YouTube has sought to provide some more insight into how its algorithms decide which videos to highlight to each user, by answering some common questions about its search and discovery systems, which could provide some more direction for your platform approach.

YouTube’s Rachel Alves answers five questions from YouTube creators on the usage of tags, recommendations, algorithm improvements, and more in a new video on the Creator Insider channel.

How valuable these insights are will be relative to your channel specifics, but in summary:

Should you share your videos outside of YouTube, given YouTube may not be able to attribute all the engagement metrics off-platform?

Creators should ‘definitely’ post their films outside of YouTube, according to Alves, because this will only boost their chances of being discovered based on audience engagement, independent of direct credit.

“If your videos are getting more traffic from external sources, like social media, it’s likely increasing your potential to be discovered by more viewers. Another benefit is that those viewers now have that video in their watch history, so there’s a higher likelihood that they may be recommended one of your other videos in the future.”

Why do people get recommendations for videos uploaded 10-12 years ago?

YouTube’s methodology, according to Alves, is meant to match users with films they’re likely to appreciate, regardless of when the video was produced. That implies that even older movies with strong engagement will continue to be suggested to viewers based on their preferences.

YouTube needs a new way to highlight new creators

Many users, according to Alves, want this, and YouTube just launched the ‘New to You’ button to expose new channels from outside of each viewer’s typical viewing experience.

YouTube New to You

When applying video tags, should you focus on specific tags or more broad matching topics to maximize discovery?

YouTube’s video tags provide another way for creators to align their content with specific queries, though YouTube specifically notes that tags are not a major algorithm consideration.

Tags are descriptive keywords you can add to your video to help viewers find your content. Your video’s title, thumbnail, and description are more important pieces of metadata for your video’s discovery. These main pieces of information help viewers decide which videos to watch.”

Alves emphasizes this point, recommending producers to concentrate on the components that viewers consider while deciding what to watch, such as the title, thumbnail image, and description. Instead of optimizing tags, Alves suggests that artists should focus on what works for other, similar films connected to their theme.

Has YouTube changed its algorithm recently?

YouTube is continually changing its algorithms, according to Alves, but they get a lot more questions about anticipated algorithm changes around this time of year.

This, according to Alves, is due to large-scale adjustments in viewing behavior prompted by the return to school across the United States. When children return to school, channels generally experience a shift in their analytics, with fewer views on weekdays but more activity on weekends.

YouTube viewing changes

That can make it seem like something has changed with the algorithm, when really the shift is relative to viewer behavior caused by outside lifestyle shifts.

There’s no game-changing insight, as such, within this new overview, but it does provide some more context as to how YouTube’s systems work, and how content is shown to each user in the app.

That could help you better understand some of the elements, and factor them into your planning.