YouTube is a popular video platform owned by Google. It is well used and well loved across the globe, with the video platform accumulating around one billion hours of YouTube videos watched each day. That’s a lot of videos consumed by the general public. However, that also means that there are a lot of videos uploaded onto the video platform for viewers to watch.
YouTube’s algorithm, however, is somewhat of a mystery to marketers and the general public. Whether you are a company hoping to upload a brand video, or a gamer uploading a walkthrough or a reaction video for a game, knowing how to get reach on that video can seem somewhat impossible. Well, it isn’t. Ideally, you need your video or YouTube channel page to appear in the ‘recommendations’ section. It is through here that YouTube users are more likely to notice your brand, click on your channel and potentially give you a view, like your video or subscribe to your channel.
If you want to gather more views and subscribers to your YouTube channel, then you need to understand how the algorithm works and how you can get on the ‘recommendation’ list.
Understand the Signals YouTube Use for YouTube Recommendations
YouTube utilizes a few signals when deciding if a video or channel should appear within the recommendation section of the website. What are these signals, though?
The number of times people have clicked through to your video once they have seen it.
Combined amount of time viewers spent watching your channel’s videos.
Number of Videos the User has Watched from Your Channel Previously
The number of videos someone has watched on your channel beforehand.
Whether the User has Watched Videos on this Topic Before
How many times the viewer has watched videos on a similar topic in the past.
The User’s Search History
What the user has searched for in the past and what is logged in their search history.
The User’s Previously Watched Videos
What the user has recently watched in the past.
The Users Demographic (E.g., Their Location)
The user’s personal/demographic information such as their age and location.
Remember that the first three factors you can directly impact. However, the rest are out of your control and depend on the information the user has inputted. Watch time is the most valuable signal, as users who click-through to your video but do not stay to watch can have a negative impact. This is because YouTube’s algorithm may consider your video to be ‘clickbait’ and, therefore deceptive.
There was a time when click-bait performed well and was the beloved tactic of many content creators and marketers. That is no longer the case. Rather, click-bait is likely to upset and frustrate those who click-through to your video and end up without an answer. They may even downvote your video, report the content, or never visit your channel again. What’s more, Google and YouTube alike do not reward click-bait articles and are less likely to refer your videos to others through the recommendation page.
Because of the war against click-bait, you need to garner high and consistent click-through rates and watch time. You can do this by being transparent, offering good quality content, having an intriguing title (that is informative and truthful), and by having good video length (e.g., 8-10 minutes long).
Have a Consistent Premise for Your YouTube Channel
Great YouTube channels have a premise that can be summed up in a handful of words and a simple sentence. You want your channel to do the same. Take the infamous YouTuber Markiplier for a second. Markiplier created a brand for himself by being an ‘indie horror streamer who reacts’. This brought in an audience who wanted to watch someone react to horror games without having to play them themselves. You can also look towards ‘First We Feast,’ which is a YouTube channel that focuses on celebrities and food.
Once you have a premise, you need to practice self-control and be consistent. You need your videos and channel to stay on theme. People are turning to your channel for a certain subject, so by deviating from it, you risk losing their interest and viewership. By uploading similar videos, you are also reusing the same keywords and meta tags which all help point people towards your channel’s direction.
Find Ways to Signal Towards the Recommendation Section
New YouTube channels will not find themselves on the recommendation section for a while. After all, you need to have the required signals that accumulate towards being places there in the first place (e.g., click-through rate and watch time). You need to find a way to feed the recommendation engine if you are to slowly push your videos onto the recommendation section.
You can do this by asking friends and family to watch and share your videos. However, you can also share your video on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Twitch) and also encourage viewers to leave a comment and ‘Like’ the video.
Do not neglect SEO when it comes to YouTube, too. You will still want to gather keywords and create a keyword plan so that you know the keywords you are planning to target. You can use tools and add-ons to find out which keywords are currently performing well, or you can head to YouTube, find a competitor’s channel and reorder the ‘Videos’ tab to ‘Most popular’ and see if there are any themes or subject matters that you may not have considered.
Don’t Forget About Your Thumbnails
Thumbnails can provide additional information and provide insight into your YouTube channel’s brand that can entice them to click-through to your channel and watch your videos. Make sure that the thumbnails are relevant, engaging and also show emotion. For instance, thumbnails that have a picture of someone showing emotion can gather more click-throughs than one that is of a still shot of an object or gameplay.
YouTube can be a mystery for some marketers and business owners, but the YouTube algorithm is not impossible to learn or utilize. Make sure you understand your demographic and can create engaging videos and commentary. If you can do this, then the views and subscribers are sure to follow.