Because YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world, more and more companies are beginning to see the value in creating videos to help engage and inform their audiences. Oftentimes a “how to” explanation is best understood through a video, and it usually doesn’t cost a company much to put something together and post it on the site, so it’s an easy decision for most. So what’s the catch? Sometimes optimizing this video isn’t as simple as one would assume, and things are about to get more difficult.

For those who are unfamiliar, you have to optimize a video the same way you have to optimize an article. In other words, you want your search engine (in this case YouTube) to understand how it should rank and place your video based on certain keywords. Unfortunately, what so many understand about YouTube optimization is going to be short-lived—YouTube is following in the footsteps of Google and has officially changed their algorithm when it comes time to rank videos.

YouTube Algorithm Changes Explained

There was really one big difference that we saw with the update: clicks are less important. This goes for both the video as well as the ads connected to the video:

  • Time is more important for content. In the past YouTube focused heavily on the number of clicks a video received. The problem with this was the fact that videos with catchy headlines were getting all of the attention. Now, YouTube is focusing more on the time that someone spends watching the video.
  • Time is more important for ads. Not only is the time a user watches a video more important than simple clicks, but this same logic also goes for advertisements. If you want your video to rank higher, people will have to sit through those ads.

YouTube also made other, smaller changes that you can read about on the YouTube blog post. For example, the search engine will also take into account how long someone spends on YouTube and not just how long he/she spent on a particular video.

YouTube Algorithm Change Downsides

Most agree that YouTube is moving in the right direction, but some haven’t found the changes appealing.  Controversy was sparked amongst those who are posting fifteen minute-long videos. It’s now going to be harder for these types of videos to beat out the two and three minute ones that are easy to watch, which isn’t something YouTube has yet discussed.

It is also interesting to think about those who post on YouTube as a way to gain exposure. This large group of people will likely have to rely on other avenues to gain exposure, get popular, and hope that it’s enough to get people to actually search for their name.

So what about businesses? It’s too soon to tell whether or not businesses are pleased with the updates or not, but in the end YouTube is going to do what it feels is right, and this usually means new work for marketing departments everywhere.

What This Means for Businesses Trying to Utilize YouTube

Companies will have to change their strategy with the new algorithm in mind if they hope to continue to really get the most from YouTube. There are a few different ways that a company may want to change their strategy:

First, make sure that your ads aren’t going to cause someone to click off of your video. It’s true that nobody really wants to sit through an advertisement, but they will if they really want to see your video. It’s the others who aren’t sure whether or not they care about your video that you really want to grab with your ads.

Second, consider creating two or three short videos as opposed to one long video. This will give you a better chance that someone will stay on YouTube and your videos (this was also true before the update!).

Third, it’s important to understand that your company will likely want to focus it’s efforts on really promoting these videos on social media and the company website. Simply relying on optimization might not be enough.

The changes are significant, but this doesn’t mean that businesses have to go back and re-optimize everything. Utilizing keywords in your Meta data is still important; the updates are merely just another layer to the system.