Jan 25, 2019 - 07:40 AM
A 2014 study from Advanced Web Rankings casts the stone on search results that appear from the second page of search engine results. The study says that more than 67% of all clicks on search engine results page go to the top five listings. Further research paints a grim image on the search results further down the search engine results page. Another study by Chitika claims that 95% of web traffic goes to the websites on the first search engine results page. This leaves only 5% for the remaining search results pages.
This is the position for search engines results but the results are just similar, if not worse for YouTube search results. While Google Search appears to be clamping down classic SEO, the technique seems to be thriving on YouTube search.
Stats aside, let us look at the two ways that most users often arrive at search results on YouTube. I will admit that often times, I have arrived at a YouTube video, especially for music, after looking it up on Google then the binge watching flows from there. I will also admit that most of the time I am on YouTube, my search queries always seem to return with results almost instantly, and on the first page.
With that background, I will explain how people almost do not go beyond the first page of YouTube search results. One of the reasons most people don’t really go beyond page one of search results on YT is because every time you type a word into the YouTube search bar, a myriad of suggestions spring up. These suggestions are many and as per my own experience, YouTube always seems to have a cue of what you are looking for. When you click on one of the suggestions, they seem to have it figured out and often times, the video that you are looking for will surely be within the first five results that show up.
Where then does the trick lie on YouTube search algorithm delivering just what we need when we need? It is 2019 and algorithms seem to be in control of our internet lives. Over 1 billion hours of video are viewed on YouTube every day, fact that demonstrate that it is increasingly becoming hard to ignore the role YouTube algorithms play in understanding the various metrics at play not only for each channel but also each user.
YouTube first characterizes all its viewers by the kind of videos they watch and attempts to make a prediction on what viewers want to watch or what the algorithm thinks a user would love. Armed with this knowledge about user preferences, Google are able to predict what you want to watch and searching for a video helps YouTube rank what to show you in the search results.
YouTube’s recommendation system provides real-time feedback for each user depending on how their interests vary. Armed with feedback from its millions of viewers each day, YouTube is able to show you almost what you want and that is why you will rarely need to scroll past a few results before you find the video you are looking for. The “YouTube experience” attempts to show the correct videos to the correct users.
Since we have seen that people hardly go beyond the first page of search results on YouTube, just as they do on Google Search, let us now look at how you can rank your videos on the first page of YouTube search results. YouTube’s optimization process begins with ranking for specific keywords, both on the platform itself as well as Google search.
Since I already mentioned that one could get a good chunk of traffic from Google itself, you need to rank for the small bit of videos that rank on Google search. Ranking on the second age of Google results will not help much for your YouTube ranking prospects. An interesting read on ranking on the first page of YouTube SERP was posted on Backlinko.
Another reason why YouTube search results will not go beyond the second page is because YouTube has infinite scrolling feature which automatically translates to all results appearing on the first page. Even with infinite scrolling, the results further down the chain do not get significant traffic as people will have found what they are searching for within the first 10 results.
Since I started getting interested in YouTube search analytics, I stumbled upon a channel by Derral Eves, whom I regard as a video marketing consultant worth his salt. His channel provides a lot of insight on YouTube’s search algorithm. This article covers quite a lot on the YouTube search algorithm. While it does not precisely cover your specific question, it tries to demystify how YouTube ranks videos and how it indexes newly uploaded content.
So everytime you search a video on Youtube, the algorithm tries to predict first based on the hot keywords and on what you are willing to watch by comparing the videos from users with similar YouTube habits and demographic data. This is the reason why YouTube promotes videos that retain users for more time on the same channel.
Jan 29, 2019 - 11:28 AM
You are correct that there is a big traffic drop off in regular search for page 2 and beyond in regular search. I would expect Youtube, which could be classified as the 2nd most popular search engine, to have a far more dramatic drop off due to YouTube's intentions to get you to watch as many videos as possible with the least amount of clicks.
Technically there is no page 2 on YouTube because YouTube implemented infinite scrolling. For a while there were two versions of YouTube where you could choose between the new YouTube and the "classic" version, but this went away and the only users that still have that experience are using hacks (which I expect is a tiny fraction of all users).
If you are curious what % of users scroll down beyond the first set of videos loaded, I expect it is smaller than regular search, except for queries where YouTube doesn't address the search phrase well (likely when there isn't a video created to meet the demands of the search), or when a user has already performed the search before and wants to dig deeper (for example, searching a specific YouTube channel and trying to find an old video).