Surprise! YouTube Has a New Ranking System

YouTube is getting smarter.

Most often, users venture beyond the original video that brought them to YouTube, thanks to “Related” and “Suggested” content. YouTube plasters their site with recommended videos to ensure that you stay a while.

youtube recommended videos youtube suggested videos

How does YouTube determine which videos get recommended? The answer to that question has something to do with a semi-complicated (and semi-secret) algorithm. One of the biggest factors of ‘said algorithm’ has been the view count. If a lot of people clicked a video, YouTube figured that it must be relevant and worth watching. The problem was that there are countless misleading thumbnails, titles, descriptions, and keywords out there. A popular tactic used by some people was to flash a quick shot of a bikini-clad woman in the middle of their non-bikini-related video. YouTube’s latest ranking system has a pretty smart way around this problem: If people click a video but don’t actually watch it, the video’s views are valued significantly less.

Don’t take my word for it.

“Our algorithms are offering suggested videos (that include both related and recommended videos) that are based on which videos contribute to an overall longer–and more engaging–viewing session, versus the number of viewers who clicked on the video. So if you’re making videos that people love and stick around to see, you’ll find more of them appearing in our related videos, helping to grow your audience.” – YouTube.com

This is good news for everyone, except the blackhat marketers.  Assuming you aren’t into spamming and buying backlinks in bulk, YouTube’s new algorithm will benefit you, both as a user and a content creator.  As a YouTube user, you can expect higher quality and more relevant content to be recommended.  For example, after watching a music video, I clicked a related video of a band I had never heard of.  I actually liked the new band and was convinced that YouTube might understand my musical tastes better than most of my friends.  Way to go YouTube.

For the content creators out there, the future is looking brighter than ever.  If you make quality content that users enjoy, YouTube’s going to try to make sure those users see more and more of your work.  How do you know if people are actually sticking around until the end of the video?  For YouTube partners, there is a downloadable report under analytics called the Audience Retention Report.  Ultimately, the goal is to make quality content to increase user engagement.  If you’re reading this and already trying to figure out a loophole to boost your rankings… simply making longer videos won’t help.  I’m guessing it has something to do with a sliding scale or viewing ratio, but regardless- instead of wasting energy trying to trick YouTube’s algorithm, focus that attention on creating good stuff that people want to watch.  Please.

PS. – The screen captures used as an example above were taken from the following video.  It’s brilliant. Enjoy.

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