Why Some YouTube Shorts Don't Attract Long-Form Viewers [Algorithm Update]

A recent update to the YouTube algorithm makes it harder to use YouTube Shorts to gain long-form viewers. Here's why the change was necessary.

Imagine this. You're at home relaxing when an idea pops into your head. You envision a video — a YouTube Short to be exact — filled with action, comedy, and a trending song everybody loves. As far as you know, the idea is 100% original.

This video could go viral, you think to yourself. And if it does go viral, there's a good chance those viewers will watch some of the longer videos on your channel — not just the quick, addictive Shorts.

Intrigued, you spend hours bringing the idea to life, from scripting to filming to editing. And just as you predicted, the Short gets thousands of views in no time. Instant success.

But there's just one problem. None of the "Shorts" viewers decided to watch your long-form videos, which is slightly baffling. Normally, a viewer who watches something on one channel gets recommended another video from the same channel.

What went wrong?

YouTube Shorts vs. Longs: Two Different Watch Histories

If you're wondering why YouTube Shorts views never make their way to your regular videos, it's because the YouTube algorithm has changed.

Todd Beaupré, director of discovery at YouTube, explained the update during a Q&A session at VidCon this year. Apparently, the algorithm was updated because it had problems recommending content to people watching Shorts.

"When the algorithm saw a viewer, [it said], 'Oh, look, the last 200 videos this viewer watched were all under a minute. This viewer only wants to watch short videos.' And so it basically stopped recommending those viewers long-form content," Beaupré says.

To fix the problem, YouTube separated the watch history of YouTube Shorts from long-form videos. That allowed the algorithm to look at both content types as entities that don't compete with each other. So instead of someone watching 200 Shorts and getting recommended nothing but Shorts, long-form videos were suggested again.

In other words, the algorithm won't consider any watch history from YouTube Shorts when recommending a channel's long-form content.

"When a viewer goes into the main [side of] YouTube, we're not going to pay attention to what Shorts they watch because we don't want the algorithm to get the wrong idea," Beaupré says.

Need more details? Watch the video below to learn more about the algorithm update.

What This Means for Long-Form YouTube Videos

We know this update is disappointing for creators. In some ways, YouTube is ignoring your best Shorts so they don't "boost" your long-form content.

That doesn't mean your longer videos will never get recommended, though. It just means there are no more shortcuts. You can't ride the wave of a viral YouTube Short and expect your channel to get new visitors now. These days, your long-form videos need to be outstanding in their own right. They should entice viewers, satisfy their need for entertainment, and make them return to watch more videos.

Once you do that, YouTube will serve those videos to the right audience.

In the meantime, here are six things the YouTube algorithm likes to see on creators' videos.