The YouTube Algorithm – What You Need To Know

As marketers, we are the mercy of algorithms at ever turn – from Facebook, to Instagram, Google to YouTube. The simplicity of launching campaigns and getting eyes are days passed, and it takes much more skill and intentional to craft a successful campaign. While some channels are rather reserved about the secrets of their algorithms, YouTube, the most popular video platform, has been remarkably transparent. In 2016, YouTube released a research paper that provides a high-level overview of their recommendation system’s architecture, and furthermore a course for creators about getting discovered on their platform. If you don’t have the time it takes to read through it, then you’ve found the right place! We’ve pulled out the biggest talking points and laid them out for you below.

However, before you can begin to learn how to use it in your favorite, you must first know how it works. To figure out which videos and channels any given user is most likely to enjoy, YouTube “follows” their audience. This is a simple way of saying they track their users’ engagement with each video they watch by paying attention to which videos each user watches, doesn’t watch, how much time they spend watching each video, likes and dislikes, and their “not interested in” feedback. In contrast to other platforms, their algorithm rewards engagement instead of vanity metrics like views and clicks. YouTube incentivizes creators to produce videos that they’re audience actually enjoys watching, discouraging them from trying to game the system. There are a few ways that they deliver the defined “perfect videos” to each user:


The two big things to remember for search optimization is keyword and relevance. YouTube looks at how well your titles, descriptions, and content match the query that was searched.

Home & Suggested Videos

Each user experience is different and craft-fully curated based on personal activity. YouTube tracks active history and searched, and then suggests videos that are similar in nature for you to be interested in it.


This feed is filled with the newest and most popular videos in the users specific country. In keeping in line with the individualistic experience that was mentioned above, they keep the novelty of uniqueness by ranking the videos in different orders based on the users personal preference and interactions.


There is an option for users to subscribe to a specific page, and in doing so they are constantly and directly fed the videos to their account. View Velocity is a metric affiliated with subscriptions that notes how many subscribers watch the video right as it is posted. The higher the velocity, the higher the ranking.


Now that you know the metrics, there are a few easy and tactical ways to step up your brand’s personal YouTube page.

  1. Optimize your videos and channel for popular search queries. To do this, place relevant keywords in your videos’ titles, tags, descriptions, SRT files (which are transcriptions), video files, and thumbnail files.
  2. Check out the most popular queries guiding viewers to your videos, which you can find in YouTube’s Search Report.
  3. Create vibrant and eye catching thumbnails for each of your videos.
  4. Create playlists of videos in a series, or similar topic/theme.

Not every video will go viral – but every video can be set up for success…just in case. If you are interested in revamping your YouTube presence, we’re here to help!