As The SEM Post reported yesterday, YouTube has turned autoplay on to begin streaming a new video seconds after the previous one finishes. YouTube has been testing the autoplay feature since early December 2014, but it actually leverages the “Related Videos” section, which has been a significant source of views for many channels as far back as 2008.
Marketers do not have control over what videos are displayed in the “Related Videos” section. These are automatically selected based on certain factors. However, they can influence the likelihood that one of more of their videos will appear in the “Related Videos” section after one of their videos finishes playing. And, although it’s still too soon to tell for certain, I suspect that these same techniques will increase the likelihood that one of your videos will autoplay after one of your videos finishes.
How does YouTube determine that several videos are related? They may have been uploaded to the same channel. They may be part of a playlist. But they probably have some metadata in common, too.
So, when you write optimized titles, tags and descriptions for your content, include a few common terms to increase the odds that your videos will be “related” and therefore more likely to be cued up to autoplay after one of your other videos ends.
For example, the title of a YouTube video can be up to 100 characters long. Include descriptive and relevant keywords toward the beginning of a title. But add some branding or episode numbers toward the end when appropriate.
In addition, the description of a YouTube video can be up to 5,000 characters long. Only the first few sentences of your video description will appear in search results and above the fold on a watch page – so make them count! But add a recurring channel boilerplate that includes relevant search-driven keywords. Including this boilerplate in all descriptions will inform first-time viewers about your channel. It will also signal that all your videos are “related.”
Finally, each YouTube video can have up to 120 characters of tags. Create unique tags that distill the most important video topics, characters, talent names, etc. Then, include a set of standard tags that can be applied across all of your videos to help explain what your channel is all about. This mix of video-specific and more general (but still relevant) tags will also signal that your videos are “related.”
YouTube’s new “metadata defaults” feature allows you to create templates for your metadata and ensure important text or links are always included when you upload a video. So, use them.
You can also use InVideo Programming annotations to promote both your channel and any one of your videos on YouTube across all of your uploads.
Although there is no guarantee that this will enable you to get a second view whenever a user watches one of your videos, it certainly increases the odds of that happening. And that can significantly boost your “watch time.”
Why is that important? Because YouTube’s algorithm for suggesting videos includes prioritizing videos that lead to a longer overall viewing session over those that receive more clicks. Viewers benefit from more enjoyable content being suggested to them, and creators benefit from more focused, engaged audiences.
So, if you’re making videos that people are watching well beyond the first click, then those videos will be suggested more often. The techniques mentioned above don’t work as effectively if you haven’t created a compelling opening to your videos and then used programming, branding, and packaging techniques to maintain and build interest throughout the video.
In other words, marketers won’t be able to harness YouTube’s new autoplay feature if they aren’t able to keep viewers watching to the end of their first video.
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