Vanessa DeBurlet

Understanding YouTube Algorithms As A Small YouTuber

Vanessa DeBurlet



Understanding YouTube Algorithms As A Small YouTuber

If you have a new channel, you might be wondering which analytics to look at or what YouTube algorithms all these big channels keep talking about. But, when you go to look at your channel analytics, there’s nothing there.

The reason you’re not seeing any data is that YouTube has to collect that data and then be able to analyze it, put it together and give you some information. So it will come. I promise.

But, there are three things that I’m going to share with you today that you should get pretty quickly that will help you grow your channel. I’m also going to share two secret tips that I’ve learned as I’ve grown my channel and hopefully these will help you as well.

Before we dive into the three tips, I want to explain our relationship with YouTube, what their goals are and what your goals are. Obviously, your goals are to share your passion and hopefully make a profit. As you do that, you’re going to see all these large channels that are making pretty good money.

However, you have to understand that there are different ways that you can be seen on YouTube. They are totally in control as far as how much they push your content and your videos and what your audience is looking for.

It’s all related to the algorithms that you’ve heard about. For example, suggested videos, browse features, search, etc. However, there are different ways that you can be seen as a new channel.

1. Showing Up In Search Results

The number one way that you want to focus on is being found in search results. Think about it. When you’re looking for something, you go right to Google or YouTube which are both owned by the same company.

You ask a question and it gets answered. Sometimes they pop up an ad. Sometimes it’s a blog. Sometimes it’s a video. That’s where you want to be found as a small channel. Therefore, you want to focus on different questions that you can answer in your niche. Or, what problems do people have that you can answer? Of course, this all needs to be within the topic or niche that you’re focusing on.

Your first priority is to make sure you have your keywords in the right places. Before we delve into that, let’s understand the difference between a short keyword (1 word) and a long tail keyword (a collection of words or a phrase). As a new channel, you really want to focus on using long-tail keywords.

The main reason for this is all the short keywords have already been used by the large and well-established channels. So, for you to rank high in the search results, you have to use long-tail keywords that these big guys don’t have to bother with.

Where Do You Use Your Long Tail Keywords?

When you upload a video, there are a variety of places where you can insert your keyword.

  • Your Description. You can add any long tail keywords a number of times as long as your description is long enough. But, change the keyword around a little every time you mention it. This allows the YouTube algorithms to determine what your video is about and show it to people who might be interested or who have a problem that your video solves.
  • In the Tags. It’s perfectly fine to use long tail keywords as tags. In fact, these will make it easier for the algorithms to determine what your video is all about. Personally, I find that I get much better rankings and video views when I use really long tail keywords in my tags. Remember too, that you can edit your tags anytime you want. So, if some are not working or you’ve found better ones, then go ahead and change them.
  • Add a transcript. If you attach a transcript of your video, the algorithm can read that and get even more clear about your video.
  • Add your keywords to your channel description. When you write a description for your channel, make sure that you include some long tail keywords that are super relevant to your niche. Ensure that you’re intentional with your keywords in your description and then make videos that compliment those keywords.

2. Click-Through Rate

The second algorithm that you want to watch as a new YouTuber or small channel is the click-through rate. This algorithm lets YouTube know how often people are clicking on your thumbnail. So, you want to pay attention to your thumbnail. It’s another type of keyword and another way of letting YouTube know that what your video is about.

As an example, look at Neil Patel’s channel and his thumbnails. They are all very similar. He has the text on the left and his photo on the right. His thumbnail titles are also relatively short. So, in other words, you want the text to have 3 or 4 words from your title to quickly say what your video is about.

Neil Patel's channel

Remember that, when you do a search and scroll down through all the videos that pop up, it’s the thumbnail that’s going to catch your eye.

To check how effective your thumbnails are, go into your analytics and have a look under “Reach”. This will show you your click-through rate for the period of time that you select. For a 30-day period, anything over 2% is really good.

To check how your individual thumbnails are doing, just click on “see more”. This will bring up a list of all your thumbnails with their relevant click-through rates.

Another thing you can do is test different thumbnails using TubeBuddy. Click this link and sign up for the 30-day free trial. Then, use the AB testing feature to test different versions of your thumbnails to see which ones get the best click-through rates.

3. Retention Rates

The retention rate refers to how long each person stays watching your video. Obviously, you want to keep people watching for as long as you can.

For example, currently, my average view duration for all my videos over the last 28 days is 2 minutes and 53 seconds. This may not sound very long but it all depends on how long your video is. Therefore, you also want to have a look at the percentage in relation to the length of the video.

To get even more insight, click on “engagement” and look at “view duration”. If you then select “more”, you’ll see the exact amount of time that a viewer spent on each video. This gives you an indication of where people are dropping off. You can analyze this to discover why people are dropping off at a certain point. Maybe you’ve already given away all your secrets or maybe you getting a little boring.

While on this page, if you click on the video, it will bring up all the analytics for that particular video. This will also show you the percentage rate. Anything over 40% is good. Bear in mind too, that sometimes a video will sit for a while before it starts to get some traction and people start watching it.

Secret Tip #1

This first tip is all about being consistent. Remember we mentioned that the keywords that are in your channel tags should also match your video tags? If you continue to be consistent and continue building on those keywords, your channel will start to grow.

Secret Tip #2

It’s a good idea sometimes, to check what’s currently trending and see if we can somehow incorporate that into our videos and our channel. You’ll find that this can sometimes give you a lot of views.

For example, some time ago I created around 4 or 5 videos about a new social media platform called Parler. These were tutorial-type videos which are really what my channel is all about. One of those videos just took off and I was really excited at the time.

Unfortunately, it went back down again quite suddenly. But, that’s quite normal for topics that are trending. It’s like a rollercoaster. However, that trending video may or may not have helped my channel to grow.

I hope these tips have been helpful for you. Make sure that you use your keywords in all the relevant places and be consistent with them. Pay attention to your thumbnail and your click-through rate. And, last of all, make sure that you pay attention to your retention rate. These three things will help your channel grow.

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