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Google Patents ‘Watch Time’ as a Search Ranking Factor

Google Patents ‘Watch Time’ as a Search Ranking Factor

A patent granted to Google this week may be an indication of how the search giant intends to rank video content in the future.

Bill Slawski at his blog SEO by the Sea was the first to notice the patent that outlines Google’s proposed methods of ranking content by ‘watch time’.

While this sounds like its aimed at video content, ‘watch time’ may also refer to how long someone stays on a page they have found in the search results, regardless of the content it contains.

The patent explains how a ranking score may be assigned to content based on how long people usually spend watching that content. Scores may be adjusted, and thus boosted or lowered in search results, according to the viewing habits associated with the content.

A excerpt of the patent summary reads:

“This specification describes how a system can adjust a score for a search result that identifies a resource and was obtained in response to a search query to reflect user watch times of the resource, e.g. the times that users spend watching video content. In general, the system boosts the score for a search result if users historically tend to watch the resource for longer periods of time, and may demote the score if users historically tend to watch the resource for shorter periods of time.”

Watch time is a known ranking factor on YouTube, whereby the algorithm promotes videos with longer viewing sessions rather than those that receive the most clicks.

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Google has a help center article about Watch Time optimization — something that might help to be familiar with if Google is in fact working on a way to bring this ranking factor to its core search product.

Editorial Credit: Shutterstock


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Matt Southern

Lead News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt ... [Read full bio]

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