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YouTube Reveals New Details About its Algorithm

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New information about how various factors influence YouTube’s video recommendation algorithm is revealed by members of the team responsible for working on it.

Having only been implemented in 2016, we still have a rudimentary of how YouTube’s machine learning algorithm works.

We know video recommendations are influenced by factors such as clicks, watch time, likes/dislikes, comments, freshness, and upload frequency.

We do not know, for example, whether external traffic has any impact on video recommendations.

It’s also not known whether underperforming videos will affect the likelihood of future videos being recommended.

The impact of other potentially negative factors, such as inactive subscribers or too-frequent uploads, is not known either.

Those are the factors YouTube’s team discusses in a new Q&A video about the recommendation algorithm. Here is a summary of all questions and answers.

Underperforming Videos

If one of my videos under-performs, is that going to hurt my channel? Could a few poor videos pull down better videos in the future?

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YouTube doesn’t make assessments about a channel as a whole based on the performance of a few videos.

YouTube only cares about how people are responding to a given video when deciding whether to recommend it to others.

The recommendation algorithm is always going to be “following the audience.”

If a video is attracting an audience then it will show up in users’ recommendations regardless of how the channel’s previous videos performed.

Channels shouldn’t be concerned about some kind of algorithmic demotion based on a dip in viewership.

It’s normal for the performance of videos to fluctuate in terms of views and other metrics. So YouTube is careful not to have all of its recommendations driven by those metrics.

Too Many Uploads Per Day

Is there a point at which the number of videos per day/week on each channel is so high that the algorithm is overwhelmed and videos slip through?

There is no limit to how many videos can be recommended to a given viewer from a channel in a single day.

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Channels can upload as much as they want. How many views each video receives comes down to viewer preferences.

YouTube’s recommendation system will continue to recommend videos as long as viewers continue to watch them.

If a channel is uploading more videos than usual, and each video is getting progressively fewer views, that may be a sign the audience is getting burned out.

While there is no limit to how many videos YouTube will recommend from a channel in a single day, there is a limit to how many notifications will be sent out.

YouTube only allows 3 notifications per channel in a 24 hour period.

Inactive Subscribers

My channel has been around for quite a few years and I think I may have lots of inactive subscribers. Should I create a new channel and then re-upload the videos in order to appear more acceptable to the algorithm?

Inactive subscribers is not a factor impacting YouTube’s recommendation algorithm.

This goes back to the first question where YouTube says it is algorithm follows the audience.

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A channel with inactive subscribers can still get its next video shown in the recommendations section if it attracts an audience.

Creating a new channel and re-uploading the same videos will not help with getting those videos shown to more people.

YouTube remembers viewer preferences, so there’s little chance of reaching those inactive subscribers with a new channel.

Creators should only start a new channel if they decide to go in a different direction with their content.

External Traffic

How important is external traffic?

External traffic is definitely a factor that influences YouTube’s recommendation algorithm.

However, its influence only extends so far.

External traffic can help get a video shown in the recommendations section. But once it’s there it has to perform well with viewers.

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Long term success of a video depends on how people respond after clicking on it in their recommendations.

I’m getting lots of traffic from external websites which is causing my click-through-rates and average view durations to drop, is this going to hurt my video’s performance?

YouTube says it’s not a problem if average view duration drops when a video receives a significant amount of external traffic.

Apparently it’s common for this to happen, and it has no impact on a video’s long-term success.

Again, YouTube’s algorithm cares more about viewers engage with a video after clicking on it in their recommendations.

The algorithm is not concerned with what viewers do after clicking on a video from an external website or app.

To hear any of these points explained in more detail, see the full video below:

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NEWS

Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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