How Does the YouTube Shorts Algorithm Work?

how does the YouTube Shorts algorithm work
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how does the YouTube Shorts algorithm work
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Photo Credit: Anthony Quintano / CC by 2.0

How does the YouTube Shorts algorithm work? Todd Sherman, Director of Shorts Product Management, answers some of those questions you may have.

Recently Todd Sherman took the time to speak with Creator Insider about the impact of YouTube Shorts and how the short-form video feed differs compared to traditional long-form content on YouTube. Creators may not realize that a different approach entirely is needed to effectively engage with an audience on YouTube Shorts.

Is the YouTube Shorts algorithm the same as the long-form algorithm?

The algorithm for YouTube Shorts is vastly different than the long-form algorithm because people use the format differently. Because the discovery mechanism between long-form and short-form is different—the approach of serving content is different. Short-form video discovery involves swiping through a feed of content that is presented based on how long you spent with other content similar in nature.

The algorithm can quickly pick up that you’re enjoying mostly videos with a certain song, theme, or creator. It will then serve videos from that same creator, featuring the same song, or videos on the same theme. The YouTube Shorts algorithm measures engagement in different ways, so it’s important to take that into account when creating short-form content for the platform.

What counts as a view in YouTube Shorts?

A view in YouTube Shorts doesn’t depend on how long you watched a video entirely. Instead, the algorithm can use several different user intents to determine if the content is a good fit. If a user clicked on the content, that means more than if it was just served up into the feed and not interacted with.

Each of these intents is what helps drive engagement on the platform, but it also helps YouTube determine who is actually engaged with YouTube Shorts content versus just letting a feed scroll mindlessly. How much time you spend watching a piece of content also impacts whether similar content will be recommended.

YouTube says it doesn’t publish the metrics for what counts as a view because it doesn’t want people to game it to generate views—but also because the recipe for determining what constitutes a view is constantly changing. YouTube says its Shorts platform will remain focused for videos 60 seconds and under—which keeps the videos short and punchy without venturing too much into long-form territory.