Growing Epicenter: YouTube Search

December 3, 2014

As mentioned in the original overview post, our traffic on Youtube has been growing extremely well. At this point, I feel that not starting doing video earlier may have been the single most significant mistake we made with Epicenter Bitcoin. Of course, it’s not a big problem, because there will be plenty of time to grow our YouTube presence.

YouTube vs Audio

It’s useful to compare again audio downloads with YouTube views. With audio downloads, sound files are delivered via RSS to audio players that are usually on the listeners’ mobile device. Once the RSS feed has been hit, we know very little about what happens. How did they find the podcast? Do they listen to the whole episode or only parts of it? Those and many other questions can’t be answered for audio downloads. Even iTunes, which certainly knows more than we do, is not going to get data from other applications people use to play podcasts. And what analytics they do have, they don’t share.

That makes it difficult to do much, because we not only have little information but also little control over the delivery of our content.

With YouTube this is completely different. It’s a powerful platform that controls hosting and delivering the content, providing a user experience, monetizing through advertising, etc. YouTube can track every interaction with a video and they can directly control the user experience. This allows them to give excellent analytics (similar to Google Analytics) and lots of options for content creators to configure their channel and delivery.

YouTube Search & Related Videos

Here is what I wanted to focus on this week: How people find new content on YouTube. You may be surprised by this, I certainly was, but YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, after Google. There are over 1 billion monthly unique visitors on YouTube and over 3 billion searches made using its search engine.

So while the iTunes podcast search has very targeted traffic and is certainly important, it’s possible that YouTube search could be even more important for podcasts that are on both platforms. (Of course, with the lack of iTunes analytics, that’s hard to know exactly.)

Our Stats

So let’s look at our numbers to see what role discovery on YouTube has played so far. First of all, there are two ways this can happen. First, people can enter a specific search term and get shown one of our episodes as one of the results. Second, people can be shown one of our episodes as a ‘related video’ in the sidebar when they are watching something else.

YouTube Views From Search

30-Day Moving Average YouTube Views from Internal Searches

Overall, the number of people who view one of our episode because of finding it through a YouTube search is still very small (~2% of the total), but it has been growing well.

Related Videos Views

30-Day Moving Average YouTube Related Video Views

Views due to the ‘related video’ feature are even smaller (<1%), but have been increasing at even bigger rate over the last few months.

Improving Rankings

I spent quite a bit of time reading about optimizing YouTube search ranking and the results are interesting. What stands out to me is how much information YouTube has and how that influences how they rank videos. YouTube knows how many people watch each video, at what rate they drop out, where they come from, what their general viewing behavior is, how often they click on ads and how much they share the content. The more complete their information is, the harder it becomes to find some hack to get an easy, short-term boost.

It does seem that YouTube primarily ranks highly the content that is relevant and popular. What matters most will be to have lots of views, high retention, lots of social sharing and other sites linking to the videos. Title, episode descriptions and tags matter too, but looking at what we’ve been doing, it seems we do a good job already. (Here are some of the articles I read in the process: 1234).

Action Steps

Where does this leave us? While it is slightly against the framework set out in the beginning, I won’t take any specific action regarding YouTube search. Trying to optimize specifically for YouTube search ranking seems to be a pointless exercise for us.

Instead, we should strive to do other things to improve our longterm YouTube prospects. Here are a few of them:

  • Create an animated intro to the video. Makes it look much more professional. Sebastien has had this idea and I find excellent.
  • Improve our YouTube homepage. There are many things to do there. I may come back to this later, but to see what can be done look Pat Flynn‘s in contrast to ours.
  • Focus specifically on converting viewers to subscribers to our channel.

YouTube is exciting for us, because there seem to be so many things one can do. So many aspects to improve and I think we’ll be able to see very strong results over time. But YouTube search seems to be something that will just improve as a byproduct and doesn’t warrant specific attention.

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