Understanding the YouTube Algorithm (05)

Understanding the YouTube Algorithm

YouTube’s algorithm serves the most relevant personalized videos to their users on five different sections of their platform.

  • search
  • home
  • suggested videos
  • trending
  • subscriptions, and
  • notifications.

“How does the YouTube algorithm work?”

By helping users find the videos, they’re most likely to watch and enjoy, YouTube can keep viewers on the platform for, as long as, possible and get them to visit their site regularly. To figure out, which videos and channels users are most likely to enjoy watching, YouTube follows their audience, which means they track their user’s engagement with each video they watch. But YouTube’s algorithm also uses different signals and metrics, to rank and recommend videos on each section of their platform. With this in mind, let’s go over how the algorithm serves content via YouTube’s six main user categories:

  • search
  • home
  • suggested videos
  • trending
  • subscriptions, and
  • notifications

One: “Search”.

The two biggest factors, that affect your video search rankings, are keyword relevance and engagement metrics. When ranking videos in Search, YouTube will consider, how well your titles, descriptions and content match each user’s queries. They’ll also consider, how many videos users have watched from your channel, and the last time they watched other videos surrounding the same topic as your video. For example, if you’re creating videos on social skills, you might be, interested in who’s ranking for keywords like “being charismatic”. Once you search for a keyword, you can sort by relevance, upload date, view, count or rating. You can “sort by upload date” to see the most recent videos, that have been uploaded and how people are responding to them. 

Two: “Home”.

When users access the homepage, they first see videos from their subscriptions, then suggested videos based on their previous watch history and the video’s performance. 

Three: “Suggested Videos”.

YouTube analyzes user’s activity history and find hundreds of videos, that could be relevant to them. Then, they rank these videos based on, one; how well each video has engaged and satisfied similar users, two; how often each viewer watches videos from each channel, or other videos surrounding the same topic, and three; how many times YouTube has already shown each video to users. YouTube has also noticed users tend to watch more content, when they receive recommendations from a variety of channels, so they like to diversify their suggested videos feed. 

Four: “Trending”.

The trending page is a feed of new and popular videos, in a user’s specific country. You’ll find it by heading, to explore on the sidebar, then clicking on trending. They’ll also split trending videos into four categories. “Now”, “music”, “gaming” and “movies”. 

Five: “Subscriptions”.

YouTube has a subscriptions page, where users can view all the recently uploaded videos from the channels they subscribe to. To determine rankings on their platform, YouTube uses a metric called view velocity, which measures the number of subscribers who watch your video right after it is published. And the higher your videos view velocity, the higher your videos will rank. YouTube also accounts for the number of active subscribers you have, when they rank your videos. 

Six: “Notifications”.

YouTube also delivers tailored videos to users through notifications. Users can opt to either receive no notifications from a channel, receive some notifications, or receive all notifications. The only way to optimize for showing up in user’s notifications is, to ask your subscribers to tap the bell button next to the subscribe button. By optimizing your viewers for YouTube’s algorithm, you can grow your audience. Remember: it all comes down to creating good content, that people want to watch. “How to optimize your videos for YouTube’s algorithm?” YouTube ranks videos based on two qualities: keyword relevance and engagement metrics (which are used to measure a video’s performance). 

Let’s look at both, in more detail. 

One: “Keyword Relevance”.

To rank on YouTube, the first thing to consider is, optimizing your videos and channel for popular search queries. To do this, place relevant keywords in your videos, titles, tags, descriptions, SRT files (which are transcriptions), video files, and thumbnail files. You should also check out the most popular queries guiding viewers to your videos, which you can find in YouTube’s search report. If these queries are slightly different from your videos topic, consider updating your video to fill these content gaps and add the keywords to your metadata. 

Two: “Engagement metrics”.

The next thing to consider when ranking on YouTube is optimizing your videos and channel for engagement. The key metric to consider here is watch time, or the aggregate amount of time users spend watching your videos. To get people to watch in the first place, you need to attract users’ attention. And one of the best ways to instantly grab users’ attention is, by creating vibrant thumbnails for each of your videos. 

“Keep track of the YouTube algorithm to succeed on the platform!”.

As the YouTube algorithm evolves, it’s important to keep track of its changes, so that you know what does and doesn’t get promoted on the platform. If you’re a business or individual creator, trying to grow an audience on YouTube, be sure to optimize your videos for the algorithm, so that your channel wins a loyal list of subscribers. Thank you! See you, in the next lesson. 

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