How Does the YouTube Shorts Algorithm Work?

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  • Alex Lefkowitz
    (Author)

    Alex Lefkowitz is the founder and CEO of Tasty Edits. He holds a BA in Entrepreneurship and is an experienced video editor, having edited hundreds of videos for dozens of creators before starting his own video editing company. Since launching Tasty Edits, he has directly managed thousands of video and thumbnail orders. Now, he draws on his experience working with professional creators to write about video editing, the creator economy, and video marketing. You can also read his work on Hackernoon and Medium. Plus, he's contributed several expert opinions in interviews and articles as a guest on platforms like Jotform.

    View all posts

How does the YouTube Shorts algorithm work? If you want to go viral as a Shorts creator, that’s one of the key questions you have to master. 

Like the YouTube algorithm in general, the Shorts algorithm is complex and YouTube doesn’t share a lot of information on it

In this article, we’ve put together all that we currently know about how the YouTube Shorts algorithm works, how you can leverage it to boost your content, and whether you should start a new channel just for Shorts.

Contents

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YouTube is Leveling Up Shorts in 2023

Before we get started on understanding the Shorts algorithm, there’s one thing you need to keep in mind. 

Shorts is always changing and evolving, especially in 2023. 

It’s one of the hottest features on the platform, hitting over 30 billion daily views in 2022. This puts it in the same league as short-form competitors like TikTok and Instagram Reels

Consequently, YouTube is pushing Shorts and introducing new features and tools for Shorts creators. These innovations could bring significant advantages – and income – to YouTubers. 

To start with, Shorts now count towards access to the YouTube Partner Program. Once you hit 500 subscribers and 3M Shorts views within 90 days, you can start earning money from your content. It’s no longer necessary to have 4,000 public watch hours. 

In addition, YouTube now does regular Shorts monetization through ad revenue sharing. Where Shorts creators had to hope for a payout from the Shorts Fund in 2021 and 2022, they’ll now see a more regular income, based on the popularity of their content. 

Another recent change is that Shorts now displays when a creator is live-streaming on their main channel. For gaming channels, for instance, this is a fantastic source of streaming viewers.  

YouTube is even bringing Shorts to its TV apps

Given this massive rise in the prominence of Shorts, understanding the most recent version of its algorithm is essential. 

Let’s dive right in.

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So how does the Shorts Algorithm Work on YouTube?

One of the most reliable sources on how the Shorts algorithm specifically works is Pierce Vellucci, a Product Manager at YouTube. He recently sat down for a Q&A with Creator Insider. Here’s the scoop.

According to Vellucci, there are two main factors that determine which Shorts get recommended: a user’s watch history and their engagement with different accounts. 

When you upload a clip, YouTube’s Shorts algorithm runs a thorough analysis to determine what it is about. This takes into account your video’s content, its title and tags, and whether you selected a particular audience.

Then, it matches your video with the profile of different viewers. If they have engaged with your account before, or with accounts that have similar content as yours, it’s more likely that they’ll see your clip in their recommendations. 

The same applies if they’ve watched your content – or content in your niche – before. 

However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get Shorts views if you’re a YouTube rookie and haven’t seen a lot of engagement yet. 

According to Vellucci, every Short is “given the chance to succeed,” regardless of how many videos or subscribers your channel has. It will appear in some recommendations based on similarity to successful content – and get boosted if viewers watch it, like it, and leave comments. Building that kind of engagement should be your number one priority if you want to go viral on Shorts.

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Should You Create a New Channel for YouTube Shorts?

Another question YouTube creators frequently ask themselves is whether they should create a new channel specifically for Shorts. In fact, last year, big creators like MrBeast pursued exactly this strategy. 

In 2023, that’s no longer necessary

Until August last year, the Shorts algorithm was kept completely separate from the regular YouTube algorithm. YouTube’s argument then was that Shorts viewers often didn’t share the interests of viewers looking for long-form content. That meant that when you discovered a channel via Shorts, it wouldn’t show up in your regular recommendations. 

That changed at VidCon last year. Here, Todd Beaupré, YouTube’s Director of Product Management announced in a conversation with MrBeast that long-form content recommendations would now take YouTube Shorts into account.

In fact, Google actually published a study showing that Shorts help 59% of Gen Z viewers discover long-form content

Given all that, YouTube’s advice is now to publish Shorts on your regular channel – unless of course they cover a completely different topic. If your Shorts are aimed at the same audience as your long-form content, posting them on your main channel is fine. 

YouTube actually introduced another innovation recently. There are now three tabs on your channel to separate regular videos, Shorts, and live streams. This makes it easier for your audience to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Final Thoughts: Understanding the YouTube Shorts Algorithm

In 2023, well-made YouTube Shorts offer major opportunities for creators – from regular monetization to driving views to live-streams and long-form content. 

Knowing how the YouTube Shorts algorithm works will help you leverage its power to promote your content. Since it’s now integrated more deeply with the rest of the platform, doing well on Shorts will also boost your longer videos and live streams.

The Shorts algorithm analyzes your clip using your video’s content, title, tags, and audience settings. It then matches it to the profile of users based on their viewing history and engagement with content and channels that are similar to yours. If your Short sees a lot of views, likes, and comments through recommendations, the algorithm will boost it further.

No. While this used to be a popular strategy in the early months of Shorts, it’s no longer necessary. In 2023, Shorts can bring major benefits to your main channel and YouTube even introduced a separate tab to showcase them.

Yes. The regular YouTube algorithm and the Shorts algorithm used to be separate. This changed in August 2022. Now, YouTube also uses a viewers’ Shorts history to recommend long-form content.

Author

  • Alex Lefkowitz

    Alex Lefkowitz is the founder and CEO of Tasty Edits. He holds a BA in Entrepreneurship and is an experienced video editor, having edited hundreds of videos for dozens of creators before starting his own video editing company. Since launching Tasty Edits, he has directly managed thousands of video and thumbnail orders. Now, he draws on his experience working with professional creators to write about video editing, the creator economy, and video marketing. You can also read his work on Hackernoon and Medium. Plus, he's contributed several expert opinions in interviews and articles as a guest on platforms like Jotform.

    View all posts