YouTube now ranking videos by time watched, not clicks
October 12, 2012 | Casey Newton
In a bid to boost the time users spend on the site, videos that hold viewers' attention will rise higher in searches.
YouTube's ongoing effort to keep visitors on its pages for longer took a new twist today, when the video portal said it will start ranking videos by how long people watch them.
The move makes it more difficult to game the system by choosing a provocative thumbnail image for your video in an effort to drive clicks. Instead, creators will be rewarded for actually getting viewers to watch the whole video.
It follows a similar change the Google-owned company made to its suggested videos feature earlier this year. "These changes better surface the videos that viewers actually watch, over those that they click on and then abandon," the company said at the time.
The move succeeded in getting viewers to stay longer, YouTube said today. The new search ranking algorithms should have a similar effect.
To help video creators adjust to the new ranking system, YouTube has added a 'time watched' metric to YouTube analytics.
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Casey Newton writes about Google for CNET, which he joined in 2012 after covering technology for the San Francisco Chronicle. He is really quite tall.