YouTube's 'Suggested Videos' Algorithm: How to Crack It

How does the YouTube algorithm work — specifically, the recommendation engine that promotes videos to billions of viewers? Keep reading to find out and grow your channel!

Any creator who knows about the YouTube algorithm has one goal, and that's getting their videos recommended to more people! They want YouTube to (finally) notice their content, identify the subject matter, and suggest it to thousands of like-minded viewers.

Sound familiar?

Your best plan of action, especially as a small creator, is to understand how YouTube recommends videos. You'll want to figure out why the algorithm promotes some content and, well...basically ignores others. Armed with this knowledge, you can answer the biggest question of all.

"Why is YouTube not suggesting my videos?"

First, Get Into a Viewer's Watch History

If you're a new creator, think of your channel like a car and the YouTube algorithm like premium gasoline. Your videos are ready to be seen, but sadly, they can't reach viewers by themselves. Something has to "propel" them across YouTube. In this scenario, the energy you're looking for — or the gasoline you need — comes from the YouTube recommendation system.

But, like any car, you have to ignite the gas to start the engine. On YouTube, this kind of momentum occurs when you receive some initial views on a new video. So, as you enter a viewers' watch history, YouTube can begin to understand who your videos are for and make better recommendations. Cristos, VP of engineering at YouTube, says as much in a Creator Insider video.

"The most important thing is trying to figure out which viewers would be interested in these videos. And that's something that's especially hard for new videos because we just don't have as much information about them," Cristos says.

So, don't be shy about promoting your videos, even if you have no audience to speak of. Share them in relevant online communities, get those initial views, and train the algorithm on who your channel is for.

Read more: Promote Your YouTube Channel: 17 Tips for Small Creators

Pay Attention to YouTube Metadata

Another way to get YouTube to recommend your videos is by describing them accurately. So, think carefully about the titles and descriptions you write for your YouTube videos. That may seem like a small detail, but it helps the algorithm understand your videos and suggest them to the right viewers.

In fact, Todd Beaupre, head of discovery at YouTube, says that if a channel has no viewers, the algorithm relies on video titles and descriptions. So, don't panic if your content has zero views. The algorithm can use and analyze metadata to place your video on a YouTube search page.

That leads to more clicks, more data for the algorithm to process, and eventually, more recommendations for your channel! Just remember to use popular yet low-competition keywords so you have a better chance of standing out.

Increase Your Watch Time

Increasing your watch time on YouTube is the number one way to get your videos recommended. This ranking (and recommendation) signal tells the algorithm what viewers like to watch. And most of the time, YouTube uses watch time to make personalized suggestions for its users.

Simply put, you want viewers watching your videos for as long as possible.

Read more: 5 Ways to Increase YouTube Watch Time on Any Video

Having high watch times and low drop-off rates signals to YouTube that your content is engaging, valuable, and worth recommending. So use strong, attention-grabbing hooks in the first 30 seconds to capture interest. Pace your video with frequent segmenting so the scenes fly by!

But more than that, always deliver on the promise or expectation that your title and thumbnail created.

Aim for Viewer Satisfaction

A satisfied viewer is a happy viewer, and the algorithm knows this. So, to get your video recommended on YouTube, you need lots of engagement from your audience. After all, YouTube is looking at likes, dislikes, share rates, and survey responses when deciding which videos to suggest.

It never hurts to ask viewers to "like" and "share" your videos with a sincere call-to-action. But beyond that, how do you make satisfying content that people naturally engage with?

It's all about emotion!

You want people to view your content as life-changing, sensational, inspiring, and other feel-good descriptors. That way, they will feel moved to give you a like or share your video.

You can start by mastering the art of YouTube storytelling. Making viewers laugh or cry is an underrated way to create a suggested video on YouTube!

Other Ways to Get Your YouTube Videos Recommended

The tips above will help you appear on viewers' home pages and next to videos they're already watching. But there's more you can do to kick start the algorithm and grow your channel:

  • Check the recommended videos alongside your competitors' content, then create similar videos.
  • Make timely videos so YouTube can suggest yours when a hot topic is exploding.
  • Focus on audience retention (especially in the first 30 seconds) to boost your watch time.

Now that you understand YouTube's algorithm for suggested videos, here are 10 things every small YouTube channel can improve!