YouTube watch time is CRITICAL when it comes to channel growth and audience engagement. Whether you’re a new channel or a seasoned one, the amount of time your viewers are sticking around DOES MATTER.
Important: When available, we use affiliate links and may earn a commission!
Fortunately, there are easy ways to improve your content to boost audience retention and maximize your views. This can eventually lead to reaching 4,000 hours of viewed content, which YouTube handsomely rewards through a sweet partner program.
In this guide, we’ll be focusing on 5 easy tips that can increase your YouTube watch time. So if you’re ready to boost your channel through improved viewer retention and more views, let’s get to it!
How to Increase YouTube Watch Time
Let’s face it, nobody wants to sit around watching you blabber on with no end in sight. This is the ultimate way to put your viewers to sleep, and it definitely won’t do much for your average watch time on YouTube.
This is one of the big mistakes we made here at Primal Video when our channel first started out. Our watch time reflected that – it was terrible! – and we knew that it was time to make some changes to our content.
So what did we do? We started focusing on simple ways to engage our viewers, like changing up the visuals, keeping content fresh, and making our videos more interesting overall.
5 Easy Tips to Increase Watch Time on YouTube
Now the question is, how do you make each of these things happen? Well, that’s where these 5 audience retention tips come into play:
Tip #1: Use Jumpcuts
The very first YouTube watch time trick to improve viewer engagement is to use jumpcuts. A jumpcut is an easy way to break up your content by slightly changing the look of each clip. This makes the overall content much more appealing.
Editing your video with jumpcuts is super simple. It’s just a matter of zooming in and out between clips, so even though the background is technically the same, one shot looks different from the next.
When going through the video editing process, adding jumpcuts is a simple thing you can do to make each shot more interesting
Here are the basic steps to add in jumpcuts:
- Whenever you have an edit in your footage timeline or a break between a sentence, add a “cut” between the clips
- Zoom in slightly on the second clip (after the cut) – the key here is slightly!
- Avoid zooming in too far; just zoom in enough so that there is a slight change between
- Zoom back out when there is another break in the clips, and continue this process throughout the
The great thing about jumpcuts is that it can make it appear as if you’re using two cameras, but little do the viewers know, you’re actually just using one. By zooming in and out, it looks as if you’re using a wide-angle camera for part of the filming process, then a separate camera to capture a tighter shot.
Pro Tip: Avoid Zooming In Too Much!
It’s very important that you don’t go overboard with your zooming. If you zoom in too far, you’ll probably lose some resolution quality in your footage.
The recommendation is to zoom in 10-12%. Any zooming in over 15% will likely result in a drop in quality.
Pro Tip: Use Jumpcuts to Mask Changes in Light
Even if you keep your background lighting the same throughout filming, you have no control over the changes in natural light going on outside. This means that from one clip to the next, there might be some significant changes in background lighting, which can be a distraction for viewers.
The good news is that it’s possible to use jumpcuts to break up these changes in light and mask them so that the viewers don’t even notice.
Pro Tip: Focus on the Eyes!
When editing your jumpcuts, it’s really important that you focus on the eyes and try to keep your eyes in a similar position between shots.
It’s our natural human instinct to focus on a speaker’s eye line, so if your eyes go from blinking to wide open from one shot to the next, this can be super distracting for your viewers.
Always pay close attention to the speaker’s eyes while you make your jumpcut edits
This means that it may take more than just a simple zoom-in to create your jumpcut. You might also have to slightly reposition the shot on your video editing interface.
Tip #2: Use Music
Using music in your videos is an amazing way to add some emotional value to your content. Invoking emotions in your audience is – you guessed it! – another great way to increase watch time.
Using background music is one of the best ways to invoke feelings in your viewers
Of course, you can’t just pick any old audio clip to input into your videos. The music you choose should match the feelings you’re trying to invoke. Try to avoid background music that’s too upbeat or too depressing if it doesn’t go with the vibe of your specific content.
There are heaps of stock music sites for finding the right music for your videos, but these are our favorites right now:
For more info on how to add music to your videos, you can check out our guide on How to Find Music for Videos.
Pro Tip: Avoid Using Distracting Music
If you’re creating piece-to-camera content and speaking directly to your audience, it’s very important that you don’t use music that is overly distracting. It should be extremely subtle and barely noticeable in the background.
Loud music that drowns out your voice or audio that is filled with rolling crescendos will take away from your message, and chances are, your watch time hours on YouTube will suffer.
So keep it simple and subtle, especially for piece-to-camera filming.
Tip #3: Use Motion Titles
Motion titles and animated graphics can add TONS of value to your videos.
This might be as simple as bringing some text on-screen to reiterate a key point that you’re trying to get across. Or you can get fancy with it by using motion graphics tools like VideoHive and Storyblocks to create animated titles that boost viewer engagement.
Both Storyblocks and VideoHive allow you to customize preset templates to match your branding. They’re both really easy to use, but if you need help, check out our guide on How to Make Animated Titles.
Tip #4: Use B-Roll Footage
Using B-roll, also called overlay footage, is another great tip for anyone who’s interested in learning how to increase watch time on YouTube.
Why Use B-Roll Footage?
B-roll is basically just extra footage that you overlay on the original clip to add more character and value to a video. There are many different reasons to use it, like to:
- Break up mundane content so that your viewers aren’t just watching a talking head
- Help the viewer better understand your talking points by adding B-roll images or videos relating to the content
- Show shots of a specific product or resource to give the viewer more insight on what it looks like/how it works
- Fix mistakes in any unusable visual aspects of the footage while keeping the original audio
There are many different options out there for accessing B-roll. While it’s possible to shoot it yourself, the easier method for a lot of YouTube video creators is to use a stock video/image site.
Filming your own B-roll takes time, but depending on the type of videos you’re creating, it might be the best option for you
Sites like these give you complete access to TONS of stock videos and photos that can be used as B-roll in your content:
Using a video structure throughout ALL of your content is one of the absolute best things you can do for improved watch time, if not THE best.
Tip #5: Use a Video Structure
Using a structured plan is all about keeping your viewers engaged from start to finish. The previous 4 tips definitely add value, but they’re more geared towards keeping interest strong within each individual section of a video.
For this reason, Tip #5 is the most valuable thing you can do for your YouTube watch time. So how do you go about adding structure to your videos? We have 2 suggestions:
Create Open Loops
A big part of creating a solid video structure is to use something called open loops.
An open loop works by hooking your viewers and convincing them to stick around until the end. This could be in the form of a teaser that you introduce at the beginning, which you would then provide more detail on at the end.
Change How You Present Your Content
Another thing you can do to create more structure is change how you present your content by focusing on things like “Top 5…” and “5 Best…”
Viewers are more likely to watch until the very last list item has been revealed
By creating lists within your videos, viewers are much more likely to watch until the end to learn about each of the list items. Even if there’s value in the first 4 topics, who knows? Maybe the fifth will be the game-changer!
We’ve only covered the basics of video structuring here, so if you want a full description, check out out our guide on How to Make a Good YouTube Video.
Now You’re Ready to Increase Watch Time on YouTube & Improve Your Channel!
Not only are these 5 YouTube tips on how to get more watch time effective, but they’re also easy! These are all simple tools that can ultimately boost engagement, which will keep your viewers sticking around until the very end of your videos.
Here’s another quick recap of what we covered to get more watch time on YouTube:
- Use Jumpcuts
- Use Music
- Use Motion Titles
- Use B-Roll Footage
- Use a Video Structure!
For more info on how to improve your channel, check out our FREE YouTube Ranking Guide. In this guide, we cover the 3 most powerful tools and ranking strategies to increase your YouTube traffic by 10x!
When available, we use affiliate links and may earn a commission!
Recommended Tools for Increasing YouTube Watch Time
Recommended Gear & Resources
Check out an up-to-date list of all the gear, software & tools we use and recommend right now at Primal Video on our resources page here!