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How to increase watch time duration on YouTube

As a YouTuber, you have a lot to think about. It’s not just about the subscribers or the views, you also have to think about the watch duration of your video. Although a lot of people get caught up in the vanity metric of high views, it’s the watch hours that count.

What is watch hours and how is it different from views?

When you’re watching a YouTube video, you can clearly see the view count on the video. That metric is there for everyone to see.

A screenshot how many views are on a video on YouTube and how this is different from the watch duration on YouTube.

Then you have watch time. Watch time is how long people are watching your content. YouTube combines all your watch time together.

Let’s look at an example and break it down.

You post a 20 minute video and it receives 1 view but the watch time duration for that 1 view is only 1 minute. Although you have gained 1 view, you’ve only added 1 minute to your watch time duration pile.

Meaning you could receive 10,000 views but your watch time could be extremely low for that viewer count. In this post, you will find 6 ways to increase your watch duration on YouTube in 2021 as a complete beginner.

Related: How to reach 25k views on YouTube as a beginner.

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6 ways to increase your watch time duration on YouTube as a complete beginner in 2021. Are you looking at improving your watch time on YouTube? Check out these 6 tips for improving your watch time and getting monetized on Youtube. The Bloggers Incentive.

Why does watch time matter over views?

You’re maybe thinking, why would I care if the watch time is low if I’m hitting 10,000 views. The reason why watch time is so important is because you are required to hit 4000 watch hours to get monetized on YouTube, within the last 12 months.

Views do not play a part in the process of getting monetized and therefore you need to have a good watch time duration for each of your videos.

To be monetized on YouTube, you need to have the following

  • 4000 watch hours in the last 12 months
  • 1000 subscribers
  • 0 active community guideline strikes

YouTube recently introduced the guideline strikes to the requirements. This means if you violate any of YouTube’s policies you are unable to apply for monetization. Although if you have expired strikes or copyright strikes, this will not affect your application.


6 ways to increase watch time duration on YouTube

We have now established how important it is to build your watch duration if you want to be making money from YouTube. We are now going to look at how you can increase your watch time duration on YouTube as a complete beginner in 2021. Let’s be honest, people don’t usually watch the whole YouTube video unless it’s something they are really interested in.

Your job is to convince the user to stay on your video and channel.

Related: How to reach 25k views on YouTube at the beginning.

Use the playlist feature to create a series

Have you ever been watching an episode in a TV series, it finishes and you’re excited about the next episode? You’re then awake till 2am and you’ve completed the series. We need to create a similar situation for our users.

YouTube has introduced a playlist feature that will allow your users to see your videos in the order you set. Therefore, if you have created a series about travelling to a certain country or place, you can create a playlist for that place.

This means when a viewer watches one video, they are then going to see that you have multiple videos about that place.

For example, I have a playlist about my travels in Bali. Meaning anyone who is interested in Bali can view all my videos in the order I released them.

A screenshot of my playlists on YouTube and how it will benefit your watch duration on YouTube.

You’re essentially creating a mini-series that will leave the viewer wanting more.

Stop using clickbait thumbnails and titles

Have you ever clicked a video about how to make 1 million pounds from your home today and it’s actually a video about a 20 year investment that requires a 500,000 starting fee? Well, that is clickbait.

Using a specific title or thumbnail to get viewers to click on your video that is not what your video is about.

You can of course use clickbait titles for videos that are true. For example, I included in one of my video titles that I experienced an earthquake in Bali because I actually did. Although this might be exciting for people to click on, it was a true event.

Don’t mislead your viewers into clicking on your video. Although this may increase your views, your view duration is going to be incredibly low.

If you are honest with your thumbnail and title, your viewers then know exactly what to expect from your video.

Include cards in your video

Using your analytics, you will be able to see when people are clicking off your video. You can then set cards for that time.

What is a card?

A card is the pop up on the corner of the screen that suggests another video. If your users are clicking off your video you want to at least keep them on your channel and watching other videos.

Suggest related content on your videos so that it sparks that motivation in your user to click through to another one of your videos.

I have a quick run-through on how to add cards on my post about reaching 100 subscribers on YouTube.

Related: How to reach 100 subscribers on your YouTube channel.

Give your viewers a reason to stick around to the end

If you want to increase your YouTube watch time duration, you need to give your viewers a reason to stay till the end.

One of my best performing videos on YouTube is my West Bali trip. In the video, I talk about going snorkelling but that is left till the end of the video. This gives people the incentive to stick around to watch the end of the video.

A screenshot of my YouTube channel and what video is performing the best on my channel for watch duration.
A screenshot of my average watch duration.

Although my thumbnail is almost like a clickbait title because it’s a big villa, I actually stayed there.

A 4 minutes watch duration for a 12 minute video may seem low, this is an average and a lot of the time people will click off your video, bringing down the average.

Don’t worry, when it comes to watch time duration, all the time is calculated. It’s not done by calculating an average.

Use your analytics to see when people are clicking off

YouTube gives a lot of information that you should use to its full potential. In the video data, you can deep dive into where people are dropping off from your video.

Let’s look at my West Bali video that we mentioned above.

A screenshot of my watch time duration for my video on YouTube and how I can check what effects my video.

Averaging from that almost straight line, people were dropping off at 3 minutes.

I can then go back to my video and see what was happening around that timeline. In the next video, I would then either add a card to that section of the video or I would remind my viewers to stick around to the next section of the video.

If you have the data, use it.


Use longtail keywords to create targeted videos

To put into perspective how many videos are on YouTube, the average of the hours uploaded to YouTube per minute is 500. It is more than possible to become successful on YouTube in 2021 but there is a lot of competition already on the web.

How to get around that?

Just like blogging, you need to use longtail keywords in your titles, tags and description. For example, instead of saying travelling to Canada why not bulk up your keywords:

Travelling to Canada on a budget as a solo traveller.

You are then targeting a more specific audience. Budget travellers are going to include the work budget in their search because they need specific information for their travels. Ensure that your video is set up for being found.

How to increase watch time duration on YouTube

Although building your views is great, it’s important to focus on your watch time duration if you are looking to get monetized.

It is more than possible to make money from YouTube, but you have to work on all the factors:

  • Watch time duration
  • Subscriber count
  • Not breaking community guidelines

What are some things that have helped you increase your watch time duration?

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how to increase your watch time duration on YouTube as a beginner in 2021. Are you looking to increase your watch time duration? Not sure how to start building your youtube? check out my 6 tips for how to improve your watch time duration as a beginner youtuber. The Bloggers Incentive.

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. JamieAdStories

    I am having a break from YouTube but when I get back I shall take this advice as I know watch time is vital.

  2. readandreviewit

    These are such useful tips! I don’t currently have a youtube but I might eventually set up an account, and I’ll definitely refer back to this when I do. Cards and looking at data seem so vital! Thanks for sharing x

    1. Hello! Aw that sounds so interesting and i cannot wait to see your account. 100% very important! Thanks for checking out my post! Alicia

  3. Biren Panchal

    This absolutely so insightful post, Alicia! Each and every tips are really effective, speaking from personal experience! I normally watch web series and there I could see all such things which you’ve listed down over here, which I believe is purely professional things to do. Apart from that, I like how you explained the legalities and taking benefit of provided analytics by YT are truly very useful to improve! Thanks for sharing this, Alicia! I always love your insightful work to read!

  4. Fabulous tips you’ve provided here! I’ve been wanting to get back into YouTube for a while now so definitely bookmarking this for reference. Thank you for sharing!

  5. I’m not on YouTube right now, but these are still excellent tips that I may use in the future. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Netert Aset

    What great information to be utilized in the future. I will take them into account by going over my past videos and see what’s up. Thank you. ?

  7. Vourneen

    I can’t believe there’s so much involved in having a Youtube channel! Your post has so much great information. My other blog is a travel blog and I keep thinking I should start a YouTube channel – I also got a drone recently so must take advantage of that! I’ve subscribed to your channel and will be binge-watching all your Bali videos as I’m meant to be heading there in May! I’m also bookmarking this for if (when!) I eventually start working on Youtube 🙂

    1. Hi Voureen, thanks for checking out my post. That’s incredible that you have multiple blogs and yes a YouTube would be perfect for travelling!! I love using the drone for my videos as it really adds something extra!! OMG have the best time in Bali! You will love it! Alicia

  8. Katie

    This is so interesting – I don’t do YouTube myself but it’s good to know how it works so that as a viewer you can make sure to be more supportive to creators.


    We don’t do YouTube but it will definitely come in handy if we ever start our own channel!

  10. Fransic verso

    I worked once before as YouTuber but it was so much work with blogging. So I had to stop. I will keep these in mind when I get back to it. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Lauren

    I do not run a YouTube channel but it is something I would love to do! I just do not have the confidence, maybe I will give it a go in the future.

    This post is super helpful for people who are working on YouTube. This would be helpful if I ever do give it a go. Thank you for sharing!

    Lauren –

    1. Hi Lauren, thanks for checking out my post. I understand what you mean, sometimes you have to take the leap! Thanks for your comment! Alicia

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