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YouTube Retention Rate Thrives on Simple Tips

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YouTube retention rates

A higher YouTube retention rate relies on just a few basic methods for engaging viewers. Higher retention is a quality signal that leads to more views and better rankings.

What is YouTube retention? It is the percentage of time that viewers watch a video.

How to Find the Retention Rate

In the YouTube Studio, click on Analytics in the left column. Scroll down and click on See More in the middle. Scroll below the chart to see Average Percentage Viewed for each video.

The report will show the average view duration in minutes and seconds. It also will show the percentage of time that viewers spend with the videos in a channel.

The report breaks down the view time and percentage viewed for each individual video and averages them for a channel total. That percentage offers some important insights on how to manage a channel.

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Why is Retention Rate Important?

Tip: Retention rates above 70 percent mean the video can be longer. Longer videos increase advertising potential.

The retention rate is one piece of information that tells YouTube something about the quality of the video. It also tells YouTube publishers some important insights as well.

If viewers quit an average of 10 seconds into a video, it’s pretty compelling evidence that the video stinks. The retention rate isn’t the only piece of information that suggests something about video quality. Other hints include:

  1. Number of likes
  2. Number of shares
  3. Number of comments
  4. Growth in channel subscribers

But the viewership percentage carries weight for obvious reasons. It tells YouTube algorithms a key clue about how viewers react to the video. This clue is one of many that go into how a video is ranked in search results and other ways of accessing it.

The retention rate also is useful to the publishers of high-quality videos. An extremely high rate on a quality video may indicate that the video isn’t long enough. Long videos with high retention rates increase total watch time, which YouTube values for placing ads.

An extremely low rate on a quality video may indicate that the video is too long for the subject and the audience. In that case, the publisher is putting too much time and effort into the video and needs to cut back on future related videos.

What is a Good Retention Rate?

Tip: Increase the retention rate to more than 50 percent.

Searches on “average youtube retention rate” produce numbers all over the place with no consensus.

In many cases, YouTube publishers quote numbers below 50 percent, meaning that viewers quit watching their videos less than halfway through them. The best numbers averaged between 60 and 70 percent. A channel produced by this company has an average of 64 percent.

For the sake of having any benchmark, it’s safe to say that a publisher should strive for an audience retention rate above 50 percent.

Using 50 percent as the minimum is important for one other reason. If people aren’t watching more than half of the video, it once again is more proof that the publisher has invested too much time in it.

How to Achieve a High Retention Rate

Tip: Use multiple video angles, images and sounds to make the video more visually appealing. 

Some extra tips will lead to a higher YouTube retention rate:

  1. Keep the first few videos short until the right length becomes obvious.
  2. Focus on quality over quantity.
  3. Keep the subject narrowly focused.
  4. Use accurate titles and descriptions.

Too much unwatched video is a waste of labor. It’s obvious a publisher should limit the length of the video when producing it or focusing on improving quality. Consider the following example.

Five videos on a similar topic are about five minutes long. Each one has an average retention of 30 percent. If the next video is three minutes long and has a retention of 60 percent, it indicates that shorter is better for that topic or type of video. It’s also a better use of the publisher’s time.

A great three-minute video will get more comments and shares than a bad 10-minute video. Quality matters more than quantity.

People harvest highly focused topics online. A video about the 1967 Corvette sports car is much more targeted than a video about Corvettes in general.

Accurate titles and descriptions manage the expectations of the viewers. For example, a video about the “Best Time to Visit Aruba” has a great retention rate and many likes until it veers off onto general Aruba travel tips. Then the retention takes a dive.

Beware keyword stuffing to attract more viewers. They will sense it, and so will Google’s YouTube quality methods.

Once the retention rate goes up, so will the video ranks on YouTube and Google. Good retention delivers more viewers.

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