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  • YouTube Analytics

    YouTube Analytics: A Comprehensive Guide

    When it comes to YouTube analytics, knowledge is power.

    Does it seem like a good idea to turn your nose up at nearly 2 billion monthly active viewers?

    Letting 2 billion (with a B!) potential pairs of eyes on your business slip away?

    Because that’s what you’re doing if you’re not taking YouTube seriously.

    Opportunities like that are gold for a marketer.

    So now that we’ve established why you should care about YouTube and YouTube analytics, let’s break down how exactly you can best take advantage of the opportunities this massive platform provides.

    What is YouTube Analytics?

    What is YouTube Analytics?

    Metrics matter. YouTube analytics is where you can find all of the important metrics about your channel.

    It’s how you measure how successful your videos and marketing efforts have been.

    You can find out what your viewers are loving and what they’re not so crazy about so you can produce ideal content moving forward.

    YouTube analytics isn’t just a data dump, either, so if staring at large spreadsheets gives you hives, don’t worry.

    The native platform is user-friendly and fairly intuitive.

    What to Look Out For

    Even though YouTube analytics is pretty straightforward, it still helps to know what you should pay attention to and what’s less important.

    Watch Time

    Watch time is a measure of how many total minutes users have spent watching videos on your channel. You can also see a breakdown by individual video but this is the total for all the videos you have posted.

    The numbers here can start to get unbelievable if your channel starts to attract serious attention. And if your channel reaches 4,000 hours of watch time in a year (and you gain 1,000 subscribers) you will be eligible for monetization, meaning YouTube will pay you for the ads on your videos.

    What’s not to like?

    Average View Duration

    Average View Duration

    Watch time is not to be confused with average view duration, though, another useful metric that tells you how long viewers are sticking around after clicking on your video. Do they watch the first ten seconds and immediately decide it’s not for them? Or do they watch all the way through to the end?

    Watching a video is a lot like meeting someone new. You give them the once over and decide within fifteen seconds if you’re interested in their deal or not. Make sure they’re interested.

    Obviously, a higher average view duration will lead to a higher watch time, both of which are beneficial to your channel. YouTube will view your channel more favorably when these metrics appear positive and recommend it to more users so they’re certainly important to keep an eye on.


    If you’ve watched some veteran YouTube creators, you’ve probably heard a phrase somewhat along the lines of “give this video a thumbs up” or “hit the subscribe button” or “leave a comment down below.”

    While viewers can get sick of hearing these things, the creators aren’t just begging for additional attention and validation because it makes them feel tingly inside. YouTube cares about those metrics, collectively called engagement, and they can have a significant effect on the success of a video and a channel.

    Which video would you recommend to someone? The video that people watch, sure, but don’t interact with at all, or the video that seems to spark conversation and has viewers expressing their enjoyment and discontent?

    YouTube has a clear answer.

    But beyond optimizing for YouTube, looking at engagement can help you get feedback, in essence, from your audience.

    A poor like to dislike ratio may mean a particular video wasn’t something your audience enjoyed. A video that gets shared a lot is probably something you should take inspiration from going forward.

    Traffic Source

    Traffic source is an important metric that tells you where your viewers are coming from whether it’s external like a link from your blog or a social media post or internal like the recommended section or the YouTube homepage.

    When you know how your viewers find you, you can adjust your strategy accordingly.

    Maybe you find that your blog is driving a massive amount of traffic to your YouTube channel. In that case, you might choose to embed more links (albeit nofollow) to videos in your posts.

    Maybe YouTube searches are bringing in the majority of your viewers. In that case, you can go pat whoever’s in charge of your YouTube SEO on the back and tell them to keep up the good work.

    You’ll find areas to boost efforts and areas where those efforts are already paying off.



    This is a big one. As with any marketing or attempts to build an audience, who the people you’re reaching matters.

    YouTube provides detailed breakdowns of your viewers’ locations, ages, genders, and languages even. If there’s a mouse in a house in Timbuktu watching your videos, the demographics portion of YouTube analytics will let you know.

    Information on the location of your viewers can help you tailor your content to them. Or, the reverse. It can help you adjust your keyword strategy to reach the local audience you’re hoping to impact.

    Age and gender are some of the most commonly watched demographics from YouTube analytics since they give an easy overview of who’s watching your videos.

    It goes without saying that if you want to reach male 18-24-year-olds, for example, the content you’ll put out will be very different than if you want to reach young girls.


    Subscribers are your core audience. They have publicly indicated their support to your channel and you as a creator.

    These are the people most likely to watch new videos you put out and spread the word that your content is worth watching.

    Subscribers also stick around longer once they click on a video compared to non-subscribers which will help your watch time increase.

    Hopefully, you’ll be able to watch your subscriber count grow over time and build a strong relationship with that audience.

    Just don’t get too caught up watching the numbers. You can start to see the subscriber count graph in some people’s eyes and all personality draining out when they focus entirely on getting more subscribers.

    Impressions Click-Through Rate

    The impressions click-through rate measures how effective your video is at prompting people to click on it.

    The thumbnail and the title are obviously the two factors that most affect this metric.

    Don’t overlook the power of a great thumbnail. Some people make the mistake of letting YouTube automatically pick the thumbnail but you absolutely need to put the time into making your own.

    Best practices on improving the impressions click-through rate have varied over the years but the easiest advice is to put yourself in the shoes of a member of your target audience.

    What kind of image would they click on? What kind of title would draw them in? It may take some trial and error but definitely keep coming back to check on impressions CTR and see that it’s improving as you hone in on exactly what attracts your target audience.

    (As a side note: click-baiting is a strategy some creators choose to get more clicks onto their videos by using a misleading thumbnail and title. However, a) YouTube viewers are often privy to these tactics and b) they won’t stick around if the video doesn’t deliver. This will lower your average view duration considerably and cost you their trust. Our advice? Don’t do it.)


    Much like traffic sources, looking at keywords in the YouTube analytics Search Report helps you find what keywords are leading viewers to your videos.

    They should generally align with the topics of your videos and the keywords you placed in your metadata otherwise you may need to make some adjustments.

    Making YouTube Analytics Work for Your Business

    Depending on the goals of your YouTube campaign, you may do different things with all this information YouTube analytics provides.

    Whatever action you take, though, will be supported by comprehensive and up-to-date data about your audience which should be both a help and comfort.

    If you need some more information on optimizing strategies with YouTube analytics or SEO in general, contact us at SEO.co. We are experts in content and digital marketing and can help you get where you want to go.

    Chief Revenue Officer at SEO Company
    Industry veteran Timothy Carter is SEO.co’s Chief Revenue Officer. Tim leads all revenue for the company and oversees all customer-facing teams for SEO (search engine optimization) services - including sales, marketing & customer success. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO & Digital Marketing, assisting in everything from SEO for lawyers to complex technical SEO for Fortune 500 clients like Wiley, Box.com, Qualtrics and HP.

    Tim holds expertise in building and scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive growth from websites and sales teams.

    When he's not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach...preferably in Hawaii.

    Over the years he's written for publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Marketing Land, Search Engine Journal, ReadWrite and other highly respected online publications. Connect with Tim on Linkedin & Twitter.
    Timothy Carter