Search & discovery tips

On YouTube, viewers are matched to the videos they are most likely to watch and enjoy. YouTube’s search and discovery system caters to each viewer and their varying interests. The goal is to get people to watch more videos they enjoy so that they come back to YouTube regularly.

YouTube Search & Discovery: 'The Algorithm' and Performance FAQs

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What kind of videos does the YouTube system favor?

Our system has no opinion about what type of video you make, and doesn’t favor any particular format. Videos are ranked based on performance and viewer personalization, including their watch and search history.

How does YouTube personalize recommendations?

YouTube takes many cues from the viewer and recommends videos by understanding:

  • What videos the viewer has enjoyed in the past. That way, the system can surface videos the viewer is most likely to enjoy.
  • What videos are often watched together. The system may then identify videos viewers are likely to watch but haven’t been exposed to yet.
  • How much of a channel or topic a user watches. That way, the system can identify what content to recommend to the viewers.

How does the YouTube system look at video performance?

Our systems look at how a video performs when it’s recommended to viewers. For example, when a video is recommended to a viewer - do they choose to watch it, ignore it, or click “not interested”? Then, we look at whether or not viewers stick around. Our systems use both avg. view duration and avg. % viewed as signals to inform ranking. Lastly, we look at whether or not viewers enjoyed the video using likes/dislikes and post-watch survey results.

What external factors influence how many people see your videos?

There are three major factors that explain where your audience is coming from:

  • Topic interest
    • Topic Interest is how many people worldwide are interested in and watching videos about a given topic.
    • Some topics have more broad appeal than others, and that appeal can change over time.
  • Competition
    • YouTube’s systems rank videos from all channels a viewer might watch.
    • Even if you have good metrics on your video, you may get fewer impressions if videos from other channels are performing even better.
  • Seasonality
    • YouTube traffic can change during different times of the year.
    • Think about your audience, such as which country they live in or what’s going on in their lives and expect fluctuations in viewership during major holidays.

What factors influence how videos are recommended?

YouTube systems are influenced by a viewer’s watch history, a video’s performance & engagement metrics, and external factors that ultimately try to help viewers reach you.

We recommend

  • Focus on what your audience likes. If you do that and people watch, the recommendations will follow.
  • Ask yourself, which videos does your audience enjoy most? How often do they like to watch my channel? To help you with these questions, be sure to get to know your audience.

Next: check out podcast discovery tips

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