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Unlock the Algorithm! Common Features of My 'Viral' Videos

Discussion in 'YouTube Tips, Tutorials, Help & Guides' started by YouTubers United Podcast, Dec 5, 2016.

  1. YouTubers United Podcast
    Loving YTtalk
    Hi fellow YTtalkers!

    I don't claim to be a YouTube expert or to have all the answers about getting views and subs. :unsure:However, I do have 2 videos on my main 'Political Junkie' channel that have gained 500,000 views each, and so I feel like I can reveal some data that both of them share. The most recent video led to 25k subs in a single month, so something like this could be a major boost for you!

    This is by no means a step by step guide to making a viral video (500k isn't really viral anyways), rather a rough idea of what the back end of youtube analytics looks like when the algorithm has 'picked up' a video.

    If you are looking for sustainable channel growth and community building, look to Derral Eves, Tim Schmoyer, or Roberto Blake. They talk way more in detail than we ever could on the podcast.

    1) Just as a starting point/proof, here are the two videos. They are educational/animated.

    upload_2016-12-5_19-35-28.png upload_2016-12-5_19-35-44.png

    2) Both videos led to a long watch time in the first weeks after publishing.
    Specifically, around 7 minutes. See below listed as 'view duration'

    In the case of the Berlin video, over 8 minutes....


    We know from Youtube themselves that watch time is the most important metric for the algorithm. Keeping people on the site is their number one priority, so creating longer content that keeps them watching longer seems to boost a video.

    2) The two videos led to longer session times.
    Remember, there is a difference between 'watch time' and 'session time'. As far as I know, watch time is the amount of minutes on a single video, whereas 'session time' is the total amount of time a viewer stays on YouTube after initiating a session with your video.

    There is no way to see session time in analytics, however I used several tactics to increase session time.

    a) The islam video was a collaboration
    . This means people could immediately click and watch the companion video on my collaborators channel, boosting session time. In this case, it also happens to be the guy I do the YouTubers United Podcast with. I added annotations (now end cards) to the video to promote the click through and verbally asked viewers to click over.

    b) In the Berlin video, I used my call to action to promote a video from a different creator, which happened to be over 1 hour long. That means if a viewer clicks through and watches merely a sixth of the next video, I've already doubled their session time.
    I encouraged a click through during the call to action at the end and through a card.


    c) On both videos, I promoted related videos in a comment which I have since pinned as the top comment. I left links to at least 3 or 4 other videos, so if a viewer wanted to learn more about Berlin or Islam, they could just click the links I left and jump down the rabbit hole. It's hard to know how many people clicked through, but even if just 1%, that's 1% of viewers with a longer session time becuase of my comment.
    Here's what I mean:

    So that explains how both videos promoted a longer watch and session time. Let's talk about some of the other characteristics of the two videos and how the analytics looked....

    3) both of the videos were tailored for the search engine

    Both videos were optimized for keywords through title and tags. I used all 500 characters available for tags and researched them using an add on (the one with the 'tag explorer').


    Because of this, both videos now rank relatively high for the terms, 'Berlin Wall' and 'History of Islam'. Don't neglect your keywords in title and tags!!!

    #2 after ads

    #3 after ads

    4) Both videos were 'shareable' and gained traffic by being shared before the algorithm picked them up for suggested views or browser features.

    Take the Berlin Wall video as an example. The video was shared multiple times on various subreddits before hitting the major 'r/videos' subreddit, where it pulled in 50,000 views on Nov. 8th alone.

    The green bump on 11/8 is from r/videos

    If you want to see what the algorithm did during the reddit boost, click here to see my other YTtalk post on that subject: http://yttalk.com/threads/great-sub...e-of-reddits-r-videos-charts-included.242379/

    Perhaps it's stating the obvious, but getting your video shared in the right places can send signals to the algorithm that your video is worth promoting. Which probably explains the big purple mountain you can see beginning on Nov. 15

    5) Both videos derived an amazingly high percentage of their views from 'home page browse features'.
    The purple in the image below is 'browse feature' traffic, which made up 98% of the views during that period.
    If you don't know where to find this, go to your 'traffic sources' report in your analytics.
    Browse Features are as close to the algorithm as you can get as it means YouTube has slected your video to start peoples viewing session. They are putting your content on the home page! This is the anatomy of a algorithm promoted 'viral video' and at one point was driving 22k views an hour and 5,000 subs in a single day.
    This is what you can do!!!

    Moral of the story:
    Combine long watch time, session time, searchability, and shareability.
    Make longer videos and promote other long videos through cards, calls to action, comments, and collaborations.
    Fill out all 500 characters of tags and research a good title with one of the popular add-ons.
    Ask your audience to watch more and include a link for sharing in the description.

    I'm sure Tristan and I will be discussing this further in the future. Anything else you'd like to know?

    Again, I'm not an expert! Just looking to help out with some data.


    Attached Files:

  2. Imaginary Dave
    Active Member
    Very cool - thanks for taking the time to share your analysis and deduction. Love that you included the screen shots to illustrate your points and metrics. Congrats on your successful videos.
  3. Doctor Dano
    Doctor Dano
    Hey man, thanks for this. Recently I've been also digging in to Youtube's algorithm. So thanks again for this extra info to my research.
  4. Blunt Brittany
    Super Poster
    Thank you for sharing that! Very cool that yours grew very quickly and you found what works! :) Congratulations on your success!!
  5. Hi!MyNameIsJan
    Loving YTtalk
    The good old reddit !
    Interesting to see that after the reddit spike you went to normal views for 3 days again and then the home-page started pushing the big numbers.
    Did youtube wait to analyse your viewers watchtime/session time to then recommend your video to more people ? Or did something else trigger it ?
    Do you know why there is this gap ?
    I would guess its the time youtube takes to analyse smaller "viral" videos (50k or less, but way more than average video of this creator) and then when it saw that the viewers of your videos had a good session time you got recommended....

    Also nice tip with the links to other videos for the longer session time, i have heard that the first time here ! Great !
  6. PositivelyBrainwashed
    I Love YTtalk
    Pretty cool. I recall naturally finding your video on "A Short History of Islam." This is the first time I've heard anyone use the comments to promote links to increase their watch time session.
  7. UnicycleFight
    Well-Known Member
    This was really helpful! I've never heard some of these tips! Thanks! Great topics too!
  8. GucciCarry
    I Love YTtalk
    Interesting, great share to help people out.
  9. YouTubers United Podcast
    Loving YTtalk
    It was about a week on the nose between the reddit boost and the algorithm kicking in. Everything the algorithm did was super controlled. I could see it feeding me views in even numbers, doubling views, halfing them, etc. I can almost certainly say that it was 'testing out' certain groups and watching metrics before feeding more people the content.
    When exactly it did this testing and how, I don't know.
    The experts say the first 48 hours are important. Getting 10-20%+ of your subscribers to watch in that span is another positive metric.
    I imagine people entering YouTube from reddit and subscribing to my channel was another positive metric for the algo.
    --- Double Post Merged, Dec 6, 2016, Original Post Date: Dec 6, 2016 ---
    That's crazy that you found me organically. Not my best video, but apparently the algorithm enjoyed it.
    And just be careful with the comment link trick. If a link opens a new tab, the session time restarts (at least thats what i heard from derral eves). So test out the links before publishing to make sure they stay in the current tab.
  10. GBeeTV
    I've Got It
    Nice insight!

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