YouTube Changes Its Search Ranking Algorithm To Focus On Engagement, Not Just Clicks

YouTube just announced that it is changing its search ranking algorithm to highlight videos that keep viewers engaged. The idea here, says YouTube, is to “reward engaging videos that keep viewers watching.” Because of this change, YouTube expects that the time viewers spent watching videos from search will increase in the near future.

YouTube Search: Now Optimized For Time Watched

Today’s announcement doesn’t come as a total surprise. Earlier this year, the company already explained its focus on ‘watch time.” When it updated its suggested videos algorithm, YouTube noted that it did so to “better surface the videos that viewers actually watch, over those that they click on and then abandon.”

Previous to this, smart video producers had noticed that YouTube would reward clicks more than actual views, so they would ensure that their video thumbnails were as provocative as possible. YouTube, however, is obviously more interested in getting its users to engage with videos (and ads).

This search ranking change also comes just a day after the company announced that it would add data like time watched to YouTube Analytics. Thanks to this, the YouTube team noted today, video producers “have even more tools to evaluate the performance of [their] videos and channel.”