Google Patents ‘Watch Time’ as a Search Ranking Factor



A patent granted to Google this week, is an indication of how the search giant aims to rank video content in the near future.

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

It may sound like it’s aimed at video content; ‘watch time’ may also refer to how long someone stays on a page found by them in search results, regardless of the content.

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

A excerpt of the patent summary stated:

“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 recognized ranking factor on YouTube, whereby the algorithm promotes videos with lengthier viewing sessions compared to those that receive the most clicks.

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