Watch time shows how long YouTube users have been watching your videos. This metric comes first in the YouTube Analytics summary. The site does not hide that watch time is a key ranking factor.
In the past, views were the most important metric for video marketing performance and channel success. Because of this, there are many offers on the market for cheating them. It’s useless to buy views now, and here’s why:
The counter calculates and removes invalid views, which is why it works with a delay.
YouTube is interested in user retention, and a large number of views does not guarantee this. 1 view of 10 minutes is better than 5 views of 60 seconds.
For artificial views, you can get sanctions or channel blocking. Likewise, with any other markups: mutual subscriptions, likes purchases.
In the «Academy for Authors» it is written in black and white: «The rating of each video and channel on YouTube depends precisely on the viewing time — the longer users watch a video, the more often it appears in search results and recommendations.»
At the same time, the owners of YouTube channels can still see the relationship between the number of views and good ranking, which is absolutely normal: as a rule, views correlate with watch time.
A similar story with other indicators.
According to research by Backlinko, the average length of a video on the first page of a search is nearly 15 minutes. Everything is logical here: YouTube loves long videos because they increase watch time.
The watch time priority also explains that the number of subscribers has little effect on ranking, because the number of subscriptions is the number of views:
People youtube 1000 subscribers to dozens of channels, they don’t have enough time to watch each new episode. Moreover, YouTube is not the only chronophage: there is also Facebook, VKontakte, mail, instant messengers.
In addition to videos by subscription, recommendations appear in the Main feed. They are based on browsing history, preferences of users with similar interests, and more.
In the search, we can find videos from channels with a wide variety of subscribers.