You may have heard that YouTube ranks videos according to how many views they have.
And while that’s not technically wrong, it’s more complicated than that. YouTube uses a variety of metrics including likes, shares, comments, and less talked about- view retention time.
What is view retention?
View retention is the amount of time that a viewer spends on your video. YouTube rewards videos that have longer view rates, and punishes those that don’t.
By comparing your video’s retention rate to videos of similar length and subject matter- YouTube can determine if your video is crap instantaneously!
And here’s where things get really hairy. If you have enough video views that bounce instantly upon arrival- YouTube will not only lower your ranking, but even remove your video altogether.
Go to your YouTube analytics dashboard
Click on “Audience Retention”
YouTube will then show you the average view duration for your video. As a general rule of thumb- if you have an extremely low number 0-2%- you’ve got a bot problem and should ask your provider for a refund. If it’s somewhere between 10-15%, it’s more likely that the audience is real, but was a complete mismatch.
You should shoot for 45% and above.
It’s important to note that YouTube breaks down retention into two separate categories- called “absolute” and “relative” retention.
Absolute retention is based solely on your video, and the percent of time viewers spend on it.
- Drop off near the credits section of your video is totally normal
- You can get skewed metrics if someone re-watches a section of your video multiple times (this happens frequently with tutorial videos).
In this section, YouTube compares your retention rate with that of other videos in your niche. This is an important metric to look at- because consider this:
Will a video that is 3 minutes long have the same retention rate as one that is an HOUR long?
Given that the average attention span of the modern YouTube viewer is that of like….a gold fish- absolutely freaking not. If possible, you should try to keep your videos short, and digestible. People are far more likely to click on something that doesn’t seem like a big commitment.
But if your niche is tutorials- and you absolutely must have long videos, either separate them in to multiple videos or at least check relative retention rates to see how yours stack up against other looooooong videos.
Before buying ANY YouTube views, ask what retention rates you can expect. If they don’t know what you’re talking about- or worse- promise you 100% retention (impossible) you should stay far away.