SEO by the Sea just wrote a post regarding a patent filed by Google regarding the use of watch times to determine video content quality. The gist of the Watch Time patent is that videos that receive longer views receive higher scores vs those with shorter views. The patent specifically states that the algorithm applies only to pages with video content. YouTube already uses this algorithm to rank videos in search, but it seems Google wants to prevent other video sites from using the same technology.
I’m not sure how complex this algorithm is, but I wonder how it would handle videos of different lengths. Some videos are only a few seconds long, while others can be over an hour long. Would longer videos receive higher scores simply because of their longer run times?
According to SEO by the Sea, Google may also use the algorithm for other types of content, including articles and blog posts. At first, I thought it made sense because watch time could be a good indicator of content quality. The more engaged the visitor is, the more likely they will stay on the page for a longer period of time. But after thinking about it a little, I realized that there could be a flaw to this theory.
How would Google track how long a visitor stays on a specific page if Google Analytics wasn’t installed on that page, or if the page was not hosted on one of their properties like YouTube? Unless Google Analytics was installed on every website in the world, it wouldn’t make sense to implement this algorithm across the entire Internet.