The YouTube algorithm matches viewers to videos, ensuring content is served to the right people. But what is the Youtube algorithm, have there been any updates in 2023, and how can you beat it?
What is the YouTube algorithm?
YouTube describes the algorithm as a "real-time feedback loop that tailors videos to each viewer's different interests.”
In human language, it means the algorithm decides which videos are suggested to users based on what they like, what they’ve already watched, and what other users have watched. It wants to keep them hooked for as long as possible, and it does this while taking into account viewer history, the video’s success, and the video's target audience. That’s the YouTube algorithm explained in a nutshell!
To viewers, the YouTube algorithm is apparent in three different areas:
- The homepage, where suggested videos are shown
- Search results, where videos ranking highly within the YouTube algorithm can secure a top spot
- The ‘suggested videos’ section
What is wrong with the YouTube algorithm?
The YouTube algorithm has been updated and refined multiple times since the platform launched in 2005. As a result, people operating under its old terms will no longer be reaping the benefits. For example, misleading titles – Is Tom Hanks related to Abraham Lincoln?! Find out NOW! – and thumbnails used to be able to trick the algorithm, as it was based purely on clicks and views.
Nowadays, it’s powered by machine learning. Exactly how the YouTube algorithm works remains a secret, but there are things you can do to take advantage of it! That’s why it’s important to keep yourself updated.
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What’s the latest YouTube algorithm update?
Thankfully, YouTube algorithm 2023 is more or less the same as YouTube algorithm 2022. There have been no major updates, and the same things that made a difference last year apply now!
The point of the YouTube algorithm is that it recommends different things to different people, even if they search for exactly the same thing. It’s all based on different factors, including:
- How many likes your video has
- How many comments your video has, and what kind of comments they are
- Your video’s watch time, session time, and click-through rate
- Your video’s title
- Your video’s description
- Your video’s keywords (although these don’t make a massive difference)
How to beat the YouTube algorithm
Now, let’s run through some tricks to beat the YouTube algorithm!
Use YouTube SEO
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is an organic process where you edit your content, ensuring it ranks higher in search engines like Google, Bing, and yeah, YouTube. It covers everything from adding subtitles to your content, choosing the right keywords and tags, and even renaming the raw video file you’re uploading! It’s a bit complicated, so we put together a handy guide. Click here to read everything you need to know about YouTube SEO.
Consistency is key
If you post regularly, you not only show the algorithm that you're reliable, but your audience too. That regularity should extend to your content in general: the tone of your videos, the way the thumbnails look, the format of the titles, and all that nitty-gritty detail. TV shows don’t change the way things are presented every episode, so neither should your YouTube channel!
Keep engagement high
The YouTube algorithm works on more than just clicks – it measures if the people clicking actually watch the video, and where they click beyond that. Encouraging viewers to subscribe and watch more videos is something you can physically say in your content, as well as organizing your YouTube Cards so people can easily find more of your videos. Interacting with viewers in the comments is another surefire method to boost engagement.
Create a killer thumbnail!
It's got to be something that sells the content, but don't mislead people – you can make professional-looking, creative thumbnails in programs like Canva. If you want to know the ins and outs of how to create a YouTube thumbnail, click here.
Use YouTube analytics
YouTube Analytics is similar to other analytics programs you might use for Google, Instagram, Facebook, and so on. It allows you to see what other content your audience has been watching. From there, you can shape your future videos to match their needs. This means they won't be going anywhere else for that delicious content – they're all yours!
Does the YouTube dislike button help the algorithm or not?
The infamous YouTube dislike button has become a hot topic when it comes to the algorithm, but does it actually do anything? Yes, but not in the way you might think.
The YouTube dislike button works as an extension of engagement. If a user watches your video all the way through and then hits the dislike button, the joke's on them – their attention was held through the entire video, meaning they were engaged.
However, this can come back to bite you. The YouTube dislike button is instrumental in categorizing videos for recommendation. If everyone dislikes a video, it naturally stands little chance of being deemed relevant or recommended to viewers. Don't worry, though. As long as your content is enjoyed by the people who matter – your target audience – then the pesky YouTube dislike button shouldn't cause you much trouble.
How does the YouTube Shorts algorithm work?
YouTube Shorts does what it says on the tin: it’s a short-form version of YouTube, offering creators the chance to create buzzy, quick videos on their mobiles like TikTok, Snapchat, and so on. The YouTube Shorts algorithm works similarly to the regular YouTube algorithm, meaning that it aims to pair viewers with suitable videos.
The biggest factors in the YouTube Shorts algorithm are a person’s viewing history, and previous accounts they’ve engaged with. If a video picks up steam, it can end up on the Shorts shelf, giving it extra exposure. Creators can try and beat the YouTube algorithm here by:
- Starting their Shorts only when they have a large audience. Existing subscribers will be notified of new Shorts, which will help generate initial traffic.
- Creating polls in their Shorts, to boost engagement. Make it broad. Something simple that will get people outside your fanbase to interact – ‘Popcorn or Hot Dog at the movies?’
- Quickly build a large back catalog of Shorts, so any extra viewers you gain can dig into your other content. This will sway the algorithm in your favor.
- Use text, just like on your regular YouTube videos!
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