When you log into YouTube, videos of channels that you’ve subscribed to and on the basis of your previous search videos will appear on your page. How does YouTube know which videos might interest you or be the perfect choice for you? This is called the YouTube Algorithm. It customizes videos based on your interests in real-time. The focus is on finding the right video for you that you would get hooked to. It watches user behavior as closely as possible.
How it started?
In 2005, one video was uploaded on YouTube. Today around 300 hours of videos are being uploaded every minute on the world’s largest online video-sharing platform.
Back then, YouTube gave priority to the videos that got the most clicks than what actually interested the users. This led to an increase in click-baits, users would click on deceptive and misleading titles and thumbnails that would turn out to be the opposite leaving the users annoyed and feeling tricked. They would leave the video halfway which affected the user experience in a bad way.
Learning from this experience YouTube updated its platform in 2012, changing its priority to what a user would like to watch. This time around, it gave more importance to videos that caught the user’s attention and they would spend time watching it throughout. It encouraged marketers and creators to focus on what the users want rather than optimization.
In 2016, YouTube revealed its latest update, machine learning, or today commonly known as “the algorithm.” While you can’t completely understand everything about this machine learning and many have tried, the bottom line is simple. It learns user behavior to provide addictive and interesting content by recommending what they might be interested in watching.
Borderline content has been taking the front seat since 2016 and has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic. What is borderline content? Borderline content is content that doesn’t go against YouTube’s community guideline rules but is still harmful to the audience, sometimes even deadly. YouTube has started demonetizing such videos or channels that produce false news especially related to the pandemic.
For example, in the beginning, stages, videos of people being healed by consuming sanitizers were being uploaded. YouTube immediately demonetized the channels uploading such videos. The CEO made it very clear that such videos that can cost users their lives won’t be taken lightly especially on their platform.
2020 and the YouTube Algorithm
The two places that are most affected by the algorithm are search results and recommended videos.
YouTube Search Results
If I search for pizza recipes, it will definitely be different from the search results that will appear on your screen. The search results depend on the title, description, and keywords also known as the metadata, and on the video’s engagement such as likes, comments, and watch time on the videos.
The YouTube algorithm recommends videos based on the user’s search history and on the score based on performance algorithm data. Mind you it’s not about good videos, but about what the user wishes to watch. The other areas where algorithms have a huge impact are the YouTube homepage, trending videos, subscriptions, and notifications.
The algorithm ranks videos based on the videos’ performance – how many times a video was clicked on, how many likes, dislikes, and comments a video has, the growth of a video over a short period of time, how much time a user spends watching a video, how often a channel uploads a video and the session time (the time people spend on the platform after watching a video). it also accesses what kind of videos the user has watched in the past, the number of times the same video has surfaced on their feed, what the user doesn’t like, etc.
To know more about the working of YouTube Analytics, click here.
Following are a few tips to improve your reach organically on YouTube
Optimizing YouTube Video Description
While writing a description for your video keep in mind to use clear and focused keywords so that YouTube knows what your video is all about. Don’t simply link your social media handles, use this opportunity to make your video known not only to users but also to the algorithm. Write in layman language and to the point. Beating around the bush will only confuse the algorithm about the concept and content of your video. You can also use tools like Tube Buddy to look for SEO optimized descriptions.
To know more about how to use Tube Buddy and its benefits to a YouTuber, click here.
Refine and repeat
When you upload a video on a certain topic and you get incredible engagement from users, usually creators jump onto something new. Often, videos made on similar topics work well. This is where the refine and repeat part comes in. For example, if you have created a DIY video on carpentry or making household chores easy, if your subscribers like such videos, stick to making similar videos on different items or chores than jumping onto a new genre altogether. As mentioned above, the algorithm suggests videos based on a user’s search history and so this step will help you reach that user over and over.
Create a schedule to post your YouTube videos
This step is a vital one in becoming a successful YouTuber. Imagine a user coming to your channel and realizing that the videos uploaded have a gap of a year or more. The user won’t stay and engage, the inactivity of your channel will push the user to another channel. Using tools like Tube Buddy, you can now schedule posts to be uploaded on your channel in a timely manner.
Engage with your audience
Every video that you upload will have at least a few comments that will either be constructive or appreciative. It is important that you acknowledge these comments and reply to them. When you engage with your users in meaningful conversations, the YouTube algorithm will pick that up and boost your reach along with your videos appearing on other user’s timelines due to higher and better engagement. Through this, you will also understand what your community is looking for and work better on your next uploads.