YouTube is making a shift, a major one, from ranking videos based on clicks to ranking them based on time watched, that is, how much of the video people watch after arriving at it.This should be a much more relevant metric for quality videos and it was about time too.
YouTube videos, like much of the rest of the web, are too focused on linkbait titles and enticing covers and less on the actual content.
"We've started adjusting the ranking of videos in YouTube search to reward engaging videos that keep viewers watching," YouTube explained.
"This is a continuation of ongoing efforts to focus our video discovery features on watch time, and follows changes we made to Suggested Videos in March, and recent improvements to YouTube Analytics," it said.
"The experimental results of this change have proven positive -- less clicking, more watching. We expect the amount of time viewers spend watching videos from search and across the site to increas," it added.
"As with previous optimizations to our discovery features, this should benefit your channel if your videos drive more viewing time across YouTube," it concluded
The site had already adjusted its discovery algorithms, the ones that surface videos for recommendations, to focus more on time watched rather than clicks.
Now it's doing the same for search and it's obvious that this is the new focus at the site. Given that it's got billions of videos already and more are uploaded all the time, it's not lack of content that YouTube's suffering from.
The site wants quality content, content that will keep people glued to their screens and that will fetch higher rates from advertisers.
That's the reason behind YouTube's huge push to fund video makers and it's the reason behind the change in ranking importance. If it works, there's no reason why it shouldn't, YouTube will further ensure its dominance of online video and continue to take away from TV watching.