How Does the YouTube Shorts Algorithm Work?

Unlock the secrets of the YouTube Shorts algorithm! Learn why views matter, the ideal length for Shorts, and how to keep your audience hooked in this comprehensive guide.

Have you been feeling like your Shorts have suddenly stopped getting views? You're certainly not alone here! Most creators have seen their Shorts behave very differently from other forms of content, and it's almost baffling!

So, why do some Shorts go viral while others barely see the light of day? Keep reading, and we'll explain how the YouTube Shorts algorithm works!

The Algorithm: Explore and Exploit

Forget traditional metrics like impressions and click-through rates; in the world of Shorts, views are king. Compared to the traditional route of using impressions to test your content, the YouTube Shorts algorithm is more straightforward. So, if some of your Shorts look like the graph below, and you’re convinced that YouTube is out to limit your Shorts reach, we have good news! There is a reason why.

First, the Shorts algorithm operates in two distinct phases: explore and exploit. Initially, your Short is exposed to a small, targeted, “seed audience”. If this group engages well with your content, your Short gets promoted to a broader audience. That initial audience is crucial, because if they're not engaged, your views may become stagnant.

In an interview with Creator Insider, Todd Sherman, the product lead for YouTube Shorts, explains why this is the case. Unlike long-form videos, Shorts views mostly seem to come from the feed itself, and the element of a conscious choice on the part of the viewer is missing. So, the algorithm tests the Shorts for hundreds of thousands of views to determine its value. We can see the effect of this under the “Viewed vs. Swiped away” metric in analytics.

Swipe-away analytics are a new feature that can help you understand how viewers are interacting with your Shorts: Are they sticking around, or are they swiping away before the video ends? Here’s how to check it out:

1. Go to the YouTube Studio. Click Analytics, then click on the Content tab.

2. Select Shorts from the menu below.

3. On the right, you can see how many chose to view your Shorts and how many swiped away from them.

Extensive Shorts Research

What would you learn after studying 35 billion Shorts views on YouTube? Well, Nate Black has the answer! And our YouTube experts got some brilliant insights in a recent interview with him. In fact, they learned enough to help you beat the YouTube Shorts algorithm.

Nate found out that Shorts that are either 13 or 60 seconds long tend to perform best. Additionally, there are specific categories, such as original showcases and sensory experiences like ASMR videos, that consistently attract more views.

He also observed that channels that have published at least 200 Shorts tend to see a consistent increase in views over time. So, before you get disheartened with your Shorts views, be sure to upload a lot of them! Also, the first three seconds of your Short are crucial for capturing viewer interest. Make them count!

Read more: How to Get 10 Million YouTube Shorts Views: A 90-Day Plan

Equipped with this knowledge, we must take care of certain factors when it comes to YouTube Shorts.

1. Timing Is Everything

Timing and consistency are key when it comes to Shorts. Knowing when your audience is most active and aligning your publishing schedule accordingly can significantly impact your Shorts' performance.

Fortunately, it's easy to find out the best time to post your Shorts. From the YouTube Studio, click Analytics and then the Audience tab. Scroll down to the “When your viewers are on YouTube” tab, and you'll see the best time to post on YouTube for your specific viewers!

2. Thumbnail Magic

Would you believe it, thumbnails still matter! And for Shorts, it’s the most visible asset of your video. When your Shorts appear in regular YouTube feeds, a compelling thumbnail can be your secret weapon for attracting more clicks.

3. Viewer Satisfaction

Viewer satisfaction remains a top priority, even in Shorts. A compelling hook within the first three seconds can make or break your content. Every Short should make a clear promise at the beginning and deliver on it by the end. Failing to do so can result in a less-than-satisfying experience for the viewer.

4. Experiment, Experiment, Experiment!

Consistency and experimentation go hand in hand. Don't be afraid to try different types of content to see what resonates with your audience. This might help you solidify the proper seed audience for your content!

The Silver Lining

Getting more YouTube views is always a hot topic, and we're guessing that's why so many of you want to understand the Shorts algorithm!

But some of you may be thinking, What do these views mean in the long run? Sure, the big numbers look good, but how do you translate that into more valuable, monetizable views?

Well, rest assured: the YouTube Shorts algorithm is not broken when it comes to attracting more long-form views. A new update on YouTube has addressed this very issue, and it’s a great first step!

A new feature allows YouTube creators to include a persistent link in their Shorts, directing viewers to long-form content. This feature aims to bridge the gap between Shorts and traditional YouTube videos. Watch the video below to learn more!