So, you have finally started that YouTube channel you’ve been talking about for months. Or maybe you have been creating content for a while now but are waiting for YouTube to start recommending your videos. It is no secret that viewership numbers on YouTube have long been driven by recommendations, so let’s take a look at how they work.
What type of videos does YouTube show?
To get started, let’s take look at what videos are shown to a viewer on screen:
- Suggested videos are the 4 videos featured from the creator (you) based on the content you are currently watching and appear on the right-hand side while watching videos
- Related videos are videos that are similar to yours, so this will be based on the metadata you provide on your videos which is your title, video descriptions and tags used in the video.
- Recommended videos are then based on the activity of the viewer, if they are watching sports videos, similar sports videos will be recommended to keep them viewing.
As you can see, suggested and related videos are more straightforward in how they appear but recommended videos take a little bit more explaining so that we can understand when the recommendations will start coming. One myth is that how the YouTube algorithm works is top secret. In fact in 2016, YouTube engineers published a paper on how this is done which I will explain now in a more straightforward way.
The YouTube Algorithm
The algorithm works off 7 key metrics which you will have to meet to get recommended by YouTube:
- Click-through rate – This is the rate at which viewers click through to your videos to watch them
- Watch time – This is the accumulative time the viewer watches your videos and the further they watch through your entire video, the better!
- How many videos the user has watched from your channel
- How recently the user watched a video about this topic
- What the user has searched for in the past
- The user’s previously watched videos
- The user’s demographic information and location
There have been some changes since 2016. YouTube went on the record as changing its approach to “follow the audience”, with video likes and mini-survey results driving their recommendations. What this means for getting recommended on YouTube, is that they will not start recommending your videos until you meet their criteria. Quality content which excels in these metrics is now the key driver for your growth. They have also gone on the record at stated that good thumbnails are important to hit these key metrics for recommendations. Thumbnails need to have clear pictures and text that is visible on all devices and screen sizes.
In conclusion, YouTube uses various video metrics to determine when to recommend videos. To meet their criteria you will need clear, honest metadata and engaging content to meet the click-through rate and watch time requirements. Other metrics that they consider are less under your control once you have good metadata and quality content.
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