YouTube Shorts has become one of the hottest new features on YouTube over the past couple of years. The TikTok-like vertical short-form video experience was first launched in select countries in 2020 and has since expanded globally.
Now, YouTube gives creators more insight into how the YouTube Shorts algorithm works to recommend videos in feeds and help shorts get viewed. Here is an interview with Todd Sherman, detailed discussed.
In a new Creator Insider video, YouTube executives explain key factors in ranking and recommending Shorts in YouTube feeds. While the TikTok algorithm is notoriously secretive, YouTube wants to be more transparent about how Shorts get distributed to viewers.
How the YouTube Shorts Algorithm Works
The YouTube Shorts algorithm uses various signals to determine which videos to serve to which viewers at which times. Some of the main factors highlighted by YouTube include:
- Engagement metrics – The primary signal is engagement, including likes, comments, shares, etc. Shorts with higher engagement tend to get recommended more by the algorithm.
- Video completion rates – If viewers watch a Short from beginning to end, that’s a vital sign of interest and quality. The algorithm picks up on video completion rates.
- Creator authority – Channels with an established track record of creating popular videos have a bit of an advantage in getting their Shorts recommended.
- Context cues – The algorithm looks at contextual signals to serve Shorts that make sense for viewers’ interests and experiences. Following certain creators and topics will bring more of that content.
- Timeliness – More recent Shorts often get a boost in recommendations, as the algorithm favors fresh content. But evergreen Shorts can still gain traction.
- Local preferences – Location is a factor, as the system recommends popular Shorts and creators in viewers’ countries and languages.
While YouTube declined to share specific weights for each factor, engagement appears to be the primary driver. So, creators looking for more short views will want to focus on producing engaging content.
Customizing the Shorts Experience
One key difference between TikTok and YouTube is that YouTube allows more customization of feeds and recommendations. Viewers can subscribe to Shorts-focused channels and topics to refine their Shorts experience.
Creators are encouraged to establish their Shorts channels and focus on specific content areas. This gives the algorithm better contextual signals for recommending videos to interested viewers.
YouTube also allows viewers to remove specific channels or Shorts from their recommendations. So, if you’re not interested in certain creators or topics, you can choose not to have them recommended.
Getting Started with YouTube Shorts
For creators looking to leverage Shorts and the new algorithm, the key is focusing on short, engaging vertical videos customized to YouTube. Here are a few best practices:
- Keep it short – Videos need to be 60 seconds or less. 15-30 seconds is ideal for many types of Shorts.
- Optimize vertically – Shorts are designed for mobile, so vertical 9:16 videos work best. Use bright, bold text and visuals.
- Hook viewers fast – The first 5-10 seconds are critical. Use eye-catching intros to grab attention quickly.
- Encourage engagement – Ask questions, add graphics and text for comments, and have a strong call to action. Make it easy for viewers to interact.
- Find your niche – Tailor Shorts to a specific niche, style, and audience. This gives the algorithm a consistent angle for recommendations.
- Be consistent – Post Shorts at least a few times a week. This helps the channel and gives the algorithm fresh content.
YouTube’s Shorts Fund has dedicated over $100 million to reward creators in 2023. So, there are many opportunities and incentives to build audiences on Shorts. Paying close attention to the YouTube Shorts algorithm preferences and best practices will help you get more views and grow your channel.
The Shorts experience continues to evolve, and YouTube promises to share more about ranking factors over time. For now, focus on creating short, compelling, vertical videos optimized for mobile users while adhering to the YouTube Community Guideline. With the massive YouTube audience, Shorts presents a huge opportunity for creators in 2023 and beyond.