How Does the YouTube Algorithm Work?

How Does the YouTube Algorithm Work?

If you are a creator on YouTube, understanding how the YouTube algorithm functions can be the key to your success on the platform. Because not only does the YouTube algorithm decide what to recommend to each viewer, it also impacts the search results as to which videos will rank high on a certain query. This means being a favorable channel by the YouTube algorithm can bring you more exposure; therefore, you will get more views and subscribers. In this article, we will dive into how the YouTube algorithm works and what you can do to be picked up by the algorithm to increase YouTube views and grow your YouTube channel as fast as possible.

Understanding the Focus of the YouTube Algorithm

YouTube Creator Academy stated that YouTube’s search and discovery system has two main goals. Helping viewers find the videos they are interested in and maximizing long-term satisfaction and engagement. For short, YouTube wants people to stay and watch videos on the platform as long as possible by providing the best service. Considering that 70% of the videos that viewers watch on YouTube are recommended videos, we can say that they are doing a petty good job with matching the right videos to the right people. Below we listed key factors the YouTube algorithm evaluates to rank and recommend videos.

1. Channel and Video Performance

Your YouTube channel’s overall performance and the performance of individual videos are an important factor in ranking videos. Here are some performance parameters that are evaluated.

  • The impression click-through rate of videos (How many people clicked on the video after seeing the thumbnail? )
  • Audience retention ( After clicking on the video, how much of it do people watch? )
  • Video engagement like comments, likes, and shares
  • Video uploading frequency
  • Session time ( How long people stay on the platform after watching a video? )
  • Rate of growth of videos

2. Personalization

The YouTube recommendation algorithm constantly works on showing the most relevant videos to targeted audiences using the data provided by the real-time feedback loop. The algorithm decides whether a viewer would like a video on factors like:

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  • Which channels a person watches
  • What kind of topics a person watches and doesn’t watch
  • Likes, dislikes, and not interested feedback
  • How much time a person spends watching videos on YouTube
Optimize Videos for CTR and Audience Retention

Optimize Your Videos for Click-Through Rate and Audience Retention

The war against clickbait caused YouTube to rethink their algorithm strategy quite a bit over the years. In YouTube’s early days, when the system preferred a high view count, creators started using more and more clickbaity titles and thumbnails. This resulted in viewers unsatisfied with the content. And when YouTube set watch time as the key indicator of a successful video, the video durations got too long. Now you have to have both a high click-through rate and high audience retention to be preferred by the algorithm. This means you have to grab viewers’ attention with your thumbnails and make them stay with quality content.

1. Design Attention-Grabbing Thumbnails to Stand Out

When someone searches for a topic on Google search or browses their YouTube recommendations, the thumbnail of a video is the first thing they will notice. Thumbnails are essential in getting the initial click on your video. YouTube disclosed that 90% of the best performing thumbnails are custom thumbnails. This means it pays off to take some time to make YouTube thumbnails instead of relying on YouTube to choose one out. Here are some tried and tested ways to create YouTube thumbnails.

  • Because YouTube’s site consists majorly of white-black and red, using other colors will prevent you from blending in the background. Use bright, high-saturated, and contrasting colors together in your thumbnail to catch viewers’ eyes.
  • Putting a face in the thumbnails is proven to get more clicks. But don’t just put a boring picture of you in the thumbnail. Show exaggerated emotions to grab attention.
  • Use a short text in your thumbnail that is complementary to your title. It should get your message across and create curiosity.
  • Create a thumbnail style that is unique to your channel and use the same format in all your videos to be recognizable.
  • You don’t want to spend so much time designing your thumbnails from scratch? Use thumbnail templates to create custom thumbnails easily.
  • Don’t make clickbaity thumbnails! A little exaggeration is fine but doesn’t mislead viewers with dishonest thumbnails.
2. Increase Watch Time with Engaging Video Content

While creating quality content is the best strategy when it comes to being successful as a video creator, there are some tips and tricks on how you can increase your viewers’ watch time on your channel. Here we gathered some of the most important ones.

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  • Analyze the view count, watch time, like/dislike ratio of your videos and see which type of format or theme performs the best and create content accordingly.
  • Be consistent in your uploading schedule and content. Find your niche and stick to it. This way, you will form a loyal audience and get a consistent amount of video views.
  • Create a video series about popular topics on your channel.
  • Sort content into playlists and make them autoplay so that you encourage your viewer to keep watching.
  • Use video cards and end screens to recommend related videos.
  • Make a strong call to action at the end of the video to make viewers watch other videos on your channel.
Make SEO Friendly Videos for YouTube Algorithm

Make Your Videos SEO Friendly

When you search for something on YouTube’s search engine, YouTube tries to come up with the best results according to the keywords that are used in the query. To rank high in the search results, you got to know which keywords your video can rank for, as well as which keywords get the most traffic and how to place them in your video. Placing relevant keywords in the titles of your videos, description, etc. will allow YouTube to categorize your video correctly to show it to the right audience. To make your videos SEO friendly:

  • The research your keywords. Know what people are searching for to create videos with more potential.
  • Use your primary keyword in the title of the video.
  • Write keyword-rich descriptions but don’t just stuff all of the keywords in it. Your description should be clear and easy to read.
  • Tags are a good source for YouTube to determine what your video is about. Avoid using irrelevant keywords in tags just because they are popular.
Social Media Shares on YouTube

Social Media Shares

Research found that there is a strong correlation between social media shares and search rankings. While YouTube didn’t confirm this, promoting your video in other social media sources along with asking your viewers to share your video can help you get more YouTube views. Besides more views, the recommendation algorithm will favor your video because of the interaction from different platforms.

FAQs on the YouTube Algorithm

What is the ideal video length on YouTube?

There is actually no ideal video length on YouTube. The length of the video can depend on the subject matter, the style of video, and the expectations of your audience. The YouTube algorithm values audience retention. This means that the important factor is to keep your audience engaged so that they stay until the end of the video and ideally click on another video of yours.

Can I buy a spot on the YouTube trending page?

No, spots on the YouTube trending page can’t be bought. The trending page will only show videos with broad appeal.

How does YouTube search work?

YouTube search considers many factors when ranking search results. Relevance, engagement, and the quality of videos are three main factors besides SEO optimized titles and descriptions.

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What counts as a view on YouTube?

A view counts when a user clicks on a video and watches at least 30 seconds of it. It also counts if the video is skipped forward, but the total watch time is more than 30 seconds. Repeated views will count up to 4 to 5 times.

When is the best time to post YouTube videos?

The best time to post YouTube videos is when your audience is watching. YouTube analytics provides information on when your audience goes online so that you can find the best time to post. Schedule your videos ahead of time to post consistently at the optimal time.

Conclusion on How the YouTube Algorithm Works

The YouTube algorithm has two main goals, which are finding the best videos for each viewer and make people stay on the platform to watch more videos. To achieve this, the algorithm will take into account many factors like relevance, keywords, CTR, audience retention, content, and how the content is described in the sense of keywords in the video titles, descriptions, etc. Understanding how the algorithm work and optimizing your videos accordingly will make your videos rank higher and get recommended more so that you get more views organically.

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Born in February 1993, Dennis is a social media blogger. Originally started working as a car salesman, he was always a social media and internet enthusiast. So, he began optimizing websites and e-commerce sites for car dealerships. Later, it was found out that social media is a perfect area for ma...

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