YouTube Shorts Algorithm Hacks

Created: February 26, 2021

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

Entering a flooded market makes it tough to find success, making it a smart move to find new opportunities with less competition. 

Tik Tok has proved that the market for unending, bite-sized content still exists, as their userbase tripled over the last three years. Now YouTube is expanding their platform to capitalize on this opportunity, which means content creators have the chance to benefit, as well.   

The beauty of YouTube Shorts is that small channels can grow their followers by hundreds of thousands in just a few months. Traditionally, this could take years to accomplish by grinding away at producing content. 

For your content to even be eligible for the improved optics provided by Shorts all uploads need to be filmed in portrait mode and be less than 60 seconds long. It makes sense since it’s catering to mobile users. But to get all you can out of this new outlet’s algorithm apply these hacks to your content. 

The Winning Formula

  • Unique thumbnails
  • Quick delivery
  • Don’t use copyrighted music
  • Exclusive Shorts channel

Unique Thumbnails

The importance of thumbnail images has long been established. A good image will get more views, which gets your video trending, which gets your video even more views. Instead of having a generic picture that can be mistaken for any other channel’s content, use images that will be uniquely yours. Your custom style will stand out amongst the basic images of your competitors’, making you more appealing to new viewers. 

A unique image for each video will also make it easier to be identified for rewatches. Getting more people to rewatch and share can be just as valuable as getting that first click.

Shorts does not have the option for you to select the featured thumbnail image. If the image that is automatically selected by Shorts does not meet your standards, reupload the video until it does. 

Quick Delivery

This is a mainstay for YouTube. Fast-talking, quick cuts, lots of images. It all goes a long way towards holding your viewer’s attention, and when you have a short time constraint to work with it matters that much more. 

If your videos are monologue or dialogue-based, cut out the vocal fillers. Rapid delivery maintains interest, keeping people watching to the very end. 

A great aspect of Shorts is that videos do not need to be driven by spoken words. Music, images, and text can be utilized to deliver information with great effectiveness. Even if your mastery of the English language isn’t the best, you can still adapt your delivery to what suits your strengths best.   

Don’t Use Copyrighted Music

Getting caught up in legal arguments is a quick way to slow your growth. It’s best to keep your content as far away from violations of YouTube’s terms of service as possible. Toe the line to deliver the best content to viewers that you can while ensuring it will remain available for them to see.

If music is an integral part of your operation, there are plenty of ways to source copyrighted music legally. The most cost-effective approach for the majority of people will be to use music that is already in the public domain. 

If you are really ambitious, you can always try your hand at making your own tunes. It’s not practical for everyone, but it can be great to have complete control over every facet of your creative process.   

Exclusive Shorts Channel

If you already have an existing YouTube channel it is going to be tempting to intersperse your regular long-form content with uploads to Shorts. Avoid this because the Short shelf algorithm judges videos differently than YouTube’s regular algorithm. 

The (potentially) incredibly fast growth of your Shorts viewership can be hindered if they get tied to the slow pony that is your regular channel. Make a channel with a name that can be associated with your primary channel for recognition, but keep content separated. 

As with most content platforms, consistency is crucial. The top channels right now are uploading content to Shorts at least once a day. Keeping viewers interested after you’ve got them hooked is the only way to retain them, and the best way to do that is by having plenty of content in stock with more on the way. 

The benefit to having a Shorts exclusive channel is that you can be selective in what gets uploaded. 

Not every idea will be suitable for this format, so it will be best to compartmentalize content to certain channels. Simple DIY and life hack tips are great for Shorts if they are somewhat self-explanatory. If they require multiple tips and in-depth explanations, it’s probably best to keep them in longer videos. 

Unlike the advice for other platforms, serialized content should be avoided. There is no telling when a new viewer is going to come across one of your videos, and if it is the third in a series they will be more likely to skip them all entirely than track down the preceding ones. Remember, bite-sized content translates to quickly and easily consumable.   

High Growth, Low Competition

Since YouTube Shorts is still in its beta stage there are relatively few publishers using it for original content. That means like with buying stocks, the initial publishers are in the best position to see high returns. So, whether you are looking to reach new audiences, challenge your skills in new formats, or just looking to capitalize on new moneymaking endeavors, Shorts has the potential to satisfy. Apply these hacks to your normal practices and you’ll soon experience that exponential growth everyone hopes for.