Did you know that YouTube is the second most visited website on the Internet, right after Google? There is no denying that YouTube has quickly risen to become the nexus of entertainment on the Internet, second only to Netflix. With over 2 billion monthly users, the platform commands a huge audience across the globe. 

In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look on how YouTube’s algorithm delivers video recommendations to viewers, and how you can leverage that information to optimize your content on the platform.

How does the YouTube algorithm work?

First off, how does the YouTube algorithm work in the first place? YouTube has stated that their algorithm, or what they call search and discovery system, was designed to help audiences find videos they want to watch while also maximizing long-term engagement and satisfaction. 

The algorithm works by studying viewers video preferences and perceived satisfaction, and then delivers a personalized stream of video recommendations that are tailored based on the aforementioned preferences.

What You need to Know About the YouTube Algorithm

Furthermore, the algorithm affects the audience experience in the six different ways that videos are displayed on YouTube, namely: search results, recommended streams, the homepage, trending streams, notifications, and the channel subscriptions page. How the algorithm decides which videos are presented is determined on a number of ranking factors, such as video impressions, watch time, how often a channel uploads content, and engagement such as likes or comments, just to name a few. 

With that said, just like Google and Facebook’s algorithm, YouTube’s search and discovery system are constantly evolving as its user base grows. Here are some things you need to know about the algorithm in 2020.

What You need to Know About the YouTube Algorithm

Metadata remains essential

Despite the changes in YouTube algorithm, it’s important to solidify the basics first, and that making sure your metadata is complete. Incorporate keywords in the title to make sure it’s optimized for search, and more importantly discoverable by your target audience. Don’t forget to also include a descriptive (and readable) video description.

Short clicks Vs. Long Clicks

YouTube’s algorithm can distinguish whether a viewer is satisfied with a video or not by the length of time they spend after clicking on a video. In this case, a short click indicates the viewer spends an average time of less than 8 seconds, which signals the algorithm that the viewer wasn’t satisfied with the content. 

Long clicks on the other hand, are when viewers spend an average duration of 2 minutes or longer after they click on a link. This signals the algorithm that the viewer is content and satisfied with the video. 

What You need to Know About the YouTube Algorithm

With that said, how do you retain more long clicks on your channel? One way you can use this information is to ensure that you create an opening or intro of the video as compelling as possible. Once you’ve captivated your audience with the intro, use the art of storytelling to engage their attention so that they stay and watch your videos for a lengthier amount of time. Additionally, you may also want to encourage the audience to share their opinions and comment on the video, which gets their attention with other viewers, and securing their retention rate in your video.

Transcribe videos

This is often overlooked, when actually there is a prevalent number of viewers who opt for watching videos without sound, especially on mobile in public places or during commute. While YouTube does offer auto-generated subtitles, they are not known for their accuracy and can actually display wrong interpretations of your content. When you upload your own close-captions for a video, they are automatically indexed by YouTube’s algorithm and can go a long way to improve your search rankings.

On a closing note, YouTube’s algorithm can seem perplexing for those not keeping up with the latest patches and updates. Like it or not, the algorithm plays a critical role in optimizing your videos for your target audience, especially for content creators and business owners who want to expand their reach on YouTube’s platform. 

Ready to establish your presence on YouTube? Consult with our diverse creative team at Island Media Management, and we’ll handle the rest for you.

About the author



Tio is an aspiring creative writer with keen attention to detail and narrative. His work across multiple disciplines makes him a proficient and versatile writer competent in crafting content in a wide range of fields.

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