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A Complete Beginner's Guide to YouTube Algorithm in 2023

A Complete Beginner's Guide to YouTube Algorithm in 2023

Discover the secrets of YouTube's 2023 algorithm with Maekersuite's beginner's guide. Empower your content strategy and boost visibility today!
What we'll cover

In a world where video content reigns supreme, understanding the mechanics behind YouTube's algorithm is more crucial than ever. 

With over 500 hours of video uploaded every minute, standing out in the vast sea of content is no easy feat. That's where the magic of the YouTube algorithm comes into play.

While Maekersuite's suite of tools helps you create appealing and engaging content, that's only half of the puzzle. Decoding YouTube's algorithm is the other key to successful content creation. Once you understand the complex equation, you can elevate your content's reach and engagement. Better yet, you can boost your discoverability and ranking on the platform. 

In this article, we'll give you a comprehensive understanding of the YouTube algorithm in 2023. It's full of insights and tactics to help you master the game.

What We'll Cover:

What Is the YouTube Algorithm?

The YouTube algorithm is a complex system. It's the behind-the-scenes magic. The algorithm decides which videos appear on your homepage, in search results, and as suggestions for what to watch next. In sum, it's how YouTube sorts and delivers content to viewers.

But how does it do this? 

The YouTube algorithm considers many metrics; viewing history, likes, shares and engagement patterns. It then uses this data to curate a personalized content feed for you.

For creators, it’s crucial to understand how the YouTube algorithm will work in 2023. The algorithm determines which videos it promotes to users. Therefore, it plays a significant role in the visibility and success of your content. 

If the algorithm deems your content relevant and engaging, it will promote it. This can increase views, grow your subscriber base, and improve audience interaction.

The YouTube algorithm is the gatekeeper. It stands between your video and potential viewers. Navigating it can open the door to increased visibility and success on YouTube.

How Has the YouTube Algorithm Changed Throughout History?

The YouTube algorithm has seen significant changes since its creation. Each alteration is shaped by a desire to improve the user experience, engagement, and satisfaction. 

Below, we chart the evolution of this powerful mechanism.

The Era of Clicks and Views (2005 - 2011)

  • Simple algorithm prioritizing video views and clicks.
  • High ranks for videos with more views.
  • Encouragement of clickbait: misleading titles and thumbnails for view boosting.

The Shift to Watch Time (2012)

  • Shift from views to watch time.
  • Rewarding quality content that engages viewers for longer periods.
  • Discouragement of clickbait: requirement of substantial watch time for high ranking.

Satisfaction and Personalization (2015 - 2016)

  • Refinement of algorithm considering user satisfaction and personalization.
  • Incorporation of user interactions: likes, dislikes, shares, comments, and 'not interested' feedback.
  • Initiation of a user-centric approach: tailored content suggestions based on individual user behavior.

The Era of Demonetization and Policy Updates (2016 - Present)

  • Significant updates to policies due to content standards and advertiser preferences.
  • Evaluation of videos for ad-friendly content influencing monetization.
  • A sophisticated understanding of video context, content, and user engagement metrics for personalized content delivery.

2005 to 2011: Clicks and Views

The algorithm was largely based on video views and clicks during YouTube's early years. The more views a video receives, the higher the ranking. This system was simple, but it also encouraged clickbait. Creators would use misleading titles and thumbnails to game the system.

2012: Watch Time

In 2012, YouTube shifted the focus of its algorithm from views to watch time. It aimed to reward quality content that kept viewers engaged for longer periods. This change deterred clickbait; videos now needed substantial watch time to rank higher.

2015 to 2016: Satisfaction and Personalization

With technological advancements, YouTube refined its algorithm again. This time, the focus was on user satisfaction and personalization. Factors like likes, dislikes, shares, comments, and even 'not interested' feedback now had more weight. This period began a more user-centric approach. The platform began tailoring content suggestions based on individual user behavior.

2016 to present: Demonetization and Policy Updates

After criticism around content standards and advertiser preferences, YouTube made significant updates to its policies. The algorithm now evaluates videos for ad-friendly content, which impacts monetization. It's also grown smarter at understanding video context, content, and user engagement metrics. Now, the platform is more sophisticated in delivering personalized content to viewers.

How Does the YouTube Algorithm Work Today?

The YouTube algorithm is now a sophisticated system designed to balance the needs of viewers, creators and advertisers. It leverages advanced machine learning to deliver personalized content experiences. 

Yet, it doesn't function uniformly across all sections of the platform. Different factors influence different sections. Let's decode each one:

YouTube Shorts

3 mobile phones showing youtube shorts, first one from left is a family picture, 2nd one is a woman holding a vaseline container, and third is a brown dog having a bath

Introduced to rival platforms like TikTok, YouTube Shorts are brief, engaging videos. The algorithm recommends shorts based on 

  • user interactions (likes, shares, and comments),
  • details of the short (like its topic and hashtags used),
  • and information about the video (like if it's new). 

Thus, the key to increasing visibility here is creating engaging, topical content.


youtube home page showing 8 thumbnails and 4 cut thumbnails

The YouTube homepage is the first thing users see. It's personalized based on user behavior, like watch history and recent interactions. Producing content that resonates with your audience can increase the chances of appearing on their home pages.

Suggested Videos

youtube video of a lady cross sitting with right hand raised with pillows on her side

These appear next to or after the video is watched. The algorithm recommends these based on the user's watch history. It also considers videos that are topically related to the one currently viewed. To feature here, creators must produce engaging content relevant to their audience's interests.

Search Results

youtube search result for apple boxed in red in search bar

YouTube search results are primarily driven by keyword relevance. But, the algorithm also factors in the watch time of your videos. To improve your visibility in search results, optimize your video titles, descriptions and tags with relevant keywords, and maintain high audience retention.


youtube page showing trending videos on searching "how to use hubspot"

Trending showcases popular videos in the user's specific region. It is a blend of popularity and novelty, with the algorithm favoring recently uploaded videos that are gaining rapid views. Thus, viral content or content tied to trending topics has a higher chance of appearing here.


youtube page under subscriptions tab

The Subscriptions tab shows content from channels that a user subscribes to. However, it doesn't display all videos from these channels. The algorithm favors recent videos and those with high engagement rates. Regularly posting engaging content can keep you at the top of your subscribers' feeds.


Notifications depend on the user's personalized settings. If YouTube users opt to receive notifications from your channel, they'll get notified when you upload. Encouraging your viewers to turn on notifications improves your video's initial reach.

Restricted Mode

Restricted mode is a voluntary setting aimed at screening out potentially mature content. Avoid inappropriate language, violence, and adult themes to guarantee your videos are visible in this mode. It also helps to ensure your video metadata is accurate.

How to Optimize the YouTube Algorithm to Your Advantage?

Understanding the YouTube algorithm is the first step toward building a successful channel. 

The next critical step is leveraging this understanding. Here's how to optimize your content and channel for increased visibility and engagement: 

Perform keyword research

At the core of the YouTube algorithm is search relevance. Keyword research is critical to making your videos discoverable. Begin by identifying phrases and terms relevant to your video and popular among users. Incorporate these keywords into your video's title, description, and tags. This helps to optimize it for search. 

The Maekersuite YouTube Video Ideas Generator is an invaluable tool to help you find popular keywords related to your niche.

Create an appealing thumbnail

3 boxes, first one is a lady with braided hair smiling, 2nd one is a guy in black shirt with glasses also smiling and 3rd is a woman carrying a dumb bell

A YouTube thumbnail is the first thing a potential viewer notices about your video. It's your chance to make a great first impression and convince viewers to click on your video. 

To create a killer thumbnail: 

  • Use high-resolution images,
  • Use compelling typography,
  • Include captivating design elements.

An eye-catching thumbnail for your video can make more people click on it. This tells the algorithm that your video is interesting to watch.

Keep viewers interested

One of the key factors YouTube's algorithm considers is watch time. The more time viewers spend watching your videos, the more valuable the algorithm perceives your content. 

To keep viewers hooked, your videos need to be engaging and informative from start to finish. Use storytelling techniques, compelling visuals, and audience engagement strategies to maintain viewer interest.

Optimize other YouTube elements

all text field with 3 red boxes

It's not only the video that counts; many other elements on your YouTube page can influence discoverability and viewership. These include your video title, description, and script.

  • Your video title should be engaging and accurately represent your content. Use youtube, the Video Title Generator from Maekersuite, to create impactful, search-friendly titles.
  • The description field allows you to provide more context for your video. You should include relevant keywords and link to your social media or website here. The YouTube Description Generator tool can assist you in crafting SEO-optimized descriptions.
  • A well-written script forms the backbone of your video content to deliver your message effectively. Maekersuite's YouTube Script Generator can guide you in creating captivating and structured scripts.

Drive interaction with your audience

YouTube's algorithm values engagement signals such as likes, comments, shares, and subscriptions. These metrics indicate that your content resonates with your audience. So driving interaction should be a key component of your YouTube strategy. 

Ask your viewers to like and share your videos, subscribe to your YouTube channel, and leave comments. Respond to comments to foster a sense of community and encourage further interaction.

Produce good quality content

Quality is king when it comes to YouTube content. High-quality, well-produced videos are more likely to keep viewers engaged. Engaging content leads to longer watch times and higher viewer satisfaction. These factors are crucial for better visibility on the platform. 

Use good lighting, clear audio, and professional editing techniques. Do everything you can to ensure your videos are of the highest quality.

Post at the best time

a graph showing different gray boxes of days of the week according to timeslots

Timing is everything when it comes to engagement on YouTube. Posting at the right time can boost your video's initial views. It signals to YouTube's algorithm that your content is worth promoting. To identify the optimal posting time, delve into your YouTube analytics. Look for when your viewers are most active on the platform. 

Uploading a few hours before these peak times is best to allow YouTube to index your video. Remember that time zones may affect this if your audience is international. 

Consistency in your upload schedule matters. It lets your audience know when to expect new content from you.

Market your videos

Creating great content is only half the battle - the other half is making sure people see it. Marketing your videos extends their reach beyond just your YouTube subscribers. 

Share your content on

  • social media platforms,
  • your website, 
  • email newsletters, 
  • and relevant online communities. 

External traffic increases views and engagement on your YouTube videos. This signals to YouTube's algorithm that your video is worthy of promotion. 

Collaborations with other creators are another effective way to market your videos to a new audience.

Stay relevant and be consistent

Staying on top of trends in your niche can improve your video's discoverability. Videos related to trending topics often see an increase in views. Trends lead to heightened interest in a topic and more people searching for that content. 

On the flip side, consistency in content creation is vital. Regular uploads signal to the YouTube algorithm that your channel is active. Being active will improve your channel's ranking. Moreover, posting regularly keeps your audience engaged and coming back for more. 

Determine and stick to a workable upload schedule. It has to be a frequency that allows your content to maintain quality. Consistency and relevance can go a long way in optimizing the YouTube algorithm to your advantage.

Mastering the YouTube Algorithm

Mastering the YouTube algorithm is an ongoing learning, adapting, and innovating process. It is not only about understanding how the system works. It's about knowing your audience and creating engaging content they will love. 

The key is to optimize all your YouTube elements; keyword research, thumbnails, viewer retention, interaction driving, and quality content to strategic posting. They all boost your video's discoverability and appeal to the YouTube algorithm.

Remember, you're not alone on this journey. Platforms like Maekersuite can be your trusted partners. We designed our advanced tools to help you optimize your videos and channel effectively.

With the right knowledge and tools, you're on your way to achieving YouTube success.

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