How Does YouTube's Search Algorithm Work?

YouTube Source:Pixabay, mohamed_hassan Originally begun as a relatively modest video sharing platform by three employees of PayPal, YouTube soon began to dominate the online video streaming world. The site's domain name was launched in 2005 and within a year over 65,000 videos were being uploaded onto the site per day. Over the course of the next couple of years, the number of videos being posted and viewed on the site had grown exponentially. With the help of venture capital investment, YouTube was able to create enough bandwidth and storage for all of these videos. However, its founders soon realised that merely having the capacity to stream videos on its own was not enough. What was needed was a system which allowed users to view the sort of material they were looking for. In other words, YouTube needed to develop a search algorithm that produced meaningful results for users or they'd simply search elsewhere. If you have ever wondered what it is that makes a video tutorial on blackjack come out before one on slots when searching for online gambling, then it is YouTube's algorithm that is at play. What is it and how does it work? YouTube Source:Geralt

The Purpose of YouTube's Algorithm

Although it has received criticism for pointing people in the direction of fake news and unreliable or polemic videos, YouTube's search algorithm has one main purpose - to offer up results that meet users' expectations. Sometimes this will be down to the sort of thing you have watched or engaged with before rather than a set of results that is based on the exact search term you happened to enter. In other words, when it comes to searching for videos, YouTube's engineers wanted to fashion an algorithm that would rival Google's for accuracy and speed. Given that, as of 2017, there were in excess of 400 hours of new videos being uploaded to the site every minute of the day, such an algorithm needed to be flexible as well as up to date. In fact, Google's executives soon realised that people may get used to using YouTube's algorithm to search for information rather than its own. Many industry insiders believe this is why Google chose to buy YouTube in a deal that was worth over $1.5 billion back in 2006.

The Main Components That make YouTube's Algorithm Function So Well

Like Google's main search algorithm, how YouTube's version functions is a closely guarded commercial secret. Nevertheless, a number of aspects of it are known. Firstly, YouTube keeps data on not just which videos users click on to view but how long they spend watching them. If you only stick around for a few seconds on a video after having searched for it, then the algorithm is more likely to produce dissimilar results in the future because its artificial intelligence has 'learned' you don't want that sort of content or that your search term must have meant something else. Successful YouTube channel managers know this and pack the start of their videos with engaging content to keep people watching. In addition, YouTube keeps metrics on poorly performing videos. If there is one posted by a channel or YouTube subscriber that does not receive much engagement, then it can lead to other videos by the same user being ranked less well. As such, deleting poorly performing videos is thought by many to be beneficial to the overall ranking of a user or channel manager.


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