YouTube Algorithm Change – What You Need To Know
Posted by Steven Shattuck on

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On March 14th, YouTube altered its “Suggested Videos” algorithm in order to display more relevant video suggestions for viewers. In a post, YouTube states that:

Previously, the YouTube algorithm suggested videos based on how many people clicked to watch a video. After March 14th 2012, the algorithm for suggesting videos are based on which videos contribute to a longer overall viewing session rather than how many clicks an individual video receives.

YouTube cited issues like misleading thumbnails as a reason why the previous “most clicks” system was preventing videos with deeper engagement to the top. In other words, some users were gaming the system by implanting thumbnails that appeared to be related to the video currently being viewed, only to direct viewers to a “suggested video” that had nothing to do with what they were previously viewing, resulting in huge amounts of clicks and views.

Mashable summarizes the changes well in the video below:

So What Does This Mean?

With this change, YouTube is essentially rewarding videos that keep people on the site (or watching multiple videos in an embedded player) longer. The new algorithm takes into account total viewer session length for each visit to YouTube.  

YouTube offers up this encouragement:

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.

So How Can I Do That?

  1. Produce Videos in Series: Producing several videos around one topic will increase the chances that a viewer will click through several videos in that series, in theory because they were interested enough to watch the first. Candidio is ideal for this. Tie Dye Grill does a great job of creating a short video for each of their menu items.
  2. Create Playlists:Be sure to create YouTube Playlists to bundle the videos and present them nicely on your Channel homepage. Both Viewers and the YouTube algorithm itself will recognize videos in a playlist to be related.
  3. Calls To Action: Don’t be afraid to tell viewers at the end of your video to check out your other videos. You can either do that on-camera, with graphics or with YouTube Annotations.
  4. Pay Attention To Analytics: Mashable postulates that a “30-second video that averages 25 seconds of viewing time is less likely to be recommended than a four-minute video that averages 28 seconds of viewing time.” While this may or may not be the case, the only way to really know how well your videos are performing is to check your analytics frequently. If engagement drops off 28-seconds into a four-minute video, you might want to consider editing out the parts that viewers aren’t watching.

While it’s doubtful that the average business or non-profit content marketer is gaming the system through bogus thumbnails, these changes should keep you monitoring your analytics and suggested video results for all of your content. Have you noticed a change in your suggested videos? Let us know in the comments section below.

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