Why Your YouTube Views on Recent Videos are DOWN

Dear creator. Let me lift you out of your funk. The views of your recent videos have been down. You’re asking yourself, “am I past my prime? what happened to my subscriber base?”

I have good news and bad news. For those that eat their desert before dinner, let’s start with the good news. Your total daily and monthly views are quite healthy. YouTube partners are seeing significant daily views, often giving them wider reach than most prominent website or television shows.

The bad news is that the “black box” algorithm is deciding what videos get views by deciding which of your videos shows up as “related” to your legacy ones. Maybe it’s based on their tagging? Maybe it’s based on the videos that are most relevant? Maybe it’s based on the fact that they monetize better. But one thing’s for certain… you don’t have control over what videos are getting the most views. Google’s a data company, so I have to assume there’s a science behind this. Maybe they know more about what will get me views than I do.

Take HotForWords as an example. It used to be that, with 260,000 subscribers, each new video saw 100K-300K views. But lately the views have plummeted. Is that because subsribers can’t see (or aren’t watching) recent videos? Is it because YouTube quietly changed the algorythm for getting on the “most popular” page, where we got a secondary audience? A few creators, like ShayCarl, SxePhil, and CharlesTrippy, have “cracked the code” to ensure they’re consistently on the “most popular” page. I used to think it was the quality of their content and their fan base, but now I’m quite certain they’ve figured something else out.


Now… if you’re still getting daily views that exceed 50-300K, you’re still quite happy. But I personally liked when I controlled what videos got the most views (by simply “organizing” the last 9 videos that showed up next to all of my videos). These thumbnails that appear next to any of my videos are vital. I tried to mix my new videos with my best, so that it would appeal to my existing audience and new people. It was a difficult tradeoff… I want the noob seeing a popular video that I think will “hook” them. But I also don’t want my recent videos to flounder, or else I’m not appearing as “hawt.”

Of course, this is a sobering realization for many creators… turns out that we thought maybe 1/2 or 1/3 of our subscribers were watching each new video, but those numbers are far lower… maybe 10% or less for many (except daily vloggers). This means that YouTube, not the creator, is in control of views for a recent video. So that “sponsored” video you promised would get 50-500K views? That’s going to be hard without running it on your channel page indefinitely.

In conclusion, I humbly thank YouTube for helping me get 250K views a day fairly predictably, but I sure wish I could throttle the new ones. It’s very difficult to get excited about making a new video, knowing that it will get paltry views and not significantly impact my daily views. In short, this could create a disincentive for creators to post frequently, which is the very currency YouTube needs.

39 Replies to “Why Your YouTube Views on Recent Videos are DOWN”

  1. I saw a video a few days ago where a guy from Google explained that their page ranking algorithm had been tweaked 400 times in a single year. Seeing as Google owns YouTube, it would seem reasonable to conclude that any algorithms that control any aspect of how videos are ranked or included in various lists is likely to be tweaked fairly frequently also. The guy in the video explained that Google is extremely secretive about the details of its algorithms since, obviously, many try to cheat by exploiting their knowledge of said algorithms. He concluded by repeating the usual platitude that the best way of ensuring success is to offer high quality content!

  2. “algorythm”?

    Is this some clever play on words that I’m not getting or can you not decide how “algorithm” is spelled?

  3. I am not by any means “the big guy.” I have 15,600-some subs. I am usually getting 80k to 100k views daily. The majority of them are in Twilight parodies, but most of my videos do well by my standards because I constantly research and adjust keywords.

    Through some experimenting, I’ve found that for someone like me, promoted videos are pretty useless. What I have found is that I will do well (and by well, I mean either consistently or with some growth over time after the initial sub dip off) if I take the time to do the following:

    1. Search what I think people would search to find my video.

    2. Arrange results by view count… if nothing has done that well, continue step 1 & 2 until you see something with 100,000+ hits

    3. Research the keywords on the top viewed videos to find anything that may be related to what you are saying or that is similar enough that audiences searching for one would be interested in what you are saying/doing as well.

    4. Compile these keywords into a list and USE THEM. If you don’t max out your keyword field, you haven’t done enough.

    You will do better if you do this. Period.

  4. I hate to be MR. Conspiracy theory, but it seems Google wants to make it harder and harder for individual content providers to be seen, thus driving up the spots for the higher revenue generating videos and paid promoted videos to show up with out the knowledge of the viewer ever gettig tipped off to that possibility. it seems the “Hulu” shift is in motion and sooner rather than later, individuals will be “pushed” out and Google will gladly take a portion of the Hulu culture of peope just looking for preferred content. i say Bring Back the Goo Tube Conspiracy! you were just a little ahead of your time on that one

  5. I will continue to disagree with the idea having the pro content in there does anything (intentionally) malicious to us. Until they say “you can not upload” then we are responsible for our success as we always have been.

    YouTube is not The ABC Radio Network. As much as many people want it to be, they are not responsible for making our careers. They worry about their own business deals and the advancement of the toolset that is YouTube, you worry about your videos.

    We are not their employees, we are not an investment. We are independent contractors running our own businesses using their toolset. Ultimately, we are all going to have to build our own fanbases, mobilize them, AND PROMOTE. Not on YouTube, not on the internet. In the real world.

    I can’t stress how important I believe local markets are going to become on YouTube. If you built a local audience the same way a radio station did, you’d have thousands of built in supporters wanting to help push their local flavor out there.

  6. Hey Nalts,
    I would agree that the More From or Relateds change could be the major factor. There was one other change that happened a week or so ago and that is that Featured used to be decided by people at YouTube and now it’s also automated.. meaning that it is basically just a copy of Popular. So, now if you are on popular you not only get promoted like crazy on Popular, but also in Featured.

    People with a library like myself who use the library to promote their new videos have lost that avenue. I certainly hope this is temporary as have been most of their changes over the past year.

    Thanks for the informative article!


  7. It is interesting; the old skool logic was always “subscribe!” Only it seems that a fairly miserable percentage of those who do subscribe actually watch, and even fewer comment or rate.

    The whole process is kinda disillusioning.

  8. Subscribers still matter, it’s just that they matter less for views now than they do for branding.

    If you are subscribed to someone, you feel – at least for a time – a connection with them. And as long as you are subscribed to someone, they probably will (at very least from time to time) pop up again in your consciousness.

    This is also why external services like Twitter & Facebook (even MySpace) are so important – especially for people who want to produce content (comedians/directors/actors) rather than do a show (vloggers). They provide the platform to interact apart from comments that a vlog would normally. You can pose the questions necessary for input and get that input. At the same time, you build a relationship with people who care.

    Branding is and always will be the most important thing any business, personality, or entity can engage in. When people want X, they come to you because they know you make X and you do it well. Interaction is a fantastic means to brand – in both the business world and plain ol’ regular life (your friends are people who enjoy your brand of being alive).

  9. I needed this. Thanks Kevin.

    I do wonder, though, and that wonder leads to a bit of doubt. Doubt that sxephil, shaycarl, and charlestrippy have figured anything out. Supposing Youtube has as much control as you say, it seems slightly more likely that they’ve landed a new kind of viral jackpot.

    Or maybe that’s some lingering paranoia. I’d love to hear more nitty-gritty ideas of WHAT they figured out, and speculations of how they found it out.

  10. Sometimes I feel sorry for you guys who are so obsessed with views, subscribers, popularity, etc.

    It’s kind of freeing not having to worry about optimizing keywords, shameless promotion, begging for comments and ratings, or gaming the latest popularity algorithm.

  11. No, not bad at all. We need passionate content providers. The world wouldn’t be the same without all you awesome video people.

    I guess I’m just saying it’s not for me. I think I would find it quite frustrating to be so dependent on the fickle fancies of faceless fans.

    I suspect you would find some of my passions quite tiresome.

    Maybe I shouldn’t feel sorry for you guys for doing what you love, but I would imagine even if you are totally into it, the promotional aspects may be irksome at times.

  12. @13
    (just because this is national F*ck With Peter Day)

    The day I sell out is the day I stop sticking my dick in the tangy zip of Miracle Whip® with half the fat of mayonnaise.

  13. something’s up because until today I wasn’t getting videos I sub to – a few days ago I had nothing in my subs then the thing was filled and over flowing with days past of videos I hadn’t seen and in-between some I had already watched. Also the e-mail updates were lagging.
    This has happen before.

    I figure it could be a few things:
    1. Someone is tweaking the AR.
    2. The hack/trouble with g-mail – resources and other fires.
    3. Times are tough, revenues down, it’s that filter in the revenue stream.
    4. Someone at You Tube got high and sat on the reset button again.

    @11 there’s some front-running going on, this is powerful stuff and we’re all headed for the middle east or china or mexico

  14. Okay, I’m done holding back. No more personal ethics! No more feeling ‘oh, so superior’ because my videos show creativity and forethought! NO! MORE!

    No more refusing to go on a Lisa Nova style spam campaign! From now on I’m asking everyone that has an account to friend me! ‘Sub for sub’ will be my new mantra! Sexy center frame is not only an option, it’s the only option! I’ll personal comment everyone’s channel… One channel at a time!

    and…and mass unsolicited emails about my latest vids that would make the Spam King blush!!!

    And dumb down my content….yeah! Aim for the lowest common denominator! Kevins subs! YEAH! YEAH!?!?

    Work it!
    Work it!

    Trolling for subs and spamming comment pages and spam-bombing BLOGTV and StickCam rooms and dropping a banner from the ‘Ft Pitt Bridge’ ! Damn it!

    Views! It’s all about the views! BWWHHAHHWHAHHAHHAH!!!!

    (thank you for your attention. we now return you to your regular program schedule)

  15. @pretty much all 12-26

    I find it a little shocking that rather than contemplating fairly interesting phenomena in order to manipulate it, you’d rather scoff. I mean, I get the whole punk rock thing. But why alienate friendly people for the sake of looking better? Let those of us with an interest, to whatever degree that may be, BE interested without this self-edifying bullshit. If you have any legitimate criticism against “selling out,” I beg you to have enough class to give it without making anyone feel second-rate.

  16. You don’t need to spam to do better, just understand the systems in place and streamline your presentation for them. My meathods work, and I don’t think I make “sell out” material.

    Am I as big as Lisa Nova? No. But I certainly know how to push stuff. And I actually make stuff that I like.

    And MDJ stopped short of saying it, but I am insane.

  17. I would also like to add that my views – total – are always in fluctuation but on average have experienced fairly impressive monthly growth all year. Though after calling myself nuts it may not matter.

  18. Sorry to offend Jeff. The whole snarky interaction thing is SOP around here, but you probably know that. Fact is, we all read Kevin’s posts and some of us actually interact in a coherent manner.. with the possible exception of Jishinger. Even Nutcheese pipes up with an occasional comment that isn’t about a bodily function.

    I’m a small timer with no expectations of grandeur. YouTube has seen fit to regularly turn their nose up at me and I’m okay with that. I’m not interested in gaming the system but I would like for people who do sub me to get a chance to see what I produce.

    It just seems the deck has been stacked more decidedly against the little guys…algorithmically speaking. And now Kevin seems to indicate that the same thing is happening to the more prominent content producers.

  19. @27 Jeff, I suspect your remarks were at least partly aimed at me. I didn’t intend to “scoff” or accuse people of “selling out” (and I’m certainly not trying to “alienate people for the sake of looking better”).

    My point was that I see self-promotion as a necessary evil for those who want to make a name for themselves. It would be great if creators could focus on creating content and not have to worry about marketing it. Such is not the case of course. With all the competition out there, it takes ceaseless self-promotion to keep up with the self-described insane people with no life who know exactly how to work the system. Being someone with no aspirations to be popular, I can afford to be more carefree and not worry about promotion.

    To reiterate, I’m not judging anyone for promoting themselves, I’m just sympathizing with those who HAVE to promote themselves (unless of course you enjoy marketing yourself, in which case, more power to you).

    Sorry if I offended you and try not to take yourself (or the comments here) too seriously.

  20. @33 I hate self-promoting, as is apparent by the millions of views I’ve never gotten on anything I’ve done on my own. Heck, I can’t even get people I helped help. It’s dog eat god out there. In addition to dealing with people who say “You Suck!” and worse ignore you, and I think I might be a bit shy. Still, I’m hoping one day that I’ll find something I’m so proud of that will sky rocket me to fame and fortune on dumb luck; not picky, and then drum up the courage to say, “In You Face Detractors, I’m Self-Promoting Now!” or something close to that.

    Out here in the free market of Internet ideas the numbers mean you’re worth something. They’re fake of course, but they stand betwixt you, that little thrill and a bottle of capers.

  21. You have to think of it this way. People who make movies, TV, or anything us small-time internet folk (which includes even the biggest people on YT – the money they make is chump change in comparison to an A-list celeb) are in competition with have *staffs* of people in charge of promoting the projects as well as themselves. Entire staffs.

    There is nothing to be ashamed of for trying to put your name out there. If anything, it’s good. Doing it yourself and with modest means is a hell of a lot better than paying millions a year so a team of people will spend their workweek making you and your projects look good.

  22. I use YouTube for social networking. I don’t really care about the video views. Sure when I put a video up, I hope my friends will see it and enjoy it, but it really does not matter that much to me.

    The Most Popular list is controlled by the machines now, so it would be pretty tough to crack that code. Yes, there are certain things we know it takes in to account. Recent videos views is one – and when I say recent I mean right now. So one thing you can do is plan for your video to hit at a high site traffic time. Know when your target audience may be watching and plan for your video to “go live” around that time. For example, it may not be the best time for Fred to have his video hit sub boxes at 10 AM, all the kiddies are in school.

    There are 1.5 billion video views on YouTube every day. Good luck getting your slice of the pie.

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