The YouTube algorithm is viewed by many video producers, including companies and professional YouTubers, as a higher force that controls their view counts and is entirely beyond their control.
They contend that the YouTube algorithm is impossible to comprehend. After all, it’s one of the platform’s best-kept secrets.
But it’s not.
A team of Google engineers outlined their ideas on how films should be exposed through YouTube’s recommendation system to improve user experience in a research paper that was published back in 2016.
Additionally, one of YouTube’s product managers for the recommendation system made a YouTube video explaining that, as of 2015, the sole objective of YouTube’s algorithm has been to assist users in finding the sorts of material they like to watch to promote long-term pleasure.
The topics of YouTube SEO, social media marketing, and obtaining subscribers are frequently discussed in increasing views on YouTube. The majority of the views you stand to get from YouTube’s recommendation system (through the YouTube homepage and “recommended for you” suggestions) are not unlocked by these, even though they do help people find your videos.
What is the YouTube algorithm?
To rank and recommend videos based on relevancy and user pleasure, the YouTube algorithm is a collection of computer instructions created to process videos and related material, such as comments, descriptions, interactions, etc.
How does the YouTube algorithm work in 2022
The main goal of YouTube’s algorithm is to make it as simple as possible for consumers to locate the most pertinent material. The main objective of YouTube is to boost customer retention and encourage consumers to watch videos for as long as possible.
YouTube’s algorithm was first developed based on the videos that users were clicking through. This, however, resulted in clickbait headlines that occasionally left viewers unsatisfied with the video’s real substance.
In 2012, it started to shift more in favor of timing. Based on how long viewers watched particular movies or channels, suggested videos were displayed. And it remained that way for around three years before YouTube found a superior alternative.
YouTube has improved for audience pleasure since 2015. Users are polled while they view material to get their true opinions, which helps the system pick the most satisfying stuff.
But how does YouTube determine satisfaction?
- It sends out millions of surveys each month asking for feedback on a particular video, yet individuals probably only see two to three of them.
- It notices when viewers use the “Not interested” option when watching videos.
- It examines a video’s likes, dislikes, and shares.
Google engineers Paul Covington, Jay Adams, and Emre Sargin analyzed new signals YouTube utilizes to rank videos for recommendations in their research study.
- rates of click-through (the likelihood of someone clicking on your video after seeing it).
- Watch time (the combined amount of time viewers spend watching your videos).
- how many of your channel’s videos the viewer has seen.
- how recently did a user last see a video on the subject?
- what the user has already looked for.
- videos that the user has already viewed.
- the geographical and demographic data of the user.
The only signals you can directly affect are the first three. To further customize the recommendation, the remaining elements depend on variables outside of your channel.
They even claim that their ultimate ranking goal is “often a straightforward function of projected viewing duration per impression.” Ranking based on click-through rate sometimes promotes misleading films that users do not finish (a practice known as “clickbait“), whereas watch time more accurately reflects involvement.
Some people could perceive this to suggest that YouTube would penalize you if you optimize for click-throughs, but that is a major misconception.
Only bait-and-switch strategies—overpromising before the click and offering subpar material after it—are being penalized by YouTube. The click-through rate is still crucial today. After all, you can’t produce a lot of YouTube view time without first receiving clicks.
Even in YouTube Studio, you can see these objectives mirrored by looking at your YouTube statistics dashboard.
You may view the following states under the Reach Viewers page, which collectively demonstrate YouTube’s increased focus on click-through rate and watch time:
- Impressions: How frequently do users see your movie thumbnails as a suggested video, on the main page, or in search results?
- Traffic sources for impressions: Where potential visitors see the thumbnails for your videos on YouTube.
- Impressions click-through rate (CTR): How frequently do viewers of your thumbnails view a video (based on logged-in impressions).
- Views from impressions: how frequently viewers of your films returned to them after watching them on YouTube.
- Watch time from impressions: Watch time that was generated by YouTube users who viewed your videos and clicked on them.
How does YouTube Determine The Algorithm?
Users of YouTube will mostly see recommended videos on the homepage and when viewing other videos. The algorithm used by YouTube to generate these suggestions operates differently for each of these places.
Let’s discuss the reasons why specific videos appear in each of these two places.
You arrive at the homepage the moment you access the YouTube website or use the mobile app. Here, YouTube strives to draw users in and try to keep them on the app for as long as possible by offering the most pertinent and tailored video choices for each user.
Homepage videos are based on two criteria:
- Video performance: How much the video seems to be enjoyed by comparable viewers.
- Personalization: Your individual viewing preferences and watching history.
YouTube does not yet know a viewer’s motivation for visiting the video site. As a result, it must rely on what it already knows, which is based on the kinds of films a viewer has previously appreciated.
The recommended videos area may be found on the right sidebar, below the video you’re now watching (or above it if you’re using the mobile app).
These videos are suggested based on what the algorithm believes you are most likely to watch next and are based on your viewing history for this session. Among the criteria are:
- videos that are often seen in groups
- Videos on related subjects
- Videos you’ve previously viewed
These films often cater more to your current session than a broad selection of what YouTube believes you would enjoy because it now knows why you’re using its site at this moment.
7 ways to Improve Your Reach on YouTube
1. Stick to a consistent premise or format for your YouTube channel
Most great YouTube channels or series can be summed up in five seconds:
- First We Feast: celebrities and food
- Blendtec’s Will it Blend?: blending an object that you’re not supposed to blend
- Vox: newsworthy topics explained in an accessible and engaging way
On the other hand, a lot of YouTube channels and content producers find it difficult to grow their followings because they utilize their channel more as a repository for all of their video material than as a location to host a regular video series.
Success on YouTube is built on consistency; without it, you may be able to attract attention, but you won’t be able to hold it.
Because consistency makes it simpler for users to choose to watch more of their material and subscribe to their channel, YouTube producers that discover their consistency can stably expand their subscribers and viewership.
Celebrities enjoying food is a common theme on The First We Feast channel, which has some episodes that are essentially variants on the same theme.
Below, you can see how this reliability fuels its gradual subscription development. The stickiness of the idea and the consistency they can discover throughout the rest of the channel’s programming provides viral videos a higher chance of turning each passing viewer into a long-term member.
To avoid undercutting your efforts, it’s advisable to perform any deviations from your main point on another YouTube account. For instance, Complex, a website with a different readership and purpose, owns First We Feast. The Featured Channels tab links the channels together, but other than that, they don’t cross paths.
You may discover free video editing software that allows you to submit videos to your channel with only one click to make uploading more convenient. You may post movies fast and reliably without wasting time downloading and uploading materials.
2. Feed the recommendation engine with other sources
The recommendation system cannot be relied upon to drive all of the views for newer YouTube channels.
After all, recommendations are mostly dependent on how previous viewers have watched and engaged with your content. Without people seeing your videos, YouTube would have no data on which to base its suggestions. Use all the customary methods to advertise your films, including:
- Sending new videos to your email list
- Partnering with the press or other influencers
- Promoting your videos on social media
- Starting a YouTube affiliate marketing program
But above all, pay attention to YouTube SEO and getting more subscribers because these are the main factors that the YouTube algorithm considers when providing tailored suggestions. This will help you increase video views over time.
According to the engineers’ findings in their study, “the most essential signals are those that indicate a user’s prior contact with the item itself and other related products. Take the user’s prior interactions with the channel that posted the video being assessed, for instance. How many videos has the user seen from this channel? When did the user last watch a video on this subject?
You may enhance the likelihood that your videos will be suggested to new users the next time they open YouTube by encouraging them to watch more once they click through to one of your films.
3. Create thumbnails that get clicked
We’ve demonstrated that click-through rate is still crucial and that YouTube giving watch time priority is a defense mechanism against clickbait of poor quality.
Let’s now discuss how to increase your click-through rate by utilizing two excellent resources for creating clickable thumbnails: Netflix and YouTube’s popular videos page.
Have closeups of emotive faces or action shots
There are many animated, extremely emotive faces on video thumbnails on YouTube.
An analysis of how artwork is performed on the platform by Netflix found that “emotions are an efficient technique of communicating nuanced subtleties. Humans are programmed to respond to faces; this has been seen to be true across all media. But it’s crucial to remember that faces with nuanced emotions perform better than neutral or stoic ones.
One of the first patterns observed by Netflix is worth implementing in your thumbnails: an image’s propensity to outperform others decreased when it had more than three individuals.
Include one to three faces wearing expressions that say volumes in your thumbnails to improve click-through rates.
If your movies don’t feature expressive faces, you may still generate an emotional response by using action-packed thumbnails, as the Slow Mo Guys do.
Follow the “rule of thirds” to compose your thumbnail image
According to this rule of picture composition, you should place your focus of interest at the front or final third of the frame rather than the middle.
Designing your thumbnail in this way enables you to attract the viewer’s attention to the most significant “message” in your image, however, it’s more of a suggestion than a firm rule.
Add text to your thumbnails
According to a 2019 Sandvine analysis, YouTube currently makes up 37% of all mobile internet traffic. Additionally, it implies that a sizable portion of your visitors will access your movies via a mobile device.
For them, the YouTube main page appears as follows:
The user’s eyes will almost certainly be pulled to your video’s thumbnail first due to the prominence of the title. They are more likely to read the title and click on your video if they find the image intriguing enough.
Therefore, why not include some language in the thumbnail to aid readers in making a decision?
The text might be your video’s title or perhaps simply a few lines connected to its hook. Make sure your thumbnails can convey what your video is about, even without the title, if more than a third of your visitors are accustomed to “reading” thumbnails on mobile.
Brand your thumbnails
You’ll see that a lot of the trending videos on YouTube have optimized their “first impression” by utilizing the strategies we’ve discussed above if you glance at the trending tab.
Making it simple for viewers to identify your films at a glance enhances the likelihood that they will be clicked on by individuals who are already familiar with your material on YouTube, where thumbnails might seem quite similar.
Consider branding your thumbnails if the layout of your YouTube channel is standardized to set them apart from other suggested videos.
4. Encourage viewers to stay after they click
It’s one thing to get viewers for your videos. Another is to get them to watch a video all the way through.
Fortunately, by including this goal in your video creation process, you can raise your video completion rate (and gain more views).
- Start strong and include a “hook” in your video’s introduction.
- Transcribing your videos will allow viewers to watch them quietly.
- The duration of your videos should be adjusted by your statistics (how long do users watch before stopping?).
- Avoid repeating shots for too long or you risk boring the audience (this is why jump cuts are popular on YouTube).
- If your video is lengthy, intersperse it with brief breaks that bring the viewer’s attention back when it begins to stray.
- Request that your viewers switch on alerts for your upcoming videos, click the Subscribe button, or watch the other videos at each video’s end screen.
5. Encourage binge watching on your channel
The channel level can also be optimized for watch time by using methods that involve watching videos consistently.
In addition to having a clear focus for your YouTube channel, which is undoubtedly the most crucial element, here are some more ways you may encourage people to watch more of your content:
- Making manual recommendations for similar films using cards and end cards
- linking to playlists of videos anytime you share, ensuring that your video is always the next one the user sees
- establishing a consistent framework for your videos, from the thumbnail to the actual video, so that viewers may reasonably anticipate they’ll appreciate your other videos.
- Including a particular call to action or even clips from other films to directly “pitch” viewers to watch more content
Cards may be used to guide visitors further down your YouTube channel’s rabbit hole. Another smart move is to enable subtitles for all of your videos so that viewers may keep watching even without sound.
6. Optimize your video for a focus keyword
Because YouTube is a search engine as well, optimizing your videos for a focus keyword and a few supplementary keywords can make them more visible in YouTube search results and give the algorithm a clearer understanding of what your content is about, allowing it to recommend it at the appropriate times.
The first thing you should do is conduct keyword research on the platform to see which keywords and video themes are trending and could appeal to your target audience. You may find the ideal keywords to utilize by using a Chrome plugin like TubeBuddy.
Simply enter your target term in the search field, then look at TubeBuddy’s statistics on the sidebar. Until you locate the perfect keyword, try a couple of additional similar ones.
Look for a keyword that has an overall score of “Very Good” or “Excellent“. However, if your YouTube videos consistently receive high rankings, you can usually disregard the “Competition” option because your channel has already shown to be a strong rival.
Then you’ll want to make sure the title, description, and tags of the video all contain the keyword. You may also include a few hashtags that assist organize your video material at the bottom of your video description.
7. Keep an eye on your competitors on YouTube
Are there any of your rivals on YouTube? If so, pay attention to the kinds of stuff they’re putting out. After all, you want your video to be suggested instead of one of theirs, not the other way around.
Pay attention to details such as:
- most popular of their videos
- Any playlists or series they produce Audience engagement
- How they make their metadata, titles, and descriptions for videos
Making sure you cover all of the same themes as your competitors will help your audience place more trust in your YouTube channel by helping you to better focus your approach.
As YouTube’s algorithm changes, one thing remains the same
Over the years, YouTube’s algorithm has undergone several changes, leaving businesses and artists perplexed as to why their old strategies no longer work.
But even when the YouTube algorithm changes, remember that the platform’s aim is still to increase the number of viewers and interactions with YouTube videos. And their objectives are not all that unlike yours.
YouTube algorithm FAQ
The goal of the YouTube algorithm is to maximize your enjoyment by assisting you in finding the videos you want to watch. The algorithm, which is a live feedback loop, adjusts the videos to your preferences.
Each viewer’s ideal video is found using the YouTube algorithm. In order to keep you viewing, it chooses where to post videos on your home feed.