Have you ever been watching a YouTube video and before you could choose what you wanted to see next, a video has already been suggested for you? Or you’re watching a video and suddenly an ad popped up and you wondered how specific this ad is? Well, you’re not alone. Many of us are stunned by how accurate some of the suggestions are. All of this can be attributed to algorithms.
To figure out which videos and channels that users are most likely to enjoy watching, YouTube “follows” their audience. This means they track their users’ engagement with each video they watch. They pay attention to which videos each user watches, what they don’t watch, how much time they spend watching each video, their likes and dislikes.
By helping users find the videos they’re most likely to watch and enjoy, YouTube can keep viewers on the platform for as long as possible and get them to visit their site regularly.
There are a few ways YouTube tracks your activity;
YouTube has a subscriptions page where users can view all the recently uploaded videos from the channels they subscribe to. YouTube uses a metric called view velocity, which measures the number of subscribers who watch your video. The higher your video’s view velocity, the higher your videos will rank.
The two biggest factors that affect your videos’ search rankings are its keywords and relevance. When ranking videos in search, YouTube will consider how well your titles, descriptions, and content match each users’ queries. The better your titles, the higher your rank. They’ll also consider how many videos users’ have watched from your channel and the last time they watched other videos surrounding the same topic as your video.
No two users will have the same experience on YouTube. They analyze users’ activity history and find hundreds of videos that could be relevant to them. So whatever you have watched in the past, they find videos that have similar content and suggest them to you.
The trending page is a feed of new and popular videos in a user’s specific country. YouTube wants to balance popularity with novelty when they rank videos in this section, so they heavily consider view count and rate of view growth for each video they rank.
So based on this, your engagement on the platform determines what you will watch next. The computers and algorithms are just a guide to what you really want. So don’t blame them for what you watch. You had as big a part to play in that selection as well.