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YouTube Opinion Is Ranking 3rd BETTER than 1st?!

Stanley Orchard

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Author's Note: This article is intended to be more of a thought exercise than an attempt to shake up best-practices. Please read and respond accordingly.

It is important to step outside and grasp a more global view of the things we do here on YouTube from time to time. People get very wrapped up in things like making these exquisite, artistic and absolutely flawless thumbnails and at times this can lead to overkill and a loss of performance due to 'overthinking.' Remember there may be a difference between a 'great thumbnail' and a 'high-performing thumbnail.' Sometimes all it takes is a single, simple photo.

I feel the same of search rankings, in particular the high search ranks that we all desire. We all want to hit #1 for search in our various niches and our desire to do so should not change. However, I think there may be some un-considered value in lower search ranks that we should at least be mindful of (if for no other reason than our own mental health).

Grocery stores have a very precise layout that they use in order to push their more profitable products (car dealerships actually follow a similar model using the same science). It follows 'Line of Site.' They take the average height of a person and they make sure to put the most profitable items at eye level for this person. These are the products that are seen the most and therefore they are the ones grabbed most often by consumers. The top and bottom shelves are typically reserved for more expensive, less expensive, less purchased and basically 'less-profitable' products.

I believe the same may be true of search ranks. Again, we all strive for #1 and that shouldn't change (not that there is much you can do about it, but humor me). But I feel as though the #1 spot is more of a 'top-shelf' placement. In fact I would like to see the statistics of how often the highest ranking selection in a search query is clicked on versus the 2nd, 3rd and so on. But I feel that the 3rd or 4th spots in search ranking put the thumbnail directly at eye-level and that this may be a more 'sales-worthy' position.

In addition I wonder about the value of positioning for the scroll. When I go to search a topic I rarely click on the highest ranking videos in search and opt rather to continue exploring and scrolling in order to see the 'other' options. I peruse the ranks in teh hopes of finding that hidden gem video that speaks directly to the question I want answered and I wonder how common it is for others to do the same.

Does any of this matter? Nope. You can't adjust anything for this, it makes no difference to anything you do and unless someone actually proves my theory and the search engines decide to take action with some sort of search result screen that features the best results in a 'line of site' fashion then none of this means anything (not to mention I could be entirely wrong).

But the point of this exercise isn't about finding the perfect position... in fact it is the exact opposite. Some times we need to step away from the micro-analysis of a few select views on a video and take a look at the variables of a larger trend. Sometimes there are things staring us right in the face, if only we look up from the book to see it. Analytics give amazing insight into the things that are happening around us but you need to take those numbers and put them into the actions of the people enjoying your content. What do those numbers mean and who are the people behind them? If you figure that out you will have a much better connection with your audience... and this will do wonders for both them and you.
 

Beanie Draws

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This is a good interesting point. I'm less inclined to think that the ranking position is as important as simply showing up in a result. When you show up in a result, you're going to show up among however many other videos the device can fit on the screen at the time.
In that situation, the thumbnail and title is more important. I've time and time again, clicked a video that might rank 3 or 4, simply because the thumbnail grabbed my attention more.

So people need to put just as much attention towards their thumbnail as well. tags and ranking simply show you on the screen, with many others, but how you earn the click is what matters, and in a thumbnail driven platform... we really do judge books by their cover.

Unless you're specifically looking for an exact title match, you're really going "hmm, this thumbnail looks like it might answer my question" and that might be ranked number 1, or it might be ranked number 5.

Really good food for thought :)
 

Damo’s Paintings

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Great read! We all just need to take a look at our own habits, how do we use the search and rank, do we click on the first video at the top? I certainly don’t, well I do if it’s what I’m looking for, which half the time it isn’t, it just comes back to that thumbnail and title and how they bounce out at the eye.

Some creators just aren’t satisfied enough with being ranked at all, whether it be 3rd or 4th or 5th, they’re always pushing for that number 1 position which in the case of YouTube search isn’t really needed, as @Beanie Draws says (and me just above) it’s the thumbnail and title that attracts us to a video.

I almost never click the first video, but usually scroll down until I’ve found what I’m looking for.

Great supermarket shelf analogy!
 

Maryprecious

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Amazing write-ups @Damo's and @ Beanie. Having the right and attractive thumbnail together with catchy title will surely get you the click. Personally, a beautiful thumbnail draws my attention to click on a video even if the title doesn't answer my question at that particular time and I believe there are viewers like me out there.

Please, I will personally need a tutorial on how to make an attractive thumbnail because, when I think I'm almost there, it will seem as if I'm not close at making it attractive. A video on how to change your image to a sticker will be highly appreciated. Thanks
 

SILTHW

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Well said guyd. @Beanie Draws and @Damo’s Paintings you guys totally nailed it. It's less about positioning and more about them thumbs!
I think what I like so much about this is that we all do exactly this. We know exactly what our own behavior is. Then we completely ignore it and do whatever we want :joy:

So this is a good reminder that your users really are just like you. Why would you put out something you yourself wouldn't click on?
 

Damo’s Paintings

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Why would you put out something you yourself wouldn't click on?
Exactly, I’ve thrown entire videos because I viewed them as just awful and definitely not click worthy, it sucks having to do that but it’s better than putting it on and getting bombed with negativity!
 

Legacy

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I am short so whenever I go to stores my eyes definitely don't go to the top shelf, because I know I will struggle to reach them anyway. I used to work at a store actually for a little bit, and my supervisor always told me that the customers eyes are always going to go towards the shelves that are eye level for them. This is because that is the easiest shelf for them to see, and they will not have to stand on their toes or bend down to pick items off of that eye level shelf.

Sometimes, when I am searching for a video on youtube I will scroll down a few videos just because sometimes when I click on the very first video it is more of an ad than a video itself. Also, if the first video is 15 minutes but the third video is only 10 minutes, I might choose the 3rd video instead of the first because it will save me 5 minutes of my time as long as it is the kind of information I am looking for.
 

Damon

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Yeah, if I'm, really into a subject, I'll be looking 10 pages deep to find what I want. If people are looking they will find you. The main thing is most people aren't looking. They just window shopping with no intent to buy. Again it comes to two things:
  1. the value of the content
  2. the strength of the desire/resolve of those searching
For me my custom handline reels. It's a top tier thing. I'm not interested in those who are just window shopping. I'm interested in those who are serious about handline fishing. Those who have gone beyond a cursory search of handline fishing. Those digging pages and pages deep to find what they're looking for. They are the ones who find my content and buy and become my subscribers because the #1 slot is taken up by popular content.

I had a guy from Kuwait message me about trolling with a handline. I do lots of trolling and drift fishing with handline. I was the only one he could find. Gained a subscriber.

It's the different between listen to some techno jam versus a Beethoven symphony or Bach Cantata. There is a reason Beethoven, Bach and Brahms have been around all these centuries. In six months no one will remember the latest techno jam. Six centuries from now people will still be listening to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Which do you want to be? That's up to you.
 

goldfries

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I'm happy if my 2nd or 3rd place ranks after a popular channel. People likely will click anyway, also there are people who wants different POV than from the usual big channels.