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This article originally appeared on QuarterLab.


One of the most effective ways to increase your video view count is to have YouTube recommend your videos and promote them on their platform.

There are several places on YouTube where your video can be recommended to people that weren’t looking for it, but how does YouTube choose which videos to promote?

In this blog post we will explore the layout of the YouTube platform and discuss the best strategies for increasing your video’s chances of being featured. We will examine the search results page, watch page, logged-out homepage, and logged-in homepage.

We also show you the specific criteria YouTube uses to rank videos in the Search and Discovery systems, so that you understand exactly how they determine which videos to promote.

Search Results Page

The search results page is the page that displays after you enter a search term in YouTube.

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Videos in the search page are ranked mostly by three important factors: watch time, metadata, and recency.

To increase your video’s chance of appearing on the search page, make sure your content is optimized for all three of those factors.

  • For more on watch time, check out one of our earlier blog posts here.
  • Metadata includes your video’s title, description, and tags, all of which should be aligned and optimized to best describe your content.
  • Recency relates to how new and relevant your content is, related to the search term. Check the table below and focus on the “Primary Optimization Lever” section to help guide your content creation and release strategy.

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Watch Page

The watch page is the page you see while watching a video in YouTube.

Watch Page

There are two sections to the right of the main video on the watch page: the “up next” section in the top right (displays one video) and a list of recommended videos below.

The “up next” section displays more videos from the partner channel. It’s smart to set up series playlists so that videos in the playlist get automatically initiated after the current video ends.

Below the “up next” section, YouTube lists several recommended videos. The recommended video section on the watch page is mostly generated by videos with a related topic (i.e. people who viewed this video, also viewed this next video), videos that are sequentially watched, and videos based on the viewer’s interests and past viewing history.

Check the table below and focus on the “Primary Optimization Lever” column to see the factors that determine which videos YouTube promotes on the watch page.

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Logged-Out Homepage

The logged-out homepage is the first page you see when you go to YouTube.com and aren’t logged into an account.

Logged-out

It’s important to note that the logged-out homepage should not be included in your programming strategy, since there is very little you can do as a channel to influence the content featured here.

The most prominent thumbnails you see on the homepage, when logged-out, are the most popular videos in your country. YouTube features videos that are popular and broadly appealing in this section.

The logged-out homepage also features popular videos from other various genres as well as currently trending topics. Personalized recommendations are also sometimes made based on your viewing history (even when logged-out).

See below for a table from YouTube that shows which levers help determine the content that’s displayed on the homepage.

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Logged-In Homepage

The logged-in homepage is the first page you see when you go to YouTube.com and are signed in with a YouTube account.

Logged-In

The top two factors that are used to rank videos in the logged-in homepage are watch time and channel engagement. Those should be the two things you try to improve most on your channel to get your content featured on the homepage of a logged-in account.

Content on the logged-in homepage will be relevant to the viewer based on their subscriptions, similar interests, and frequent engagement with specific channels. The logged-in homepage features a “guide” on the left hand side of the page that displays all the updates made to the channels the viewer subscribes to.

See below for a table that explains the factors YouTube uses to display videos on the logged-in homepage. As always, pay close attention to the “Primary Optimization Lever” for tips on how to improve your channel engagement and watch time.

YouTube Platform Study Guide (dragged)

Understanding these features are key to growing your channel’s engagement and overall success. It’s important to keep all of these factors in mind when uploading content and developing a strategy for your video releases. Feel free to reach out to us for any clarification or further explanation on any of these topics.

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  • Jessica Allossery

    I agree with the article. Obviously WATCH TIME is one of the most important things to Youtube. I learned that a few years ago when one of my own cover videos of The Scientist got placed on the Youtube Watch page and it’s still my highest viewed video to date! Watch time is everything. http://www.thelovelyindie.com