YouTube Answers Frequently Asked Questions About Search & Recommendations

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The YouTube video hosting team has answered a series of questions from users about how search and recommendation algorithms work in a new video on the Creator Insider channel.


1. Title change and preview
If the video isn't very effective, can changing the title and preview help it?

YouTube recommends making these changes as it's a working way to get more views.

When a video looks different, viewers react and interact with it differently when YouTube recommends it. YouTube's algorithm then responds to changes in user behavior rather than a name or preview change.

However, updating the title or preview does not by itself increase the number of video impressions. Its frequency will depend on how users react to it.

We recommend making these changes if your video has a low CTR and receives fewer impressions and views than usual.

2. The reaction of the algorithm to inactive subscribers
Can inactive subscribers negatively impact video performance? Specifically, could this lead to lower CTRs and less frequent impressions in recommendations?

According to YouTube, the follower feed is not the main signal for the recommendation algorithm. The algorithm analyzes how effective the video is in the context in which it is displayed.

For example, homepage rankings are based on how effective a video is when shown on other users' homepages.

At the same time, YouTube's algorithm understands which users have not watched the channel's content for a long time, and will try not to show content from this channel to inactive users.

3. Video promotion
How important will total subscribers be if YouTube isn't promoting content to all subscribers based on their channel activity? Shouldn't videos be promoted until users unsubscribe?

YouTube's recommendation system doesn't promote videos to anyone. When choosing a video to show, it focuses on what content users like to watch the most.

YouTube's recommendation algorithm is designed to recommend content to users that they would like to watch, regardless of whether it is published by the channels they subscribe to.

4. How does YouTube rank search results?
Like the Google search engine, YouTube searches are focused on showing the most relevant results for user queries.

On YouTube, videos are ranked based on a number of factors, the most important of which are relevance and performance.

Relevance is how much the title, description and content of the video match the user's request.

Effectiveness relates to which videos the user selects to watch after performing similar searches.

YouTube's algorithm also takes into account engagement metrics. In particular, viewing time.

In general, YouTube search results are not a list of the most viewed videos for a given query. Rather, it is a list of those videos that are most relevant and interesting to a particular user.

5. Multiple languages on one channel
Can uploading videos in two different languages affect how YouTube videos are recommended?

According to YouTube, uploading videos in different languages on the same channel can be confusing for users. Therefore, in this case, video hosting recommends creating separate channels for each language.

However, if the channel is targeted at an audience that speaks several languages, then all content can be published in one place.

6. The importance of watch time
Do you need to hit a certain number of watch hours before YouTube starts showing videos in recommendations?

There is no threshold value in this case. What's more, YouTube may start showing videos in recommendations a few months after publication, as users often show interest in older videos. This can happen if a certain topic is growing in popularity, or new users have come to the channel who may be interested in earlier videos.

Most users don't watch videos in chronological order and don't make a viewing decision based on the date they were posted. Therefore, the home page of users often contains videos that were published several weeks, months or even years ago.