Like most social media apps, the way to grow is to learn the algorithm. In social media, an algorithm consists of rules and data that dictate what a user will be recommended. If you wish to succeed on YouTube, you must get your content recommended by YouTube’s algorithm. You can pay for YouTube comment likes, but mastering the algorithm is the best way to grow on the platform.
Like most algorithms, how it exactly works is a secret. But many are starting to unravel how it works in 2023. Let’s explain how it works, and how you can take advantage of this information to dominate the algorithm with your content.
An Algorithm Built on Machine Learning
Since 2016, YouTube’s algorithm has been heavily reliant on AI and machine learning to recommend videos to users that they may wish to watch. And this algorithm influences what 70% of users watch. If you’ve ever seen someone else’s home page, you’ll quickly realize that their page is probably much different than yours.
YouTube’s algorithm learns based on which videos you watch, like, and comment on. If you binged a channel on philosophy, YouTube might recommend more videos based on that. Did you watch some cooking videos for your Thanksgiving meal? YouTube may recommend more videos on food. Another way YouTube recommends videos is by pairing videos it thinks you would watch alongside the video you previously watched, such as recommending a video on appliances next to your food videos.
Your interaction with the video is also vital. If you watched 10 seconds of the video and backed away, YouTube may recommend less of that type of video. If you click “Not interested” or ignore it, YouTube may stop recommending it.
Other factors include your region and language. If you’re an English speaker, YouTube is not likely to recommend videos in Spanish. If you are in a specific time zone, you may get videos recommended based on the time of day.
Priorities, Priorities, Priorities
The YouTube algorithm is all about prioritizing content to recommend to you. In 2023, it’s not recommending random content just because it’s new or popular. Instead, it’s recommending content that is prioritized to fit your needs.
If the videos have high engagement (well-liked, commented on, shared a lot,) and the titles and tags are relevant to your interests, YouTube will likely recommend those videos to you. If the video aligns with your previous search and watch history, it’s no surprise that it would suggest a similar video. For instance, if you post cat videos, chances are you will show up in people’s algorithms that involve cat vids.
The Three Places
The YouTube algorithm doesn’t just recommend content to you on the home page; there are two other places the algorithm works to deliver content to. Let’s explore those two places.
This is the first thing you see when you visit YouTube. You may see a combination of channels you’re subscribed to and not subscribed to, with them sharing several things in common, including the video’s performance and the videos being relevant to your watch and search history. Right now, look at your home page. You can probably get a good idea of why each video is recommended.
This is the sidebar next to the YouTube video you’re viewing. The algorithm may recommend more videos from the person’s channel, especially if they go together. Or they may suggest additional content heavily based on what you enjoy.
The Search Results
You may believe the search results are the same around the board when searching for something. That is incorrect. As an experiment, search the exact words with two accounts. You may discover that the results are a little different. The videos you find may depend on your watch history and your previous searches. For example, a YouTuber you watch frequently may appear near the top of their video using similar keywords. However, if you don’t watch this YouTuber, they may not appear in the search results.
Optimizing Your Content
If you wish to grow on YouTube, you must optimize your content for the algorithm. Optimizing means adjusting your title, description, and thumbnail to make it easier for your audience. This is besides making quality content that your audience will enjoy.
This begins by figuring out your target audience. What would they be searching for if they found your video? What videos similar to yours would they watch? This can require some research and some trial and error. Create keywords your audience would search for and put them into your title and description.
Your title should also be something that entices people to click on it. For a while, clickbait has been a source of controversy, but the truth is that it works well. Your description should have keywords, give context to your video, and have more information about your channel.
Finally, it would be best if you didn’t forget about the thumbnail. The thumbnail is like a book cover; it should have content that entices a person to click on it. It may show a close-up of the subject you’re talking about, show your reaction, and have text that tempts a person to click on your videos.
In addition, your thumbnail should be 1280 x 720 pixels and look clear. One reason is that many people use mobile for YouTube, and if your thumbnail is hard to make out via a phone, they may not click on it.
Remember, the Algorithm Always Changes
Something to remember with YouTube and any other platform is that the algorithm constantly changes. What was a good tip a few years ago may not be nowadays. YouTube fine-tunes its algorithm and rewards YouTubers who can change with the times and create content that appeals to generations.
So, research the current algorithm and create optimized content for your audience. And remember that you may need to tweak it as time goes on. No one gets it right the first time.