YouTube has sought to provide some more insight into how its algorithms decide which videos to highlight to each user, by answering some common questions about its search and discovery systems, which could provide some more direction for your platform approach.
In a new video on the Creator Insider channel, YouTube’s Rachel Alves addresses five questions posed by YouTube creators relating to the use of tags, recommendations, algorithm updates, and more.
How valuable these insights are will be relative to your channel specifics, but in summary:
Should you share your videos outside of YouTube, given YouTube may not be able to attribute all the engagement metrics off-platform?
Alves says creators should ‘absolutely’ share their videos outside of YouTube as that can only increase your chances of discovery based on viewer activity, regardless of direct attribution.
“If your videos are getting more traffic from external sources, like social media, it’s likely increasing your potential to be discovered by more viewers. Another benefit is that those viewers now have that video in their watch history, so there’s a higher likelihood that they may be recommended one of your other videos in the future.”
Why do people get recommendations for videos uploaded 10-12 years ago?
Alves says that YouTube’s system is designed to match viewers with videos that they’re likely to enjoy, regardless of when that video was published. That means that even older videos, which still see relatively high engagement, will continue to be recommended in line with viewer interests.
YouTube needs a new way to highlight new creators
Alves says that many viewers ask for this, and notes that YouTube recently rolled out its ‘New to You’ tab to highlight more channels from outside of each viewers’ regular viewing experience.
When applying video tags, should you focus on specific tags or more broad matching topics to maximize discovery?
YouTube’s video tags provide another way for creators to align their content with specific queries, though YouTube specifically notes that tags are not a major algorithm consideration.
“Tags are descriptive keywords you can add to your video to help viewers find your content. Your video’s title, thumbnail, and description are more important pieces of metadata for your video’s discovery. These main pieces of information help viewers decide which videos to watch.”
Alves reiterates this, advising creators to focus on the elements that viewers make decisions about when they’re choosing what to watch – so the title, thumbnail image and description. Alves says that creators would be better off focusing on what’s working for other, similar videos related to their topic, as opposed to optimizing tags.
Has YouTube changed its algorithm recently?
Alves says that YouTube is always making changes to its algorithms, but notes that they do get a lot more queries about possible algorithm changes at this time of year.
Alves says that this is likely because of large-scale shifts in viewer behavior, caused by the return to school across the US. With students returning to school, that often means that channels see a change in their metrics, with fewer views on weekdays, but higher activity on weekends.
That can make it seem like something has changed with the algorithm, when really the shift is relative to viewer behavior caused by outside lifestyle shifts.
There’s no game-changing insight, as such, within this new overview, but it does provide some more context as to how YouTube’s systems work, and how content is shown to each user in the app.
That could help you better understand some of the elements, and factor them into your planning.
Ahead of World Cup, influencer ‘Mr Q’ lifts veil on Qatar
Khalifa Al Haroon, known to his followers as Mr Q, has become a social media hit by partially lifting the veil on World Cup host Qatar – Copyright AFP KARIM JAAFAR
At a time when prickly questions are being asked about Qatar and its hosting of the World Cup, Khalifa Al Haroon offers a smile, a sigh and a shrug as he seeks to explain its mysteries.
Known to his growing number of followers as Mr Q, the 38-year-old has become a social media hit by partially lifting the veil over the tiny but mega-rich Gulf state that describes itself as a “conservative” Islamic country.
The first World Cup in an Arab nation has put a spotlight on Qatar’s treatment of foreign workers, gender rights and even the use of air conditioning in stadiums.
Haroon’s cheerful #QTip videos broach everything from saying “Hello” in Arabic to the right way for men to wear the flowing ghutra headdress. There is also an edition on labour rights.
With less than 60 days to the November 20 start of the tournament, he now has more than 100,000 followers on Instagram and more than 115,000 on YouTube. And the numbers keep growing.
Qatar has dozens of online influencers on topics ranging from “modest” but expensive fashion, to the latest sports car being imported into what is now one of the world’s wealthiest nations.
Haroon carved out his niche by elucidating Qatar’s unknowns to its growing expat community — and now the hordes of football fans expected for the World Cup.
Haroon — who was born to a Qatari father and British mother and spent 16 years in Bahrain — said he was first confronted by global stereotypes about Qatar and the Middle East while studying for a law degree in Britain.
He had wanted to become an actor, but instead launched his social media presence in 2008 with a blog.
“I was in the perfect position because I was a Qatari who has never lived properly in Qatar,” he said.
– ‘Trust your own eyes’ –
“In essence, I was like a foreigner in my own country and so I had the same questions that foreigners did, and so it just made it easy for me to start putting together information.”
Haroon said there has to be a distinction between “negative news” and misinformation about his country.
“When it comes to fake news, obviously, I think everybody understands that it’s not true and so the only thing that I could do is show people videos and pictures and show them what we’re really like because you can trust your own eyes.”
Some people, he said, have told him they decided to move to Qatar after watching his videos.
Haroon, who is now a consultant to the Qatar Football Association and an eSports entrepreneur, said he is excited about the World Cup “because people can now come here and experience it for themselves and make their own judgements instead of just believing what’s written”.
His main grouse is how outsiders see something negative about Qatar and then believe that all Qataris “accept it or we all agree with it”.
Many supporters of the 31 foreign countries who will play in Qatar have raised concerns, however, about the welcome awaiting them. Can they drink? And what will happen to same-sex couples in a country where homosexuality is illegal?
The government has insisted that beer, normally restricted, will be available and that everyone is welcome. Haroon wants outsiders to experience “real Qatari hospitality”, with its food and coffee culture.
“Of course there are going to be certain social norms,” said Haroon. “What we are asking for is just respect the country. And of course the country will definitely be respecting everyone that comes.”
“Some people might make mistakes because they don’t know what the rules are and that’s OK,” he added.
“The point is our culture is all about intention, our religion is about intention, so as long as you have good intentions and you want to do the right thing, you have nothing to worry about.”
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