The YouTube Algorithm isn’t an exact science, what is shared below is just personal experience. Something that is known is there are actually three algorithms: Standard Videos, Shorts (videos under 60 seconds with the hashtag #shorts included — similar to Instagram or TikTok), and then live streaming.
Why are there three? It’s a fair question, but not all video content is the same and if one thing is for sure it’s that the YouTube algorithm rewards consistency. If a user was to upload a video that is three minutes long after a series of thirty-minute videos, YouTube is likely to not project that video to as many non-subscribers as it would the typical content.
A major consistency aspect that YouTube rewards is how often a channel is publishing video content. If you have daily uploads, the algorithm will prioritize your videos over a channel that may have one upload every month. While this may not seem fair, it wants to showcase individuals who use their services and best practices.
Time of Day
Let’s get back to focusing on the consistency aspect, this isn’t only video length or how often you publish videos, but also a key factor is the time of day. This is so important that YouTube Analytics provides an optimized time for when you should publish your video content. At least for someone on the east coast of the United States, noon has seemed to be the ideal time. You’re hitting a large portion of the audience on a high-watch time period of their day — lunch. There’s also something to be said for grabbing the west coast for breakfast or dinner for a significant part of Europe. Finding these downtimes when people are casually browsing is key. But why is that?
It cannot be emphasized enough at how crucial the performance of the video’s first hour is. After that the second hour and then there’s a major drop-off in how YouTube views the video. If the video is an immediate success, the video will be raised in the algorithm to be shared with non-subscribers who may share an interest. While a slow performance initially isn’t a nail in the coffin, it certainly doesn’t help the long-term performance of the video. Think of it as a snowball effect, the more initial traction the faster it will grow.
From a user perspective, liking the video, leaving a comment, and sharing a video on social media will also give a slight bump in the algorithm. It may not seem obvious, but YouTube does track how often it’s shared across various platforms. Something you can do here to increase performance slightly is responding to feedback.
We’ve covered the key best practices such as having a good title, thumbnail, tags, and description. These things are all checked for by the YouTube Algorithm on how it places your video within itself. There are other settings you can set to help influence this decision such as pop-out cards, a custom end screen, chapters/time stamps, hashtags, and the category (for example on YouTube the “Gaming” category visually shows on videos — but not all categories do). Basically, if you’re looking to maximize your success you want to check all of the boxes that you can.