Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by the YouTube algorithm… Most of us probably feel that way. So today, we’re talking all about how to beat the YouTube algorithm as a small YouTuber. Because I promise, you CAN beat the algorithm.
How to BEAT the YouTube Algorithm as a SMALL YouTuber
Want to watch the video version of this post? I’ve got you covered!
The Algorithm is not evil!
We tend to talk about the algorithm in a negative way. But in reality, the YouTube algorithm is not evil! It WANTS you to succeed because it wants people to spend more time on the platform, consuming your content.
When I say “beat the YouTube algorithm,” “beat” is a strong word. It’s not that hard to beat the algorithm. And the truth is, the algorithm is your friend!
I hear a lot of people struggling to grow on YouTube say that they can’t figure out how to work around the algorithm. Well, that’s the problem. Don’t work AROUND the YouTube Algorithm: work with it!
YouTube Algorithm, explained.
I’m going to tell you this in the simplest way you’ve ever heard. The YouTube algorithm is just the formula that YouTube uses to pair the right content with the right viewer.
The way that you “beat” the YouTube algorithm is to understand that your job as a YouTuber is threefold. You want to get YouTube to show your videos to the right person. Then, to get more people to click on your videos. And then, to get those people to watch MORE of your content.
Let’s break those three things down.
Get YouTube to SHOW your content to more people.
Getting YouTube to show your content to more people is the first step to beat the YouTube algorithm as a small YouTuber.
And YOU have the power to get YouTube to do that. Really. YouTube is not secretive with what they want, and there are thousands of creators every day explaining how to do this.
How do I get YouTube to show my content?
1. Make sure that your content is SEO friendly
That means that your content should be search-engine optimized. YouTube is the SECOND LARGEST search engine in the world. And if you can tap into the power that is optimizing your content for the YouTube gods, then you’re golden.
To master SEO, you need to understand what people who would like your content are searching for and how you can show up in those search terms. That’s all about how you can title and tag your videos, etc.
2. Show up in Suggested/Recommended Videos
I heard this a LOT while I was trying to grow my channel – but no one ever told me HOW to do it. Really, the easiest way to do this is to Trend Hack. I just released a video about that, so you can learn all about it right here.
3. Create good quality content that a certain subset of people want to watch
This sounds simple, but like I said: the YouTube algorithm wants to pair good content with people who want to watch it.
Maybe I have time to watch 3 YouTube videos tonight. If I start off with a video about YouTube strategy, then move to a true crime documentary, and end with a Target home decor haul, THAT is the type of content YouTube is going to recommend to me.
If you are creating content that people actually want to watch, then eventually, you’ll be recommended to them.
While YouTube’s algorithm is definitely beatable in my opinion, it can be challenging to show up in recommended videos. You can do EVERYTHING right, and it might take awhile. If you focus on good quality content and SEO, then eventually, the YouTube algorithm is going to show it to the right person.
Bonus SEO Tip: Write blog posts that correspond with your YouTube Videos
You can show YouTube and Google that you are a SERIOUS expert in your video content when you write a blog post that goes with your YouTube video. I have done this since the beginning, and it’s a magical thing!
When I first started, I couldn’t figure out how to rank on YouTube. So, I started writing blog posts to go with my YouTube videos. And those blog posts started showing up super high in the Google Search Results. Then, more people watched my YouTube videos that were embedded in the blog posts! As a result, my YouTube channel started growing. When I said magical, I really meant it.
And I want to share a specifically cool tool to help you figure out the SEO to make your blog posts – it is the COOLEST tool I’ve ever seen. And it’s by the sponsor of this post and video: SEO Buddy!
SEO Buddy has created a step-by-step checklist to make sure you’re doing everything you need to do for SEO on your blog post and website. SEO is TOTALLY figure-out-able. And when you figure out website and YouTube SEO, you win the game.
SEO Buddy’s SEO Checklist gives you an amazing checklist with 100 points to make sure you’ve got all that SEO juju that you need! It’s amazing, it’s interactive, and it’s customizable.
Get more people to actually click on your video!
You CAN control whether or not people click on your videos. And this is one of the most overlooked things that people don’t talk about in YouTube strategy.
Let’s say you’ve got the SEO part figured out. So, YouTube holds up its end of the deal and picks up your content to recommend to potential viewers. If the people who see your video in their recommended videos don’t click, that’s not on YouTube. That’s on you.
If people don’t click on it, then YouTube is going to stop showing your video. That’s the simplest way to put it.
So how do I get more people to click on my videos?
1. Your Titles
Titles have a two-pronged job in my head. First, they help you optimize your video for SEO. The second job of a title is to help get your video clicked on. Everybody has a different strategy here, but I have my own rule.
The first part of your title needs to spit your keywords into the YouTube space, tell people what it’s about, and encourage someone to click. The second part of your title should add the sexy. That’s my personal formula to get clicks.
And because we don’t believe in clickbait around here, we need to make sure our sexy titles still relate to our video!
As an example of this, my husband re-started a farming YouTube channel (if you’re interested, give it a watch!). He was about to post a video that was vlog-style, but in the video he also showed de-worming a horse. So, we did some keyword research and decided that his video had the most potential to be shown with the keywords “De-worming my horse.” And the second part of the title, the “I want to know more!” part, was “I think Leo figured it out!”
2. Your Thumbnails
Thumbnails are REALLY important. So many people overlook their thumbnails, and it can ruin you.
Maybe someone does search for “how to de-worm a horse.” It’s not JUST your video that’s being shown to them – there will be literally hundreds.
The first part of your job is to make sure your video shows up for the search. The second part is the click. If someone is getting shown a hundred videos about de-worming a horse, WHAT will make them pick YOURS over someone else? It’s almost ALWAYS the thumbnail.
My biggest advice when it comes to thumbnails is to invoke emotion, cause people to ask questions, and be the same but different.”
If you are trying to show up for a certain search term, check out the other thumbnails that show up. What do they have in common that you can use, but how can you make yours different?
Keep people watching your content longer!
This is your next job: keep people watching your content longer after they’ve clicked it. This is a loaded one for sure. But there are some things you can do to help!
The first part of your job here is to make sure someone watches the particular video of yours that was recommended to them. Once you get past that first step, you do NOT want people to dip out here. That will SUCK.
1. Make sure that people watch the particular video that they clicked on longer. AKA, improve your audience retention.
Once you publish a video, you can go into your analytics and see exactly where people are dropping off after they start watching a video. Go to that point in your video and figure out WHY.
Was it boring? Did you ramble? Is that where you showed an ad? What caused people to click off of your content there?
Figure out how to make it better and use that strategy moving forward!
The goal is to get people through your video, hopefully the whole way, but even 50% would be MAGICAL. Most people never see that number, so that would be fantastic.
If you get people who click on your video that YouTube recommended them to watch it halfway, then you’re doing great! Bonus points if you can get them from watching that video that was shown by YouTube to watching MORE of your videos. You want them to watch tons of your content.
How do you get people to stick around?
Create good content. Infuse your personality! Don’t be boring. And realize that people have a much longer attention span than we give them credit for – you just have to be able to KEEP that attention.
Reference other content that you’ve created in your videos, and even link it in the description. That’s an easy way for someone to jump from one of your videos to another.
Use card strategies, playlist strategies, end screens, and all that jazz to make sure they watch more of your content. The most of your content they watch, the more likely they are to subscribe. And once they’re subscribed, they’re more likely to come back and watch more! Then repeat the cycle.
Now, you know how to beat the YouTube algorithm as a small YouTuber. Get your content found with SEO, make them click with your thumbnails and titles, and then get them to watch MORE of your content.