How long does it take for a youtube video to get views?

How long does it take for a youtube video to get views?
Written by: Dexxter Clark
In short: 3 months, but there are exceptions to this rule.
I’ve had videos (that I considered “dead”) rank after a year, others took only a month rank.
It depends on search volume, competition and your audience.
Let’s take a look at the lifecycle of some of my videos and the formula to go viral on YouTube.


Oddly enough not a lot of people are talking about this, how long does it take to get views on youtube videos?
It’s not a mystery however, videos on YouTube tend to have a very typical lifecycle.

How well a video launches determines the success in the long run in 90% of the cases.
The algorithm tries to figure out what the right audience is for a video.

If your “pool” is big enough the algorithm can have statistically significant numbers in days, if not it can take months.
One of the keys to success is helping the algorithm by using the right title, description and tags so it knows what the video is about.
More about ranking in search you can find in this article: SEO tips on how to rank #1 in YouTube search results in 2021

First 24 hours

The first 60 minutes of a newly published video are the most crucial, next the first 24 hours, then the first 48 hours.
YouTube gives a new video an (unnatural) boost to see the response of a broad audience.
Are your subscribers reacting to the notification? What kinds of viewers are interested in the video?

How high that boost is, depends on you channel authority.

The first week

After a day or two, the video will be on its lowest point (in terms of views per day) in its lifecycle.
If a video has 0 views after a couple of days, it is probably “dead” for the rest of its YouTube career.
By dead I mean: YouTube killed the video and is not driving traffic on a daily basis.

You can try to change the title, thumbnail, description on a dead video, it won’t matter anymore, you will almost never recover; YouTube determined the video as ‘bad’.
The only thing you can do is (if you think the content is solid) re-upload it in a year or so and delete the original upload.
You probably gained more channel authority in the meantime, so your initial boost is bigger, so your chances of reaching the proper audience for the video are higher.

If you re-upload, look at the audience retention graph of your initial video and see where people leaving the video.
I recommended re-editing the original video with your newly gathered insights in mind.
It’s always useful to keep backups of your YouTube videos for re-editing purposes.
I had success with this strategy in the past, but also failures (again).
It’s still no guarantee that by a re-uploading, the video performs well.

Three months

After the first week, the video slowly starts climbing up and will reach its full potential (in views per day) in 3 - 6 months.
But some videos of mine took over a year to become slightly successful.

There are also videos that walk through this 3-6 month cycle much faster, then you can safely say that those videos tend to perform very well in the long run (but not always).

Piggy-back riding

There is another factor that can contribute to an existing video having higher view counts all of a sudden: piggy back riding.
If one (or more) videos are doing well on the channel, they tend take the rest of the videos with them
Videos that doing well already are more “vulnerable” to do even better when another video is successful.
They say: a rising tide lifts all boats, that certainly applies to YouTube videos.

How to go viral on Youtube?

As I said in the beginning of this chapter, not every video follows this typical lifecycle.
What about the videos that go viral?

A video blows up, because it does very well on a particular audience.
If that happens, YouTube tries to suggest the video to a new audience.
If they respond well, a bigger audience is introduced, if that goes well: an even bigger audience etc.
That is the typical snowball effect of a viral video.

The formula for going viral is actually really simple.
Getting all the factors of the formula to do well however, is incredibly hard.
The three factors that are the most important for going viral:
High Click Through Rate (CTR)
High audience retention
High amount of watch time minutes on the video

Videos that drive traffic

Most YouTube channels tend to have just a few videos that generate the majority of views and subscribers.
This is a dangerous precedent, if one of those hit videos falls out of grace with the algorithm, your channel will take a huge hit.
You should focus on making more than one hit video for your YouTube channel.

It takes a lot of videos, experience and experimentation to have more hit videos.
My biggest hits on YouTube I stumbled on by accident.
I never know beforehand if a video does well or not, even if I did proper research.
There are so many factors in place that contribute to a successful video that the odds are not always in your favor.

Making videos for the sake of making videos (because you want to stick to your upload schedule for example) doesn’t work well and is not a good long term strategy.

How long does it take to get to 1000 subscribers on YouTube?

That question I answer in this article: How long does it take to get to 1000 subscribers on YouTube?

Want free YouTube tips and tricks?
Check out the YouTube channel for this website. (opens YouTube in new tab)

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photo author dexxter clark
Dexxter Clark
Content creator / YouTuber
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