It is not all about Google Search, the classic search engine that is cross and delight of our business: in recent times is also taking off more and more the display of multimedia resources of all kinds, and the Mountain View group was very farsighted in acquiring YouTube back in 2006, which then became the most important platform in the industry. And just like Search, this system also follows its precise SEO rules that determine the ranking and visibility of videos, as explained by an official page of the company.

How works the YouTube search

As part of the wider user engagement project, Google has put How Youtube Works online, a completely new site that offers an in-depth look at all the components of the platform and answer the most frequently asked questions about search results.

As the description of the page reads, “every day millions of people come to Youtube to be informed, inspired or just having fun: over time, questions have emerged about how Youtube works, so we created this site to provide some answers and explain what we are doing to promote a responsible platform on which users, creators and artists who make up our community can rely on”.

The commitment to make the platform safe

The first point on which attention is focused is the commitment to make Youtube safer: the approach of Google is based on four R – Remove, Reduce, Raise up, Reward – that is:

  • Removal of content that violates our policies.
  • Reduction of the sharing of disinformative, harmful and borderline material.
  • Promotion of authoritative sources for news and information.
  • Valorization of trusted and reliable creators.

The Search on YouTube

In addition to these basic factors, there is then an entire section dedicated to the operation of the search and ranking system of the video platform, that gives us an interesting overview of a system that can become an important channel to expand our digital marketing strategy.

The Youtube searches classification system needs to sort out something like “over 500 hours of uploaded contents” every minute and immediately find the most relevant results for a query.

Criteria of classification

In order to succeed in this difficult task and provide the best research results, the system gives priority to three main elements: relevance, engagement and quality.

  1. Relevance. Without being too detailed, we read that to estimate the relevance and pertinence Youtube examines many factors, “such as how the title, tags, description and content of the video match your search query”.
  2. Engagement. Youtube’s search algorithm uses engagement signals to determine relevance, deeming them valuable, and incorporates aggregate user signals (such as the viewing time of a specific video for a specific query) to be able to determine whether other users consider that video relevant to the query.
  3. Quality. Youtube systems “are designed to identify signals that can help determine which channels demonstrate competence, authority and reliability on a given topic”.

With respect to this last point, we can note the reference to “competence, authoritativeness and reliability”, the three principles of the EAT paradigm that are also taken as a reference for the evaluation of classic Google search results.

Other ranking factors on YouTube

In addition to these three main factors, there are also other elements that are taken into account for the ranking of videos, and in particular the customization of results: Youtube “commits to make the search results relevant to each user and we may also consider your search and viewing history“.

It is for this reason that “your search results may differ from the search results of another user for the same query”, for example “if you watch a lot of sports videos and cricket, we could recommend cricket sports videos rather than nature videos with crickets”.

However, users have some “tools to help you influence the factors we consider to provide you with the best search results”: in particular, you can pause or delete at any time your search and browsing history of Youtube, and in this case your search results will not take into account such signals.

Evaluations on reliability and authoritativeness

The weight of the ranking factors also depends on the topic of the video, and depending on the case Youtube gives priority to one signal instead of another.

For example, in categories of contents such as news, politics and medical or scientific informationtruthfulness and credibility” are fundamental, and therefore Youtube “works hard to ensure that our research systems favor the dissemination of authoritative contents from reliable sources”, and therefore the keys to visibility are authoritativeness and reliability.

In other lighter areas, such as music or entertainment, the criteria used by Youtube “to help our systems connect to quality content you’ll like” are relevance, freshness, or popularity.

Recommended videos

Content creators who want to be discovered on Youtube have another opportunity, namely the “suggestions” (recommended videos), which help users “to discover other videos you’ll love, whether it’s a ‘great new recipe to try or your next favorite song”.

The advice is shared both on the home page of the platform and in the “next video” section, as a suggestion on what to watch after, and to perfect these results Youtube “performs tests, learns constantly”.

From a technical point of view, the recommended videos are extrapolated by taking into account various signals, including search and display habits (if the history function is enabled), as well as the channels to which the user is subscribed; moreover, the context of the user, such as the country and the time of day, are also evaluated. This way, for instance, it is possible to view locally relevant news.

Another signal considered by Youtube recommendation systems is the number of users who clicked on the same video and viewed it until the end – indication that the video is of superior quality or fun – and the number of users who instead has abandoned display.

Furthermore, people can interact with this system through random feedbacks and polls that appear on the home page and other places on the platform, with which Youtube asks users to share their experience with individual videos – for example, selecting whether or not the suggested video is appreciated – and using this direct information to fine-tune and improve the feature for all users.

Call to action