How Does YouTube Prioritize Its Results?


YouTube, like other search engines, has its own algorithm it uses to determine results when you search for a video. Keyword usage, accurate descriptions, tags, total views and viewer interaction are used by YouTube to prioritize your search results. The algorithm used by YouTube is not public and may be updated at any time, and video prioritization or SEO on YouTube is not an exact science. You can sort video results by relevance, upload date, view count and rating.

Accurate Keywords

  • Like search engine optimization on any other search engine, YouTube prioritizes its search results based on keywords. YouTube looks at keywords used in the video's title, description and tags. It also looks at the keyword used in the file name when the video is uploaded to the site. Videos with inaccurate keywords or incorrect descriptions may not be displayed in the proper search results, so targeted keywords are important. YouTube offers a Keyword Suggestion Tool (see link in Resources) to help find relevant keywords and tell you how often they are searched for.

Total Views

  • YouTube doesn't just use keywords to prioritize search results, it relies on several other factors, including total views. Both the number of times a video has been viewed and the total amount of time people spend watching and engaging with the community all play a part in the search rankings. Videos that are only partially viewed by users may not rank as highly as a video that consistently sees viewers watching all the way through. Viewer engagement and other metrics can be tracked through YouTube Analytics, once you've uploaded the video.

Viewer Engagement

  • YouTube is a social platform meant for sharing and discussion along with video uploads. Because of this, YouTube takes several social factors into account when prioritizing its search results. The number of times the video has been given a "thumbs up," or "thumbs down," the total number of comments on a video, the number of times the video has been shared and social responses to the video all play a role. The number of YouTube subscribers to a particular channel can also help boost a video in the video search engine rankings.

Social Networking and Considerations

  • Just like with search engine optimization for Google, Bing or Yahoo, YouTube also relies on inbound links, social networking and promotion to determine search engine rankings. Videos that have been shared with others through the use of Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus should rank better than videos with no social relevance. This includes videos that have been embedded within other websites and blog posts. Since YouTube's algorithm is constantly being updated, the techniques used to rank a video highly may change. You can also filter results by relevance, upload date, view count and rating when searching on YouTube. This could have an impact on which videos are returned when certain keywords are searched.

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