An iPhone with the YouTube app open, lying on a white background.

How to Get Video Views: The YouTube Algorithm

For many companies, digital marketing video production can be a mystifying part of any advertising campaign. In the modern world, it’s essential to understand how to convey your business to an audience that is used to getting its information from social media.

YouTube is the biggest platform for online video creation and publication in the world, and it presents a massive marketing opportunity for those who know how to utilise it.

In this blog post we’re going to look at YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, which is the ultimate decision maker in who will be exposed to your published content, and give you some tips and tricks on how to navigate its mysterious waters.

How the YouTube Algorithm Operates

Unfortunately, no one apart from the employees of YouTube know the exact intricacies of the algorithm. However, the fundamental components of its operation have been demonstrated throughout the years, and that’s what companies use to optimise their video content.

Think of YouTube like a search engine. You put a question or query in and it spits out results—in this case videos—for the viewer to look at. The big difference between YouTube and other search engines is that you don’t have to input anything to receive content. In fact, according to YouTube CPO Neal Mohan, over 70% of the website’s views occur because viewers choose to watch content that has been recommended to them through the algorithm.

The recommendation algorithm is based on “machine learning”, wherein a specifically-engineered artificial intelligence gathers data on what the user has previously watched or engaged with, combined with trending topics on the platform. The company’s AI isn’t perfect at recommending content, and the algorithm is often changed by YouTube to reflect their policies, but the two in combination are excellent at creating an endless, addictive stream of content for people to consume. The key to good YouTube marketing is making your video in a way that will get it recommended to potential customers, and then making it interesting enough to prompt them to click on it, and watch all the way through.

Our Top Tips for Getting Video Views

We’ve been in the business of online media for a while, so we know how many factors go into a successful video. Below we’ve listed some of the ways that you can optimise your videos to get them to the customer’s screen and stay there.

Use Accurate, Conversational Keywords

If you conceptualise YouTube as a search engine, then you also have to make sure to treat your videos like any other web page that you put out there. Use keywords that accurately represent the content of your video in the title, meta-data and description, as these are what will direct the algorithm to show your video in someone’s search results.

The mission for views begins with getting people to notice your video, and then convincing them to spend a few minutes of their valuable time on watching it. You must make sure to make your title’s and descriptions are relevant, engaging and conversational to draw people in.

Create a Custom Thumbnail

This feature is only available after your channel has been verified by YouTube, but it’s worth looking into getting verified for this feature alone. Custom thumbnails enable you to choose what the browser sees of your video, so instead of a random snippet from the actual content you can create an interesting title card that draws them in. At the end of the day, what matters is showing people that your content is relevant to their interests, and this is one of the best ways to accomplish that goal.

Make Sure Your Video is Good

The most emphatic advice YouTube has always given out is this: “Quality videos garner quality views”. One of the integral ways the algorithm assesses a video is based on how long viewers have stuck around to watch it for. If you have a high bounce rate, your videos are less likely to be recommended to people. On top of that, you want to make sure that your customers like what you’re saying to them! So, make a video that you’re proud of, that’s engaging, and you’ll have a much better shot at showing up in the “Trending” category.

Help us help you

The Idea Donkey is a collection of creators, editors and video producers that will help your business garner a quality online media presence. We handle everything from social media video production to the navigation of the digital platform minefield, so if you’re interested in getting started with us, get in touch today!