YouTube 101: How the YouTube Algorithm Works?

March 17, 2021


How the YouTube Algorithm Works

Knowing how the YouTube algorithm works is crucial to draw subscriptions from YouTube users. Fortunately, while some platforms are rather reticent about their systems, YouTube, the most famous video-streaming channel, is surprisingly transparent.

Without further ado, let’s get started on this article to help you get more YouTube views in the long term and better understand the platform.

How the YouTube Algorithm Work

How the YouTube Algorithm Works
The YouTube Algorithm

Before answering the question “How does the YouTube algorithm works?”, let’s take a look at the definition of the algorithm.

The YouTube algorithm refers to monitoring individual performance and categorizing the right content to ensure that users are on the platform for as long as possible.

YouTube cares about the organic engagement an user makes within his or  her channel. It supports interaction between a YouTube user with a video; for that reason, you will want to focus on producing good content if you ever hope to capitalize on YouTube’s favors.

To identify users’ interests, the algorithm tracks down insights, including Watch Time, interaction metrics (likes, comments, shares, etc.), and more. 

After it has detected a user’s activities on the platform, the algorithm will list personally categorized videos based on what he or she likes.

When you go to YouTube either on the app or desktop, you will find the home page interface divided into four sections: Search, Trending, Home & Suggested Videos, and Subscriptions. The question is, how are you going to get your videos on one of the mentioned sections?

Search results appear when a user looks for a keyword or phrase in the search bar.

If you want your YouTube channel to gain more traction, your video must be one of the first to show up on the video search page.

The algorithm judges this based on the relevance of your video to the term the user searched for. Consequently, different people will get different search results despite using the same keyword.

It can be quite a challenge for your video to be the first result. Rumor has it that YouTube only favors channels with a considerable number of subscribers, which is partly true but not necessarily.

YouTube Trending is all about hundreds of videos, if not thousands of videos, that are currently trending around the world regarding the regions.

How the YouTube Algorithm Works
YouTube Trending

Trending is where you can find both the newest and most popular videos. The page resuscitates every 15 minutes to ensure no video is left behind.

It turns out getting your video to be on Trending is easier than on the first page of the search results. YouTube Trending appreciates the ‘new’ factor just as much as it does with ‘trending.’ The algorithm makes YouTube Trending a great balance between the novel and the popular.

The view count and rate of growth are two important factors that the algorithm heavily considers when determining which videos will be on Trending.

Read more: YouTube Search Trends – Ways to Become Channel Trending Videos

Home & Suggested Videos

Hardly anybody has the same Home & Suggested Videos section.

The algorithm classifies videos in this segment based on an individual’s interests, which can be analyzed via their watch history. It then finds other videos with high relevancy and puts them in your Home & Suggested Videos.

Among the four sections, ‘Suggested Videos’ is the hardest to get on. To be a suggested video, your clip has to pass all of the four requirements from YouTube:

  • The relevancy of the video compared with the searched term,
  • How well-engaged the video is with similar audiences,
  • How long a person spends watching that video,
  • The number of times a single user has seen the video.


Subscriptions show the latest videos from YouTubers that one has subscribed to.

Some people only pay attention to ways to get more subscribers without knowing that the subscription page directly affects one channel’s performance.

YouTube uses an insight metric called view velocity – a figure that indicates the number of subscribers (not viewers) who watch videos from you right after their publication. The higher your view velocity is, the higher your ranking will be.

How to Get More YouTube Views

Now that you know how the algorithm works, it’s time to break down the concrete knowledge you’ve just acquired to gain more organic engagement.

Pay Attention to Keywords and Metadata

Some certain keywords and metadata will show better results than the others if you know how to make use of them. YouTube has made it clear that content-relevant queries matter when you’re optimizing videos for search engines.

Before posting a video on your channel, you ought to do some thorough keyword research to choose out phrases and terms that are highly relatable to your video content; then, vigorously place them in your video’s title description, tags, and even SRT files.

However, if the content you are delivering has nothing to do with the queries you used, the algorithm will soon notice that. There is no shortcut to gaining organic engagement.

Provided that your video’s topic is somewhat different from the keywords in YouTube’s Search Report, you can add the missing parts to fill the content gaps. Subsequently, you may consider making new videos referring to these keywords if the difference is stark.


The first impression is very important. Initially, not everyone can make an impressive description, but you’ll get over time.

How the YouTube Algorithm Works
A Video Description

YouTube doesn’t despise lengthy descriptions, so don’t be afraid to go the extra mile if you have more than one thing to say. Nonetheless, some people won’t read anything longer than three sentences.

Read more: What is description in youtube? Ways To Write The Best Youtube Descriptions

Therefore, be wise with the first few lines you’re going to use. You can give a little introduction about yourself and the content you’re making to those who are new to your channel.

The video description is the perfect place to capture audience engagement; you only need to front-load the first line with an attention-grabbing, keyword-focused description and watch you’s popularity fly high.

Consistent Uploading Schedule

The uploading frequency is another important factor affecting one’s channel performance.

People often say quality over quantity, but if you can have both, why not go for it? If viewers watched and enjoyed your videos, they would want to see more. Besides having quality content, you will want to arrange a posting schedule, so your fans and subscribers know what and when to look forward to.

You don’t have to post too many videos in one go (we will explain this further in the section below), but try to upload at least one video a week.


Transcriptions are there to help those with accessibility needs and allow Google to understand your content fully. Users can even watch your video in silence if needed.

Try to self-create the subtitles in your own language so the algorithm can accurately understand. By uploading the subtitles yourself, you can ensure that these captions are the most precise when they’re indexed for YouTube searching.

Even better, make videos with multiple transcriptions of different languages for international audiences, broadening your video’s reach to international audiences.

Community Engagement

If you have been on YouTube for quite some time, don’t forget to interact with your audience.

How the YouTube Algorithm Works
Reply to your viewers’ comment

You don’t have to do much; simply reply to or leave a heart on comments you like. If there are too many comments, you can always make a video to show your appreciation rather than just reply to a few comments.

Talk to your fan base. Bear in mind that the algorithm notices these things; it knows when you’re having conversations with your viewers and subscribers or just paying lip service to increase your social media metrics.

Other Factors to Influence Your YouTube Channel Performance

There are a variety of factors to positively influence your YouTube channel in 2021. Let’s take a look!

Underperforming Videos

How do you tell when some of your videos are underperforming, and what damages they do to your channel?

The good news is that YouTube doesn’t judge a channel’s performance based on several underperforming videos. 

The algorithm only concerns how people react to a given video to decide whether it (compared with other) will be a Suggested video or not.

It’s normal when the view counts for different videos fluctuate. YouTube is careful enough not to have all of its recommendations directly affected by such metrics.

As mentioned, each user is personalized with a different list of videos depending on his or her interests; the algorithm will always ‘follow the audience.’

Suppose a video appears appealing to a viewer, and he or she has watched it multiple times. In that case, it will show up as a recommendation regardless of the performance of the video or other videos from that same channel.

Posting Too Many Videos

The algorithm is not going to be overwhelmed if you post too many videos in one go. However, just because YouTube doesn’t have restrictions on how many videos can be suggested to a viewer per channel in one day, it doesn’t mean you can post however much you want.

One, you will be out of ideas soon; this we can be sure of. And two, the audience needs time to process the information you’ve just provided in one video, just as much as they look forward to your new ones.

Plus, while there is no limit to the number of videos you can post in one day, users will only be receiving three notifications per channel in a 24-hour period of time.

If you’re constantly uploading videos, the chances that each video is getting significantly fewer streams, and that is a sign your viewers are running out of steam.

Your video will continue to stay in a user’s recommendation section for as long as he or she continues watching the video (multiple times).

Also, can the algorithm tell the good clicks from the bad?

Sometimes, invalid clicks are mistaken as normal activities of a user; the platform’s AI will catch the subtle signs of ingenuine clicks that humans miss.

Idle Subscribers

What happens when your channel is full of inactive subscribers?

The YouTube algorithm only values active users. And while it doesn’t count as a factor that influences YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, it could be a sign that you need to step up your game and renovate your channel to attract new active video users.

A YouTube channel with idle subscribers can still get its next video to be one of the recommended videos if it attracts an audience. Making a new channel is also an option, but that means you will have to start all over again, and the path to building an audience can be difficult.

YouTube bears viewer interests and preferences in mind, so there’s very little chance of reaching the inactive subscribers with your relatively new channel. They might have just grown out your content and are interested in something else.

So, unless you want to create content that is different from what you did in the past, there’s no point in making a new YouTube channel.

External Traffic

External traffic refers to traffic from outside of YouTube; it is an act when someone visits your channel via another source, i.e., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. External traffic is another important factor to have an impact on YouTube’s recommendation algorithm.

How the YouTube Algorithm Works
External traffic

Nonetheless, its influence only stops right there.

External traffic aids in getting your video displayed on YouTube Recommended. But once your video has made it there, it will want to give a good performance to maintain its position. If your video fails to do so, the success is only short-term.

Some YouTube channels get video views and click-through rate drops due to too much external traffic. The question is, is this going to affect the entire channel performance adversely?

YouTube has stated that it isn’t an issue when the average view duration drops because of your video receiving an excess of external traffic. In fact, this problem is quite common. 

Additionally, the algorithm pays more attention to the viewer engagement with a video after regulating it than any other factor.

To Wrap Up

Now that you know how the YouTube algorithm works, it’s time to take a step further and optimize your channel. We all know how disappointing it is to create videos and watch it fail without getting the appreciation it deserves.By understanding how YouTube works, content creators and even marketers can make the most of their YouTube channels and, later on, watch their channels grow. And we trust that you can be one of them.

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