In a nutshell

  • YouTube’s algorithm considers various factors when deciding to push up or pull a channel in its search rankings.
  • To stay in good standing with YouTube, creators should regularly review and adhere to updated Terms of Service and Community Guidelines.
  • Audience behavior and engagement from external sites, such as low retention rates, negative reactions or excessive external traffic leading to short watch times, can negatively affect a channel’s standing on YouTube.

Over the past few years, YouTube has implemented strict measures to address what the video-sharing giant terms “egregious actions.” With approximately 2.70 billion monthly active users, according to data from DemandSage, YouTube continues to tackle policy violations with increased vigilance and scrutiny. Unbeknownst to many creators, YouTube’s policy changes aren’t always specific or consistently enforced. This often leaves creators perplexed about the impact of these changes on their channels. However, there are signs to watch for to avoid issues with the new YouTube algorithm if it’s not working to your advantage.

How YouTube punishes channels

When YouTube determines that a channel isn’t in compliance with its policies, it can take several actions that effectively punish the channel. These are some of the main ways YouTube can punish your channel.

Diminished visibility

YouTube usually penalizes channels by reducing their visibility. This can be implemented in several ways:

  1. A drop in content recommendations: Your videos may stop appearing as frequently on YouTube’s homepage or in the Recommended Videos section. This means less organic reach and fewer views from potential new subscribers.
  2. Reduced search rankings: Despite producing relevant and high-quality content, you might notice a decline in your videos’ rankings in search results. This makes it harder for viewers to find your content through searches.

Monetization restrictions

YouTube may also impose restrictions on a channel’s ability to earn money:

  1. Delayed or denied access to YouTube’s Partner Program: YouTube may delay, deny or remove you from the Partner Program, which is how you earn ad revenue from the platform.
  2. Unexplained demonetization of specific videos: Certain videos may be demonetized without a clear explanation, leading to a loss of revenue for those specific videos.

Things that could lead YouTube to punish your channel

The same algorithm designed to recommend videos can also cease to do so. As a complex system using many factors to determine video visibility on YouTube’s platform, it can significantly affect how videos are seen. Here are some primary reasons why YouTube might penalize your channel.

Content violations

One of the main triggers for YouTube action against a channel is content and policy violations. This includes repeated copyright strikes or Content ID claims, which sometimes signify unauthorized use of copyrighted material. However, YouTube’s system isn’t flawless, and creators often face false copyright claims. Their channels are impacted similarly until they can resolve the claim.

Also, content that narrowly avoids violating community guidelines can flag a channel. This might include portrayals of violence or specific words or topics.

Audience behavior

Sometimes, it’s not you; it’s your audience. Audience behavior can play a role in how YouTube evaluates content. Low retention rates, where viewers consistently drop off early from watching videos, can signal to YouTube that the content isn’t engaging or valuable. Furthermore, negative audience reactions, like mass downvoting or reporting, can alert YouTube to potential issues with the content, prompting a closer examination and possible action.

Engagement from external sites

While driving traffic to YouTube videos is often a goal for creators, excessively directing traffic from external sites can backfire, especially if it leads to short watch times. This tells YouTube that your content isn’t genuinely engaging viewers, negatively impacting your channel’s standing in the search results.

Content suitability for advertisers

YouTube also evaluates content based on its suitability for advertisers. Excessive profanity, especially in the early parts of a video, can lead to demonetization or other forms of penalization. Additionally, topics that YouTube deems inappropriate or controversial or videos that include false information can result in a channel being flagged.

How to get back in good standing with YouTube

Seek guidance from YouTube’s creator support

If you’re unsure why your channel is being penalized, seeking assistance from YouTube’s creator support should be your first step. However, this is easier said than done. Contacting YouTube support, according to many creators, has yielded mixed results, even for larger channels. Do your best to contact support for guidance and clarification on what might be affecting your channel’s standing in the algorithm.

Keep up to date with YouTube’s Terms of Service and Community Guidelines & Policies and follow them

YouTube is constantly updating its Terms of Service and Community Guidelines & Policies. What might have been acceptable a year ago may no longer be fine. Even if you think you know the guidelines, it’s important to stay informed about all policy updates YouTube posts. You can keep track of changes through the YouTube Blog, YouTube’s social media accounts or the YouTube Creators channel.

Collaborate with other creators in good standing

Collaborating with other creators in good standing with YouTube can help rebrand your channel positively. This requires reaching out and networking, but there are many creators open to collaboration. If you struggle to find partners, consider how you can improve and grow your channel to make it more appealing for collaboration. This could involve refining your channel’s niche or enhancing the overall quality and engagement of your videos.

Tailor your content for mass audiences

For creators viewing their channel as a business or aspiring to make it their career, producing content that appeals to mass audiences can be a strategic move. This doesn’t mean compromising creativity or authenticity but finding a balance that resonates with a wider audience while adhering to YouTube’s guidelines and your interests. You don’t want to create content that doesn’t excite you. Remember, your content won’t please everyone, nor should it. Content aimed at everyone ultimately appeals to no one because it lacks a specific focus.

Broaden your content’s reach without losing what makes it unique. For example, Patrick Cc: views his YouTube channel as a business. While there are videos he would like to make, he avoids ideas he knows won’t engage well to maintain his good standing in the YouTube algorithm.

Keeping in good standing with YouTube

The YouTube algorithm is impossible to fully crack. It’s constantly changing and will inevitably lead to issues for creators. However, by doing your best to follow YouTube’s Terms of Service, keeping your engagement high and making content that appeals to both you and your audience, you’ll lessen the likelihood of YouTube’s algorithm turning against you.