Secrets of the YouTube Search Algorithm

SEO Secrets of the YouTube Search Algorithm by VPDM Digital

The Secret YouTube Search Algorithm

This is not something I’ve read much about nor have I written much about – the YouTube search algorithm. However, there’s been a ton of talk about the “other algorithms” lately.

The Google search algorithm with its many recent changes (the zoo of Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird), and the Facebook News Feed algorithm have all been a bone of contention among SMBs, large brands, and digital marketing/social media marketing agencies.

Update July 26, 2015: Since the time of writing this article, there have been even more Google search algorithm updates. Here are a few related articles if you need to get up to speed:

“Mobilegeddon” – The Mobile Algorithm Update

Quality Content & Google’s Mysterious “Phantom” Update

How to Comply With The Panda 4.1 Update

Google Secretly Unleashes Panda 4.2

Why YouTube Search is Important to Your Strategy

The YouTube algorithm deserves it’s own time.

First off, Google owns YouTube so clearly it’s within the realm of possibility that a change in the Google search algorithm could affect the YouTube search algorithm.

I’m not 100% sure if tha is true or not, but search results linking to YouTube videos could certainly be affected.

Regardless, the goal of Google, or any search engine for that matter, is to provide the user with the most relevant results related to their search query. An algorithm is a complicated beast and YouTube’s is no different.

Christos Goodrow, a YouTube spokesperson, says that the YouTube search algorithm is definitely more than one million lines of code.

That’s not a typo – he actually said “one million lines of code!” Even worse, just like any algorithm, the YouTube search algorithm is constantly changing.

Many brands, businesses and other website owners have come to realize that a significant change in a search algorithm can affect video search results in a major way.

Google’s search algorithm changes will hurt websites equally as much a YouTube’s search algorithm change could destroy any YouTube channel.

Free Guide to Bing SEO optimization from VPDM Digital Marketing and SEO in Toronto, Hamilton, and Niagara.


How Does YouTube Rank Videos?

Do you think YouTube ranks videos in search results by view count? If it still is, view count is not nearly as significant as it used to be in the days of old.

Christos says the view count doesn’t weigh nearly as much into the formula anymore. The reason being, viewers would never see any new videos this way.

Today, and over the last 2 years, one of the main metrics for video success is watch time. YouTube says watch time is an important metric to promote videos.

“The algorithm for suggesting videos includes prioritizing videos that lead to a longer overall viewing session over those that receive more clicks. Viewers benefit from more enjoyable content being suggested to them, and creators benefit from more focused, engaged audiences. 

If you’re making videos that people are watching well beyond the first click, those videos will be suggested more often.”

So, your content creators should be cognizant of the fact that when a user searches for a video on YouTube, the longer they watch the video they chose to view, the higher it will appear in search results for a similar search query next time.

Related: Watch Time: A Guide To YouTube’s Top Search Ranking Factors

The video below is Computerphile’s interview with Christos Goodrow from YouTube.

In this clip, Goodrow discusses YouTube’s secret algorithm and how they prevent users from gaming the system and offering users relevant results to their search query.



Issues With The YouTube Algorithm

As with the other search algorithms, the YouTube algorithm is impermanent and volatile. Christos says that the YouTube team understands that there are flaws in the code and they are constantly working to improve them.

It’s not uncommon for there to be 10 or more changes that YouTube algorithm coders are working on at any time. Some of these changes take a few weeks to a few months to complete.


Advice For Video Content Creators

As always, the best advice is the same advice to any of your content marketing.

Create compelling and engaging content that users find useful and will share.

Provide relevant information in the video and the meta description so users and search engines know exactly what they’re getting.

Most of all, like with any type of SEO or SEM, don’t try to game the system. This slimy, black-hat, and cowardly (IMO) tactic may give you some fake return in the short term. Marketing is not a short term strategy though. Is yours? Of course not.

Marketing your business is a marathon that requires experience and strategy to execute effectively.

Black-hat SEO techniques and other shady tactics will hurt your website and ultimately your brand in the long run.

The algorithm is complicated remember. It’s also smart. Maybe even smarter than you and I.


YouTube SEO Strategy for the WIN!

If you’re looking for an experienced SEO company or consultant to craft a custom YouTube SEO strategy for your business, reach out and lets get started today.

Digital Strategy VPDM Digital Marketing St.Catharines


Free Guide to Bing SEO optimization from VPDM Digital Marketing and SEO in Toronto, Hamilton, and Niagara.

* Featured Image Source 


One thought on “Secrets of the YouTube Search Algorithm

Comments are closed.