How Does The YouTube Algorithm Actually Work


The main goal of social media algorithms is to show people content that they will find of interest and create an optimal experience for its users. 

The YouTube algorithm gathers data from its viewers and uses that data to recommend content based on what they are most likely to watch and share. Youtube wants its users to stay on the platform for as long as possible so by recommending videos that you want to view, it keeps you watching content and engaging on the platform.

As a business owner or content creator, you want your videos to reach as many people as possible. But it isn’t as simple as just posting a video and waiting for the views to come flooding in. 

Even though Youtube has billions of users, people won’t necessarily be viewing your videos if they aren’t aware that they exist. The more Youtube recommends your content to people, the higher your views will be. 

The more visible you become, the quicker your channel will grow and the more likely people will want to hire you or work with you. 

The algorithm uses a number of different signals to determine which videos to show to each individual viewer. No one knows exactly how it works but here are some of the key factors that the YouTube algorithm takes into account when recommending content to watch:

Watch Time

Watch time is the total amount of time that viewers spend watching a video, including how much of the video they watch. Videos with higher watch times are more likely to be recommended to viewers.

You can improve your watch time by creating engaging, high quality content that holds the attention of your viewers. Keep your videos concise and to the point and avoid any ‘fluff’ or waffle. Answer the questions your audience are searching for and if you are sharing tips, advice or training, make sure your content is easy to understand and implement.

User Engagement

User engagement refers to the level of interaction that viewers have with a video, it takes into account things such as likes, comments, and shares. Videos with higher levels of engagement are more likely to be recommended to people.

The simplest way to increase engagement is to create great content. People are unlikely to share generic, mediocre, vanilla content. They are also unlikely to comment on or like a video that isn’t particularly interesting, useful or engaging.


The YouTube algorithm considers how relevant a video is to a viewer’s interests and search history. Videos that are most relevant to a viewer’s interests are more likely to be recommended.

This is a good thing as even though you want as many people as possible to view your content, your watch time and user engagement will be low if they aren’t your target audience and they aren’t interested in the videos you share. 

Get super clear on who your target audience is and the things they are searching for. Help them solve their problems through your content and answer the questions that they are asking. 

Providing useful, helpful content not only helps you to get noticed by the exact people who are looking for the info you provide, it also helps to build trust, showcase your expertise and establish you as an expert within your particular industry, niche or topic.


The quality of a video is also an important factor. Videos that are high quality and well produced are more likely to be recommended to viewers. Youtube wants to provide an optimal experience for its users and will likely prioritise high quality videos over poor quality content.

Try to make your videos as high quality as possible. Use a good camera and a good quality microphone and consider adding captions to make your videos more accessible. 

Don’t let quality prevent you from starting though. Your videos might not be as polished or as professional as you would like them to be at the start. Done is better than perfect and you can always improve over time.

Channel Activity

The activity level of a channel and how recently a video was uploaded also plays a role in how many people will see your content. Channels that upload videos regularly and have a high level of engagement are more likely to be recommended to viewers.

Consider planning out your video ideas well in advance and creating a content calendar so that you never run out of ideas. You can also repurpose your existing content such as lives, webinars or blog posts to create new, fresh content for your channel. 

Optimise For SEO

Videos that are well optimised are more likely to be recommended and found whenever anyone is searching for the information you provide. 

Conduct keyword research and optimise your video title, description and tags. Create an attention grabbing thumbnail and use Youtube analytics to monitor your views and performance. Here are some additional tips on how to rank your videos higher with youtube seo

It’s important to note that the YouTube algorithm is constantly changing and evolving and there are many factors that determine how much reach a video gets. Focus on creating great content for your viewers first and foremost and use your videos to build trust, showcase your expertise and share useful and helpful content for your audience .

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