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YouTube Decodes Shorts Algorithm: A Focus on Viewer Value

YouTube Decodes Shorts Algorithm: A Focus on Viewer Value

In a recent interview, Todd Sherman (product lead for YouTube Shorts) spilled the tea on how the algo actually works.

Big takeaway: create quality content that caters to viewer preferences rather than exploiting the system's mechanics.

We know, we know. But I'm sure you're just as interested in we were about the wizard behind the curtain.

Here's the skinny.

Insights from the YT Shorts Interview With Todd Sherman

During the interview, Sherman addressed several key aspects that offered valuable insights into the working of the Shorts algorithm.

1. Algorithm and Audience Connection

Sherman emphasized that the ultimate objective of both the long-form and Shorts algorithms was to connect viewers with valuable content.

He reiterated the idea of putting the audience at the forefront, highlighting that the saying "don’t think algorithm, think audience" was just as applicable to Shorts as it was to long-form content.

According to him, the audience itself becomes the driving force behind the algorithm's functioning.

He pointed out that although the core goal remained the same for both types of content, there were differences in how the algorithm worked for short-form content due to its distinct format.

The algorithm's approach was tailored to the fundamentals of short-form content, with the aim of leaving viewers satisfied with their experience.

2. Defining a 'View'

One of the critical aspects addressed in the interview was the definition of a 'view.'

Sherman clarified that not every video that a viewer scrolled through in the Shorts feed was counted as a view.

Unlike some other platforms where the first frame might qualify as a view, YouTube's perspective was that a view should signify an intentional act of watching.

The intention behind watching a video was crucial in determining whether it counted as a view.

3. Ideal Video Length and Customization

Sherman provided insights into what creators should prioritize when it came to crafting Shorts.

He suggested that creators focus on storytelling rather than aiming for a specific video duration.

This approach would allow creators to engage their audience effectively, making the video length secondary to the narrative quality.

Regarding thumbnail customization, Sherman discussed the impact of the feed on Shorts traffic.

As the majority of views came from the feed rather than the Shorts shelf, YouTube decided to permit creators to select a frame from their video as the thumbnail, eschewing the need for custom thumbnails.

4. Hashtags, Posting Frequency, and Lifespan

The interview also covered some common questions related to hashtags, posting frequency, and the lifespan of Shorts.

Sherman indicated that while hashtags weren't mandatory, they could hold significance based on the context and needs of individual creators.

He also provided guidance on posting frequency, stressing that there was no magical formula for success.

Instead, creators were encouraged to focus on producing high-quality content rather than inundating their audience with a large number of lower quality videos.

Sherman addressed the lifespan of Shorts, explaining that initial views might experience a drop as the algorithm attempted to find the right audience for the content.

These initial views were seen as an exploratory phase, during which YouTube aimed to assist creators in connecting with their target audience.

How to Win With YouTube Shorts

The insights shared during the interview shed light on the intricacies of YouTube's Shorts algorithm and how creators could navigate the platform effectively.

The key takeaways included the importance of audience-centric content, the significance of viewing intent, the prioritization of storytelling, and the value of quality over quantity.

These insights provided creators with a better understanding of how to engage their audience and optimize their presence on the Shorts platform.

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