The first step to increasing traffic to video or web content is understanding the basics of YouTube's and Google's algorithms. While the algorithms may seem similar on the surface, they are very different with a different set of goals. As you learn all of the ins and outs of content creation and get a basic grasp of how each algorithm functions, recent updates and expected changes will help you use each algorithm to your advantage.
How Does the YouTube Algorithm Work?
There is no single YouTube algorithm. YouTube employs several different algorithms for the homepage, search results and suggested videos as part of the recommendation system. According to Hootsuite, the YouTube algorithm seeks to accomplish two goals: to find the right video for the specific viewer and to keep them watching.
The algorithm for the home page recommends videos based on two ranking signals: performance and personalization. It measures performance with metrics such as click-through rate, average view duration, and like to dislike ratio while using viewer watch history to inform personalization. The search algorithm operates similarly to other search algorithms, emphasizing keywords and metadata. However, the performance also plays an important factor: videos with high watch time rates and likes will rank higher.
Lastly, the suggested video algorithm combines performance and personalization metrics to suggest relevant videos to viewers. The suggested video algorithm recommends videos that viewers typically watch consecutively, are topically related, or are previously watched by the user.
Updates to the YouTube Algorithm
Since 2016, YouTube has addressed content moderation issues by taking a firmer stance against content that violates its policies. YouTube implemented strict violation policies with content strikes and account bans, emphasizing user, creator, and partner safety. As part of its efforts to eliminate harmful content from the platform, particularly on YouTube Kids, the developers updated YouTube's algorithms to promote high-quality and friendly content through the channel rating system.
According to Air, channels with multiple policy violations are considered borderline. These borderline channels do not violate community guidelines but are considered harmful, are given a "low" rating and will not be promoted on the site. Similarly, content with an 18+ age restriction is promoted less, as are those with a yellow monetization icon. A video with this yellow icon receives limited ad display because the content does not fully comply with all policies.
These policy changes have since frustrated creators after old videos that complied with policies at the time received retroactive content strikes due to new policy changes. In 2021, YouTube addressed the issue in a blog post, stating that they will increase policy transparency, offer more support for creators, and improve the content strike appeal process.
What to Expect in 2022
YouTube has not announced any official updates to the algorithm for 2022 at the moment. However, upcoming changes to the site and app are likely to affect how creators operate on the site. According to Tubics, YouTube will implement a new way for viewers to tip content creators with the Super Thanks feature in 2022. Unlike the already existing tipping methods available for live streams, Super Thanks applies to all types of uploads.
While YouTube's algorithm promotion and video recommendation are still critical to content's success on the site, new monetization methods help creators become less reliant on ad revenue. These methods make age restrictions and yellow monetization icons less detrimental to creator income.
How Does the Google Algorithm Work?
The Google algorithm puts less emphasis on user personalization and more on matching high-quality and relevant content to search queries. According to Semrush, there are three stages to the Google algorithm: crawling, indexing, and serving.
The crawling stage scans the web for relevant pages. Next, indexing analyzes the pages' content to determine the meaning. Lastly, the serving step determines the most relevant pages to the search query and ranks them.
The Google algorithm uses several key ranking factors to perform each step: meaning and intent, relevance, quality, user experience, and content. To rank high in the results, a webpage must be relevant to the search query's intent, possess quality indicators such as website reputation, and be easy to use.
Updates to the Google Algorithm
In 2021, Google implemented a Core Web Vitals update that included the largest contentful paint (LCP), first input delay (FID) and cumulative layout shift (CLS) metrics. These metrics measure user experience, an essential ranking factor in the Google algorithm. According to Web.dev, LCP measures a page's perceived load speed by tracking how fast the page's main content loads. FID measures the page's interactivity by assessing how fast the page responds to a user action. Lastly, CLS measures visual stability by assessing how often page content shifts as it loads
Another critical update to the Google Algorithm in 2021 was the implementation of the Multitask Unified Model (MUM), which is intended to better process and understand search queries. According to the Search Engine Journal, MUM is trained in 75 languages and able to understand information from text and images, making it more capable of interpreting the nuances of a query. According to Moz, the algorithm also saw updates to product reviews, link spam, and page title rewrites.
What to Expect in 2022
As with any year, it is safe to expect Google to implement more updates to the algorithm as time goes by. While Google has announced no specific significant updates t this time, the best way to prepare for the upcoming year is to adjust to the most recent changes.
Assessing your website's performance with the Core Web Vitals metrics can improve rankings if there is evidence the site took a hit with the update. Ensuring marketing efforts follow best practices for linking will help comply with the spam linking update.
While not every Google algorithm update will impact SEO efforts, staying up to date will help your content stay ahead of the curve and not take a hit as new updates are implemented. Contact Wordsmyth Creative Content today to get you up to date on the latest!