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YouTube Analytics – Which Metrics Actually Matter for YouTube channel growth?

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As a blogger, we care a lot about analytics like page views, sessions, and bounce rate. But we don’t have any of that in YouTube Analytics! We see views, watch time and subscribers… so which metrics in YouTube Analytics should we be looking at? What does YouTube Analytics tell you?

Listen to Episode 13: YouTube Analytics – Which Metrics Actually Matter for YouTube channel growth?

What does YouTube Analytics tell you?

I have told you before that I’m kind of a nerd about this stuff. I really like diving into Google analytics for my blog and looking “under the hood” so to speak. I like learning about things like where traffic is coming from and how long people are on my site so that I can use that info to improve my old content and improve the way I create new content.

But YouTube analytics are a different story for me. I used to into my dashboard, and I’m like, ok cool – I have new subscribers, watch time is up (or down), revenue is coming in, and I have some new comments to respond to. And I’d go about my day.

But lately, I’ve been trying to really understand which metrics matter in YouTube analytics, and how you can use this data to help improve my channel and future videos. So that’s what we’re diving into here in episode #13 of the Video Pursuit Podcast.

New YouTube Creator Studio

One thing I want to point out is that YouTube recently released a beta version of the Creator Studio, and it’s called Studio Beta. Visually, it’s very different than the creator studio before, but in both versions, there is a menu on the left side of your screen (if you’re on the desktop), and that’s where you can select Analytics.

Which Metrics Matter in YouTube Analytics

I once heard–from Darrel Eves, I think–that when you look at your YouTube analytics, whichever numbers YouTube shows you first, are the most important numbers TO YouTube. So if it’s important to YouTube, it should be important to you.

So right off the bat, currently, YouTube gives you watch time. Then views, subscribers, and finally, estimated revenue. By default, YouTube gives you this data for the past 28 days, but you can change that if you want.

Personally, I think it’s safe to say that if your numbers there are on the up, you’re doing great. I can also tell you, from experience, that if your numbers are down, you’re probably still doing great. It just means you’re down compared to the preview period.

What is “watch time” on YouTube?

YouTube places watch time very high on the priority list. Watch time is the amount of time viewers have spent watching a video. So if you have a ten-minute long video, and someone watches it all the way through, you have 10 minutes of watch time. If 40 people watch it halfway through, you have 200 minutes of watch time.

What is a “view” on YouTube?

In YouTube analytics, views are the number of times a video has been watched. Using the previous example, if you upload a video that’s 10 minutes long and 1 person watches the whole thing, that’s 1 view. I haven’t seen this confirmed by YouTube, but I believe YouTube counts a view after someone watches at least 30 seconds of a video.

So if you have a 10-minute video and 40 people watch at least 30 seconds of it, you would have 40 views.

What are subscribers on YouTube?

This should be self-explanatory, but subscribers are the number of people who have subscribed to your YouTube channel. I don’t look too deep into subscriber analytics… the fact is, you’re going to lose subscribers, and you’re going to gain subscribers. You definitely want to see a net gain, but don’t get hung up on lost subscribers.

What is “estimated revenue” on YouTube?

Like subscribers, this fluctuates, and it’s not 100% accurate. There are other factors besides your channel and content that affect it the estimated revenue. There are brands buying ads, or not buying ads, it’s not at all an indication of how well your channel is doing, in my opinion, because there are all these other variables that are out of your control.

So there’s your big picture “how is my channel doing” analytics, what you see when you log in and scope things out.

But…what now? Can you use that information to improve your channel or your videos at all? Mmmm not really.

Use YouTube Analytics to Grow your YouTube Channel

When you dive into the analytics of a particular video, you can see things like click-through rates, audience retention, exact search terms, and traffic sources (and so much more!).

Audience Retention on YouTube

Audience retention is a big one, and I think I avoid looking at this because I don’t want to know how bad it is. Truly! Audience retention is how long people watch the video for… like, when they drop off because you’re too boring, too annoying, not moving quick enough, not helpful enough… I mean this is basically a graph for how dull or interesting you are.

But the audience retention metric is so telling…because moving forward, when you’re planning and scripting your videos, you can improve it. Hopefully, you have enough self-awareness to see why people dropped off at a certain point. This will be different for every video, and every person. We’re all different.

A few months ago, on Tim Schmoyer’s channel (Video Creators), he had a guest on this channel, DaNelle from the Weed ’em and Reep channel. This was a really informative video for me and helped me re-think some things for my own channel. DaNelle said she noticed that once she had more than 50% retention on her videos, more than 50% of the people were still there by the end of the video, YouTube started recommending her video more.

Hmm… something to think about.

Exact Search Terms on YouTube

Something else you may be really interested in is finding the exact search terms that people are using to find your videos. This would be useful if you go an look at your more popular videos, and see what search terms left people to those videos. That’s a great clue that you could create more videos on that similar topic, but targeting those other search terms. If you have spent a lot of time learning about and implementing SEO on your blog, you’ve probably heard of this concept. When you know the EXACT terms people are using to search for things online, then you know EXACTLY what to title your future blog posts and videos.

Click Through Rate on YouTube Videos

The last metric I want to mention, and maybe the most exciting, is click through rate, or CTR. This is a new metric for YouTube and I think you can only find it in the new Creator Studio. So you can see if people are choosing to click on your video when they see the thumbnail.

Thumbnails are like some kind of black magic, voodoo or something. If you have even the slightest background in graphic design or any kind of design really… throw it all out the window with thumbnails. It’s not about being pretty or well designed, it’s about getting the click.

So you can look at the click-through rate of your videos, and if they’re bad, it’s likely to be the thumbnail that’s to blame… and you can change it up! Hopefully, you’re creating custom thumbnails, to begin with, but if not, try that first. But redesign your thumbnail and experiment with it, if your CTR is not good.

Your title can also be the culprit in poor CTR, but be careful with that one because the title is also a really big deal with just SEO and ranking in general. So… take that into consideration.

Brian G Johnson, a YouTube guru, for lack of better term, has said before that the key to a good title is the search term right up front, followed by a hook. Something to get the viewers attention. I like this method because you’re front-loading with your keywords, and backloading with psychology, right? What’s going to make a human being go, “huh?? I gotta watch this right now!” and click through.

But, people don’t read. We know that right? So I’d experiment with thumbnails all day long before taking a whack at my titles if my CTR was bad. That’s my personal feeling on it.

What is a good Click Through Rate (CTR) on YouTube?

This is tricky because you kinda need to take impressions into account alongside the CTR. Impressions would be how many times your video was shown as a search result or recommended video, like how many times someone had the opportunity to click through. So it’s kinda one of those things you might look at the click-through rate of a video and be able to see the thumbnail, the title, the traffic sources, the impressions, and if you had a great CTR and lots of watch time, you can use that as an example, so you want to kinda repeat those results.

For comparison, my click-through rate in the last 28 days is 5.6% which is pretty good for me. When the CTR metric was first available it was like less than 3%.

There is, of course, SO much more in analytics, and honestly, it’s really easy to get lost in the black hole of data, but just look at the metric that you can actually do something to improve so that your audience will grow!

Listen to more episodes of the Video Pursuit Podcast here or in Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast player. Leave a review! It helps other people find my podcast as well.

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