YouTube Algorithm Explained: 5 Powerful Secrets

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So you want to know how to hack the YouTube algorithm so that your videos get good rankings?

In this article, I’ll teach you what you need to know to not only understand YouTube optimization, but to easily structure your channel so that your videos won’t be affected by future algorithm changes. That’s how you succeed on YouTube.

First, though, take a minute and subscribe to my YouTube channel. I put out a ton of videos about how to make money on YouTube. And grab my Free Training about how I was able to get my full time income from my YouTube channel before I even hit 10,000 subscribers.

Now, let’s get to today’s training…

How to Increase YouTube Views

Knowing how to increase YouTube views is probably the biggest concern YouTubers have, and understanding the YouTube algorithm is what’s going to help you do that.

YouTube Changes

It can be difficult to keep up with YouTube since they make updates all the time (every couple months) and YouTube channels freak out every time. The same thing happens with websites when Google makes updates to their algorithm. But you don’t have to freak out if you’ve done things correctly.

So, how can you set up your videos so that you still win no matter what YouTube changes are made?

First, you need to understand why they do it. The reason YouTube is constantly making changes is because they are just updating the algorithm to hone in on getting the results they want.

When you build your channel so that you are giving YouTube what it wants, it doesn’t really matter what updates they make. If anything, it actually helps your channel because you’ll beat out all of the other channels who aren’t doing what YouTube wants.

So, that’s what I’m going to teach you to do – to build your channel so that you are giving YouTube what it wants.

But if you do still want to stay on top of the latest YouTube changes (which is always good practice), here’s a great resource: Hubspot’s Constantly Updated YouTube Algorithm Guide.

YouTube Ranking = Knowing What YouTube Wants

We’ve established that achieving a good YouTube ranking comes from giving YouTube what it wants.

So what does YouTube want?

Well, quite frankly, YouTube wants money. It’s a business. It’s there to make profits and the way it does that is through a mix of advertisers and users, but most importantly – and all of these social media sites will say this – the most important thing is the user.

online money

If the user is not having a good experience and coming back day after day after day, YouTube is over, and YouTube knows that. There will always be another advertiser, right? As long as you have an audience, there will always be another advertiser. So YouTube doesn’t worry so much about that. Instead, YouTube is all about the user having a good experience.

Basically, YouTube wants its users to:

  1. Watch more videos in a single sitting
  2. Come back day after day after day

If people are doing that, then it means that the algorithm is giving users the content they want. YouTube ranking is given to the videos that are accomplishing that. But how?

YouTube Optimization Tips: The YouTube Algorithm in a Nutshell

I break the YouTube algorithm into 2 parts. The first part is so basic and it’s what you’ve probably heard a lot about, so much so that it’s actually annoying. So, we’re going to talk more deeply about what really matters, which is the second part.

YouTube Algorithm Part 1: What is the Video About?

For your video to gain a good YouTube ranking, you need to make sure YouTube completely understands what your video is about so that it knows what it should rank for. And you do that through the basic things that you see people talking about all the time:

  • Descriptions
  • Tags
  • Title
  • And more recently, what you are saying – the words that are coming out of your mouth in your actual videos. Yes, YouTube is now measuring those and it can understand what the video is about based on what you are talking about.

YouTube changes

Every video needs to have all of those things. It needs to have a very specific subject and everything needs to be about that subject.

YouTube Algorithm Part 2: What Are Users Doing With Your Video?

So now, YouTube knows what the video is about but they’re still not positive that your video should be THE video they show when people search that topic. YouTube still needs to know which video they should recommend.

And there are several ways they determine that:

1) Are People Clicking Through to Your Video?

Are people clicking on your video or are only 1% of people clicking on it while most people are clicking on other videos instead? There are two main factors that determine whether people will click on a video or not: thumbnails and titles.

Your thumbnail graphic should grab people’s attention. Don’t just use the screenshot that naturally comes up when you embed your video. Instead, create an eye-catching graphic that includes intriguing images and bright text.

youtube ranking

Make sure your title is enticing. Start noticing what titles are enticing to you and use them as templates for your own titles. If the keyword your video is about is ClickFunnels Review, don’t just make that the title. Instead, make it something like “ClickFunnels Review: What I Hate & What I Love,” (that’s one of my review videos, by the way).

2) How Long Are People Staying?

After people click through to your video, YouTube wants to know if your video makes them want to keep watching.

YouTube watch time is the most important part when it comes to hacking the YouTube algorithm. Are people watching it for like 20 seconds and then hitting the back arrow? Because that is a huge indicator and your video will never rank if that is happening (unless it’s a 20-second long video that people actually want).

YouTube wants to know how long people are watching the video as a percentage of the video. Did they watch 90% of it? Well then, it’s a pretty good video.

When people aren’t staying on your video, it tells YouTube that your video does not answer the question they were searching for and it doesn’t provide value to that user. Here are several things to consider on this topic:

Cohesion

YouTube wants to recommend videos that provide people with what they expected to get. Did your title and thumbnail lead them correctly into the video, and then did your video match that? Cohesion is very important.

Length of Intro

Did you spend the first 3 minutes of your video talking about yourself and your channel and random things? You should take 30-60 seconds to explain everything and then dive right in there to give them what they are looking for.

Length of Video

There is a debate about whether this matters or not. I personally believe it does matter and there is data that shows that the average YouTube video length is like 14 minutes. If you upload a one-minute video, YouTube’s not making much money off that video, and typically if someone is searching YouTube to answer their questions, one minute is not usually long enough to be able to answer their questions.

So length does matter but not to the point that you should put fluff in your video. Make the whole video full of value and don’t waste people’s time. Focus on increasing your YouTube watch time by giving people what they want to see.

To make sure people stay watching the video, you can offer them something for staying till the end. Then, use End Screens that allow them to click over to the offer.

youtube watch time

3) Did People Subscribe?

If someone clicks subscribe after watching your video, that’s a huge indicator that you are providing worthwhile content. It means the user had a good experience. After all, you don’t typically have a bad experience on a video and then go ahead and click subscribe, right?

The way we get people to subscribe is to ask! It sounds crazy but I can tell you that I get almost double the amount of subscribers when I simply ask my viewers to subscribe. I ask people to subscribe at the beginning and the end and sometimes in the middle of my videos too.

When you ask them to subscribe, tell them why. For example, I usually say something like “If you want to kill it on YouTube, you should subscribe because I put out a lot of great content that will help you.”

My best videos are getting a 10% subscribe rate, which means that 10% of the people that watch them hit subscribe. That’s amazingly good by the way. My worst video gets like a .05% or less subscription rate. So there’s a huge range, but the ones with the lowest subscribe rate are typically the ones where I didn’t ask people to subscribe.

4) What is the User Engagement?

When we talk about user engagement, we are referring to things like thumbs up, comments, embeds, favorites, saving to your own playlist, etc. These are fun ways that we engage with content on YouTube, but it is also a way for YouTube to determine how much your audience likes your videos.

YouTube likes to see people engaging with their platform, and while you obviously want lots of good engagement, the more negative aspects of engagement aren’t always bad.

Thumbs down, for example, is like a medium indicator. As long as you have more thumbs up than down, you are good.

Online Engagement

Many comments can be pretty bad, but typically if someone is engaging, even if someone gives a rude comment, they’re still enjoying their YouTube experience, and YouTube recognizes that.

Just like with subscribers, the way you get engagement is to ask for it! So ask for thumbs up. Ask for comments. People don’t often think of things like that but when they feel like they’ve gotten value from you, they’re happy to provide it.

5) Is Your Video Bringing People Into YouTube From Other Platforms?

You might have heard that Facebook actually de-ranks content that sends people away from their platform. Well, YouTube actually ranks content that sends people to YouTube from other platforms.

If your content gets a lot of shares on Facebook, more people are watching it on Facebook and then leaving Facebook and coming to YouTube. Now Facebook isn’t making money; YouTube is. Here’s an example of how simple it is to post your YouTube videos on Facebook…

how to increase youtube views

Or if people are embedding your video on their blog, that means people are reading a blog and then they are clicking over to YouTube. Now YouTube is making money off of that.

YouTube likes all of that. It gets them more users and they are staying for longer periods of time.

You can do this with your own stuff. Embed your videos on your own blog and share them on your Facebook page. I’ll often do a $5 boost on mine to get a little bit of traffic coming from my Facebook page. Then maybe you’ll get lucky and people will actually Like it and share it a few times, and YouTube will say, “Hey, this video got shared 10 times on Facebook and it sent over 200 people from Facebook over to YouTube, and it’s making users happy. Let’s rank it!”

Let’s Sum It Up

If your video does those things, then it doesn’t matter what updates YouTube makes – your video is going to do well because you are providing value to YouTube’s end users and YouTube is happy about that.

All these things come down to you asking, and obviously in the beginning, it’s harder because you might not have anyone watching your videos. But I promise you, as you consistently put out videos like this, you’ll start to see one random video out of 10 or 20 will start to show up and rank for things.

And if your video is built in the right way, it’ll stay there and continue to rank and then you’ll be able to get more subscribers and more good things happening with some of your other videos. The ship kind of rises with the tide, as they say.

Affiliate Disclaimer: I may (and probably do) receive affiliate commissions from any products I recommend or links I put on this page. My opinions are my own but they are truthful and I do my best to recommend products that I have vetted and/or purchased myself.

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Spencer Mecham

Spencer Mecham

Hey I'm Spencer! I'm a full-time affiliate marketer, YouTuber, and Blogger.

I love bringing people into the world of Affiliate Marketing and helping them find the freedom it brings.

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