The best way to rank your content on YouTube is to know how the YouTube algorithm works.
Why? You may ask, well, more than 70% of time spent on YouTube is spent watching what the algorithm recommends and, of course, the algorithm is very effective at knowing what people want.
To put it briefly, the goals of YouTube's search and discovery system can be seen in two parts, 1) To help viewers find videos they want to watch. 2) To maximise long-term viewer engagement and satisfaction. This is to ensure that viewers and creators are both happy because, in turn, this makes YouTube happy.
Your video can appear in six sections on YouTube, and so the algorithm affects these six different places.
- YouTube Homepage
- Recommended Section
- Search Results
- Trending Section
- Channel Subscriptions
From as early as 2016, YouTube's algorithm, also known as AI, tracks viewers' perceived viewing satisfaction to create an addictive, personalised stream of recommendations, essentially filtering good candidate videos for the viewers 'next up' section, which is based on the user's history and what similar users have watched. Secondly, the AI ranks videos by assigning them a score. Unfortunately, not all of these ranking factors have been entirely revealed, we, however, do know the videos newness and a channels frequency of uploads are both contributing elements.
Jumping forward, the basic goal of the YouTube algorithm is to get people to spend as much time as possible watching videos so that they see as many ads as possible. This is why YouTube viewers are now being directed to progressively longer and more popular videos as they spend time on the platform.
In 2019 there are still many mysterious factors affecting YouTube video results, and the algorithm is vastly complicated and forever being tweaked and changed, fortunately, we know the two primary factors:
- How well your video’s metadata (title, description, keywords) fits the user’s query
- How much your video has engaged users already (likes, comments, watch time)
According to YouTube, the following user behaviours are part of what guides the algorithm’s choices:
- What people watch or don’t watch
- How much time people spend watching your video
- How quickly a video’s popularity snowballs, or doesn’t
- How new a video is (new videos may get extra attention to give them a chance to snowball)
- How often a channel uploads a new video
- How much time people spend on the platform
- Likes, dislikes, shares
- ‘Not interested’ feedback
Following all these, said YouTube recommendations can't guarantee success. Remember, you are pretty much leaving your fate in the 'hands' of a finicky robot, so here are some true best practices to improve your organic reach on YouTube.
Convince your viewers to subscribe to your channel, if you have quality content this won't be difficult. More subscribers mean more organic reach for your videos. Time your request for beginning, middle and end or when you are specifically engaging with the audience in your video. If subscribers opt into notifications even better: they’ll get pinged every time you post a new video.
Video Watch Time
If your video is interesting and compelling enough, you won't need to do too much, however, if you are experiencing a bit of a drop-off, experiment with tactics to add value to the end of your video. Alternately, try placing cards at predicted drop-off points to direct viewers to your other videos.
This is always a huge part of most online best practices, and is a good way to know if people are finding you through a keyword that you aren’t addressing in your videos. Consider whether that’s an angle you can take on next, to fill that niche. You should also use accurate keywords in your video title to optimise for search, this goes for all of your metadata: the video description, captions, and tags. (Hint: this doesn’t mean typing in a jumbled word salad: your human audience needs to be able to read these, too.)
Keep the first few lines intriguing and accurate, while paying attention to relevant keywords that you have in your title and, hopefully, your actual video content.
Sound-off viewing is very common, especially on mobile, so keep those viewers watching by including subtitles. While auto-generated captions are available in some languages, if you upload your own closed captions or subtitles for your video, the file will also be indexed for search and may improve your search ranking.
Besides your title, the image you select to represent your video makes the biggest difference to someone looking for a video to watch. Consider that ninety per cent of top-performing videos on YouTube uses a custom thumbnail rather than an auto-generated one. Don’t let it be an afterthought.
Don't trail off at the end of your video. Use cards, watermarks, and end screens to direct your viewers’ next move. These are all clickable links that appear in your video, use them to point viewers to your channel and your next video.
Cross-promote your YouTube videos on your blog, on your social media accounts, in your email marketing, in your email signature—anywhere you’re communicating with people.
Create a Series
Instead of creating one-off videos, experiment with mini-series for your channel. This ensures you attract binge-watchers, which ultimately leads to consistent engagements and keep viewers watching.
Know your Analytics
Finally, after putting all these best practices in place, you will want to keep an eye on your analytics and monitor your progress so you can constantly improve your approach to ranking your videos.
In conclusion, there is no one-way hack to manipulating the YouTube algorithm to rank your videos higher, its an ongoing process for creators to keep up with the algorithm updates.
Decided that YouTube content marketing isn't for you? Try Twitter or LinkedIn, we have already covered topics that can help you get started with both you can find them here: The simple guide to advertising your business on linkedIn and here: A remarkable way to growing yoru business using Twitter. Don't forget to make your life even easier and sign up with Loopascoop, a social media scheduling tool, where you can schedule all your content for multiple platforms and then analyse their performance all from one place.