How to Succeed with the YouTube Algorithm in 2024

Building the viewership your YouTube content deserves means effectively understanding and mastering the YouTube algorithm. Here’s a closer look at how the YouTube algorithm works in 2024 and how you can make it work for you.

Updated: May 13, 2024
youtube algorithm

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In an age where engaging video content is king, it makes sense that YouTube is a key part of digital marketing for millions of brands. YouTube videos do an excellent job of holding a viewer’s attention long enough for them to absorb crucial brand messaging.

They’re also effective at driving conversions, boosting search engine optimization (SEO), and creating a readily engaged audience that eagerly keeps coming back for more. But concepts like mastering YouTube SEO are important parts of getting your videos noticed.

Getting the results you’re after also means developing a working understanding of YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, as it dictates roughly 70 percent of what people ultimately decide to watch while exploring the platform. But how exactly does it work, and what can today’s digital marketers do to give their content a fighting chance?

    Understanding YouTube Algorithm Basics

    Like Google, YouTube is in the business of understanding what its users are looking for (sometimes better than they do) and serving up content that’s most likely to meet their needs. The more effective it is at this, the more time users spend on the platform, and the more successful YouTube ultimately becomes.

    No one knows for certain how the YouTube algorithm works. However, we do know the general history of how it evolved, as well as some of the factors it takes into account when making recommendations.

    From the 2000s through the early 2010s, YouTube has come up with its recommendations in multiple ways, including optimizing according to views and clicks, watch time, and results gleaned from customer satisfaction surveys. Eventually, the platform implemented additional safeguards to control potentially dangerous content and misuse.

    These days, the algorithm functions fairly intuitively, with personalization being a major force behind its ongoing recommendations.

    Key Factors That Influence the YouTube Algorithm in 2024

    Today’s content consumers on YouTube and elsewhere don’t just prefer personalization or consider it nice to have. They’ve come to expect it, and modern social media algorithms aim to deliver. No two sets of recommendations are ever alike, as they’re tailored to suit each user’s unique preferences.

    The quality and previous performance of a given piece of content will also affect how often content is recommended moving forward. Let’s dive into some of the key factors that influence YouTube’s algorithm in 2024.

    User preferences

    One of the most powerful factors influencing YouTube content recommendations is how a particular user typically interacts with the platform. Examples include:

    • Your typical go-to content: If you tend to seek out cooking tutorials and watch them from beginning to end, the algorithm will naturally infer that you’re interested in cooking content and recommend more of it. The same goes for content you typically like, comment on, or share on your social media feeds.

    • Complementary content: If a lot of other viewers typically watch specific videos together, especially one after the other, the algorithm is more likely to recommend that content as something for you to follow up with, as well.

    • Your history with a channel: If you typically favor specific channels or creators, you’re significantly more likely to see their content showing up in your recommendations.

    • How well it fits search queries: YouTube’s built-in search engine functions a lot like Google’s in that it does its best to identify user intent and deliver content that fits a particular query.

    Content quality

    Naturally, nobody likes clicking on a recommendation only to find out the content isn’t any good. But how exactly does an algorithm assess something as potentially subjective as quality? How can it tell a good video from a bad one?

    The fact of the matter is, that YouTube’s algorithm doesn’t assess the content at all. Instead, it assesses how users react to the content and draws likely conclusions based on patterns it sees. Among other things, it looks at:

    • Whether people watch it: Do users actually click on the video in the first place when it shows up as recommended? And if they do click on it, do they watch it, and for how long? Videos people click away from after watching only a short percentage of them generally aren’t considered high-quality.

    • Whether people like it: Watching a video is one thing, but liking it and being willing to watch others that are similar is another. YouTube looks at factors like engagement rates, likes versus dislikes, and similar signals to assess whether viewers actually enjoyed something.

    • Where you’re located: The algorithm also takes circumstantial factors like location, time of day, seasonality, whether you speak certain languages, etc. into consideration when choosing content to recommend.

    Effective Strategies to Optimize Your Channel for the YouTube Algorithm

    Now that you understand a bit about how the YouTube algorithm works, it’s time to dive into some expert strategies for helping your content attract the attention it deserves. Here are some must-know tips to keep in mind.

    Focus on serving your target audience

    If your channel becomes the go-to for viewers, starting and ending their YouTube session with your content, you win. This isn’t just about being liked; it’s about becoming indispensable to your audience, making your channel a destination.

    — Roberto Blake, LinkedIn influencer

    Algorithms on video platforms like YouTube or TikTok are getting more advanced all the time, meaning they’re becoming increasingly proficient at serving users what they really want. For that reason, the most effective way to please the YouTube algorithm is to focus on pleasing your human audience.

    Know your target audience, and cater to what they like most. Look to content that’s performed well for you in the past for guidance. Focus on delivering helpful, high-quality videos that will not only keep people watching but also inspire them to check out more of your content.

    Check out your competitors

    What are other brands or solo creators in your niche doing to connect with audiences on YouTube? Take a minute to check out some of their top-performing content. What is that content doing that yours isn’t? How do they handle factors like keywords, posting frequency, and engagement?

    You should also keep your eye out for content gaps you can fill, as well as ways you can improve on what’s already out there. Consider what audiences like yours might be looking for but not finding when they turn to YouTube for suggestions.

    Optimize your content for YouTube SEO

    Optimizing content for YouTube’s search function has a lot in common with doing the same thing for Google and other major search engines. Start with a round of thorough keyword research, and compile a list of viable options.

    Try rounding out your list by typing various terms into YouTube’s search bar and checking out the additional suggestions it serves up. You should also focus on the following YouTube SEO basics:

    • Naturally add your keyword to your video’s title and file name. Tag your video using your chosen keywords, as well as use appropriate hashtags.

    • Craft concise but descriptive video descriptions that set audience expectations while also enticing them to give your content a watch. Include natural keyword usage and relevant hashtags.

    • Help people who like your content find more options they might enjoy by using playlists to organize related options.

    • Try creating videos of different lengths, including YouTube shorts. Take note of which options fit your content best, engage the most viewers, etc.

    • Add cards and end screens to your videos to help keep your viewership growing.

    • Use a custom thumbnail to help your video stand out and encourage viewers to check it out.

    Don’t forget to optimize for Google SEO at the same time. YouTube videos frequently turn up on SERPs, so this is a terrific opportunity to cover both bases.

    Leverage clear calls-to-action

    Don’t simply assume that viewers will like, share, comment on, or follow your content on their own. Include clear calls to action in your content process, so people know exactly what you’d like them to do.

    Directly ask them to follow you, share your content on social media, or leave a comment telling you what they think about the topic you covered. You can also consider incentivizing them to do so with a giveaway, contest, or other event.

    Hire professionals to help elevate your content

    Incredible content that really turns heads doesn’t just happen. Creating video scripts that flow smoothly, visuals that delight audiences, and optimization strategies that ensure maximum visibility is an art – an art that seasoned professionals understand only too well.

    Whether you’re brand new to video content production or simply could use some help streamlining certain aspects of your production process, consider building a team of seasoned professionals who can help. The right expertise can really take the guesswork out of making your YouTube channel sparkle.

    Adapting to Algorithm Changes: What Every Creator Needs to Know

    Algorithms change and evolve constantly, and this is no less the case on YouTube. Being able to adapt and evolve is crucial if you’re serious about staying ahead of the game. Here are some key tips for staying prepared and going with the flow after each algorithm shift.

    Stay consistent

    Consistent, high-value content that continually draws in new viewers never goes out of style, so set a production schedule and stick to it. Keep your audience engaged, and actively encourage them to support your content. Maintain impeccable quality standards to ensure YouTube’s algorithm continues to favor your content.

    Pay close attention to your metrics

    Using on-platform tools and analytics to keep track of what’s resonating with your audience helps you make better content moving forward, pleasing the algorithm in the process. Pay special attention to metrics like view count, click-through rate, view duration, etc., and make decisions accordingly.

    Stay on top of the latest happenings

    Stay ahead of the game by keeping track of events like algorithm shifts, new feature launches, and other changes that might affect your YouTube reach. Pay attention to how these events affect peers, as well, and retool your own strategies accordingly. Algorithm changes can be challenging, but they’re not impossible to overcome with the right approach.

    Ready to take your brand’s YouTube game to the next level and beyond? Experience the difference the right content creators, writers, designers, and SEO experts can make when you sign up for your free 14-day WriterAccess trial today. You’ll love what a little expertise brings to the table for your channel!


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    Human Crafted Content

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    Shannon Hilson Rock author vector
    Rock Content Writer

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