Before we dive into the algorithm, let’s set the scene.
79% of all internet users say they have a YouTube account. Pretty sure you couldn’t say the same for any of its competitors. Does being part of the Google family help? Yes.
The platform raked in $5 billion in ad revenue in 2020 and has approximately 2 billion monthly active users. These users are spread across the 100 countries it has been localized in, with YouTube operating in 80 different languages.
The platform is the second most popular search engine after Google. While beating Bing in search might not be a mammoth task (shots fired.. I repeat, shots fired), it is still pretty impressive, and the standing YouTube has managed to reach in the last 15 years.
Does your content get lost on YouTube?
Would you believe if someone told you that approximately 500 hours of content gets uploaded onto the platform every minute? That’s 30,000 hours of videos every hour. Given the massive ocean of content, YouTube has a continuously-learning algorithm that does the job of sorting videos, pushing them into people’s recommendations, and suggesting others to watch.
It is a fact that only 10% of all the videos get at least 1k views, with only 1% crossing the 100k mark. So yes, there is a high chance that content does get lost on YouTube. Beating the algorithm is then the key to achieving success on YouTube.
While YouTube hasn’t publicly revealed this algorithm, the plethora of content already on the platform has helped reach certain conclusions. Furthermore, there are enough stats to back these findings too.
How does the algorithm work?
The algorithm is like a feedback loop that functions in real-time to ensure users use the platform as much as possible. There are two main goals of the algorithm:
- Show the user tailored videos to make sure they stay hooked
- Keep them hooked on the platform for as long as possible.
The algorithm’s main job is to rank videos and filter them out to the world. It uses many parameters to check if a video is “worthy” or not. These include:
- How many people have watched the video and stayed till the end
- How quickly the video racked up views since it was uploaded
- How consistent is the channel uploading the video?
- How are the viewers reacting to the video (likes, dislikes, comments, shares, etc.)
If you are bothered to learn the technicality, look up terms like impressions, watch time, retention, engagement, view velocity, session time, etc. Diving into each of these will serve you well in the journey to beat the algorithm.
How to beat the YouTube algorithm?
Find a niche
While you might want your channel to be all things for everyone, that isn’t the best route. Instead, find a niche where you can provide quality content and capitalize on gaps in that niche. It might take some time to find yours, but make the best use of it once you do.
Upload consistently and upload often
Consistency is key. If you notice, all successful YouTubers upload consistently and often upload. Viral videos alone cannot get your channel to a source of stable passive income.
While some YouTubers like Mark Rober post a video once a month, they manage to gain millions of subscribers. This is because of the quality of the content they put out. For most people, posting quality content as often as possible is your best bet at beating the algorithm.
Optimize metadata of the videos
Make sure you have the right titles that border on click-bait without crossing the fine line. Get the metadata right and use proper thumbnails and hashtags to ensure your videos reach the right audience, who in turn will promote them themselves. Finally, never underestimate the power of a like, share, and subscribe.
Promote on multiple platforms
Do not stick to any one social media platform for promoting your content. Instead, make use of everything you can get your hands on. Of course, it makes sense that you have a decent following first, but you need to start somewhere.
If you’ve watched Gary Vee‘s videos on Instagram, you might be familiar with the power of engagement. Replying to comments and tailoring content based on feedback go a long way in boosting your video. Find favor in the eyes of the YouTube algorithm, and you should achieve success with a little patience.
Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Keep testing till you find the right niche, type of videos. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t take one failed video as a sign. If you find yourself with consistently single-digit views, you might want to rethink the niche/ type of videos you’re putting out there.
How to get your video viral?
If you’ve noticed the attributes of viral videos, you’ll find patterns. There’s a reason that particular videos go viral while others don’t. Here are some checkboxes you should look towards ticking.
1. The uniqueness of the content
While viral videos may not focus heavily on quality, they do rely on uniqueness. A dog yodeling, a lady falling asleep while making a sandwich in Subway, we’ve seen it all. However, if you manage to capture something eerie, weird, funny, or downright stupid, chances are you might have yourself a viral video.
2. Viral videos are short
Very rarely do viral videos run into minutes. Most of these videos are under a minute and get straight to the point. No intro, no outro, no edits. Clean, concise, and to the point.
3. Ride-on fads and emotions
While the latter might sound evil right off the bat, it does work. People click on videos that are on the extremes on the emotional scale, whichever be the emotion. For example, let’s say there’s a trend on the internet with a certain off-the-menu McDonald’s birthday cake. Record a video relating to that. Just make sure you aren’t late to the party and get one out ASAP. Don’t miss the waves. Rather, ride them.
Also, if you’ve noticed, nobody cares if the video is taken on a potato or not as long as the audience can see what they want to see. The key to viral videos is capturing the moment. Everything else is secondary.
Things you should NOT do on YouTube
While knowing what you should do on YouTube, it also makes sense to beware of what NOT to do on YouTube. All your hard work will go down the drain if you don’t stay away from these mistakes. So here are 6 points to keep in mind if you’re looking to make it big on YouTube:
- Do not post copyrighted content: This is the easiest way to get your videos taken down. Stay clear of copyright violations and appeal if you’ve been struck unfairly.
- Do not break community guidelines: Adhere to the guidelines if you want your YouTuber career to outlive the video length. They have systems in check to flag your videos instantly, so beware.
- Do not upload low definition videos: It isn’t 2010. People appreciate authenticity and respect limitations, but there is no excuse to post videos with a definition lower than 360p in 2020.
- Do not drag videos on to reach a duration: The audience will see right through you if you try dragging the video. Stay true to your audience. Stretched-out videos tend never to make it on YouTube.
- Edit your videos: While this is subjective, editing your videos usually helps keep them clean and appealing to your viewers.
- Do not ignore your audience: Engage with your audience, take constructive criticism well, and work, based on the feedback you receive.
This is by no means the holy grail of the YouTube algorithm. With that said, this will help you massively to get your video out of the sea and noticed by people. It will do you good to keep these points in mind while you push out content.