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YouTube Opens The Lid On Ranking Algorithm

YouTube Explains Impact Of Subscribers, Engagement, Views & More

For the second time in a matter of weeks, YouTube has opened up and explained how the internal ranking algorithm works.

YouTube’s machine learning algorithm was implemented in 2016 but remained somewhat of a black box for marketers and creators alike.

Given that around 70% of views come via this recommendation algorithm, if you want your content to rank highly, you need to get a decent handle on it.

Getting this right and understanding the process by which YouTube delivers content to its homepage and ‘recommended for you’ section can really make the difference to the reach of your videos.

Recommendations have historically been influenced by things like watch time, comments, clicks, likes/dislikes and channel upload frequency. However, YouTube has now also offered clarification on factors like how external traffic and inactive subscribers affect the algorithm and how the YouTube search engine works.

There’s a fair few updates on this subject, so let’s dive straight into it.

Underperforming Videos

Underperforming videos won’t hurt a channel overall. YouTube said it wouldn’t assess a channel based on the performance of a few videos.

A dip in viewers won’t result in a channel being viewed negatively by the algorithm, which will recommend videos to viewers based on how an audience responds to it.

If a video is attracting viewers, it will be shown in recommendations, no matter how a channel’s previous videos have performed. YouTube also noted that it’s normal for videos to fluctuate in terms of viewership.

So be brave with your content and don’t worry if one or two videos don’t perform amazingly well with your audiences, you have the freedom to try new things!

Bulk Uploads

There’s no limit as to how many videos a channel can upload per day, and videos will continue to be recommended to viewers as long as they get traffic.

However, only three upload alerts will be sent to subscribers per 24 hours. This means you can do bulk uploads if you like, but your subscribers won’t be notified of more than three every 24 hours.

Inactive Subscribers

Inactive subscribers aren’t automatically a bad thing, and the algorithm won’t penalise a channel with inactive subscribers. However, if having inactive subscribers means your videos aren’t getting watched, that will have a negative impact.

Total Subscriber Count

The subscriber count has no impact on how videos are recommended to users. YouTube will suggest content that users are likely to watch, no matter if they subscribe to the channel or not.

YouTube has also found that showing content from channels that users subscribe to means users watch less and spend less time on YouTube.

Meaning that you can start a channel from scratch without having to worry an insane amount about whether or not you’ll get views on your videos.

External Traffic

External traffic does have an impact, although not a massive one. While it can help get a video into the recommended section, how a user interacts with the video after that is what really matters.

If people respond well after viewing the video, that’s where you’ll see the most significant impact. Average view duration tends to drop if external traffic is responsible for a lot of the views, but this isn’t an issue that will have a determining effect on a video’s long-term success.

According to YouTube, they are more worried about how a user interacts with a video when they discover it as part of a recommendation.

YouTube Search Results

YouTube ranks search results based on their relevance, such as how relevant the title, description and content are to the search query. They also rank on performance, which is based on which videos users watched after submitting a related query.

They also consider engagement metrics, but search results are not just a list of the most popular videos for a specific query.

Multi-Language Videos

YouTube recommends having different channels for different languages as uploading two versions of the same video, in different languages, on the same channel can be confusing for viewers.

However, it doesn’t specify whether this will have a negative impact in the eyes of the algorithm.

Channels that specifically cater to an audience that covers different languages will be able to keep their content under one roof.

Watch Time

Videos do not need to meet a watch time threshold before they are recommended. Users rarely watch videos in the order they were published, so a users’ home page is often a mix of old and new content.

Brands may find their videos doing well months after they were published, so make sure to include some evergreen content in your marketing strategy.

Learn with SMK W/C 4th July 2022

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