How YouTube Search Works: Explained by Google

  • Google explained how YouTube search works through a publication resource. 
  • They created an entire website- How YouTube Work to explain how the search function works.
  • The site offers valuable insights about working of YouTube, which includes how YouTube is committed to making a safe and more secure platform factor into the search results. 

YouTube Searches 

  • YouTube is the World’s second-largest search engine. The platform sieves through over 500 hours of content to deliver the most relevant results. 
  • There are three primary elements for ranking search results on YouTube; Relevance, Engagement, and Quality. 


  • The goal of YouTube search is to connect the user with useful content. 
  • YouTube search algorithm looks at several factors to determine the relevance of content. 
  • These factors can take many forms, including title, tags, video description, and the content itself. 


  • Since YouTube can track content consumption by each user, they have policies around what appears in search results. 
  • Engagement is determined using aggregate engagement signals. These signals include watch time for a particular video and query. 
  • YouTube also uses engagement signals to determine the relevance of content. 


  • YouTube determines the quality of content using several signals.  
  • The algorithm looks at Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, commonly referred to as EAT. 
  • Google emphasis the importance of these signals in search results. 

Other Factors

  • Besides relevance, engagement, and quality, YouTube tries to deliver search results based on the actions of the user. 
  • That includes the user’s watch and search history.
  • Search results may vary from one user to the next. 
  • For example, for a user who watches a lot of sports content and searches for cricket, YouTube will recommend sports cricket rather than the creature. 
  • When a user clears their search history, YouTube will not consider such signals. 

Building Authoritative Sources 

  • The search algorithm prioritizes content from authoritative sources, especially for content categories like politics, science, news, and medical content. 
  • Credibility is key to ranking high in these areas. 
  • For content such as music and entertainment, YouTube looks to relevance, view count, and upload date. 

YouTube Recommendations

  • The recommendation section on YouTube is another way content can be discovered. 
  • YouTube considers a lot of signals to determine what to include in the ‘up next section.’
  • The user’s behavior and details such as watch and search history, subscriptions, and location play a role. 
  • Other key factors include the level of engagement the videos received, feedback from random surveys, and time of day. The user’s input is also taken into account. 
  • The ‘not interested’ feature allows YouTube to determine not to recommend that kind of content.

Bottom line

  • The YouTube search algorithm overturns conventional SEO wisdom. 
  • YouTube rewards content producers for relevant, quality, and engaging content on the platform. 
  • The value of Meta tags cannot be understated. Typical SEO efforts are still as relevant on YouTube as they are on Google search. 
  • User activity is important in ranking and YouTube recommendations. 

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