– Is the YouTube algorithm against small channels? Is it still possible to grow on YouTube with all of these large channels that seem to be getting all of the views and ultimately going into 2022, is it too late to start YouTube? And in this video, we’re actually going to be talking about six specific insights from a YouTube employee. In fact, the product manager at YouTube shared these at a conference recently that are going to kind of surprise you and peel back the curtain about what’s really happening with the YouTube algorithm. You got to just press record.
Recently at a conference VidSummit, shout out to Darryl Eaves, Todd Beaupre, the product manager at YouTube shared a very powerful session and revealed six insights that you’re going to want to know that really answered the question, is there still an opportunity to grow on YouTube right now? Here’s number one, over 600 million different videos are recommended every day on the YouTube homepage.
By the way, if you’re studying your analytics, that’s your browse features and up next, which is suggested videos when you’re studying your YouTube traffic. Okay, so why does this answer the question, is the YouTube algorithm against small channels? Is it too late to start YouTube?
This is coming straight from data from YouTube, and they’re saying this, over the next 24 hours, 600 million different videos are showing up on people’s homepages. Now you can imagine large channels have a couple of videos that are being spread like Mr. Beast might be showing up on a lot of homepages with a lot of different videos he’s made maybe, and maybe your favorite, in fact, tell me in the comments, who’s your favorite YouTuber or big YouTube channel or whatever size, but the crazy thing here is even if we cut that number in half, that could be representative of 300 million different creators, unique creators that are getting a chance, a shot to show up on the YouTube homepage or to be recommended off of after somebody else’s video.
This stat alone, I hope was worth your time for coming to Coffee with Cannell today. Smash like if you’re pumped about the opportunity on YouTube.
And so I want to encourage you, don’t see the limitations, see the possibilities. What Todd was trying to say was that there is so much opportunity on YouTube and the algorithm is trying to find videos to satisfy viewers and every, and a new day, new opportunities. Like every new day is a new opportunity for you to get one video out recommended. And remember, you’re always one video away from changing your life, your business, your YouTube channel. Now, if you’re new to the YouTube algorithm, remember that each YouTube viewer is getting unique, personalized recommendations, like the YouTube homepage isn’t just some billboard of the most popular YouTube videos.
And as we go throughout this training, you’re going to be seeing that there’s actually a lot of opportunity. The more you niche down and really understand what kind of content you’re creating for you to get discovered. So that’s just a fact.
This is facts from the inside of YouTube, from a YouTube employee that 600 million different videos are recommended every day. Here’s number two, the 7x rule.
If 100 viewers watched last week, 700 potential viewers see your thumbnails this week. Let me know how many views are you getting on your channel per week? The way you can see that as you go into your YouTube analytics, and it’ll tell you in the last 28 days or rather in the last month, how many views did you get in the last month? You know, you could cut that. You can actually go and select last seven days.
So you could see how many views did you get in the last week? And here’s what Todd was revealing. Now I added the 7x rule. He didn’t call it a rule and it might change over time, but this is what it is.
This is brand new, hot off the presses, fresh info for you.
If you got 100 views in the last seven days, the next seven days the YouTube algorithm is going to show your videos to 700 people, seven times whatever your views were last week. How do they show your videos? On the homepage, in suggested videos, and up next, they’re going to be showing the title and the thumbnail. If you read this, it’s potential viewers, you go, well, I got 100 views, I didn’t get 700 of them, and I’m not saying you’re going to get 700 views the next week. I’m saying, you’re going to have the potential.
If YouTube says, man, if people are consuming your content this week, we want to see and test your content with new wider audiences.
And so the 7x rule is a massive opportunity telling us that it’s not too late to start going into 2022. That if you’re starting from scratch, sure. How do you get those first views? Well, subscribe to this channel because we have all kinds of content to help you start from zero.
But as soon as you’re getting views, you have a chance to be showing up and being recommended next week, showing up on the homepage.
This is real data, and here’s how they illustrated it. Here’s a screenshot of his presentation at VidSummit. It shows you that this group of people on the left here 100 viewers last week, 700 potential viewers will see your thumbnail the following week. I also just want to encourage you.
If you’re feeling discouraged on YouTube, don’t quit. If you’re getting some momentum now, keep going. And remember that small tweaks lead to giant peaks. Remember that get 1% better with every video, because as you improve your content, YouTube builds momentum. It’s like a snowball.
The snowball gets bigger as more momentum increases. And as you keep putting out quality content and improving your content. Number three here is the formula for how the algorithm works directly from a YouTube employee. Here we go, personalization plus performance plus external factors equal homepage ranking. If you want to get recommended by YouTube, you want to have your video show up on the homepage, you want your content to reach more people.
These are the factors. Well Sean, what does that mean? I’m glad you asked. So here’s the slide where he showed this. He said personalization, including your watch history, performance, including appeal, engagement, and viewer satisfaction, and external factors like topic interest, competition, and seasonality.
Let’s break them down. So this is a crazy quote from Todd. “History is the most influential factor in what we recommend.” That’s worth taking a breath and really thinking about that. The most influential and I quote “factor” of what videos are being recommended on YouTube is a viewer’s watch history.
Well, Sean, what does that mean for me? I mean, I’m trying to, I got a new, I’m creating new content.
I’m trying to make my own stuff and build my own brand. What it means is this, we say it all the time, the creator who understands the viewer best wins. You should be creating content, not in some unique niche that nobody else is doing because the watch history in some obscure thing, or just if your channel has no niche, and it’s just your random thoughts, then how does YouTube even know to recommend you?
But if you’re creating tiny home content or like home decor content or DIY content, people are watching tiny home content or home decor content, or other types of content like that on YouTube, right? And so their watch history is telling YouTube the kind of content they’re interested in.
So if you want to grow right now and start a channel, what you want to do is you actually want to be creating content in a proven niche. You want to be creating content in something that there actually is already verified interest in. So look at the most influential factor.
And this is what YouTube is looking at first, they’re looking at what other channels does the viewer watch? What other channels is the viewer subscribed to? What other topics does the viewer watch and what videos does the viewer watch? And once YouTube starts to identify that, it will start recommending videos even if they’re not, even if they don’t have a YouTube channel, it’ll do this. You log into a fresh account or you log into a fresh smart TV, and you don’t even log into YouTube.
YouTube sees where you go, what you search for, what you click on. And the YouTube algorithm immediately gets to work, to recommend similar content. They’re like, if they liked this, they’ll probably like this. So here’s my question to you. What is if they liked what, what channels, if they liked what content, and how does your content relate to that other content?
Are you making content related to content that is proven on YouTube? So personalization, think about this. This is the first factor in what YouTube is recommending. It’s asking what other videos is the viewer watching? It’s asking, what other channels do they watch?
Listen to this, it’s asking what videos do they skip? So a viewer scrolling over videos, it’s a form of engagement for you to be on your phone and to pass over a video.
YouTube knows more about you, not just from what you actually watch, but what you don’t watch. You understand the viewer you’re trying to reach to a greater degree when you not only know what they like, but you know what they don’t like. And how long do they watch, of course, view duration.
And then also when do they watch, even to the time of day. Todd was talking about how you’ll get different recommendations on your phone than you do on your smart TV at night. And ultimately the YouTube algorithm is watching 80 billion signals, over 80 billion, data points.
So it’s not about knowing all of those little points, but it is about understanding number one, personalization. This is almost, this is completely in your control because it’s going to inform your whole strategy.
But remember Todd’s quote, “History is the most influential factor in what we recommend.” So it’s really smart for you to make sure you pick the right niche, pick the right positioning. And you’re making the right video topics. Secondly is performance. Layered on top of that now, if you want your videos to rank and show up and you want to beat the algorithm, then things like click-through rate, the watch time of your video, likes and dislikes, shares, not interested feedback.
People can click on that little window and say, I’m not interested in a video like this. And YouTube really pays attention to that. Pre and post-watch surveys and more. So there’s all these performance data points.
These are some of the biggest ones.
And if you can improve these, both likes and dislikes, that’s engagement, more watch time minutes, higher click-through rate, are people clicking share? Is your video shareable? Are people selecting not interested? You can’t necessarily control that, but that’s how polarizing you are or how clear your niche is or how clear your values or your stances, even in the content idea, YouTube then knows who to serve that video to, and maybe who not to. Pre and post surveys, we also don’t get to see these surveys, but here is a big light bulb moment.
And we’ll cover it a little bit later as well. There’s something that’s more important to watch time at YouTube. And we say all the time, minutes matter most, what it actually is is viewer satisfaction. And what Todd said was not all watch time is considered equal. So what he’s saying is actually these pre-surveys and these post-surveys, it’s like, okay, you just spent 15 minutes watching a video.
Are you satisfied? And then there’s the final one is external factors, which include things like potential audience size. Audience interest over time, supply and demand and seasonality. And I’ll show you, we’ll go a little bit deeper on these. So sometimes if you’re frustrated or you’re frustrated with how fast your channel is growing, it could be because you don’t even have a large enough potential audience size for your ambition when it comes to YouTube.
It could be that you just started doing gameplay videos on a game that’s losing popularity.
Audience interest is changing. It also could be that there’s so much competition in one area, you need to pivot a little bit because supply is supply and demand. There’s demand, but supply is overinflated in an area you need to pivot to where supply and demand is lower. And then it also could just be the time of year.
So let’s go deeper into these. This is just an example he showed saying some potential audience, some topics have larger potential audiences than others. For example, soccer, football has 3.5 billion people that are interested in it. Cricket, the game, has 2.
5 billion and golf has 450 million. Now all of those are great niches, but it kind of gives you an idea that the question you should ask is what is the potential audience size for my channel? How big can my channel be? Keep in mind, audience interest will change over time.
And I love this example.
And what Todd is using here is he’s using Google Trends. If you haven’t used Google Trends before, it’s a great way to compare different markets and popularity. So if you can see on screen here, and I realized these slides don’t look the best, but what he did is he’s comparing Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox, and Among Us. So it doesn’t matter if you’re in gaming or not. You could do this, excuse me, in health, and you might compare vegan, paleo, keto.
And you’re looking at different terms, maybe in your industry in your niche, and seeing how they’ve risen and fallen. And this is a five-year window. And notice some of the selections he’s made. This is in the past five years worldwide, and it’s YouTube search that he’s studying. So you see that Fortnite only started to rise once it was created.
It had to actually start. You see, Among Us, is in the green is over underneath his arm, it had a steep spike, and then it really has become the least viewed game in terms of trends and interests.
You see Roblox has been steady and is even climbing right now. You see Minecraft has been, has had ups and downs, but has been the most influential over time. And you also see Fortnite’s going down a little bit.
Here’s the point. You’re wondering, why are my views up or down? And audience interest really matters. And if your market, meaning the interest of the audience is declining, then it would be shocking for your channel to be growing. So if you really want to have a banger YouTube channel, if you had low competition, but high audience and market growth, you know, audience interest is going up.
There’s not a ton of people doing it. You’re putting out quality content, you’re getting good performance, but there is interest in personalization, things are happening. That would be, if you were just sitting, thinking about starting a new channel, pivoting your channel, or just thinking about what types of topics of videos to make, even if you make a one-off video, that ties into something like, how could you tie in Squid Game right now to like your three business lessons from Squid Game or something like that, just because you’re jumping on audience interest.
This matters as well. Next is supply and demand.
So I’ll read from his slide and it says this. Even if your video is performing well compared with other videos on a channel, it may receive fewer impressions if videos from other channels are performing even better. So we have to acknowledge, that you go, Sean, I made a video about something popular, but it’s just not really breaking through. Well, if 100 of the top biggest channels also made the exact same video as you, then supply and demand wise, it’s going to be hard to break through. That’s why we spend so much time inside of Video Ranking Academy, encouraging you to find nuance angles, and nuanced video topics, even if there’s smaller interest, maybe there’s lower demand, but there’s also like no supply.
And this is how you start from scratch.
That’s how you grow from zero. Seasonality, this is super interesting. Look at the bottom of the screen there and look at how back to school affects certain channels. You can see that the growth has kind of, the viewership is kind of steady.
And then all of a sudden it goes into these dramatic spikes. Now, of course, that depends on your demographic, your audience, but as soon as back to school hits, there’s peaks on the weekends, valleys during the week, as people are maybe spending less time on YouTube or students are spending less time on YouTube.
So it says many creators also experience drops in views around mid August when their viewers go back to school. Now also it says recently we’ve seen fluctuations in traffic related to CO-VID which dramatically changed people’s viewing habits. And that’s actually good news.
From the pandemic we’ve been going through, a lot more people are on YouTube. A lot more people are watching YouTube. A lot of people learn to watch YouTube. A lot of baby boomers and gen X are watching more YouTube now. And so the punchline being though is the time of year matters.
A good test I learned from Graham Stephan was this if you’re an established creator and maybe five to 10 of your competitors or collaborators are all declining a little bit, and you can use a software like vidIQ to just go to their stats and see they’re down 10% or 15% subscribers, they’re down 10% or 15% views, if they are all down and you’re down as well, channels that are maybe in your similar channel cluster.
Well, of course, you never want to make excuses. You want to hustle and get results, but at least you have peace of mind that, oh, it’s maybe back to school. Oh, it’s maybe some market change. You know, the market is slowed down.
The audience interest is slowed down, but if everyone in your channel cluster is actually going up and you’re stagnant or going down, that’s a better indication that you should check under the hood, see why your oil lights on and like, shoot, I need to change the oil. I need to pivot what I’m doing. Tip number four, are you enjoying this content? Maybe share this video with somebody if you’re loving this, I’m so grateful that I got to learn this from Todd Beaupre, the product manager at YouTube and these insights are super powerful. And number four, it’s normal for viewers to discover videos in different ways.
This was one of my favorite moments because here’s what’s happening in the YouTube sphere lately, right? I don’t know who else you maybe watch that educates on YouTube.
People talk that aren’t even YouTube educators about how they grew their channel, about the best way to grow a channel. And everyone has their polarizing point of view or their opinions. Like, no, you got to make videos like Mr.
Beast, you got to have a curiosity in the title and you got to have a crazy face in the thumbnail and you got to go after search and recommended. That’s true if your channel style theme and topic is like Mr. Beast, and it’s entertainment-based, it’s kind of viral-based, but the truth is this. There’s not one tidy answer for every type of topic and niche on YouTube. So some people like to really put down YouTube search because honestly, YouTube search is only about 15% of the traffic on YouTube.
YouTube recommendations is about 75% of the traffic, but that’s, but Todd didn’t join any camp. Oh, on the YouTube suggested camp, on the YouTube search camp.
Oh, on playlists and whatever. He said it depends on the niche. I had people coming up to me at VidSummit and saying Sean, what traffic source should I go after when it comes to growing my YouTube channel?
I said that’s the wrong first question. I said, what is your overall goal? Who is your audience? What is your business model? What is it you’re trying to build?
And what is the best strategy based on your channel topic and niche? It is not one size fits all. And that was proven when Todd showed us this. It’s normal for viewers to discover videos in different ways. So for example, if you have an education channel, how to make French toast, then you’re probably going to have most of your traffic from search.
And then some will be from the homepage and some will be from suggested. So if you have an education channel, and this gets even richer later, like this gets crazier in terms of the power of search. Now, if you make chill beats to study to, and maybe you’re making copyright-free music, you might get 50% of your views from playlists, 30% from search, 20% from suggested.
Now, if you do world news today, trending topics, trying to get on the trending page topics, hot click-through rate videos. You’re going to get 80% of views from the homepage.
You might just get, oh my gosh, look at that headline. And that could be great for you. But sometimes those channels, have high highs and low lows and their videos look like this, and they go up and down, whereas how to make French toast, by the way, if you rank for that, that French toast video is probably going to be watched four years from now, six years from now, maybe 10 years from now.
And a lot of times the search channel creates a stable business model that is not as dependent on viral hits. And you’re only as good as your last video.
Number five, and I got a bonus tip, number six for you in just a second. The audience is more important than the algorithm. Is YouTube’s algorithm against small channels? Listen, the YouTube algorithm doesn’t even know you exist. The YouTube algorithm, it’s not whether or not it’s for or against you.
The YouTube algorithm is for the viewer. This is what it comes down to. Of course, at some point, your content or your content does matter because your content is being served to the viewer, but it’s a whole wrong mindset to say the YouTube algorithm is against me, that’s not even the conversation. The YouTube algorithm is for the viewer. The YouTube algorithm is simply just trying to put the audience first, the viewer first.
Listen to this quote.
“The goal of YouTube’s recommendation system is to find videos for viewers, not viewers for videos.” So here’s the goal of the algorithm. The goal of the algorithm is to help each viewer find videos they want to watch. It’s to maximize long-term viewer satisfaction.
They do want you to build a bond with an audience and the people keep coming back and watching your content over or new videos you upload for longterm satisfaction. Just like if you fall in love, are you team Seinfeld? Or are you team Friends? Or are you team Frasier? That was a little niche.
Because you think about it, it’s like a long-term journey. Like, I feel like I’m friends with Jerry Seinfeld. Do you know what I mean? Kramer is my homeboy.
Like, I wouldn’t be surprised if he busts through the door right now, or maybe you’re a Chandler Bing guy, you know, or maybe you’re a Ross and Rachel, I don’t know.
But ultimately when you think about a show like that, you think about long-term bond and maximizing long-term viewer satisfaction. I’m not talking about a long viewing session. I’m talking about people falling in love with YouTube itself. The creators on YouTube itself. That is what YouTube is after, it’s after like building up that satisfaction so they have people coming back to the platform.
YouTube said this, viewer satisfaction. Todd said this, viewer satisfaction is actually more important than watch time and everything the algorithm does is viewer-centric. That’s the goal of the algorithm. And here’s this kind of interesting because what they showed us here was that back in 2011, this is a history of the algorithm basically, was that back in 2011, it was about clicks and views.
But at that time it led to a lot of true clickbait because people would just throw whatever in the thumbnail, they would throw whatever in the title and just try to get some views.
But satisfaction was super low because you clicked on a video and you’re like, that was a trick. You lost trust. You’re annoyed. You lost some of your time.
So then what they did is they fixed that and they started to do watch time.
So then they started seeing if someone clicks and views it, but they spend at least a couple minutes on the video, they’ll be even more satisfied. But today, look at it, it went from clicks and views to watch time to satisfaction. Ask viewers what they like and optimize for what they like. And they’re talking about surveys and not all watch time is equal. So they’re saying this has been the evolution of the algorithm saying now, man, it’s about the viewer.
And I’m telling you the more, the creator who understands the viewer best wins. The creator who, if you understand the viewer, that would then also mean that you craft your content to connect with the viewer, to serve the viewer, to answer the viewer’s questions, to solve the viewer’s problems, to entertain the viewer, then you’re going to trigger the algorithm and you’re going to see growth wider and more impactful than you could ever imagine.
Number six, whew. This is some icing on the cake, friends. Remember the value of evergreen content.
Now again, if you’ve hung out with Think Media for very long, you know that this one gets me excited. Now I am not trying to say that this strategy fits every channel. Again, if you’re news-based, the news you share today is maybe only valuable for three days, seven days, but it’s not valuable a year from now. If you’re entertainment-based or you really react to trends, Squid Game’s hot at the time of recording this, but it’ll probably be somewhat forgotten, it’ll be a lot lower in a month. It’ll probably be somewhat forgotten unless season two comes out in six months or a year.
But remember the value of evergreen content. And I was shocked with everyone’s so obsessed, with suggested videos and kind of going viral about how much Todd emphasized the value of evergreen content. And he said, “For a lot of content, the majority of views are not coming in the first day, month, or even the first year.” I hope that sent chills through your body.
Like Sean, why are you trying to give me chills on Coffee with Cannell? A lot of the content, see this is a mindset shift. Are you creating quality content today realizing that a lot of the content may not even get a lot of views in the first year? That’s the power of evergreen content. And the question there is you ask, what is the lifespan of this content?
Now here’s the thing. Obviously, I am passionate about search and I’m passionate about evergreen content. And what does evergreen mean if you’re new to the term? It’s like an evergreen tree. If you grew up in Seattle like me, there are trees that are green through summer, spring, winter, fall.
That’s why seasonality affects you less, by the way, seasonality affects us less at Think Media, it’s like we just have this crazy amount of about a quarter-million views that come in every two days, because this is the strategy we’ve applied. That’s also intentional. It’s also sustainable. And I’m passionate because YouTube is not everything.
My faith and my family are everything.
So I’m trying to build a YouTube channel that actually serves and supports my lifestyle and not the other way around. I don’t live to serve YouTube. And a lot of people fall into that trap and it’s leading to burnout because the algorithm is running their lives. The algorithm, the dopamine drip from trying to get another one or trying to get that next hit to try to keep it going. So a way to bring more stability into your YouTube strategy is to think more evergreen.
And he specifically, Todd was saying, how long will this video be relevant when you post a video? Will this video still be interesting to viewers a year from now, or even multiple years from now? How widely appealing is this video? And will it be able to continue to be searched and served to audiences? And in future training, maybe I’ll pull up like 15 different examples.
We were just joking with Omar and the Think Media team, because we post a lot of videos on Think Media that sometimes we’re emotionally driven like you, we go crap, it’s underperforming.
Ah, the click-through rate was terrible. Oh man, the views were so low. I knew I hated that thumbnail. I knew that video was like, oh man, I put so much work into that.
And we were just studying one of Omar’s videos that literally did not climb through our typical performance into high performance for over a year, over 365 days. And now the video has like 80,000 views, but it’s not stopping.
It was a video about the best lenses for a Sony camera. And so all of a sudden, Todd’s words, I really start to be like, man, that is so true for a lot of content. The majority of views are not coming in the first day, month or even year.
It’s funny, the tension between the two strategies because for a lot of content that is viral-based and like recommended-based, the majority of the views are coming in the first week, you’re trying to get a banger, and I’m all for the bangers. You’re trying to get the boom, views coming in, click-through rate so crazy, YouTube’s telling you, views are up 4x.
Views are up 8x, more power to you. I think you should try to do both, but it’s really nice to have a baseline of videos on your channel that get views 24/7/365. And let me actually show you, and I’ll illustrate this with the YouTube short that just went viral on Think Media.
And this is kind of crazy because it’s so shocking what a quote-unquote “banger” can do.
So here’s, it’s clear to see when the banger was, and it actually makes our typical daily performance seem really average and discouraging. But think about this. Here’s how Think Media works. Daily 110,000 views, 109,000 views, 114,000 views, 106,000 views, 103,000 views.
Oh, up a little bit, you know, 137,000 views. And then Nolan made a short. And after about 30 days, the short went viral, boom, a million views in a day, October 12th. Now it’s so fascinating and we’ll report back on this is we have to wait to see if money comes from the short fund. Shorts don’t earn a ton of monetization.
Not that that’s the whole point, but just something to consider. It did lead to like 7,000 new subscribers, which would be the high impact of it. But then look at this climb. Imagine if your emotions were tied to this, I’m on top of the world, boom, I am the worst person in the whole world, crash, and that crash though, but think about this, back to just 110,000 views a day, and that’s a lot of freaking traffic.
So ultimately the one-two punch of the YouTube algorithm, are you making evergreen search-based content that brings stability and sustainability to your YouTube strategy, to your business, and then thank God for the opportunity to have a viral breakout video, and think about the impact that that video makes.
A lot of content, for a lot of content, the majority of views don’t come in the first day, month, or even year. So as we land the plane, you got to stay committed to the vision. You gotta keep putting in the work. You gotta be willing to put out excellent quality content today that you actually have faith in because you go shoot, I’m making, I’m crafting this video, I’m crafting it so it holds viewer’s attention so that it’s pleasing to watch.
So I’m trimming the fluff, so that it gets to the point, so that it answers the question, so that it solves the pain point for the viewer.
And I’m putting it out there in the world and then I’m getting to work again. And I’m going to do it week after week after week because I might not start really reaping the rewards of this thing until 52 weeks from now. And then I’m really not going to start reaping the rewards from this thing maybe for even two to three years. But then all of a sudden I have this like, whoa, I’m getting like 1,000 views a day. Hey, I’m getting like 10,000 views a day.
Wow, I didn’t know that that one video I did. ’cause not every video will break out like that, but I didn’t know that one video I did is going to do so well, my gosh, but now it’s like these videos are working without me even working, friend, that’s the power of YouTube.
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