I have been experimenting with YouTube lately, putting up different types of content under two different channels. So far (about a month for one channel, about 10 days for the other), the success rate has been, well, very modest.
One video in particular has been a struggle – an update of a blog article I wrote last year about Craigslist’s sudden new fees for posting in services and gigs. For example, see also my post about my bizarre battle with the YTube video editor to get the automatic thumbnail I wanted for this video.
The other issue has been the constant, inexplicable and (relatively speaking) huge drops in the number of views. This is partially my own fault, I suppose. I took down one version of the video and put up another, and edited the title and description several times. Some YouTube gurus claim that kind of editing does not affect the almighty algorithms, but others have their doubts.
But still, the second version seemed to be getting some views. Not a lot, of course, but the Realtime analytic indicated a couple of views one day, 3 the next, and so forth. I was very careful not to click on the video, especially from the links I placed here on my website from both the front page and the blog article.
Still, I noticed that by day 3, more than 20 views had suddenly disappeared from the channel view count. But the video view count had not changed. It was an odd little mystery, but I did not think any more about it.
We were busy with various obligations over the weekend, and for most of three days I never even accessed my channel or site except for a quick check-in every evening. So I believed that if my videos were being viewed, these views had to be legit.
And indeed, when I did the quick checks, the views had increased steadily and according to the Realtime analytic, several people had watched it during the last 48 hours.
Fast forward two days later, and I was shocked and dismayed to see that the view count had dropped nearly 75%!
What on earth just happened???
Of course I hit up the search engines to try to find out the reason this might be happening. Other people have reported these same, sudden drops in the number of views on their videos over the past couple of years.
YouTube “audits” videos and removes views that are too brief, come from the same IP address, or otherwise look like they come from bots. But I am pretty sure no search engine bots had even found my brand new video yet.
A temporary “glitch.” This seems unlikely, since it has lasted for days and nobody else seems to be complaining about anything like it right now.
Too many views from the same referral URL.
This research suggested that YT found the clicks from my website to be “suspicious” for some reason. So I pulled all of those links and send that traffic to Wistia instead.
When I checked YTube again shortly afterwards, all the views were back, plus two more.
What the hell???
Then the very next morning, the views dropped by two-thirds again!!! Literally everything that happened over the weekend was gone, wiped out to zero.
But, since the first mysterious drop, the channel views just kept going up! Which supposedly only happens when public videos are played. Not only that, but all the views from the first, deleted version of the video are also supposed to be purged from the channel view count.
At this point, it is simply impossible for me to gauge how many people how viewed the video at YT or the actual level of viewer engagement.
Anyway, I’m totally fine for now with keeping the link pointed to Wistia, which doesn’t seem to have any investment (AFAIK) in screwing around with it. Since I changed the link several days ago, the video has been receiving at least one play every day. Obviously it’s not “going viral” but at least now I have some solid data on its performance.
And, interestingly, more than half of the people who have clicked on the Wistia link from the blog article have watched 90 - 100% of the video, which is very rare for random Lookie-Lous on the YTube. This suggests to me that the content is succeeding with a very specific audience of people who already read the blog post and wanted more information about the topic.
It also strongly indicates that all the views I received from people clicking on the link here were totally legit, as well, but for some reason YouTube just nuked all or most of them.
So, at this point, I’ll just wait and see what happens, while I work on my next upload. Like the original blog article, I suspect that ultimately 99% of the views on this video will come from organic searches on the Web and possibly YouTube.
Still, if anyone has any alternate explanation for these weird YouTube view count fluctuations, I’d really like to hear it!
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