Understanding the YouTube algorithm

Understanding the YouTube algorithm

It is nearly impossible to meet a person who does not use YouTube today. From personal to academic, political to social, everyone is doing their best to get in on the biggest and continuously growing video platform. Which is why YouTube management has put so much effort in perfecting their algorithm, to direct their global users. The algorithm increases the amount of time users spend on the platform by approximately 70%, and this makes it a priority for anybody wishing to gain views on YouTube.

With hundreds of hours of video being uploaded every minute, and more than a billion hours viewed per day, YouTube is easily the second largest website in the world. This makes their online traffic colossal, and without artificial intelligence it is impossible to efficiently manage as they do. This AI comes in the form of the YouTube algorithm, which ranks videos based on various factors in their metadata. These are factors such as video views, likes, shares and quality, among others.

Initially the algorithm was a basic tool, only ranking videos based on the number of views. However, this system did not necessarily promote the best videos, since videos were clicked on based on their titles rather than their content and quality. The algorithm however, has since been improved, and is now one of the most efficient in the world. In order for YouTubers to keep up with what the algorithm needs, we have compiled a list of steps a person can take and ensure high ranking on the platform.

Algorithm video placement

There are various areas where the algorithm places videos in accordance  with their ranking. Primarily there is the homepage and the trending videos, which are shown to the broader audience. Then there is search bar recommendation and Related videos. These are some of the major places the algorithm uses to direct viewers to the high ranking videos and videos they wish to watch, thereby increasing time spend on the platform.

Understanding the algorithm requirements

The primary step any YouTuber needs to take is educate themselves on what the algorithm is looking for from videos. This is a long list, and it’s impossible to go through everything, especially since some of the things the algorithm is looking for are unknown to the public. However, YouTube has continuously announced new developments and changes made to the algorithm.

Some of the modifications to the algorithm have been added recently, such as banning content that contains misleading information, and is harmful to society. Other modifications have been with the platform for a few years now, such as using the help of watchdog journalists and other methods to remove videos that are racist, copyrighted, sexually inappropriate, extremely violent and fake news, among others. These modifications are still being improved, so the algorithm will keep evolving and getting better. So one must keep a watchful eye on these changes.

YouTube revenue flow

YouTube has to have a way they earn money, and obviously this is through various companies and brands advertising through their platform, among other ways. This means that the more willing to invest financially a company or brand is, the more likely they are to be prioritized by the algorithm in terms of search Ranking and recommendations.

Clarifying video metadata and content

For a video to get high ranking, the content must be made as clear as possible in terms of monologue. Keep words clear and interesting, to ensure the audience views your video for a longer period of time. If applicable also add subtitles to help the audience with their sound off. The longer the audience stays engaged with the video the higher the ranking will be, so don’t be afraid to encourage the viewers to watch until the end.

The audience has to be able to find your video, whether they are looking for it specifically or a video like it. So for YouTubers, video metadata and how it’s set up is extremely important. For instance, the video title and description should include keywords and search terms the audience is already using to find your videos.

Use Screens, Cards and Channels to direct Viewers

YouTubers must strongly and smartly encourage viewers to subscribe to their Channel. Then do their very best to create sets of multiple videos that are connected to each other, then link them to give the audience a stable flow. Figure out a way to increase their anticipation for the information at the end of the video, and use screens clips to direct them to other videos. And for those who have already found and watched the videos, encourage them to check out other videos and insert cards to direct them.


YouTube is the largest video streaming platform and a global phenomenon. For people wishing to use this platform to share certain material, simply learn the basics of the YouTube algorithm and have chance to shape your YouTube Ranking. It is important to follow the analytics of your work, to know what is good for you and what is not. Then simply adopt changes that attract viewers and get you high ranking from the platform, thereby earning your work a larger audience.