The YouTube Algorithm: How to Increase Views and Engagement - The 2022 Guide
Whether you have a marketing strategy to implement or just realizing your well-crafted video is not gonna make it through the YouTube algorithm and something's got to give, you're looking to find out how the sausage gets made. Well, this is it.
You know what YouTube is, you know there's an algorithm, and you don't need me to tell you a story. And I won't tell you one. Table of content is on your top left, more articles on bottom left. Buckle up.
YouTube Algorithm Factors
Youtube Homepage Is Based on Performance
Videos that are being watched the most and have generated the most engagement will be featured on the homepage. In addition, the YouTube algorithm that determines which videos are shown on the homepage also takes into account the demographics it has collected on you.
Youtube Homepage Is Based on Personalization
When you open the platform, you see a mix of videos that the YouTube algorithm thinks you'll be interested in based on your past viewing habits. YouTube aims to personalizes the homepage for each individual user to show them videos they're more likely to watch. YouTube knows : the longer you watch, the more ads you watch.
Youtube Videos Rank in Google Results
When you search for something on Google, YouTube videos often rank in the results. In fact, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. On top of that, Google owns YouTube and the two work together to provide the best results for users.
When you create a video, SEO optimization will be key. This article covers the elements that need to be optimized. Just like with Google SEO, your ultimate goal is to gain ''authority'', but as a video channel.
Titles Are a Ranking Factor
Keywords are stepping in at this point. If you're not 100% sure what they are or how to research them, I suggest a quick read at the keyword section of my SEO guide.As for our YouTube algorithm, it likes its titles just like its big brother G. Try to keep them under 75 characters with your keywords at the beginning. As all SEO titles go, impact and relevance are the ticket to success while keyword stuffing will get you nowhere.
Video Descriptions Are a Major Youtube Ranking Factor
Video descriptions may not be the first thing people think of when they’re trying to make their videos go viral, but they are actually a major ranking factor on YouTube.
In fact, a keyword-rich description (No stuffing. I'm not saying it again.) will help your video rank in the search results for that keyword.
As a general rule of thumb, the algorithm favors a lengthy and relevant description. While the 5000 characters limit doesn't need to be reached, aim for a very least of 250.
Ensure your main keyword is included in your first sentence and repeated at least 4 times throughout your description. Read everything back out loud and revise if it sounds weird.
Thumbnails Are Indirectly but Strongly Tied to Rankings
Thumbnails aren't proven to have any impact as a ranking factor, but good marketing generates clicks. And what's a huge ranking factor? Yes.
Thumbnail images are essential for catching the attention of online viewers and encouraging them to click through to your posts and channel.
Youtube Tags Favor Your Odds
They might never be seen or used by your viewers, but the algorithm will use them to analyze the context of your videos. Chances are that it will associate a keyword to them that it either didn't pick up from your content or that you may have omitted. Use tags at all times to maximize your visibility.
Just like keywords, stuffing won't work. Most will agree that 4 tags is a sweet spot.
Engagement Boosts Visibility
Engagement refers to all actions a user might take upon viewing a video. Those include clicking on a call to action, liking, commenting or subscribing to the channel.
These actions gives the YouTube algorithm the indication that the video is...well...engaging. And engagement sells add. Hello front page.
Video Length Doesn't Impact Ranking
There is a lot of speculation about how long a video needs to be in order to rank on YouTube. Some people believe that if your video is shorter than five minutes, it won’t rank as well as a longer video. Others think that the length of the video doesn’t matter at all.
The truth is that the length of your video doesn’t impact its ranking. Engagement and relevancy are what drives the rankings. Your focus should be on content that keeps the viewer watching consistently until the very end, no matter the time required to communicate your message.
If you must know, statistics say that 10-16 minutes videos tend to come out on top in results while those with most views have an average length of 4-6 minutes.
Consistency Demonstrates Relevancy
Regularly posting valuable content on your domain of expertise has an impact when it comes to the YouTube algorithm. A channel providing constant quality content to its viewers will definitely gain a momentum that will increase the visibility of each posted video.
While the frequency won't have an exponential impact on visibility, you will very likely see an increase in views by posting weekly more than you would by posting monthly.
Combined Watching Time by Users Is Taken into Account
The time people spend watching a video on multiple devices is now being considered by YouTube when ranking videos. This means that if someone watches a video on their phone for a minute, and then watches the same video on their computer for five minutes, the computer viewing will be counted as six minutes.
When a second user watches the video for 4 minutes, the watch time jumps to 10. This metric is useful to the YouTube algorithm to take into account the multiple device reality of their users while also award credit for the amount of engaging content a video provides.
Channel Watch Time Contributes to Its Authority
The same concept of reward system for video watching time applies to a channel with all its content.
Viewer Retention directly Impacts Ranking
This one is kind of a given at this point. Viewer retention is a key ranking signal for YouTube videos. The longer someone watches your video, the more likely YouTube is to rank it higher in search results. Your video is treated as being more relevant and valuable to viewers.
What's important to keep in mind is that the algorithm gages retention not only with watching time, but the percentage of the video watched. This is why everyone keeps telling you to ''make engaging and relevant videos'' if you want to win at YouTube.
Click-Through-Rate Defines Relevancy
This is where your titles and thumbnails pay off. If you are shown in search results and your video gets clicked on more than other, you win at relevancy and get promoted. In terms of CTR goals, you should generally aim for 1% higher than your channel's average.
Session Duration Is Factored In
A session duration is how long a user will stay on YouTube after watching a first video. If that time is spent on your channel after viewing one of your channel's videos, bonus points for you.
Session Starts Can Play Big for You
If a session starts with a user landing on YouTube and on your video, meaning that they clicked on a link from elsewhere in the web, the YouTube algorithm will factor it in the same way it considers your CTR inside the almighty platform.
This is one of the many reasons you need to focus on promoting your video in and out of YouTube.
Embedded Videos Are Accounted For
We won't go into a comprehensive list of all the available platforms out there for you to promote your videos, but it's worth mentioning that there are probably people asking questions on Quora that can be answered by your content. Quora has a convenient video embedding functioning for you to reply with.
Those embedded video will be counting views, generating session starts on clicks and providing a neat contribution to your content promotion. To stay on the safe side, do not set your videos to auto-play. If turning off auto-play is not possible, it would be advisable to prioritize your efforts elsewhere.
Optimization Also Goes For The Channel
Tags, description, everything. Keep it maintained to make sure that it reflects the nature of its content and that old irrelevant videos are removed. Furthermore, sooner than later, start conducting channel audits with a few of the many tools out there that do just that.
Rankings Are Not Reset When Optimizing Previously Posted Content
You have a video that could better perform if you only had read this marvelous article sooner? Go right ahead and make it part of your channel's hygiene. A/B testing is your friend in the long run, and you won't have to start over as long as your original video is still standing.
Google Search Results Influence Performance
This one is a keeper. If Google search results try to fulfill users' request by suggesting videos for a certain keyword, then the videos you see have a huge bonus on visibility.
If the keyword is not too competitive, you just found an opportunity to shine through the 2 biggest search engines on the planet at once.
Total Number of Views Is a Ranking Factor
I hope you're not in shock. Moving on.
Video Quality Is Analyzed and Considered by Youtube
There are a few different aspects of video quality that YouTube is focusing on. These include the resolution of videos, the frame rate at which they are being uploaded, and the addition of HDR (High Dynamic Range) videos. The goal is to improve the viewing experience for all. Make sure you upload the highest quality possible so you don't get left out.
Youtube Playlists Are Prioritized in the Watch next Section
When you create a YouTube playlist, your videos are most often added to the "Watch Next" section on the right side of the screen when a user is watching your content. This means that your viewers are highly more susceptible to watch your videos if they're all in one place.
The algorithm could also see a well optimized playlist as a more comprehensive result to a query. The better fulfillment of the user's needs will result in giving it a higher priority.
Typically, you will create a playlist for a series of videos that includes a part 1-2-3 etc. That's not a rule.
If you have videos on a same particular subject, group them into a playlist to make them conveniently accessible to the users who simply want to ''know more''. It tells them that there is actually more in the first place, and that they don't have to search your channel or use the search bar again. On the other hand, you're capitalizing.
Clickbait Is Penalized by Youtube
This means that if you create a video with a misleading or sensational title in order to get people to click on it, your video will most likely be downgraded in the search results.
It has been fought against by Google since the Panda update of 2011 and they are getting quite good at it. If clickbait is part of your strategy, you'll be rewarded in penalties and angry users.
The Amount of Likes Has a Smaller Part of the Equation
They're taken into account into your engagement stats, but your not getting any extra bonus points. They do look pretty neat though...
Where they matter is in the like/dislike ratio. This is what you would want to focus on if you are going to post content about a subject that could be qualified as sensitive. If the dislikes take over, your video is not going to make it.
The dislike amounts are no longer shown to the users but you have access to your dislikes in the YouTube Studio inside the Engagement tab.
The YouTube Algorithm Doesn't Like Outgoing Links
Outgoing links are links from a website to others. They can be to other articles on your website, or to websites elsewhere on the internet. It unfortunately doesn't matter how relevant they are; they drive traffic away from YouTube and the algorithm is not a fan. Avoid them to avoid being set aside.
Provoking Engagement Is Not Against The Rules
This is the conclusion.
Engagement is essential for your videos to thrive and it's ok to be a go getter. Make use of the tools provided to you. Among the useful ones you will find the cards that allow you to generate interactive ''popups'' throughout your video. There is also the end screen, allowing you to provide more information for the user to checkout.
Asking for likes, comments and subscribes is also fine. Encouraged actually. I say this with over 12 years of years experience in sales; if you need to make a sale, ask for it. You're not a beggar. Don't act or feel like one. Getting paid is a simple yet vital part of going through the efforts of providing quality content.
I really hope this article helps you out in your venture! Farewell, fellow creator.