Do you ever thought that “What is the perfect length of YouTube video?”, or “Longer videos get more love from the YouTube algorithm?” Are hour-long podcasts getting more exposure than your two minutes short film?
In this article, let’s talk about video length as it pertains to YouTube’s search discovery systems.
Search and Discovery: What is the Perfect Length for YouTube video?
YouTube’s search and discovery systems try to help each individual viewer find what they want to watch. This means they will surface videos that viewers are interested in watching, and also that viewers will find satisfying after watching. Now, when you hear that second part, you might think, ah-ha! I knew it.
The algorithm directly rewards long videos because they are more satisfying and cause people to watch longer. Podcasts will take over! But that’s not the case. If it were, you’d never see music videos with millions and sometimes billions of views. You’d never see hit animated videos either.
YouTube’s search and recommendation systems use hundreds of signals to determine how to rank videos, and certainly, the average view duration of a video, and average percent viewed, are some of them. What you don’t want to do though is start padding the length of your videos just for the sake of making them longer. We’ve seen creators try this, and it often hurts – not helps – the performance of their videos.
After all, if the quality of your videos decline and viewers start clicking away early, that is not a positive signal. Now, if you have the choice of making an amazing twenty minute video that keeps people riveted — instead of an amazing ten minute video- would the 20 minute version get more exposure? Quite possibly. The reason is that viewers may find the 20 minute version more satisfying. Viewers of the 10 minute version may watch something less satisfying after that video, or just leave YouTube less satisfied.
But we know that how long someone watches is only one way to estimate satisfaction. That’s why YouTube is now using satisfaction surveys as well – maybe you’ve seen them? They randomly ask viewers to rate a video after they’ve watched it. This helps them further understand the difference between a video that wasted your time… versus one that was well worth your time.
The best thing to do as a creator? Don’t over-think your video’s length. As they say, “the run-time should match the content”. If it takes 2 minutes to communicate what you want to say, make a 2 minute video. If it takes 20 minutes, make it 20 minutes.
If viewers really enjoy watching it, Search & Discovery systems should do their job surfacing it to others. I hope that helps.
Thanks for reading the article!