month divided by the total number of videos.

If that ratio is increasing, the changes are working well. If that number isn’t increasing, it is time to revisit the videos for more changes.

Producers who focus on overall video minutes and views are counting on both luck and effort. Anyone who focuses mostly on search is staying true to an important controllable variable in YouTube.

In the long run, spending time on YouTube search is time well spent.

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