What We Know About YouTube’s Algorithms in Early 2022

Meet John, a professional videographer and aspiring blogger. He has a YouTube channel about animals and 32 subscribers, whom he treasures very much. John’s cherished dream is to get a gold button. But so far, it’s not very exciting, and our hero is faced with the fact that he doesn’t understand the main thing — how YouTube works and what to do to promote the channel. Today he edited new material about shrews and will upload it to the channel.

And then there is Mary; she is a viewer. Mary likes to watch videos about animals. Today she would love to see something about shrews.

And here’s the most interesting part:

How do you get Mary to see John’s video?

You’d think it’s all about YouTube’s algorithms.

Yes and no.

Mary’s doing great, she just needs to go to YouTube, and the algorithm will send her content. Thanks to the algorithm, Mary will see personalized videos:

● On the main page of YouTube

● In the videos recommended section for viewing

● In the search results using the YouTube search bar for the phrase specified

But John will need to work harder to get his videos included in recommended videos for Mary. As soon as the video appears in the recommended videos, YouTube will independently promote it to like-minded viewers such as Mary and John.

In this article, we will describe the principles that will help to promote videos for you and John.

Rule 1. You need to think like YouTube to Conquer YouTube

The first priority for YouTube is to maximize profits. The platform is very interested (even more than John) in keeping viewers watching as long as possible. This can be achieved only by offering quality products. YouTube constantly searches for interesting content for users. In the process, YouTube is continuously improving its algorithms so that viewers can find only those videos which satisfy and keep them on the site.

For YouTube, quality content is measured using the following metrics: total video views in minutes, viewer retention in %, video thumbnail CTR, and user activity on the video.

Rule 2. Optimization and Detection Factor

Just because your video appears at the top of the search results doesn’t mean that it will be clicked on. We’ve noticed 2 key elements that guarantee views and getting to the top of the recommended video section: the title and video icon.

A video with the right title and icon is much more viable and appealing to the audience than one without these elements.

First, the platform is interested in offering interesting videos to the audience. YouTube algorithms based on metadata (video title and description, tags, type and category, and icons) analyze the usefulness of your content and recommend viewers to watch it. If the CTR of the video is low, YouTube will gradually reduce the impressions and will show the video on the main page, in recommended videos, and in the search results less often.

Second, think back to how you search for something to watch. The basic pattern is this: you enter a key query, and then most often, your gaze shifts to the left onto the video images – and you choose based on which icon is most attractive to you, intelligible, aesthetically pleasing, intriguing, and attractive. In general, we choose the best against the backdrop of a huge amount of similar content.

That’s it. The icon has done its job – you clicked on the video. This is similar to how Russian roulette works: you still don’t know the content, what kind of sound is there, the quality of the filming, etc. But the icon drew you. And your viewer does precisely the same.

Remember that you only have 1.5-2 seconds for a viewer to decide to either watch or not watch your video during a cursory review of the recommended video.

Let’s analyze this rule with a clear example. We can see how a well-chosen thumbnail helped a video gain 4.2 million views (in 31 days), with a CTR of 12.7%. It turns out that every 7th viewer who watched this video chose it because of the icon. So don’t forget to look at the analytics!

Two friendly tips for naming your video:

  1. Don’t overdo it with clickbait.
  2. The proper title without showing the essence of the content and/or going beyond the target audience’s interests reduces the chances of the video becoming popular.

Don’t forget the video icon. Double-check viewer requests that might lead them to your videos. The video icon is a magnet that will attract the audience and motivate them to watch. Icons bring more traffic and views to your videos and help you monetize your content more successfully.

Friendly Tips for Eye-Catching Video Icons:

  1. Don’t neglect the image specifications of 16:9 aspect ratio and 1280×720 resolution (at least 640 pixels wide).
  2. Place the text correctly. The text should not fall into the lower right corner where the duration of the video is displayed. It is better to place the text in one line.
  3. Forget about the small print – it’s unreadable, unnecessary, and spoils the overall impression.
  4. Make the icon as informative as possible: use comparisons, before/after, and large and bright elements.
  5. Analyze the created icon in miniature. Whatever you add to the image should be seen well.

Do not neglect this rule because the correct video optimization for YouTube allows algorithms to easily detect it and determine the target audience interested in the video topic. In other words, based on optimization, the algorithm determines what the video is about and which viewers to show it to. We call this the detection factor. Optimization also triggers YouTube’s algorithms to promote the video.

There are a lot of manuals on how to name a video correctly and what phrases to use. During our 11 years of working with YouTube, we’ve put together tried-and-tested ways to make titles and icons work. If you’re interested in having us collect design options for bright and compelling titles and conducting a detailed analysis of existing video icons, write to us in the comments under this article.

Rule 3. Stimulate Audience Activity

Modern YouTube algorithms follow the viewers and do not work in isolation from the audience. They evaluate viewer reactions to a video and, based on the rating, recommend or do not recommend the video for viewing by other potential viewers.

The more engagement and feedback a video receives from the audience, the more attractive the video is to YouTube’s algorithms. Subsequently, the more often YouTube will recommend your video to other users.

The following are taken into account: the average duration of watching a video, likes and dislikes, comments, transitions within the channel and from the video, subscriptions, polls, tips, and whether the video was shared.

Let’s take a little time on this rule.

Likes and dislikes have the same benefit – they give a signal to the platform that your video evokes emotion. Therefore, it should naturally be shown to as many people as possible.

Let’s be honest; it’s easier for us to dislike than like. For some reason, we tend to function like this: if we like the content or are neutral, we will think, “Well, it’s okay,” and close the video. But if content causes a negative emotion or does not live up to expectations, then we switch to the “I’m going to make such a scandal” mode, and then more negative comments and dislikes will rush in.

In no way are we encouraging you to create content that will cause only negative emotions; we’re just trying to explain human psychology a little. Engage your audience in any way you can: joke, ask for their opinion in the comments, offer links to previous videos, ask viewers to look for Easter eggs in your videos, transfer people to your other social media, pin your comment, etc.

Of course, one of the most important indicators of engagement are reposts; but they cannot be achieved without high-quality content (although this is not enough). For the sake of experimenting, insert subscription animation into several of your videos during editing.

Try to find the middle ground between asking the viewer to share and not being too pushy.

Keeping your audience active is just as important as creating quality content. There are no videos with millions of views and only a few comments.

So a high engagement rate is the foundation of your videos; a must for success on YouTube.


Rule 4. Work on Content

What do you expect when you open a new YouTube video? Most likely, you would like to see something new, interesting, meaningful, perhaps funny, and, of course, a high-quality picture and sound. Thus, the content should be high-quality, engaging, meaningful, and helpful to viewers.

Double-check whether your videos match the channel’s theme and whether your content differs from the audience’s expectations.

↓ There is a main point related to the quality of your content and optimization ↓

No matter how cool the video icon is and how intriguing and alluring the name is, it does not matter if there is a dummy inside. Yes, YouTube will analyze your awesome badge and offer the video to the highest number of viewers. But the algorithms perfectly recognize if the viewer is left unsatisfied. What’s the point of YouTube offering a video that will be played for half a minute and leave the platform?


Rule 5. Views are Determined by Niche Capacity

Here are two videos: “Music for Work” and “Function, Graph, Math 7th Grade.” The first video obviously has an advantage and is more likely to gain millions of views. This is not because mathematics is an unnecessary subject or fewer schoolchildren exist than those who like to work with music.

Not all topics are equally popular. The first thing to do is to study your niche, explore the prospect of developing your content, monitor competitors with a similar initial target audience, and build a content strategy based on this data.

If John makes content exclusively about shrews, the view cap will drop significantly compared to videos about all animals.

The narrower the topics, the smaller the audience resulting in fewer views and content interaction. Subsequently, the more time and effort it will take to develop the channel.


Rule 6. Trend Trap

Try to balance between the relevance of content for the consumer and trends. Do not focus your content strategy solely on hype and trending topics. Trends are often as fleeting as YouTube algorithm changes.

You will definitely notice (and you will be right), that videos on current topics can immediately skyrocket and gain popularity among viewers. Moreover, YouTube itself encourages creators to follow trends. YouTube promotes more shorts or live streams compared to regular videos. Or take everyone’s favorite collections and seasonal video requests (example: top 10 ways to gain an audience on YouTube). Holiday content is relevant in almost all niches: New Year’s edition of a funny show, New Year’s cartoons, or New Year’s house building in Sims 4. But some trends survive less than a few days, and there’s a chance you’ll get in a very competitive market of similar videos. That kind of content will be irrelevant to your channel in a month.

Rule 7. The Viewer is Always Right

Authors create videos and publicly post them to fulfill their own needs: self-expression, public recognition, earnings, etc. Always. If John just loved animals, he definitely wouldn’t start a YouTube channel. He would just admire them, shoot them on the phone, or even become a volunteer and join Greenpeace.

It’s the same with viewers: they stick to videos to relax, have fun, or just to fill the time when they’re bored. But while the viewer can get by without videos, a creator can not get by without consumers of their content. Therefore, if you have embarked on the path of blogging and want to succeed, it’s important to shoot not only what you personally like but also what is interesting to the audience. Again, YouTube actively promotes only those videos that keep viewers on the site.

Our story has a happy ending: John did everything right, and Mary not only saw and watched his new material about shrews to the end but also liked, left a comment, and shared this video on social media.

If John can do it, you can do it too. Would you like to try? 😉

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