In order to rank your videos well in YouTube search results and perform well across YouTube as a whole, you need to increase watch time on your videos. Playlists are a great tool on your YouTube channel to help people watch multiple videos, increasing both the watch time on your individual video, but also increasing the viewer’s session watch time across multiple videos. Both are very positive signals to Google and YouTube playlists can help you give them more watch time signals so your videos perform even better. It’s a great way to get more views on YouTube, turn those viewers into subscribers, and grow your YouTube channel overall.

Optimization or Organization?

Now most people use playlists, not incorrectly, but not to their full potential. What they do is they primarily use playlists as a way of organizing content on their channel, whether it’s by different topics or different series or something like that. And that’s not necessarily bad. But what I want you to think about instead here as we go through this is the primary goal of the playlist should be to get people to watch one video, and then another video, and then another video on your channel.

And when that happens, each one of those videos will be getting more watch time. And you’ll be increasing the viewer’s overall viewing session on YouTube, as well, which YouTube really loves, because you’re keeping people on the platform longer, helping them engage with more content, and seeing more ads– right, that’s what they really care about.

How to get people to watch playlists?

To get people to watch multiple videos in a playlist, that means you have to organize your playlists a little bit differently.

  1. You have to give them really good titles. Like title these playlists the same way that you would title a video. Make it enticing. Pitching value, tease a story.
  2. Write the description for your playlists, as well, something many people overlook. And just like you would write the description for a YouTube video itself, same principles apply for writing descriptions for playlists. That is, keep your keywords in mind that apply to that playlist, but write them out in normal conversational English, pitching value, teasing what’s in the playlist itself, so that people feel like, ooh I want to watch this entire playlist.
  3. Pick a strong thumbnail for that playlist. Now you do that by picking one of the videos that’s in that playlist to be the representative thumbnail for that full playlist. So again, just like you would do with a video, pick a good thumbnail for that playlist that complements the title very well.

How to use Analytics to Optimize your channel

Once you’ve set up those playlists and you’ve started using them across your channel, there is a lot of things you can learn about how to better optimize these and how to better help them perform for your videos and for your channel, right inside of your YouTube Analytics. Now if you go up to the top of your YouTube Analytics, you can see that by default your analytics are for videos. But you can easily click that drop-down menu and switch it to playlists.

After that start digging into all of the analytics and all the information and data that Google gives you about your playlists. You will learn a ton. Let me give you five of the top things that I’ve seen consistently true for playlists across the board that you will learn about them in your analytics.

  1. Place your strongest video first in the playlist. And the reason for this is that most people when they start a playlist, they start with that number one video. So to keep them watching through the whole playlist, that first one needs to be the best video that sets the context, that hooks people, and keeps them watching the rest. Whenever you feature this playlist as an interactive card or as an end screen element on your videos, or someplace like that, that first video will be the one that plays for them first.
  2. Exit Rate. Your analytics will show you what’s called an exit rate for each video in a specific playlist. And that exit rate indicates what percentage of people exit the playlist– that means abandon that playlist completely– as a result of watching that video. A second thing they can do is start to curate your playlists based on the exit rate.

    Now in your YouTube Analytics you will see that there is a metric there called the exit rate. And you can start fine-tuning your playlist, seeing like which ones are people exiting this playlist on the most. Maybe take those out of the playlist and add a different video to the playlist. And then maybe a month later come back and see if you’ve been able to keep people going through that playlist longer. Remove the videos that people leave over.

  3. Keep your playlists short. And it makes sense, if you think about it, from the perspective of how do we get people to into playlist mode are watching more videos. If they see there’s 200 videos in that playlist, they’re probably like I ain’t got time for this. And they probably won’t even start.

    But there’s like a manageable number of playlists, like if the videos are long– maybe there’s five, six, seven, eight videos in there– or if the videos are shorter, maybe you have somewhere like up to 10 videos in a playlist. That’s way more manageable and people are more likely to start and watch through all the videos in that playlist if they are more manageable like that.

    In your playlist analytics, you’ll see that this is true, because in my experience, you know, there seems to be like groups of videos that perform well together in a playlist. And it’s usually like the first two or three are kind of performing about the same. Then there’s like a big gap, and then like the next two, three, maybe four videos are performing about the same. Then there’s like another big gap. And then by the time you get to like that third set, there’s only like a few people still watching. So if you have like four or five of those sets, you have like 20 some videos on that playlist, like those ones at the end are probably getting almost no traction at all.

  4. Make a lot of playlists. And the reason for this is that if you go in your analytics and you look under traffic sources, you’ll find that most people find your playlists through the playlist tab on the top of your channel page. And on that page, your most recently updated playlists will be displayed first. So one, give people a few different playlists to browse through there. But number two, update them regularly so that you’re always keeping fresh content on that page. And you’re keeping your playlists fresh in front of people when they go looking for your playlists.
  5. Share those playlists everywhere you can. That means in your interactive cards. It means on your end screens. That means you’re linking to them and in the description of your videos. And when you’re tweeting them and sharing them and posting in places, you’re not just posting the YouTube URL of that video, itself. But you’re going into the playlist and then you’re copying and sharing that link instead because then you’re going to have all the other videos from that playlist displayed right to the right side of that video, or potentially underneath if you’re looking on desktop at the video on YouTube in theater mode.

    And if you compare the amount of watch time that someone who is watching just a regular video on your channel is giving you compared to the amount of watch that someone in a playlist is giving you, it’s typically about twice as much watch time coming from someone who is watching a video in a playlist.

    And then if you really dig into it, you’ll find that people who then watch a second video after that are usually worth about triple the amount of watch time as someone who is just watching a single video. So these playlists are very, very important.

I want to hear from you in the comments below. How do you currently use playlists on your channel? And where do you see most room for improvement for how you’re going to use them?

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