How to get your videos recommended on YouTube

The YouTube recommendation system can be tricky. Learn how to use it, alongside other best practices, to get your videos in viewers’ YouTube recommendations.

Using YouTube

YouTube is the second most-visited website in the world. Whether you’re a solo creator or part of a brand team, getting your videos recommended is a grind. So, let’s break it down. 

Today, we’ll cover:

How do YouTube recommendations work?

YouTube recommendations show up in two main places: the homepage and the ‘Up next’ panel. The former is the traditional hub for viewers to find recommendations, based on a blend of personalized picks, subscription-based content, and news. The latter appears once a viewer has finished a video, suggesting content based on what they've just watched and other videos they may be interested in. 

Checking YouTube

Both of these destinations are informed by a set of criteria, which help rank and sort recommendations. These include: 

  • Watch history: A user’s watch history plays a huge role in the YouTube recommendation engine, as what they’ve seen previously informs what they want to watch next. This isn’t foolproof, though, as users may clear their watch history. 
  • Search history: Like the previous point, search history has a sizable influence on a user’s recommendations. And just like watch history, search history can be deleted or otherwise ‘tricked — that’s why YouTube takes a bunch more factors into account. 
  • Likes: If a user likes a video, YouTube can pair that information with other videos and topics.
  • Dislikes: If a viewer hits the thumbs-down, YouTube knows not to serve up similar content in the future. 
  • Feedback: Users can press ‘Not interested’ or ‘Don’t recommend channel’ when prompted. This filters out similar content going forward, as do satisfaction surveys — those puppies give YouTube all the juicy, qualitative information, rather than just watch time.  
  • Channel subscriptions: YouTube considers which channels a user already follows, recommending channels and videos with a similar vibe. 

The YouTube algorithm also plays a part here, serving recommendations to increase viewers’ watch time, display more ads, and build a well-rounded experience. The algorithm uses the above information and more to inform users’ homepage, search results, and suggested videos.

Looking at YouTube

Now that we’ve walked through how YouTube recommendations work, let’s run through six top tips on how to grease up the YouTube recommendation engine. 

Rack up more YouTube views 

Perhaps this sounds a little obvious, but you’ll need more YouTube views to slide into those recommendations. Once you score YouTube views, your videos and channel will mingle with your audience’s watch and search history. This makes it easier for YouTube to associate your content with other things your audience watches, which in turn strengthens the chances of a recommendation.

Focus on watch time

YouTube wants you to prove that people stay on your videos, rather than just click on a great thumbnail. Jump straight into the action with a solid intro upfront, insert video chapters for smoother navigation, give your captions the love and attention they deserve — all of these things will boost viewer retention. 

Create YouTube playlists

Convincing people to watch multiple videos is tough. So, cut out the legwork by creating YouTube playlists. Once viewers enter the content cycle, a playlist may be the nudge they need to keep watching — if successful, this will drive watch time, putting your videos in the running for a well-earned recommendation. 

Looking at YouTube

Up your metadata game

We’ve already touched on metadata, and we’re doing it again — it’s important! Everything from the title to the captions, tags to descriptions, feeds into the YouTube algorithm. The more accurate you are here, the more likely YouTube is to recommend your content to someone suitable. 

Sniff out the competition

Clear your watch and search history — or use a completely unrelated account and device — to see what the recommendations look like on your competitors’ videos. Is that content similar to yours, or is it leagues away? Once you get a feel for how others’ recommendations are structured, you can better gauge how and where your content will land in your sector or niche. 

Whether they be format- or content-based, YouTube trends can inform recommendations. Let’s say you were creating Barbie-themed cosplay videos during the 2023 Barbie boom — your videos would have been the perfect recommendation for Barbie cosplayers, of which there were many. 

As long as the trend fits your brand and doesn’t seem forced, go for it. Increased interest and search volume for a particular topic will force YouTube to recommend more related videos — given your content is high-quality and provides a strong angle, you’re in with a chance. 

Want to find the perfect soundtrack for your YouTube content? We’ve got you covered. Check out Epidemic Sound’s catalog of more than 40,000 tracks and 90,000 sound effects below.

Why is YouTube not suggesting my video?

If you feel like YouTube isn’t promoting your videos, it could be time to change tack. Here are a few reasons why your content might not scratch YouTube’s itch. 

Your videos just don’t do the numbers

YouTube looks for high watch time, engagement, click-through rates. If you’re not checking these boxes, the platform won’t ‘get’ why it should recommend your content to more viewers. Check out which YouTube mistakes to avoid and nip this in the bud. 

You’ve not fully optimized it

YouTube SEO (search engine optimization) is key here. All of those lovely captions, thumbnails, and bits of metadata decide how YouTube and other search engines interpret your video. 

YouTube tags make a massive difference here, too. If you’ve tagged your video incorrectly, YouTube could ignore or even hide your content.

Reviewing YouTube footage

You publish content too often or too little

The YouTube algorithm likes consistency — it helps the platform understand what kind of content you create, who it’s for, when users watch it, and so on. Sticking to a content calendar lends your channel a healthy cadence that YouTube can follow and trust. 

Your video quality is lacking

We don’t mean the video script or the performances within — we’re talking about the actual visual quality. If it looks like it was filmed on a potato, YouTube’s probably not going to recommend it. Learn how to improve video quality here, from pre- to post-production. 

Can you control YouTube recommendations?

Users can control their YouTube recommendations by turning off their search and watch history, or by deleting specific channels and videos from them. For those creating and publishing content, though, it’s a different story. 

You can do everything in your power to game the algorithm, leverage the platform’s analytics, or jump on hot YouTube trends — that’s all worth trying. But ultimately, YouTube recommendations depend on the viewer and what they’re willing to allow.

Browsing YouTube recommendations

One thing you can control, though, is every other aspect of your video. One such detail is the music — after all, the soundtrack can make or break your content. Matching music to your footage is a solid start, but bear in mind how easy it is to fall foul of YouTube’s rules.

If you use unauthorized copyrighted music, for example, your content could be muted, demonetized, and even removed — all of this will weaken your chances of appearing in viewers’ feeds. It’s tricky business, so let us take care of it.

Our catalog is high-quality, affordable, and safe. An Epidemic Sound subscription goes beyond royalty-free music, removing the headache of licensing and freeing you up to do what you do best. You can enjoy the safety of our license hand-in-hand with our massive catalog of 40,000 tracks, covering just about every genre you can think of. You’ll also gain unlimited access to our advanced search functions — finding the right sound’s never been easier. 

It’s better than royalty-free. It’s worry-free. Get started with Epidemic Sound below.

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