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Understanding the YouTube Algorithm (A complete guide)

If you are a content creator wanting to monetize your YouTube channel, it is of the utmost importance that you understand how the site’s algorithm works. This way, you can work with it and strategize around it to produce video content that the algorithm will favor. Let’s talk about how to become a YouTube algorithm expert!

The YouTube algorithm takes into consideration performance, personalization, and other external factors like topic relatedness when deciding which videos to recommend. These combined factors work to create a personalized viewer experience and help YouTube show the videos most likely to be viewed.

Having an awareness of how the algorithm works will allow you as a creator to work around it and use it to your advantage. Keep reading for a more in-depth breakdown of the factors that the algorithm looks at and how to work with them.

Performance

How your video performs is one major factor that decides how YouTube will work it into the algorithm. YouTube measures performance with metrics like click-through rate, average view duration, average percentage viewed, likes, and viewer surveys. After a video is uploaded, the algorithm shows it to a few users on the homepage and will analyze how viewers interact with that video. If viewers click on it, watch it all the way through, like it, share it, etc. then it will get recommended to more and more viewers on their homepages. So, if a video is shown to engage viewers, it will be offered to more people.

Focusing on Likes

In order to increase audience interaction, one performance metric you can focus on is likes. Likes are important because it’s something a viewer can do on every single video they watch, so it’s a repeatable action that viewers can take multiple times. Liking a video is a minimum viable call to action that lets the algorithm know that the viewer enjoyed that video and to show more like it. This leads to the algorithm showing more of that particular creator’s videos.

If you are working toward monetizing your Youtube channel, consider focusing some time and energy on encouraging and increasing likes and shares, or any other type of audience interaction, as these performance factors will help to increase the engagement on your videos as well as the likelihood of the YouTube algorithm boosting that particular video and recommending it to more viewers.

Personalization

Now that we’ve established that YouTube takes into account other viewers’ behavior and video interactions when deciding what to show you, keep in mind that despite this, YouTube does not recommend videos entirely based on trends and what’s getting the most views. The algorithm works to be more tailored to individual taste to merely show you what everyone else is watching.

Personalization means that the YouTube algorithm offers videos to people that it thinks are relevant to their interests based on their past behavior and watch history. If a viewer likes a certain topic or keeps going back to watch a particular channel, more of the same type of videos will be recommended. This factor is also sensitive to changes and adjusts as behaviors change and interests in a particular topic or channel rise and fall.

Other Factors

Along with performance and personalization, YouTube will show you recommendations based on videos that are often watched together or videos that are topically related and have similar content.

Now that you have a better idea of how the YouTube algorithm works to create video recommendations, you might be wondering what you can do to work with it to boost your channel and increase your views and engagement. Below are a few tips and areas of focus to consider moving forward.

Create/Offer a Unique Situation

As a content creator, you want to start by honing in on an audience. Not sure what your audience is? Consider this: as a creator, you want to give people access to something that they normally wouldn’t have access to. The audience wants an experience, so ask yourself what you can offer to viewers that they might lack. This can help you to find a specific audience to target, which will help you to grow your channel.

Aspiring Viewers

We now know that audience is key. The algorithm works by surfacing good ideas for the right audience, so making sure that you are creating for the right audience is really important. Once you have a steady audience, you can slowly expand to a larger and larger audience by working on related topics and content.

In the video below, Nate from Channel Makers offers a more extensive explanation of how to ensure you’re making videos for the right audience.

Appealing Search Idea

One other thing that influences the algorithm and helps it to know what to recommend is the videos that people search for. Many people have a need or gap in their knowledge, so they search for “How To” or other types of tutorial videos on the internet. Having an appealing search idea that relates to a particular and specific audience will help viewers come to you and your channel by seeking you out.

Niche Topic, Done Better

There’s a lot of YouTube content out there: more than 500 hours of videos are uploaded every minute. With so much content out there, it might seem daunting to try and make yours stand out among the masses. Essential to increasing your viewership and audience is finding a niche topic that caters to a specific group and creating related content that is done better. “Better” can mean more concise, clearer in understanding, funnier, better overall video quality, the list goes on. What “better” means really depends on the already existing related content, and your own resources, style, and creativity!

Not every video or idea will appeal to everybody, and that’s okay. You shouldn’t make content that tries to appeal to everyone, first of all, because that’s not possible, but also because then your content will be too broad, which will make it difficult to find a niche. You should focus on capturing a particular audience by targeting the right audience. Starting specific will help you much more in the long run than attempting to appeal to the masses. After targeting a specific audience and gaining a steady viewership, you can start to work on expanding your audience in small ways. Remember going forward, you want a good idea for the right audience (this is key!).

Title

Titles are also important; videos that do not have good, effective titles won’t get a lot of views because the algorithm won’t show them to your audience. They may not seem super important, but making sure that you are writing good video titles can really boost your views and help you build up your audience. Good video titles will have the qualities listed below, so take a look and see if there are any areas in which you can improve when it comes to writing your video titles.

How to Write a Good Title

Are you wondering if your video titles could be better, but aren’t really sure how to go about doing it? Focusing on these three qualities when writing a title can you get more views and expand your audience:

Clarity: Pretty straightforward. Your title should be easy to understand and not leave viewers confused after they read it. Lengthy, wordy titles can be difficult to follow and cause viewers to pass up clicking on your video just because what the content of your video had to offer just wasn’t clear enough to them. Writing shorter, more concise titles will help you achieve clarity and help viewers know what they’re getting themselves into by watching the video.

Intentional and Consistent: Make sure your title is well written by avoiding random capitalization or out-of-place punctuation. This does not mean, however, that your video must be all lowercase or in all caps (putting one or a few words in all caps can be effective in adding emphasis), just make sure there is a purpose behind your decisions to capitalize a letter or use a particular punctuation mark, and that it isn’t just random and unnecessary.

Focused on Viewer Benefit: Your video titles should be inviting to viewers by giving them a clear idea of how watching your video will be beneficial to them. A title that answers the “why?” and lets your audience know why they should even care about the topic—or at least piques their interest in it—will be more appealing to viewers.

Click on the video below to find out more about how to write better video titles, taught by Nate from Channel Makers!

Hopefully, this article has helped you not only learn a few things about the system of the YouTube algorithm but come up with a few ideas on how to work with the algorithm to increase your views and allow the algorithm to be a benefit to your channel rather than an obstacle to it. Follow our advice and you will be a YouTube algorithm expert in no time!

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