YouTube Shorts Algorithm: How Does it Work & How to Win

May 19, 2023


YouTube Shorts is the latest form of content on YouTube, and it’s exceptionally popular. Shorts give creators the ability to diversify their content from long form to short form. With more than 30 billion daily views in 2022, this new video format also gives creators the ability to gain new viewers and subscribers. 

Because of its popularity and the opportunity to grow a YouTube brand, creators should understand how the YouTube Shorts algorithm works. 

In this article, you will learn:

Read on if you want to discover the exact mechanics of the YouTube Shorts algorithm and how to use it for your benefit.

What is the YouTube Shorts Algorithm?

The YouTube Shorts algorithm is simply a set of signals and factors, that when combined, recommend videos to users that might be interested in the content of the clip. 

Just like the organic SEO algorithm that ranks websites based on certain criteria and the YouTube SEO algorithm ranks videos, the Shorts algorithm can be understood to a certain degree. 

YouTube and Google will never fully disclose all of the elements of any of their algorithms, however, based on interviews with staff and general observations, we can get a pretty good idea of how the Shorts algorithm works.

How Does the YouTube Shorts Algorithm Work & How to Use it to Your Advantage?

According to Pierre Vellucci, a product manager at YouTube, a user’s watch history and engagement determine which Shorts get shown or recommended to them. 

So, what does this mean exactly?

Watch History

A user’s watch history probably has the biggest impact on which Shorts get recommended to him/her. The YouTube Shorts algorithm will recommend videos based on the interests and personal preferences of each individual user. 

watch history

YouTube understands what these preferences are based on each user’s watch history.

Whenever you upload a new Shorts clip, YouTube checks various aspects of the clip to understand what it’s about. YouTube can then recommend your content to users who have shown an interest in similar topics in the past. 

The aspects that YouTube analyzes include various elements of the actual content itself, this includes the sounds and text you use in the clip, as well as the title of the Shorts video.

To capitalize on this information, you need to ensure that your content has similar elements to that of other popular Shorts in your niche. 

This entails the following:

  • Using the same keywords in the title of the Shorts
  • Adding similar keywords to the text that you overlay in the Shorts content
  • Using some of the same hashtags that your competitors are using

hashtags on youtube shorts


The second important element of the Shorts algorithm, according to Vellucci, is engagement.  

Engagement is a measure of how other viewers have reacted to your Shorts content. This includes likes, shares, comments, or “watch-throughs”. 

The higher the level of engagement on your Shorts clips, the more the algorithm will push your content to other users that may have an interest in the topic of your clip. 

comments on youtube shorts

So, how do you increase user engagement on YouTube Shorts? 

While there’s no exact formula to increase engagement, there are a few things you can do to tip the scales in your favor.

  • Improve the production quality of your video, no one likes to share a video that looks low-quality. This includes both visual and audio quality.
  • Catch the viewer’s attention within the first 3 to 5 seconds.
  • Add information that the viewer will want to share with his friends, peer group, or colleagues. Even though Shorts are short clips, you still need to provide value to the viewer.

These are the two elements that Vellucci mentioned are being taken into consideration by the YouTube Shorts algorithm, however, based on our research we found some other factors that might also be used by the algorithm.


The first of these includes the “trending” aspect of your content. 

Much like TikTok, the YouTube Shorts algorithm will reward creators who jump onto current trends. This is because YouTube obviously wants users to spend the maximum amount of time on the platform or in the app. 

In order to use this to your advantage, insert trending elements like sounds and hashtags in your Shorts content. 

To find these trending hashtags on YouTube, you can use our Hashtag Generator tool that finds the most popular hashtags based on the seed keyword that you insert.

youtube hashtag generator


The other factor that the algorithm takes into account is the uniqueness of your content. Why would the algorithm recommend Shorts to users if the content is the same? 

Furthermore, users wouldn’t want to watch repetitive content. 

The way to overcome this is to produce Shorts with your own unique twist. 

Sure, the context and the information in the clip can be similar to another creator’s Shorts, but you can still cover the topic in a way that is unique to your personality and YouTube brand. 

FAQ on YouTube Shorts Algorithm

Now that you know how the YouTube Shorts algorithm works and how to use this to your benefit, we’re going to address some Frequently Asked Questions that seem to pop up.

How do I Increase YouTube Shorts Views?

There are several ways to increase YouTube Shorts views, I’d suggest starting off by producing more content. 

But not just some random content, instead, you’ve got to create Shorts that new and current viewers would be interested in. 

Look at your closest competitors to find their most popular Shorts content, and then produce something similar. 

Then, just rinse and repeat.

Should I Create a Separate Channel for Shorts?

This is one of the most common questions regarding YouTube Shorts. In the past this was a useful tactic, in fact, it was used by big channels such as Mr. Beast. 

The reasoning behind this tactic was that YouTube kept the Shorts algorithm separate from its long-form content algorithm. However, in August 2022, YouTube announced that recommendations for long-form content would take into account a user’s Shorts watch history.

This means that users can discover your regular YouTube content based on their Shorts watch history even if they haven’t seen or interacted with your channel before.

So no, you don’t have to create a separate channel entirely just for Shorts.   

Wrapping Up

Now that you’ve got a better idea of how the YouTube Shorts algorithm works, there’s nothing stopping you from creating clips that will attract new viewers and potentially increase your subscriber base.

Be sure to follow the tips that we’ve mentioned in this article if you want the Shorts algorithm to take notice of your content. 

Tim Hill
Tim's background is in digital marketing working for both large and small digital agencies and diverse client types. He has a passion for tech, software and staying up to date on the latest search engine news.
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