What is the YouTube Shorts Algorithm & How Does It Work?

April 11, 2024
YouTube Shorts Algorithm

Since their release in 2021, YouTube Shorts have rapidly become the most popular content format on the platform. In fact, they outperform regular videos in terms of views, likes, and overall engagement, so mastering the YouTube Shorts algorithm is a surefire way to boost your visibility and attract new subscribers.

However, this algorithm functions differently from YouTube’s regular videos. Read on as we explain the science behind the YouTube Shorts algorithm and how you can use it to your advantage. Let’s get started!

What is the YouTube Shorts Algorithm?

The YouTube Shorts algorithm is a system that curates the content you see on the platform. It determines which Shorts show up on each user’s feed depending on various factors, including their Shorts history, platform activity, and engagement.

Now, you may be wondering: Are YouTube shorts based on what you watch? The answer is both yes and no. Yes, because your watch history gives YouTube an idea of the type of content you’re interested in. But also, no, because it isn’t completely reliant on your watch history.

In fact, even if you’ve never watched a YouTube video before, you will still see Shorts on your feed. YouTube recommends generally popular content to users to see what clicks. Your interactions with these Shorts, through likes and comments, will help build your browsing profile on the platform.

How Does The YouTube Shorts Algorithm Work?

The YouTube Shorts algorithm works by analyzing different metrics on the platform to determine what content is relevant to the user. If you keep seeing similar Shorts on your feed over a period of time, you may think that the YouTube Shorts algorithm is broken. However, this may actually be due to your activity on the platform.

Let’s take a look at the factors that the YouTube Shorts algorithm considers when ranking your content:

#1. Views vs. Swiped Away

Users cannot control what Short they watch next. So, the easiest way for the YouTube Shorts algorithm to determine if your content is interesting to the user or not is by the viewed vs. swiped away metric.

Did the user watch your Short, or did they immediately swipe away? Creating compelling and catchy introductions will help ensure that your Shorts get the most views and engagements.

#2. Watch Time

While it may seem similar to the previous metric, watch time refers to how long a user has watched your Short. Did the user watch your video until the end, or did they only linger for a few seconds? Shorts with a high watch time are more likely to be shown on the Shorts feed.

Unlike long-form videos, Shorts will continue playing until the user swipes to the next video. One way to improve your watch time is by creating Shorts that loop seamlessly. This will grab the user’s attention and make them less likely to swipe right away after the video ends.

#3. Relevance

The YouTube Shorts algorithm changes the content that users see depending on their interests. Higher watch times and content similarities help indicate which Shorts are relevant to the user.

YouTube also has “Not interested” and “Don’t recommend this channel” buttons on Shorts, so users can control what content and channels show up on their Shorts feed. Consider adding hashtags to your title or description to help the platform categorize your Short and connect you more easily to audiences who are interested in your content.

#4. Engagement

Aside from watch times, the YouTube Shorts algorithm also considers likes, comments, and other forms of engagement to determine what Shorts are shown on the feed. The higher the levels of engagement on your videos, the more YouTube will recommend them to others.

#5. Frequency

While the YouTube Shorts algorithm prioritizes quality over quantity, having a consistent social media posting schedule can still help you become more visible on the platform. But this doesn’t mean constantly publishing Shorts and hoping one of them shows up on the feed. Instead, focus on posting engaging and high-quality content on a regular basis.

Consider creating a content calendar to help you plan content more strategically. Then, determine the best times to post on YouTube to ensure that your content reaches your target audience.

How Does The YouTube Shorts Algorithm Work?

7+ Handy Tips for Working With the YouTube Shorts Algorithm

Some creators find that the YouTube Shorts algorithm is bad for long-form content. This is often because the views and engagements on their Shorts do not correspond with their traditional videos. However, the key to success is knowing how to work with the algorithm. We offer the following tips to help you attract long-term followers through your YouTube Shorts:

#1. Think of the Audience

Instead of trying to think of ways to optimize your content for the algorithm, focus on creating content with your audience in mind. Opting for virality can give your Shorts great views and engagements, but these won’t translate to subscribers.

On the other hand, making Shorts that provide value and are relevant to your audience will help you gain followers who are genuinely interested in your content. Remember, Shorts can be a great way to be discovered on the platform, so consider what content your target audience would find entertaining.

#2. Keep Users Engaged

Viewer satisfaction plays a big part in the YouTube Shorts algorithm. Grab your audience’s attention from the start with an intriguing hook, and keep them engaged by creating quality content that’s both informative and creative.

You can also add a question or call to action at the end of the Short to encourage viewers to leave comments and check out your other content.

#3. Capitalize on the Trends

If you’re new to YouTube Shorts and are unsure of what content to make, jumping on viral social media challenges and using trending audio can be a great start. YouTube naturally pushes popular content on the Shorts feed, so this will increase your chances of getting views and engagement.

One way to stand out when following trends is by putting your own spin on it. Think of ways to incorporate elements of the trend into your branding and content. This way, you create content that’s relevant to your existing followers while still attracting general viewers.

#4. Research Your Competition

The YouTube Shorts algorithm uses a user’s watch history to determine what content to recommend. This means that if you want to increase your visibility on the Shorts feed, you may need to research the competition.

Check out some of their top-performing content to see what kinds of videos they make and what topics they discuss. That said, you should avoid copying their videos completely, as this can be detrimental to your brand. Instead, use this information to get an idea of what the audience is generally interested in.

#5. Monitor and Track Shorts’ Performance

Make sure to track your Short’s engagement, watch time, and viewed vs. swiped away metrics on YouTube’s analytics tab to improve your content strategy. Try different video lengths and styles on similar topics to see what format works best for your audience. If you added hashtags to a Short, see if it made a difference in its impressions.

YouTube already has built-in analytics on its platform, but if you want to analyze your content’s performance more intensively, consider using an automatic scheduling tool like Publer.

Publer tracks the same metrics as YouTube but also provides hashtag analysis and individual post insights. Our tool also comes equipped with great scheduling features to help you target your audience’s peak hours when posting content.

#6. Focus on Quality

Shorts have a very limited time to catch a user’s attention, so it’s important to publish quality content. Take note of the requirements for YouTube Shorts and make sure that every aspect of your video, from the visuals and audio to the actual content, is optimized for the viewer.

Users are less likely to swipe away from high-quality content, which will help increase your watch time and improve your content’s ranking on the platform.

#7. Experiment with Different Content

Since Shorts and traditional YouTube videos have different algorithms, you can freely experiment with different approaches to your content creation. For instance, if your long-form content usually leans on more thought-provoking ideas and in-depth analyses, try a lighter tone with your Short content, as this can be more appealing.

#8. Optimize Your Title and Thumbnail

Aside from hashtags, your Short’s title and thumbnail will also affect its visibility and engagement.

The thumbnail is the first thing that users see when they swipe to your Short. Unless your video loops, having a high-quality thumbnail will draw users in and prevent them from immediately swiping away from your Short.

Meanwhile, a catchy and optimized title will give users context for your Short and encourage them to watch the rest of the video.

Key Takeaways

  • The YouTube Shorts algorithm is a system that the platform uses to determine what content is shown on a user’s Shorts feed. This algorithm is completely separate from the one used in long-form videos.
  • The YouTube Shorts algorithm considers a user’s watch time and platform activity, as well as the creator’s content relevance, level of engagement, and posting frequency.
  • When making YouTube Shorts, be sure to capitalize on trends and research the competition so you can create relevant content. Monitor your Short’s performance and experiment with different content formats to find what resonates with your audience. Lastly, always publish high-quality and engaging content with the audience in mind.

YouTube Shorts Algorithm FAQ

#1. How do I increase YouTube Short views?

There are several ways to increase your YouTube Shorts views, such as by posting more consistently, creating high-quality content, targeting your audience’s peak hours, and optimizing your content for the YouTube Shorts algorithm.

#2. Is there any trick to viral YouTube Shorts?

There is no trick to achieving viral YouTube Shorts. But, by creating quality and relevant content, you can boost your content’s visibility on the platform. You can also try using trending sounds on YouTube to improve your chances of being shown on the Shorts feed.

#3. How much does YouTube pay for 1,000 views on Shorts?

YouTube pays creators between $0.04 and $0.06 per 1,000 views. However, there are other ways to monetize your content on YouTube, like joining an affiliate program and working with established brands.

#4. Should you have a separate channel for YouTube Shorts?

No, you don’t need a separate channel for YouTube Shorts. Shorts are great for promoting your channel and your long-form content, so keeping all your videos in one channel is best for growing your channel and gaining new subscribers.

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