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YouTube Algorithm- A Brief HistoryHere’s how YouTube shaped their list of algorithms according to their audience over time:
Till 2012: View CountBefore 2012, the average watch time on YouTube used to be 4 billion hours per month instead of 1 billion hours per day. Thus, YouTube ranked the videos based on just one of the metrics: the views count. While this strategy was supposed to be great, it only placed the most popular videos in front of audience eyeballs. The new content creators weren’t able to kick in, and the platform became very sloppy with monotonous and repetitive content. Also, it created a clickbait problem. People started clicking on misleading video titles and thumbnails, but they also stopped watching pretty fast whenever the video was crappy. The view count algorithm was wrong for content quality. As a result, it was a loss for advertisers and affected the reliability of the platform.
2012-2016: Session Time & View DurationView count was clearly vague, so YouTube jiggled up its algorithms a bit. Now, YouTube SEO depended on the watch time (view duration) of videos and total time spent on the overall platform (session time). Content creators needed to make videos that were rewarding enough to retain their viewers till the end- by hook or by crook. It’s the time when the giveaways and the contests got popular among the crowd. The quality of the content was elevated as well. Many new creators were able to reach out to larger masses. Session time also got better as the video creators tried their best to deliver the best content possible. But, as a result, the frequency of content updates went down. Not everyone could afford to make frequent, labor-intensive, high-quality videos that were also long.
2016: Machine LearningYouTube came up with a whitepaper in 2016, describing how machine learning works in its recommendation system, and it looked something like this:
Source- Deep Neural Networks for YouTube Recommendations, 2016Although we have a blueprint of how all this works, the YouTube algorithm, still, remains untangled to its core. And the developers still modify it every now and then. Why? WeLL, YouTube received a lot of criticism, despite all the work they did on their algorithms. I mean, can you say your recommendations are 100% fresh, yet relatable? Of course- you can’t! To cover up its misinformation engine reputation and create a platform that doesn’t bore people over time, YouTube makes sure they don’t entirely depend on machine learning and AI. They make sure they have more human moderators, frequently look-up on copyright strikes, take down the misinformative content, flag or even ban videos with sensitive content, etc. to come up with a more engaging platform.
2017: Video QualityAs I already stated earlier, the YouTube algorithm is not really perfect. They might recommend a video based on your browsing history, watch time, channels you have followed, and what not- and you still may not want to see it. However, it was not the same a few years back. The recommendations were pretty misleading and would take people into a trip of disturbing content on the platform- from children getting bullied to religious hatred, fake news, severely edited footage, etc. The platform was accessible to EVERYONE, after all. Thanks to the human operators of this video search engine, YouTube was able to take down the crappy videos along with the spam channels that posted them. They also fixed their recommendations. People started posting more quality content, and, as a result, there remained no room for nonsensical videos.
2018: MonetizationWhile the quality of the content was at its peak, the number of content creators also increased on YouTube. Consequently, the number of substandard videos increased again, and the algorithm wasn’t enough to prevent this from happening. As a result, the very unpopular policy of monetization took into form in 2018. Now, YouTube started demonetizing every video that had offensive content, copyright claims, violation of YouTube policies, depicted a misleading purpose, etc. Although it started great, the outcomes were not very promising. Various videos of pedophilia, terrorism, Nazism, etc. still went unnoticed. There were 2 reasons behind it- 1. Not all the channel holders cared about demonetization in the first place. 2. Anonymous users with very few subscribers posted them. There were very few reports. As a result, YouTube had to come out with something more strict and smart.
2019: Borderline Content BanThe Demonetization of videos started having an impact on the mainstream content creators. It did bring down highly abusive, derogatory, hateful, misleading content and even avoided plagiarism to a remarkable extent- but it couldn’t cease them from happening once and for all. The smaller YouTube handles still went unnoticed. Plus, the bigger handles started copying content from them, and even multiple reports couldn’t help. In 2019, YouTube announced that they would no longer recommend “borderline content” that could mislead the audience in any way, thereby fixing the recommendation issue. Anyway, YouTube still has a long way to go, and they are probably working on their algorithms RIGHT NOW when you’re reading this blog. So let’s get into what all we know about the working of the YouTube algorithm.
The Working of YouTube AlgorithmBy now, we have this thing very clear- YouTube aims at helping the viewers find the content they want to watch, and maximizing their stay at the platform. It means that the algorithms work for enhancing long-term viewer engagement and satisfaction. As a result, there are six places on which your videos surface: ✔️ YouTube search results ✔️ Video recommendations ✔️ YouTube homepage ✔️ The trending section ✔️ Channel subscriptions ✔️ In notifications The AI makes sure only the best videos pop up on the feed. Avoiding unsolicited content is one of their aims. They also make sure that the videos you watch match your taste and preference. This way, you stay longer on the platform, watch more ads, and ultimately generate more ad revenues for them. The algorithm is responsible for all the search results. Apart from the search results, the overall YouTube SEO depends on a bunch of stuff you do on your channel. I have broken down the topic in 3 easy to understand steps in a separate article.
Read, YouTube SEO: 03 Steps To Understand YouTube Algorithms NOW!
11 Organic Ways of improving Channel ReachNow that you have an idea of how The platform assesses the posted videos, here’s how you should optimize them for a better reach among your targeted audience:
1. Keyword Research and UseA keyword is a set of words/spaces that you use in your video title, description, etc. There are various ways to find the right keywords for your videos. You can search for them using a tool like ahrefs or do your own research on YouTube. Make sure the keyword search volume is high, and competition is low. Once done researching, use the keyword at the beginning of your title, tags, description, and speak it out in your video script. This way, you optimize your content accordingly and rank your video when a user searches for the keyword on YouTube.
2. Optimize your DescriptionYou might not think a lot before drafting your video description, but it is pretty darn crucial! It helps you rank the content on search results, homepage, and YouTube recommendations. Make the content at least 200 words long, sprinkle the keywords roughly twice or thrice, and add links that make your channel look more credible. Also, make sure that the initial lines are engaging and accurate. Everything past these lines is invisible unless someone clicks on Show More. So, make sure the words are captivating enough.
3. Improve overall Channel EngagementOne of the primary reasons behind a channel’s growth is the creator’s overall engagement with their audience. YouTube tries its best to make the platform more interesting and engaging for all of its viewers and promotes the channels that remain more active. Post content more consistently and more often, make sure you watch, like, subscribe and comment on other channels, like and reply to the comments on your videos, and never make your channel look dead in YouTube’s eyes. In case you are too busy and don’t know how to maintain your channel engagement, there are various automation apps like Socinator that do this job for you.
Here’s How To Auto Subscribe Channel On YouTube Using Socinator